The Mother Magazine, Editorial
Issue 26, Jan/Feb 2008
Saving Childhood, by Veronika Sophia Robinson
Have you heard about the British government’s plan to kidnap babies and toddlers? It’s not the kidnapping of ropes and mouth gags, but a kidnapping which steals children for a lifetime ~ and it will be done right under everyone’s noses (if we don’t stop it). It’s called the Early Years Foundation Stage and it’s an insidious exploitation of children’s minds, bodies, and for those with a holistic understanding of childhood, their souls.
Under the camouflage of early learning, every registered pre-school setting (including registered childminders!) will be under a legally enforceable set of learning requirements that consists of no less than politically-sanctioned child abuse. Around 80% of children in this age bracket are in such settings.
Ten years ago, the government used relatively benign terms, such
as ‘desirable outcomes’, so they could get people on
board with their long-term plan of compulsory pre-school education.
Like the ducks and geese overfed in order to produce unethical foie gras, our children will be force-fed beyond their ability to consume.
The Early Years Foundation Stage booklet outlines the expectation that four year olds should be reading and writing and using punctuation. There are many other requirements expected of these toddlers.
I adore language, and the effect words can have on me, and others. I love to read. Does that mean I encouraged and taught my own children to read when they were little more than dots themselves? Not a chance!
Reading is not a natural activity. It utilises the neocortex (new brain) and should only ever be encouraged at the time milk teeth are coming out ~ a time when there is a huge developmental shift in the brain. In much the same way that logical language should NOT be introduced to a woman in labour (because she needs to activate the [reptilian] old brain in order to birth easily and successfully), our children need to spend their early years in an environment which amplifies what is natural for them at this age ~ free play, rhythm and music, natural movement, and imitation. Mankind’s biggest problems in life come about because of an over-emphasis and stimulation of the neo-cortex. We humans ignore this to our detriment.
We can encourage the love of reading by being living examples. Being seen to love reading, and reading to our children every day, helps them get a feel for intonation, the flow of words, the use of punctuation. By reading, we are letting our children absorb language in a way that is suitable for the part of the brain which is developed. My own children have taught me well that reading comes naturally when you show passion for it.
My girls taught themselves to read at the age of seven, and in a matter of weeks went from simple Lady Bird books to novels. Why? Because they were ready. Recently, my nine year old daughter, Eliza, was ‘judged’ to have a reading age of a child 11 years and three months. Of course, only an institution would measure such a thing. As a mother, my observation of her reading is that she loves it, reads fluently, and if she doesn’t understand a word, will look it up in the dictionary or ask a parent.
When my girls were younger, I often heard comments from well-meaning friends, who, ironically, were school teachers, such as: “What, they don’t read yet?...I could read when I was four”. So bloody what?! Life isn’t a race. It doesn’t matter if your child is twelve years old and not reading. She’ll learn to read when she’s ready. And when the spark is there, boy will that fire turn into an inferno. But alas, Slow Childhood is counter to our culture’s expectations, and so we have our work cut out educating the adults that when it comes to childhood, slow and steady always wins the race.
The UK government’s implementation of an Early Years Foundation Stage is an abuse of human rights. Let’s not pretend otherwise.
Free play is vital to childhood, reading is not. Play helps develop
emotional intelligence, caring, empathy, imagination, physical balance
and co-ordination; premature reading does not.
Boys, in particular, are wired differently to girls, and really need to be allowed more time before attempting reading. (I urge you to read Joseph Chilton Pearce’s Magical Child for further important information on this). We do our children such an injustice by making them good consumers of someone else’s expectations.
Author, Sally Blythe, from The Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology, says that almost half of all children in the five to six year age group still have traces of infant primitive reflexes, which should not be evident after the first year of life (together with immature balance and co-ordination skills). Such children are going to suffer academically in school. Her research questions modern childcare practices and lifestyles affecting the physical development of children. So, if evidence shows that for many young children the physical body isn’t working optimally, why on Earth is the government wanting to legally enforce compulsory ‘intellectual’ standards on young children? Either the people who put together such ridiculous learning requirements don’t know the first thing about childhood development, or the government has a hidden agenda.
David Cameron, leader of the Opposition, has recently said very positive things about childhood and family life (for an MP), but has managed to undo all his good work with the statement that all children should be reading by six. Mr Cameron, they should NOT! Children, six and under, should be playing, not immersed in any sort of academic pressure cooker.
The Early Years Foundation Stage is a blatant attack on a child’s human rights to grow and develop as nature intended. It’s a complete denial of a child’s and parents’ fundamental freedom, not dissimilar to compulsory vaccination and the ‘gun-point medicine’ now manifesting in the USA.
There is so much scientific evidence to show that before the age of seven, children are still going through major developments ~ physically, intellectually, emotionally ~ even their immune system is still trying to mature. You simply can’t fast-track childhood and expect the consequences in the short or long term to be good, desirable or healthy. We must remember that Mother Nature had very good reasons for how we develop ~ and our job is to trust the process, not fight, control or hasten it.
The question now is what are parents and educators going to do
about it? How will we stop this going ahead? We’ve got just
eight months left to make sure it isn’t implemented. The power
has to lie with the public, the voters. We can not ignore this,
because once it is introduced, there’ll be no turning back.
And once the damage is done to our young children, it will remain
with them for life.
Never before have children been under so much pressure to perform, to measure up, to reach targets. Why are we sitting back and allowing the government to sneak in legislation that was achieved under ‘controlled consultation’ (i.e. the information was not produced for public consumption)?
It would be all too easy for people with older children, or those who home educate, to think, ‘it doesn’t affect us’, and to not be part of the campaign. I urge you to overcome such a belief and to remember we’re all connected. These children will marry your children, they’ll work with them, socialise with them, make laws with them ….the world is one big melting pot. One child’s suffering, is everyone’s suffering. And believe me, the little children will suffer if they’re forced into this abusive curriculum.
Please, join our campaign at www.savechildhood.org. It won’t cost you anything but a few moments of your time. Let the government know you care. We live in a world where it is far too easy to feel we can’t make a difference. I can assure you, this is something we do have power over. We CAN stop this happening. Let’s start this new year with a passion for the well-being of all children, not just our own. Let’s make 2008 the year they look back upon as the year we saved childhood.