October 23, 2014

The negative impact of early education is well documented and well ignored by government

Brief submission

I am very upset with your proposed welfare reforms in two respects. Firstly, I find it appalling that you are determined to force 3 year olds into early education facilities against the will of the parent. My daughter attended one morning a week – 3 hours with her grandmother for 3 years prior to her fifth birthday. She enjoyed her time but at no time was she happy to be there on her own and I would not have been happy with her not having a personal support person with her. Any parent with young children at home can give that child more in the way of emotional stability during those first five years than any supposed benefit that can be accrued from an early learning establishment. And the negative impact of early education is well documented and well ignored by government.

The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) followed the progress and development of 1,300 children since 1991. It concluded that the longer above 10 hours a week a child spent in group care, the more likely teachers were to report difficult behaviour once they started school. There was a direct correlation between time spent in childcare and aggression, defiance, disobedience, and demands having to be met immediately. The most telling research is out of Canada which had instigated a policy in 1996 in Quebec, similar to what our government has. The University of British Columbia research compared the outcomes for children in Quebec to those of children in other parts of Canada who didn’t have access to the childcare subsidy. The findings revealed that children in daycare were 17 times more hostile than children raised at home, and almost three times more anxious. They found that the increased use of childcare was associated with a decrease in their well-being relative to other children. Reported fighting and other measures of aggressive behaviour increased substantially. Just as significant is that they also found that the well-being of parents deteriorated. The survey data showed that mothers of the children in daycare were more depressed, the quality of their parenting practices declined, and there was also a significant deterioration in the quality of their relationship with their partners.

While I personally have no problems with young children attending daycare for a couple of mornings a week, it absolutely has to be the choice of the parent who knows their child the best, not the government who only thinks they do. To force a parent into sending a young child to a government establishment in order to be able to put food on the table is absolutely unconscionable.

Secondly, families who are registered homeschoolers MUST be automatically exempt from your social reforms. Homeschoolers have ALREADY proven to the government that their desire to keep their children at home will produce well-educated, socially mature, independent adults. I make a guess that the government has no record of homeschooled families being long-term benefit dependancies past the school age of the children and those children will be very unlikely to be on any unemployment benefit. Homeschoolers are not disadvantaged or vulnerable families, they have a proven record of care and education for their children. Homeschoolers do not have a history of educational failure – the government academically fails 25% of students enrolled in school by having them leave unable to read or write. Homeschoolers do not have a history of bullying – government schools do. Homeschoolers do not have a problem with teenage pregnancies – government schools do. Homeschoolers do not have a problem with drug use – government schools do. Need I go on?

Government schools produce the very kind of benefit dependent you say you are trying to avoid.

A parent’s first and most important social obligation is to raise their children well. If they can do that better at home then they should be encouraged and supported by Government, not labelled as disadvantaged and vulnerable.