Brugger: Caring for Our Kids: www.magicvalley.com

LINDA BRUGGER, Mar 10, 2021


House Bill 226 is dead. Idaho’s Legislators prefer to turn away federal dollars granted to the state to fund programs to assist parents and educators help children from birth until they enter kindergarten prepare their brains to learn. The bill had wide support from the governor, the State Board of Education, and the Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children (IAEYC). It spent federal, not Idaho tax dollars. What would anyone not like about the bill?

Legislators who are focused on any attempt to teach social justice subjects did a deep look at a wide range of the activities carried out by the bill’s supporters and any collaborative associations they may have. They found something that was disturbing to them. IAEYC is a member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children! (NAEYC) The horror is their website, which has 30 or more major categories of information, mentions diversity and advocacy a few times. Never mind that the majority of their work is devoted to developing the best practices for teaching young minds, advocating for emphasis on early childhood learning and teacher training.

The grant was not even for state-sponsored preschool. It was for providing training and other resources for daycare providers and parents. Eighty-five percent (85%!) of cognition skills are developed between birth and age 3. What research has shown, so far, is that babies are not born with learning skills. They are developed through play and interaction with their parents and other humans around them. Future success in school can often be predicted by how much brain stimulation a baby receives from its environment.

No doubt you’ve said it yourself. Babies don’t come with instruction manuals. We parents are often clueless when our kids present us with situations we are not familiar with. I recently heard someone refer to the fact that our life is going through change at a quantum rate. What we knew last year could become out of date rapidly. On top of that, there is what we never knew we didn’t know!

The money this grant would provide would go a long way toward providing training to parents and other childcare providers with the activities which stimulate a child’s brain so that it is prepared to learn the complexities of life. A child who is not completely literate by age eight has a difficult time when presented with the challenges of comprehending new facts as they are presented. Surprisingly, the years from birth to 3 are the most important step toward that goal.

Every parent wants to be the most important influence on their child’s values and respect for family traditions. None of this effort is meant to change that influence. This grant’s only goal is to strengthen a parent’s ability to be certain that their child’s brain is ready to learn.

Many of us who are now grandparents grew up without anyone thinking about how our early childhood may have influenced our later ability to succeed in learning situations. The funding of brain research by the Defense Department because of the high number of war injuries and then by others spurred by the apparent advancements has changed what we now know about babies and toddlers. A number of the parenting practices practiced by a few need to be practiced by everyone. All children can and should have the brain development needed to succeed as adults.

We can wish for the times when mothers were in the home or children were allowed to play from dawn to dusk, or we can deal with life as it presents itself now. I understand that because this grant is part of Idaho’s appropriation process, it has a chance to be redrafted and voted on again. We can only hope so.

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