Too Much Too Soon? Early Learning and the Early Erosion of Childhood

In our recent article, Baby Classes and Groups, we talked about signing your baby up to music or sensory classes, or even attending a mother and baby yoga or pilates class.

But having read the recent discussions about new book Too Much Too Soon? Early Learning and the Erosion of Childhood, by Richard House, we’ve now heard the argument against going to baby classes, or at least going to too many of them.

It seems that babies are now deemed ‘mini adults’ by the authors of this book, who find the busy schedules of yoga, singing, signing, swimming and even salsa to be damaging to the development of a child, which is quite the opposite to the intentions of the well-meaning parent.

The authors of the book, who include infant massage instructor Sylvie Hetu, say ‘Babies now have ‘schedules’ that are as important as those of adults. It is quite common that babies have a class every day’. She goes on to argue that this overstimulation is not at all what babies need and they’re missing out on quality time spent at home with the ‘calm presence of their parents’ and ‘day-to-day house sounds’.

She finds it a real shame that we are reportedly the first generation of parents who do not routinely sing to our babies, either because we’ve been told that we don’t have a good voice, or because it’s just not something we do. Lullabies are popular in every culture in the world and yet babies today are missing out on this crucial parent-child bonding and the influence of song on their development because their parents are too busy trekking around from one class to the next.

Having read what she has to say, we can certainly see her point, but it’s so difficult as a parent to know which ‘experts’ to believe when there are so many touting wildly different opinions. We suppose the phrase ‘everything in moderation’ can be used here. It surely can’t be damaging to take your baby along to the odd class or two a week, so long as you don’t overdo it and so long as you are genuinely doing it for the right reasons (i.e for your child) and not because you’re trying to cram in as many social activites as possible before you have to go back to work, if that’s what you’re planning to do. When you are at home, remember to treat your mum and baby time (or dad and baby, for any fathers that are reading) as quality time with plenty of song-singing, book reading and gentle play.

For those of you who are interested in reading the full book – check out ‘Too Much Too Soon? Early Learning and the Erosion of Childhood’.

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