Allow me to indulge in a little beating of my chest, as I share with you my thoughts about the comments made earlier this week by someone in a position of power in this country who basically shat all over what I do.
I don’t know whether you saw the TV program The Project on Tuesday night when Senator David Leyonhjelm was interviewed? I didn’t. By that time I had fallen in a heap after spending the day wiping the snotty noses of the six children I had in care that day and stopping them from killing each other.
Because that is all I do. Well, according to Senator David Leyonhjelm, that is all I do.
Yes, I am one of those childcare workers who went out and got credentials (for something that women in childcare centres were doing anyway) and drove the cost of childcare up. Well, according to David Leyonhejelm, that is what I did.
What an idiot.
I watched a replay of the interview this morning online after I noticed a few childcare worker friends of mine took to social media expressing their anguish. They came out swinging. They felt insulted. Me? I just think he’s an idiot.
To watch the interview you can click on this link.
I’m not going to let Senator Leyonhejelm or anybody else make me feel like what I do isn’t among one of the most critical roles in our society. With several hundreds of thousands of preschool-aged children in care each day, at the most rapid stage of neurological development that they will ever experience in their entire lives, the future of our society depends on me and people like me doing what we do. The quality of a child’s experience in childcare, the interactions and provisions provided by a childcare worker, can either set that child up for great things or ruin him, for the rest of his life.
High quality education and care matters. I’m not going to let anybody tell me any different.
I guess Senator No Idea has a role to play as a politician in offering a counter argument to the Federal Government’s new $3 billion childcare reform package. I mean, that’s what democracy is all about right? But what concerns me, is that not only does he have no clue about what childcare workers actually do, sadly he does represent the views of thousands of Australian’s who don’t have any clue either!
The members of the panel on The Project were clearly appalled by what the Senator was saying. ‘But it’s hard work’ said one. ‘We want our children to be looked after by people who care and are qualified’ said another.
But what they and many other Australians have failed to acknowledge is the one thing I do as a childcare worker that has perhaps the most profound impact on the future of our society.
I influence the development of young brains.
That’s right. You know that mushy bit inside the skull that controls EVERYTHING THAT WE DO? Our thoughts, our feelings, our sense of self-worth, our ability to problem solve, our resilience and ability to identify and regulate our emotions…..it all starts in the first five years of life and that’s just the emotional development of our brains.
There’s also our early cognitive development, our language development and physical development in terms of our fine motor skills which all come together to enable us, among many other things, to read and to write.
Our early gross motor development enables us to walk, run, jump, climb – without ample opportunities to hone gross and fine motor skills from the day we are born we will likely spend the rest of our lives trying to catch up.
Many studies have shown that an environment rich in art, music and dramatic play sends the development of neurological transmitters in a young brain into overdrive.
Everything I do goes toward developing a child’s brain. Even changing the nappies, ‘wiping the snotty noses and stopping them from killing each other’, because meeting the basic physiological needs of a child is the foundation upon which everything else is built.
It’s called Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
Yes, it might come as a surprise to Senator No Idea that there is actually science and an enormous body of research behind the work that trained and qualified childcare workers do. Much of it is reflected in The National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care, which he is so quick to condemn.
Some will argue that all of these skills will develop anyway regardless of the quality of care. And to a degree, depending on their environment, that is true. Children have an innate need to learn. They crave knowledge and experience and will act on their insatiable desire to explore, hypothesise, experiment and learn. But the richer their environment, the more learning that takes place.
By rich learning environment I mean one that is nurturing, safe, stimulating and leveraged by an adult who knows the child, who is watching, observing and tailoring experiences to extend that child’s learning every day so that they can start life fully equipped with the skills and knowledge and sense of well-being that they need to take on the world.
I can’t think of many jobs that are more important than that. Can you?
One of the panelists on The Project jokingly suggested that Senator No Idea’s view of childcare might involve 30 kids on a leash drinking out of a saucer. The comment generated a few giggles and even the Senator chuckled, seemingly oblivious that the comment was facetious and that someone had just made a swipe at his ignorant points of view.
But it made me think about the Romanian orphans that I’d read a lot about recently when I was wasting my time getting credentials. In 1989 photos of infants in Romanian orphanages with their heads shaved, chained to their cribs and lying in puddles of urine, rocked the globe. Under the Ceausescu regime some 170,000 orphans were discovered, crammed into 700 institutions across the country. The result was a generation brought up without care, social interaction, stimulation or psychological comfort. The stories are heartbreaking. These Romanian babies are now in their late 20s and there is much written about them, many of whom display profound developmental delays and abnormal social-emotional behaviour.
The Romanian orphanage experience was extreme, I know. But my point is this. Quality child care matters. It really, really matters. I believe there is care and then there is quality care. Quality care is the type of care that takes children from having their basic needs met, all the way through to the top of Maslow’s Heirarchy, to ‘self actualisation’. It is helping them reach their personal potential, self-fulfillment and personal growth through peak experiences. It is what the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care is all about.
How it is funded is up to the politicians and bureaucrats to figure out. I don’t have the answers for that. But I do know that despite what Senator No Idea would have us believe, all children in childcare deserve quality education and care from individuals who are qualified to provide it. I don’t believe you can put a price on that.