President Obama, Preschool, and the Stay at Home Mom

OBSAHMI’m sure you’ve seen it by now! The internet went into a frenzy this weekend after Obama seemed to say that he doesn’t want women to choose to stay at home to raise children.

Here watch the clip yourself.

Now do I think President Obama was intentionally telling the world he doesn’t want women to choose to stay home. No not exaclty. I think he chose his words poorly in that moment. I believe he wanted the world to think that expanding preschool so all children can attend will be a wonderful thing for mothers as they’ll be able to return to the workforce sooner.

There is truth to that I suppose. My post here really isn’t about that piece of it. I’m not here to talk about working mothers or stay at home mothers. I’m not even here to talk about whether the government should or shouldn’t be funding preschool. I’m here to talk about the pervasive idea that parents are not capable of raising or educating their children. The idea that children are always better off under the guidance of the institutionalized school or government.

It seems like a lifetime ago now but once upon a time I was special education preschool teacher in a public school setting. At the time I believed all preschool children should attend a high quality preschool several times a week, if not every day. I believed with every fiber of my being that children NEED to be in school learning how to be in school. They NEED stimulating experiences to ensure they were adequately prepared for kindergarten and the rest of their school career.

Eventually I took another position as an education consultant. I was an early childhood advocate. It was my job to encourage the world to jump on the early childhood bandwagon. We needed free preschool for everyone! (well, not really free, we’ll just make the tax payers pay for it). We needed ALL DAY kindergarten for every child!

It was during my time in this position that my eyes truly opened. I sat in meetings with adminstrators, policy makers, local and state government leaders, grant providers, and even medical profressionals. They were all in agreement about one thing… children who stay at home with their mothers or who are cared for by a friend or family member are disadvantaged.

SAY WHAT?

No really! Read that again! I’ll wait….

Did you take that in. Yes, those in authoritative positions in our world believe that children who spend their days with mom or family are DISADVANTAGED! Naturally this means that they need to get into preschool NOW!

Where has our society gone that we think parents can’t raise their 3 and 4 year olds?

When I heard President Obama’s remarks I heard a veiled excuse to get young children away from their mothers and into institutionalized government care. Won’t it be wonderful? Free preschool means a mom can get back into the workforce a whole year earlier.

What can be done to turn this country on it’s tail? HOME should be the default for young children not school. For it is at home they children truly learn to how to be loving and caring individuals. Isn’t that the ultimate goal?