It’s all about communication isn’t it? Not just how we speak, but how we listen too. With that in mind, it is perhaps best to never hear the newest piece of child development research before sunrise, before coffee, through the medium that is Breakfast TV.
Given the pre-coffee circumstances, my first exposure to Save the Children’s “Lighting Up Young Brains” perhaps wasn’t all it should have been.
Claims from the fresh faced newsreader that nursery had somehow set my kids back ‘decades’ quickly spiralled into worries: we should never have used that dummy; I didn’t sing to them enough; I watched too much Neighbours whilst breastfeeding.
Then I decided to turn off the telly, wake up, and to actually read the source document.
When I did read the document, coffee in hand, I took away a few things. Perhaps what I took away most was the plea to government to ensure it continues to invest appropriately in Early Years education, specifically in qualified practitioners.
At a time when the government is proposing that no teacher needs to be qualified, you can understand why Save the Children is stressing the importance of, amongst other things, qualified teachers in the Early Years’ setting.
If I’m brutally honest, when I chose a nursery for my children, academic qualifications of the staff were not high on the list of my concerns. ‘Qualified’ staff filled my mind with images of people trying to teach 2 year olds to recite their 12 times tables.
What was top of my list was knowing that someone was there to wipe my boys’ noses (and the rest), and to cuddle them when they fell.
Reading the Save the Children piece, though, underlines the importance of having people around young children who know how to communicate with young children. People who know how to speak, how to listen, and how to develop a confidence and love for the written language.
Of course, parents play the largest role in a child’s development, and there are some tips in the article for parents. Pre-sunrise it might be easy to take these as criticisms of things we haven’t done, or could have done better. But there lies one of the other great arts of communicating – how we choose to interpret what we are told.
When we are tired and worried about our children and an education system consistently belittled and criticised by governments, it’s easy to over worry or to take things personally.
Of course though, we can always learn, and what I’ve learned from the Save the Children article is that listening, speaking, the written word and how we are able to interpret these communications should not be the luxury of the time or the cash rich: language is too important for our development for that approach.
In a society as rich and as verbose as ours, good communication should be available to all children, whatever their circumstances.
For that message, I applaud and thank both my strong cup of coffee and Save the Children.
I recommend you pour your own beverage of choice and read the article for yourself – no doubt you will interpret elements of it differently to me. And that is the joy of language, of communication, and why it is so fundamental in the development of our children.