Factory farming doesn’t need to be the norm for our ECE children

In a response to NZMEs article “childcare workers speak out against ‘factory farming’ of children” PORSE confirms that there are more natural options for parents than enrolling children into factory-like early childhood centres.   

In Child Forum’s recent survey, more than a quarter of childcare centre workers said they would not place their own children in the centres they work in, with some calling the centres “akin to factory farming of children”. 

There is a worrying trend here. A similar survey was undertaken in 2014 which showed the same results – that 25% of teachers would not enrol their own children at the places they worked.

There is a better way.  Home-based education and care is becoming an increasingly popular option for parents who are looking for a more authentic and natural early childhood experience for their children.

Decades of research in neuroscience have confirmed that large, group-based care environments are a poor comparison to the settled in-home environments that offer quality one-on-one relationships.  In home-based early childhood environments children benefit from being in familiar, loving relationships.  They have a primary caregiver who is focused on nurturing their own unique needs and interests, allowing them the opportunity to be themselves and take their time to learn and grow.      

General Manager of PORSE, Kerry Henderson, says the science behind the developing brain is what drives PORSE to educate parents around their early childhood education and care options.  “Many researchers now say that the early years are more important than choosing what high school your child goes to. Strength comes from good beginnings and an environment of love is what grows the brain. It’s scientifically proven that the first 1,000 days of a child’s life is when most of their brain development takes place, showcasing the importance of investing in the early years to lay the right foundations.” 

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The Child Forum Survey article references the maximum early childhood education centre rolls, which were lifted from 50 to 150 in 2011.  Mrs Henderson believes that the best way to grow healthy young brains is in a home environment with one adult and no more than four children.

“If a child is responded to with love, sensitivity and kindness, their brain will reflect this. This means that the adults who care for young children are responsible for how these young minds develop.  This isn’t going to happen in a busy centre where many staff are concerned about high ratios of children to adults which as the report shows results in safety issues, staff stress, lack of staff time to development relationships and plan for their individual needs.” 

“When you’re looking at childcare options, you’re looking at trusting someone with the most precious days of your most precious person.  It’s important that you do your homework. What you put into these most formative years will determine your child’s success through primary and secondary school and well into adulthood,” she says. 

Mrs Henderson is heartened to see more and more qualified early childhood teachers make the transition from centre-based care to home-based care environments. “The findings in Child Forum’s survey align with our experience of interviewing teachers for roles with PORSE.  They express the same kind of concerns around the pressures of working in big centres with high ratios and how that affects the quality of relationships they have with children.  There is a genuine fear that New Zealand children are being confined to mass-produced, ready-made production lines that do little to recognise each unique child”, she says.

“At PORSE we build authentic relationships, giving each child the opportunity to create a secure attachment with one carer, which includes one-on-one quality time and attentiveness.  It allows both children and their Educators the opportunity to have a meaningful early childhood experience.  We just want teachers and parents to know that there is another way - a better way.”