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Letters to the editor for 6/9

June 09, 2002

Child's development must be concern of care providers


By Megan Shreve

I stopped by the office of an out of town friend this week and was delighted to find her recently turned 2-year-old sitting on the floor playing. Having been a child-care director and now working in an office, the enjoyment of watching a child play filled me with contentment.

When he saw me he looked up and smiled, then got up, moved to her phone and picked it up and said, "Hewwo, hewwo." I couldn't help but laugh as he mimicked his mother. I looked at my friend surprised to see the obvious frustration on her face, and asked what was wrong.

She reported that her child- care provider had called her earlier and told her that "her son" had woken up early from nap and was waking up the other children. He was now in the child-care office and did she want to talk to him on the phone? She decided instead to go talk to him in person and ended up just picking him up, thus his presence in her office.

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I could see the questions and frustration in her eyes. "What was she to do?"

I know the program, with its state-of-the-art new building has adequate staffing and is run by an organization that wants the best for children. Yet her story shocked me. Children waking up early from naptime is a common occurrence and programs should have a plan to handle this. More importantly, how could a program that is supposed to understand the needs of children, possibly believe that a parent talking to a 2-year-old over the phone could correct this situation?

Situations like this expose young children to failure, a feeling that generally occurs much later in life. Parents of young children are amazed with each step a child takes, praising and getting excited over each new accomplishment, which encourages future development. Yet today, with children attending child care at younger and younger ages, parents and child care providers have entered into some detrimental territories, expecting more of children than they are capable of developmentally.

Young children are egocentric, they believe the world revolves around them (and are they really that wrong?) They are learning to master language, culture and physical coordination as well as the social skills that will be so crucial in later years. Each child's development is on its own time schedule. We would never punish a child who was not walking or talking by 15 months. Why do we look at other areas of development differently? The importance of child-care providers understanding how children develop is critical. They should be the ones reassuring parents, not reporting that their 2-year-old hit another child when he took away a toy.

The job of both parents and providers is to teach children how to appropriately handle situations.

We don't expect them to simply know their addition and times tables, yet at times, we act as if sharing, playing appropriately, manners and the whole array of self-help skills that children need just happen. They don't.

A good sign that you have fallen into this trap is to listen to what you say when you pick up your child. Do you ask, "Were you good today?" Providers, what do you answer? Think about it, do we really want a 2-year-old to fail?

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Megan Shreve is the program director for Child Care Information Services of Adams, Franklin and Fulton (Pa.) counties, a component of South Central Community Action Programs Inc., and an advocate of quality affordable early childhood education.




It's a chance for students here to better the world


To the editor:

Students are taking a "graduation pledge" at www.manchester.edu which says "I pledge to explore and take into account the social and environmental consequences of any job I consider and will try to improve these aspects of any organizations for which I work."

Sometimes a student prefers to apply at an "ethically challenged" business, in hopes of bringing about improvements in that company's practices. The www.ecopledge.com site has a petition with 50,000 signatures and growing that maintains a list of potential employers to exclude from consideration and has succeded in getting several corporations to drop harmful policies.

With the increasing social and environmental awareness of students, companies will need to improve their business practices to attract top young talent.

Students are also logging onto www.Sustainus.org to sign a petition: It reads that U.S. youth can save 20,000 tons of carbon dioxide through energy use reduction by July 31 of this year!

Carbon dioxide is the gas contributing to global warming, and U.S. emissions are among the world's highest. SustainUS is betting the U.S. government that if they reach this goal, youth will have five seats on the official delegation to the upcoming U.N. World Summit on Sustainable Development.

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