August 20, 2014

Trust good parents to make good decisions

I would like to register my concern regarding this bill, particularly as it relates to the area that would compel beneficiaries to send their children over 3 to ECE for 15 hours per week.
As a parent of 4 children (3 grown up and working/ attending university, 1 at primary school) I have always considered the care and education of my children is MY concern and responsibility.  For certain stages and key needs I have enlisted the assistance of other educators, including the national school system.  Having spent a year on a benefit recently I also understand the stresses involved for a single parent trying to do their best for their children and feeling at the mercy of the system.

Not all children are best served by attending preschool.  There is a wealth of evidence supporting this.  To quote Raymond S Moore’s article “How to Socialize Young Children.”: Researchers Albert Bandura, John Condry, Michael Siman, Urie Bronfenbrenner and others point out that where less than a generation ago our children were well within the age of reason before they turned from family values to those of their peers, they now come under these peer influences at the pre-school level…caring for little tykes under 6 or 7 in groups of 15 or 20 or 30 or more is not for most of them the best way to provide them security, identity, stability and creative outlets.

My own preferred choice of preschool was Playcentre – up to 6 – 9 hours per week (usually with me attending alongside my children). Having to enroll my child elsewhere for a large part of their week would definitely not have served their interests – emotionally, socially or academically.
It seems to me the incentive of 20 free hours ECE is sufficient to fulfill the goal of getting the vast majority of pre-schoolers into registered ECEs,  where any anomalies in their care should be picked up.    Leave parents some freedom of choice.  While I have often chosen to work part-time – paid or voluntary – while my children were young my main priority has always been their care and education.  Parents who choose to educate their own children (preschool and school age) should be valued for their contribution to society, and given extra support to do so if they also happen to be beneficiaries – don’t make their difficult situation even more challenging for them.    The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, International Standards (E/C. 12/1999/10, Article 13.29) states “Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.”
Freedom of choice is a critical benefit of living in New Zealand and with it comes the responsibility to make informed choices that can mirror ones ethics, culture and beliefs.  Trust good parents to make good decisions and allow structures in place (eg WINZ) to pick up on families that need help.