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I am tired. Tired of hearing about achievement gaps and at risk kids and school readiness initiatives. I’m tired of children being subjected to ridiculous programming and becoming pawns in races to the top and other educational fear mongering. I’m tired of “low socioeconomic status” being equated with “not fully human.” And yet there is no escaping it in my daily work as an early childhood practitioner and play advocate.
You know who we never hear scary achievement gap stories about? Middle class children of stay at home moms. I’ve looked around a little for any research about how those children do in school, to no avail. I can only assume that this is because no one is scared about them. Those children are not a concern to us because they are doing ok.
Which leads me to wonder why that may be. I’ve never been a stay at home mom but I have a lot of friends who are or who have been. And do you know what? I don’t know a single one of them whose children have to transition from one structured activity to the next every 20 minutes, all day every day. I don’t know a single one who has circle time or weather time or calendar time in their living room with their own children. I don’t know one of them who insists on 30 minutes of criss cross applesauce and silent story listening at exactly 9:00 am. I don’t know any whose homes have been transformed into elementary school-looking classrooms so that their child will know what to expect when they go to kindergarten.
I know that some stay at home moms (or dads for that matter) have special activities they do, take their children to “enrichment activities” occasionally and may try to have “learning times” while they are at home, but I also know that for most of them, most of their time at home with their children is spent in allowing them to play, in involving them with basic household tasks and engaging in affectionate, warm interactions.
Why then, when we talk about what these failing, non-standard, low income children need, are we so quick to assume that the answer is school environments, rigid and structured schedules, lots of adult led listening and forced practice in acting older? Why don’t we look at recreating warm, child centered and homelike settings for these children?
You know, authentic, real childhood.
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