I’m doing it again; harping on about the importance of mums. About the value of their role, their time, the impact mums have simply being there engaging with their children. Because it’s SO understated. And I’m not the only one shouting…
There was an article in the Independent (click here) recently about studies which show how time spent talking to a baby impacts on their development, particularly their performance in education.
Now I don’t want mums to think they’ve got to start priming their tiny babies for grade getting already, as some parents might interpret this research.
But what it does endorse is the indisputable value of mums at home with their children (or dads for that matter) – and why that time matters so much. Which is very refreshing to know when so many political decisions seem to be geared towards getting mums out of the home away from their children, whilst paying a child-minder to do the job for them but with thirty others. (see here) I find that rather warped thinking!
The worth of the work mums do at home with their children cannot be emphasised enough; it creates the fundamental building blocks of a child’s future development. That’s how vital it is. Mums at home are the child’s first point of reference, first social reference, first understanding of relationships, first experience of language and communication, first introduction to the wider world, first teacher. It is a time when the basis of everything that is to follow is laid down, education included.
And above all it makes them feel loved, secure and valued. Children who feel loved, secure and valued are children who build stable relationships, who value others, who contribute something good to society.
There are no shortcuts in my mind. You have to properly interact, to talk, to engage.
The article says that ‘speaking directly to a baby or reading a bedtime story has a direct impact on how well they will do in school and possibly their career in later life.’
Professor Fernald from Stanford University in California says that; ‘Providing children with learning opportunities in their first years of life is as important a part of care-giving as changing and feeding them.”
I think some parents neglect to take this on board, maybe because they feel they’re not clever enough to ‘teach’ their kids anything since they’re not ‘educated’ enough themselves (or qualified – as many define being educated). But the simplest of things will count.
Because what really counts is being there to do the talking, reading stories, chatting – whatever level. From doing things together however insignificant like putting socks on or carrots away and chanting and counting as you go, to more creative tasks like making things, cooking, play, building, playing with dolls, making up games. Going out together and talking about what you see. Meeting and playing with others. Feeding the ducks or taking the dog for a walk. Visiting Granny or doing the shopping. It all educates in some way or another.
Your child is picking up messages from you, guidance from you, demonstrations from you, which are teaching them things like how to behave, what to say, what’s appropriate, how to interact, who you love and how to care, as well as language, counting and all the other basics for education later on. And it starts in babyhood.
To do all that you have to be there. That’s why mums at home interacting with their kids do such an important job. This job teaches. It develops. It educates. It teaches the basics of being human.
That’s why we have kids isn’t it? Because we’re interested in raising and developing another human being?
That starts from the moment they’re born. And is surely part of our parental responsibility!
(You’ll find lots of support in doing that in my latest book; ‘Mumhood’ which champions mums from beginning to end!)