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Top : Children : Too Much Child Care?

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Too Much Child Care?

"Parents and child care providers are up in arms about a
study conducted by researchers at the University of
Melbourne which purports to show that too much time in
child care can damage children's long-term academic and
social development. The Melbourne team says they have the
data to show that children in centre-based care more than
30 hours a week perform worse academically, socially and
emotionally. But providers have rejected the findings,
saying a range of factors influence a child's development."
(Source: The World Today, Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

In my family album, I have a photo I took of my daughter
many years ago when she was almost three running along the
top of a dry stone wall. The wall was about five feet high
and about two feet wide.

I was at home with my daughter every day from when she was a
six-month old baby until she started school at the age of
five. When she was a toddler, she wanted to climb walls. I
was very keen for her to develop self-confidence, so I
always said "yes"; I held her hand for as long as it took
while she found her balance and inched step by step along
the top of just about every wall we encountered on our
rambles around the village where we lived. In time, she
didn't need me to hold her hand as she strode boldly over
walls that were often above my head height - I walked by her
side, arms out at the ready like a goalkeeper, just in case.

When I took that photo, I was ten feet away with the camera.

My son had a very different early childhood to his older
sister. We'd moved from the countryside to the big city
where the pace of life was more hurried. Both my wife and I
were working full-time and our baby son spent most of his
week in child care of some form. I hardly spent any time at
home with him.

Finally, when my son was almost three, I quit my job to be
his at-home parent.

One day shortly afterwards, we were out and about in our
neighbourhood and there was a low brick wall. It was quite
narrow, but only about two feet high. My son looked at it.

"Would you like to climb that wall?" I asked him. He nodded.

But he did nothing. I waited. "Would you like me to hold
your hand?" He nodded again.

So I took my son's hand and he gingerly climbed up on the
wall and pigeon-stepped slowly and wobblingly along it
squeezing my hand tightly and looking all the while as if he
was about to fall off. It could have been the very first
time he'd ever walked along a wall. Perhaps it was.

All those years before when my daughter had learned to walk
along walls, I'd, literally, been there every step of the
way. I'd been willing to trust her and share the risks. I
was her parent. She wanted to do it, I wanted her to get
what she wanted and we worked together to achieve our goal.

Would I have invested all the attention and energy and
patience that I did if I was a child care provider looking
after someone else's child? I doubt it.

To start with, I would have had other children to look after
as well and simply wouldn't have been able to devote the time
to it even if I'd wanted to (which I probably wouldn't have
done). And what if the child had fallen and been badly
injured? I wouldn't have wanted to take any kind of risk that
might cost me my livelihood. No, I think "Get down off that
wall!" would have been my most likely response.

So, now, while helping my son develop his self-confidence is
still very much a central issue in my life, I can only look
back and wish that I'd been there for him when it really

But, that doesn't mean I'm critical of any of my son's child
care providers. Why would I be? They were simply doing their

Copyright (c) 2002, Bob Collier

Bob Collier is a father of two who publishes a free weekly
ezine called "Parental Intelligence" dedicated to
discovering and promoting the world's best parenting ideas
and methods.

You can read a sample issue of Parental Intelligence at:
or subscribe by sending a blank email to:

Submitted by: Bob Collier *

11-Mar-2003 Hits: 385 Rating: 0 Votes: 0 Rate It

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