+DAYCARE: WHAT ARE THE QUESTIONS?

 

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Friday, January 17, 2014.  While the information I went online to find this morning applies to all children in general I am seeking it in line with two particular areas of concern:  (1) How does this information apply to children who have been exposed to unrelenting patterns of abusive trauma perpetrated against them by their early primary attachment figures?  (2) What happens to the development of young children who spend 9 – 10 hours of their 5-day week in the challenging daycare environment?

I woke thinking of two particular words that I am using in my search:  distraction and stimulation.  My thinking involves questions about what age and stage of development do children reach that allows them to engage in self-entertainment without the direct interaction of someone else be it an adult or peer.

Unlike sibling home environments daycare centers group many children together of the same or very close to the same ages.  Unless a parent were to give birth to or adopt a “potfull” of children who are crossing the same developmental thresholds at the same time a home setting of siblings provides entirely different patterns of interaction between children

If I imagine even a glimmer of what close tribal or clan life might include or did include I would imagine that groups of peer age children probably did find one another to pursue play and interaction time.

I also think of the families I shared a life next to for seven years on the American side of the Mexican border.  Those families never left children alone to play.  Very large families which included many cousins did a great share of the infant and young child care.  Very often without any toys present they entertained themselves and one another entirely within a social network that included many ages of children and continual access to caring adults – parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and neighbors — all of the time.

Are daycare centers reproducing versions of the “same old wheel” or has our society invented something entirely new and different in the lives of so many if not the majority of our nation’s children today?

I would opt for the latter suggestion.  Primary attachment people are available only at the smallest numbers of daycare centers.  Do trained professional caregivers of young children adequately replace the interactions between young children and the adults in their early lives?  Does continual interaction primarily with peers of their same or very similar developmental ages – which does not include interaction with very young or older children in their “group” – change the course of development for daycare children?

What is the level of dedication to funded serious research that explores the entire range of consequence for the developmental range of children whose bulk of early waking years takes place in daycare settings?  Is high quality unbiased longitudinal research being done that could present the true picture of the costs of daycare as those prices are being paid by children who do not have the “usual” opportunity to interact within environments that were far more typical of our human evolution?

It seems very typical for adults who basically are among the “haves” in America to immediately support daycare as “the best option” for children from “have not” families and for children who are in neglectful and/or abusive or otherwise “deprived” homes.  I have not yet heard these suggestions followed by “What could and MUST BE be done to improve the family life of these children so this sad scenario could be changed?”

It seems to be a very topsy-turvy if not top heavy logic is being used to unequivocally support the OKness of daycare.  If America did not consistently appear in UNICEF yearly research among the world’s top 29 richest countries at the bottom when it comes to the horrific and growing gap concerning the well-being of children in our nation between the “haves” and the “have nots” I MIGHT be open to listening to “have” people support their daycare thinking with such an argument.  What kind and quality of daycare are the families of “have not” children able to access

As it is I have no reason to believe that any single layer of our society is yet willing to include the well-being of ALL children in their reasoning about what is “good” for ANY child on a blanket-level.

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At the same time I suspect that what used to be the national fairly wide gap between what was considered parents’ concerns in the home in their raising of children and public concern for children once they entered the school system at age 5 is very close to disappearing entirely.  The current national obsession with preparing very young children for “school readiness” is, in my opinion, leading us astray as we can justify in our thinking that “After all, daycare TEACHES my child to be ready for school.”

At the same time the burden being placed upon very young children to supposedly learn information that is entirely irrelevant to them in their young lives such as counting, colors, the entire alphabet etc. before they start public school is happening at the same time these children are being made to sacrifice many other critical stages of their development THAT DO MATTER!  Nature has made them matter!!

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When I consider the important information Dr. Martin Teicher and his Harvard research group have concluded about how a child raised in a stressful environment ends up with a brain that does not match that of a child raised without that stress I cannot help but broaden my thinking about what “maltreatment” of children can include. 

How do we KNOW that daycare is safe?  How do we know that those experiences are not creating STRESS in children that will change their physiological development in the same way STRESS from maltreatment does?

How do we know that we are not creating a wide, wide area of “mismatch” (see last paragraphs of Teicher article) between environments of daycare versus non-daycare raised children that is on the negative rather than the positive end of social adjustment?

It seems to be unpopular to even ask questions about the impact of daycare on young infants and children.  I am not judging or condemning anyone, but I do believe the risks are here.  We have introduced a “social system” on the youngest, most vulnerable segment of our society without asking them what they think or feel about what is happening in their lives.

Can we ask them?  Are they telling us?  Can they tell us when they have known nothing different?  Will “daycare” in some way be eventually recognized as one of the “Adverse Childhood Experiences” that the Centers for Disease Control are researching to discover links to lifelong negative consequences?  If there is even a risk that daycare is harmful to the nervous system, brain, body of children due to the stress it creates, etc. shouldn’t we ask the serious RIGHT questions sooner than later?

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If nothing else daycare centers seem to me to provide a complete overload of incoming information without in any way being able to provide alone quiet calm time for children to process and integrate that information along the way.  What is that reality doing to the development of young nervous systems and brains?  How will developmental changes affect these children for the rest of their lives?

This is just ONE area of concern.  What are the rest of them?  Just asking….

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Preschool and Primary Grades —

 Meeting the Sensory Needs of Young Children

Children differ in their ability to process and respond to information from the environment while engaging in activities. For example, one child may have difficulty sitting still during group time; another may move little during free play outside. They react in different ways because they in­tegrate the information obtained through their senses from the environment differently. Most children process their daily experiences and regulate their responses with ease. But when a child is consistently having difficulty main­taining a level emotional state or engaging appropriately in activities, the child may be overstimulated (environ­ment provides more stimulation than the child can handle through sensory integration) or understimulated (environ­ment does not provide enough stimulation for the child). Teachers can use an understanding of sensory processing to meet the child’s unique needs. CLICK ON TITLE ABOVE TO READ MORE

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