Posting about ‘reflection’ always gives rise to more of the same.

It made me feel less than I’d like to be when I suggested my motivation to be a DP was merely, “…for financial reasons“. There’s more that can be said on this point that links to perhaps the greatest social experiment the country has dabbled with over the last decade or two – childcare.

I need to be careful here as this is a very emotive issue for families and one does not wish to offend. Mem Fox found that out when her recent comments were misreported. Steve Biddulph also felt concerned when he released his book critical of children under 3 being in childcare.

Kate and I decided very early on, if we had children, one of us would care for them while the other worked. That turned out to be me and over the last 5 years neither Lucy (5 soon) or Sarah (2) have had to be placed in childcare. We have had fantastic support from Grandma, who cares for the girls, when Kate is working casually once a week.

Many families do not have this option and the cold hard economic realities of life mean childcare is the only option. For others, it is undoubtedly not about finances but more to do with ideology or career or just personal choice. I guess poor planning has its place to play in all this as well.

For us, getting back to my original point, it required that I earn more money to allow us to care for our children in the way we thought best. If we were childless, I’d be in a classroom all day rather than my office.

Research into the human brain helps educators understand how best to teach students in the ‘middle years’. One would think, as a community, we need to look more into what research has been saying for quite a while about babies and toddlers. Increasingly this thinking is featured in our newspapers.

There needs to be a whole host of political initiatives to support our youngest children and babies. Of course, the Federal Government has widely publicised new policy about maternity and paternity leave. This is a step in the right direction but more needs to be done.

Another area that needs major government support is preschool education. NSW has the smallest percentage of any state attending preschool. Barry O’Farrell recently visited the preschool Lucy attends and we await his response to the committee’s questions about Liberal policy in this area. It would seem that many young children start behind from a very early age and that we need to do more to nurture, support and help our most vulnerable for a whole host of reasons.

ABS data on childcare and preschool can be found here.

Hopefully you have time to comment and I look forward to reading your insights into this issue.



    • darcymoore

    • 15 years ago

    Thanks to Elaine for this link about the positive influence of grandparents:

  1. Teacher, good teachers that is, should be remunerated better for their wonderful efforts. We say that, but will it ever happen? Meanwhile, I applaud any who are able to take the challenge to stay at home and raise their kids without the need for childcare. This time with the children will never come back, but amazingly as the years pass, the financial sacrifice will seem as nothing compared to the memories and human connections and family values you invest in. I also stayed home for eight years through those crucial years. We did without so much – but you’d never notice that now because 8 years out of a whole working career is nothing compared to the formative years of your own children.

    As for me? I also ended up a teacher by accident – and due to the need to support a young family. But I have enjoyed the flexibility – and my salary is ok compared to the many rotten jobs I might have ended up in instead!

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