HERE’S a simple question to parents who have recently waved their little darlings off into the world of education: Have you no shame?
Now I’m not talking about all parents here, but there are certainly enough of them out there to form a very long queue for the naughty step.
That’s because the government in its wisdom has decided that children are entitled to start nursery in the first term available after their third birthday – and that means lots of them do, whether they are ready or not.
Why that’s supposed to be a good idea when many other countries whose education systems apparently outperform ours don’t start until years later and don’t seem to suffer from giving us such a head start is something for another day. What we’re talking about here are the practicalities.
Now regular readers may be aware that Mrs Dee is a trained and dedicated early years educator.
She works long and hard to give her little charges the best start, goes on all sorts of courses, buys food and bedding for the nursery guinea pigs out of her own pocket, and is generally regarded as a good thing.
But as a taxpayer, I have to ask why this highly-trained and experienced educator, already weighed down with stacks of paperwork to track the progress of the tots under her wing, has to handle a very different kind of paperwork at the moment.
To put it delicately, let’s ask the parents of an earlier generation a different question.
Would you ever have contemplated letting your child start education if they hadn’t yet learned the basic controls relating to bowel and bladder? You heard me – and like me you may recall that our tots, now grown to man’s estate, weren’t even allowed to step across the threshold of playgroup until they were dry.
Sorry, mums and dads of today, but expecting schools and those who work in them to sort out the potty training just isn’t on. If that applies to you, you should hang your head in shame.
And the same applies if you haven’t taken the opportunities of the first three years of your little one’s life to make sure they are able to communicate with other people, have a passing acquaintance with cutlery and are not liable to have a screaming fit every time they don’t get their own way.
Of course, you can’t exclude a kid from class because they’re likely to soil themselves, and have to be cleaned up, at sundry intervals throughout the day, more’s the pity.
Another teacher of my acquaintance has a novel way of dealing with the problem – she saves all the filthy nappies and hands them back to the parent at the end of the day, and asks them to arrange for their disposal as the school facilities can’t cope with the extra load.
Most mums and dads get the message pretty quickly – but why on earth should that message need to be passed on in the first place?
Seeing as the teachers won’t ever say it and the parents involved clearly have the self-awareness of a pack of Pampers, here’s the bald truth:
If your child starts education in such a state, that’s your fault, and if you’re going to fall down so soon on basic parenting things are not looking good for the years ahead.