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People and Politics Forum 23.05.2008

"Are children better off in kindergarten?"

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More information:

Kindergarten - Why Too Little Is Being Done

Education experts know how important kindergarten is for kids, especially for those from disadvantaged families. Still, too little is being done in Germany to take care of the youngest. Only one half of one percent of the gross domestic product is spent on pre-school education and care. The OECD recommends double that figure. Another problem is the poor education that kindergarten teachers receive and their low pay. Policy-makers are alarmed and have taken steps to address the issue; soon at least one out of every three children will have a nursery spot.

Our Question is:

"Are children better off in kindergarten?"

Herbert Fuchs, in Finland, writes:

"A mother remains the mother, even if she fails in her maternal role. Every child knows that and feels their mother's heart and loves them. Sadly there are mothers today who do not have what it takes to raise a child properly. You then get the situation where a child feels at home at kindergarten and likes being there, especially if the mother is overburdened, e.g. due to financial troubles or domestic rows. A child will then often feel in better hands with their kindergarten teacher. There is no 100% sure solution to the question. A kindergarten teacher can have a good heart like a mother, even if some people don't believe it."

In the Philippines, Aeron Paul Soriano says:

"The German children should be sent in their pre-school education especially in Kindergarten because in this stage/level of their early education. The children will mold their skills and talents in academics that will be their achievement in their upcoming higher levels, and they should sent it because education is very important to all humankind to teach them how the reality of life really exist in this world."

Sabina Vollrath, in Chile, knows the reality:

"I am a qualified educationalist and run a small German kindergarten in Santiago de Chile. We have 22 children and three teachers. We aim not to be "better" mothers but to give the children entrusted to us access to group activities and aggression-free communication as well as learning rules of social conduct and a foreign language. Our role model function is important; the children soak up everything like a sponge, they learn with so much enjoyment and enthusiasm! We can never forget that children are our future, and teaching is the most important occupation on Earth - regardless of whether education is provided by the family or in an institution! Unfortunately, this is still not given enough appreciation or support!"

Jürgen Dehning, Brazil, calls for more insight:

"In my opinion it's not a question of whether kindergarten teachers are the better mothers. The German welfare state would be better if it would finally realize how important early child care is; then a lot of mothers be able to return to work sooner. In Brazil mothers go back to work after five months. They bring the babies to a nursery (generally at their own cost!) and are certainly not bad mothers."

Martin Burmeister, in Venezuela, writes:

"Nobody can replace the biological mother! Kindergarten teachers, especially those fully committed to their profession, can have a very positive influence on the development of their children and - together with the parents - give the children a sound basis for the future."

Olga Godlevska, Ukraine, makes an interesting point:

"The oxytocin level in the blood determines the female endowment for the care, tolerance and self-commitment involved in raising children. For some women, the level of the hormone even determines their choice of profession. Women with low levels of oxytocin see their children more in terms of an implicit obligation. And although they do all in their power for their well-being, they aren't too emotionally involved and often become annoyed. It can therefore be concluded that only those women with a high oxytocin level make good kindergarten teachers and probably also the best mothers."

Paul Albert Stadelmann, in Venezuela, says:

"When I think back to my childhood, I can gratefully recall the many hours our mother devoted to her five sons every day and thereby set us on the right track at an early age. This love and devotion was very important for us in the first five years of our lives. How do people get the idea that a kindergarten teacher could replace the mother? It can only be the result of of a poor wages and welfare policy, where both parents have to seek paid employment in order to make ends meet."

Ricky Wetzel, in Peru, is critical:

"Hello, first I find the question was worded inappropriately. It's not a question of who's better. It's about the interplay between the two.A kindergarten teacher should not and cannot replace the mother and vice-versa. It is NOT the kindergarten or school staff's job to raise the children. Some parents make it easy for themselves. Child care should provide support and begin where parental care has its natural end. Parents and teachers should cooperate to prevent efforts at home working contrary to work at the kindergarten. Unfortunately, teachers at kindergartens and schools have to devote a lot of time to teaching basic behavioural concepts such as discipline and respect, which should really be the parent's responsibility. Instead of there simply being cries for qualified teachers, a lot of (but not all) parents should take their own responsibilities seriously and not depend on teachers and the state."

Olga Tkachenko, Ukraine:

"If the mother is a drinker and the child gets no proper care at home, then a good kindergarten teacher is a blessing."

Uta Nicolaisen, in Germany, makes some comparisons:

"Having just returned from six years working in a kindergarten (ages from 6 weeks through 10 years) in the US and being a mother of three little girls, I have concluded that the kindergarten is neither an educational establishment nor a drop-off point for those who would rather invest money in a larger car. Parents should first of all love and raise their children. This requires a bit of work, of course. But that isn't "in" in the US. Despite being well trained, teachers are poorly paid, and the system isn't subsidized. The groups are too big, the food isn't very healthy and the children don't get much exercise. The teachers are under constant stress and have to work more and more. What's clear is that not even the best kindergarten can replace a mom, dad or grandma. The kindergarten can and should be an enrichment - for a few hours a week. I have some good advice for all the parents who complain about kindergartens: do it yourself! Your children ought to be worth it. You can always get that fantastic house or great job later!"

Erich Prinz, Thailand, is adamant:

"Yes, I think it's right for small children to grow up in a kindergarten! Here in Thailand it's in fact compulsory to send children to kindergarten when they turn three. And Thailand is definitely not a rich country. On the other hand, the money needed is found here."

Maria Fernanda, Venezuela, doesn't pull her punches:

"I just wonder how the idea arose of kindergarten teachers being designated the better mothers. I suggest that Germany make kindergarten teachers responsible for child-raising and politicians for elections, as they are also the better voters. The legislative and bureaucratic mania in Germany is having such a restrictive effect on the right to self-determination that I consider the country a dictatorship. I'm no longer surprised that so many Germans are leaving the country."

Gerhard Seeger, Philippines, takes the middle way:

"Of course a child's own mother is best. But a lot of good mothers have to earn money and therefore need well-trained and committed kindergarten teachers. Commitment - like good work - requires decent pay."