The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children. Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Facebook? If you fancy daily inspiration to ponder on you might like to check out my facebook page Dance with me in the Heart. Each day I post two quotes, with artwork, little memes to get the message out there.
If your baby could tell you what she would really like from you, she would tell you that she would like three wishes:
from Dance With Me In the Heart by Pennie Brownlee
2017 has arrived, and with it the realisation that things need to change for our babies and children. Babies and children cannot make the changes required for their brain growth, only we can do that. So what is our job description?
Nurture, nurture, nurture.
Every single one of our babies needs one thing above all else - nurture. Because each of us does the best that we know how, we might think we are already nurturing our babies and little ones. But if that were true, there wouldn't be the violence in families and society that we see. As Robin Grille says, "We know from neuroscience and epigenetics that no human being was born destined to lead a life of violence. Chronic violence is the result of severe brain changes."
So what changes the brain?
Lack of warm, empathetic nurture by a known and trusted adult - and stress. You know yourself, being separated from loved ones is stressful in and of itself, and if you are too little to manage your fear and feelings of loss - that's stressful. Add to that the crush of too many babies/children in a group and every day becomes ultra-stressful. Ultra-stressful is unfortunately the norm in childcare. Teachers and children suffer, yet it is our children who pay the price in their critical years of brain-building.
Teachers are feeling it too!
In my travels during the year I have met too many good teachers who are seeking to leave the industry. Why? Too many children stuffed into too small a space, too stretched as owners keep the ratio at the bare minimum, too much paper work, little or no support in professional development and/or having to access it out of their own funds.... When our good teachers leave we are really in trouble because they are the only ones who can lift the quality in a centre for our children and their families.
Privatisation - the good, the bad, and the just plain ugly
While privatisation has given us a handful of exemplary centres throughout the country, it has delivered us truck loads of mediocre centres, and yet more truck loads of centres which would be better closed until-and-if owners and managers upped their game to meet the basic biological needs of babies and toddlers. Too many children's childhoods are literally being stolen, some out of genuine ignorance on the part of the adults, and others by good-old-garden-variety-greed on the part of the owners. We have to do better by our children than this.
Nurturing love and relationship at home
For parents, it has come to be 'normal' to put your baby into care. Group care for babies is a very new phenomena which is about money, not your babies education or socialisation. Neither education or socialisation happen successfully for the under threes in group situations. If you want the best for your children in the long term, really assess your circumstances before you consider putting your baby into care. Consider 'tightening your belt' for those first three years. If, however, you absolutely have to find care for your baby, find the smallest group size you can - that's why home based care is a good option, there will only ever be four children in the group (here in New Zealand).
So here's to 2017 and our united efforts to make it better for babies and toddlers ar home, in care, and for the parents and teachers who care for them. Here's to nurture over money.
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