Parent’s guide to the Early Years Foundation Stage – initial press review

Bookcase. August 2009

Bookcase. August 2009

Someone once said to me – they didn’t know whether you could be a mother and a journalist.  I now know the person who said this had an incomplete understanding of ethics and what is sometimes referred to as ‘objectivity’. I experienced the remark as a put-down – something designed to undermine my confidence and convince me that my motherly ‘instincts’ and ’emotions’ would somehow cloud my judgement and my ability to see both sides of a story.

The point is: as a mother and a journalist – I can see both sides of the Early Years Foundation Stage story. As a mother and a journalist I’ve considered questions of ethics and will continue to do so.

In my next few blog posts I plan to look carefully at what sort of press coverage the Early Years Foundation Stage framework has received so far.

However – I’ve yet to come across a journalist writing about this who is also the parent of a pre-school age child. This fact doesn’t surprise me at all. Being a mother and a journalist is a  huge challenge for lots of reasons. It’s a challenge I need to meet head-on – not least because I believe my observations,  experiences and feelings on the ‘coal face’ of parenthood are part of the Early Years Foundation Stage News Story that is just not being told. It’s one of the biggest news stories I’m ever going to deal with. It concerns the future of whole generations of human beings.

 Becoming a mother is a source of joy – but it can also be a shock to the system. I joined the NUJ in 2006, shortly after my daughter was born – and worked mainly from home. Birth and the transition to motherhood are life-changing events – between birth and the age of three – we know that so many important things happen in a child’s life.

I have very strong views on the importance of motherhood and parenthood- I followed the U.N.’s advice on breastfeeding for example – I fed my child myself until she was eighteen months old and have held off working full-time hours until our child goes to school. Our child did not start to go to a childminder until she was nine months old and for a long time I felt that a mere two afternoons a week was enough for her.

I am definitely not a ‘pushy’ parent. That’s because I value learning. I believe it is a gift that can help you on your way in life and see you through the tough times. I believe in the value of a good teacher, a good school and a good education. So many children (and adults) are put off learning and school by poor teaching and too much pressure. I don’t want this to happen to my child.

The picture shows our child’s book case at home. We have always read stories to our child and for two years at least, she has been able to choose the books she would like to hear. Notice how well-thumbed the books are.

I find one of the most shocking aspects of the whole Early Years Foundation Stage discourse – is the lip service that is now being paid to parents and their involvement and contributions to their child’s education. The phrase ‘disenfranchised’ springs to mind.

I don’t think I’m a parent who has difficulties ‘letting go’ or coping with change. At present, my child and I are still looking forward to school – despite the difficulties which the EYFS framework is presenting us with. That’s because we like learning. And I’ve  told my daughter that everyone is learning all the time. Children. Teachers. Parents. Life-long learning.

I’ve been absolutely astounded at some of the attitudes which come across in discussions about Early Years Education both in-person and on-line. It’s almost as if some ‘educators’ believe that the majority of parents actually don’t have a clue what they are doing and don’t know what is best for their child. 

Most parents have days when they struggle to find answers but time after time you will hear the view  that the success of the EYFS and the EYFS Learning and Development Goals will depend on the extent to which parents are ‘engaged’ and ‘educated’ about it. If only we ‘understood’ what the teachers and early years practitioners were trying to do…?

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