Can Children Afford the Price of Childcare?

photo-childcareMy daughter mentioned a CNN report that quoted childcare costs as the same as college tuition. It sounded alarming to her. As a young professional, she was beginning to calculate the costs of raising a family. Putting her child through college, as a 6-week-old, sounded daunting.

Childcare is also getting attention on the Presidential campaign trails, as candidates hope to appeal to the 70% of mothers in the workforce, 40% who are primary wage earners. Both candidates intend to make childcare more affordable. With childcare on each candidate’s agenda, do we know what we are getting for our money? And, is the cost comparison between childcare and college fair?

As reported, the national average costs for college and childcare are similar, each a little over 9K. And, childcare and college education do share a few other commonalities: Continue reading

PLAY: A four-letter word banned in early childhood?

Several decades ago, early childhood experts began calling play “the work of children.” The goal was to elevate the importance of play in the minds of adults. Experts were helping teachers, parents and policymakers understand that what is happening in everyday play experiences of children is essential to healthy development.

As childcare providers work to legitimize the daily care and education of young children beyond babysitting, and advocates promote the allocation of funds in early education, we have adopted the “work” and “not play” as an essential concept of early childhood.

Childcare provider at preschool center

As I work with elementary leadership teams who are adding pre-kindergarten programs to the public school settings, the schedules often reflect teacher-directed expectations of core competencies. If play on the scheduled, it is labeled, “Work Time” or “Active Learning Time.”

It rarely is called play.

While this may seem like the work of a wordsmith, there are many unintended consequences of changing from play to work. Continue reading

What? There is no such thing as a baby?

“There is no such thing as a baby,” said Donald Winnicott, mid-century child development scholar. While his statement might seem counter-intuitive to adults, it is reflective of the experiences of the child.

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An infant is cognitively and physically unaware of himself as separate from his environment. As infant teachers know, when one baby cries, they all cry.

A baby is his environment.

A baby is his adults.

During babyhood, basic survival, development, and cognitive capacities are all linked directly to adults. Infants learn about themselves and their world by how adults respond.

“If I cry: what happens?”

“When I smile: what happens?”

“When my diaper is uncomfortable: what happens?”

Babies’ development depends adults who:

  • Respond with consistent, sensitive, and reliable care.
  • Place babies’ needs as most important.
  • Guide and support development as it unfolds.
  • Manage life’s daily ups and downs.

This is true of the babies. And, it is true of each of us as babies. Continue reading