Do we have unrealistic expectations of children?

Do we have unrealistic expectations of children?

We all want to instil positive values and behaviour in children. However, it’s important to remember that they are just little people trying to navigate a sometimes, unfamiliar world and we should not expect a level of perfection that we as adults don’t even adhere to ourselves. Children are constantly learning about themselves, about boundaries and limitations and about the world around them. Through this learning process, there will always be ups and downs because they don’t have all of the answers. Let’s face it, none of us do, do we?

This is why it is so important to model the behaviour that we want to see in children and to not hold them to a higher standard than we, as adults, could even live up to. We all have off days where we can feel agitated and snappy and days where we are not quite ourselves. Children do too, yet we can, at times, expect them to be on form at all times, forgetting that they too are people with changing emotions and moods.

If we were to treat children in the same way that we treat adults, would we do the things that we do?

If an adult was busy doing something that they were really focused on, would we walk up to them and close it down because we had decided that it was time to do something else? Or, would we let them know that we needed to move on to the next task and give them time to finish off what they are doing?
If someone was not being their usual self would we try to find out the reason why, or would we just judge their behaviour?
If a person asked you to pass them something with a polite and friendly tone, but without the word ‘please’ attached to it, would we refuse to give them what they were asking for, or deem them as being rude? Do we honestly say the word ‘please’ after every single request that we make?
If an adult made a mistake like knocking over their drink, would we get angry with them and punish them, or would we help them to clean it up and tell them not to worry as it was only an accident?
We have to ask how we would feel and react if we put ourselves in the shoes of children – if the answer is that we would get frustrated or feel annoyed, is there any wonder that children sometimes react the way that they do and go into meltdown?

Children learn from what they consistently see. If we want them to have nice manners, we need to have nice manners. If we want them to be kind, we need to be kind. If we want them to take responsibility, we need to take responsibility when we get things wrong.

Human beings are imperfect by nature because we don’t come to this earth with all of the answers. It is our job to lead by example and to teach children through our own actions. However, it is also important to remember that our example will never teach them ‘perfection’. We will make mistakes and have off days and this is normal. We just need to remember that children will have these kinds of days too and that like us, they won’t and shouldn’t be expected to be perfect all of time.

A child’s view of the world and themselves is formed by what they consistently hear, see and feel around them. It is our job to demonstrate the kind of behaviour we want to see and to instil positive values that will give them a strong foundation for the future. Children need strong boundaries and I believe that it is important to have them. However, as we are setting these boundaries and leading the way, we also need to take a step back and ask ourselves if we are holding children to a higher standard than we would be able to live up to as adults.

Respect is one of the most important qualities that we can instil in children, but it works both ways. If we want children to be respectful, we need to act in a respectful way around them too and ask ourselves if our actions would be acceptable if the shoe was on the other foot.


About the author:

Stacey Kelly is a former teacher, a parent to 2 beautiful babies and the founder of Early Years Story Box, which is a subscription website providing children’s storybooks and early years resources. She is passionate about building children’s imagination, creativity and self-belief and about creating awareness of the impact that the early years have on a child’s future. Stacey loves her role as a writer, illustrator and public speaker and believes in the power of personal development. She is also on a mission to empower children to live a life full of happiness and fulfilment, which is why she launched the #ThankYouOaky Gratitude Movement.

Sign up to Stacey’s premium membership here and use the code PARENTA20 to get 20% off or contact Stacey for an online demo.



BREAKING NEWS: Campaign group reports Government ‘abuse’ of the childcare market to competition authority

BREAKING NEWS: Campaign group reports Government ‘abuse’ of the childcare market to competition authority

PRESS RELEASE on behalf of

Champagne Nurseries on Lemonade Funding

Members of the campaign group ‘Champagne Nurseries on Lemonade Funding’ (CNLF) have made a formal complaint to the Competition and Markets Authority (formerly known as the Monopolies and Mergers Commission) about the Government’s abuse of the childcare market.

The complaint outlines how the Government has abused its legislative powers by regulating the childcare market, stating that “[the] price fixing of both the purchase and sales price is an abuse of market control”.

In September 2017, the Government will roll out its 30-hour offer to eligible 3 and 4-year-old children of working parents in England. However, due to the shortfall between the true cost of providing the ‘free’ hours and the deficit in funding from the Government, many childcare providers believe they will be unable to deliver childcare in a sustainable manner and will be forced to close.

This effect is in direct opposition to the Government’s aim of providing more childcare for the estimated 400,000 families who will become eligible for the additional 15 hours in September.

The complaint by CNLF, which has almost 7,000 members, states that the childcare sector is already in jeopardy due to factors such as the introduction of workplace pensions, consistent increases in the National Minimum and Living Wages and Business Rates revaluations.

It goes on to state that the Government has “ploughed on with its political agenda based on non-representative data” in reference to a survey commissioned by the Department for Education to establish the true cost of childcare, which only received 284 responses.

CNLF’s action comes in the wake of a recent survey of councils in England by the Family and Childcare Trust which found that over half (54%) said they did not know if they would have enough childcare available for eligible pre-schoolers using the 30 hours.

A spokesperson for the CNLF campaign group, said:

“We looked at various ways to challenge the Government on the issue of underfunding in Early Years. This route is a direct way of getting the legislation around funding investigated. 

“As private businesses, PVI’s (private, voluntary and independent childcare providers) have been absorbing and trying to manage the costs associated with delivering the ‘free’ Early Years Education since its introduction. The extension to 30 hours for working families brings with it the real threat of closure for some settings who simply can’t absorb or manage further losses.

“As providers, we fully support the Government helping families with childcare costs, however, the policies around funding mean that we have no choice but to cross-subsidise by charging inflated fees for hours outside of funded hours and charging for additional services for things that the Government say should not be provided within the funding. 

“This is not something we want to do and not something we feel parents should be faced with. It is a consequence of a policy which the Government has not funded properly and which childcare providers cannot afford to subsidise but know that they run the risk of being forced out of the market if they do not offer the funded hours.

“Research showed that only 51% of nurseries in England were expecting to make a profit in 2016, with the average nursery losing an astonishing £957 per child, per year on the 15 hour offer. 

“This level of loss on 15 hours of funding means that the increase to 30 hours is simply untenable for the whole sector at the current funding rates, the only way to ensure the ongoing viability of the whole sector is to remove the word free and allow the funding to be used as a subsidy.

“We are confident that the CMA will carry out a thorough investigation and we await their response.”



University research claims attending an ‘Outstanding’ nursery has limited benefit

University research claims attending an ‘Outstanding’ nursery has limited benefit

Research from the University of Surrey claims that children attending an ‘Outstanding’ nursery or one with highly qualified staff has limited benefit for them.

The research, published on the 13th February, outlined how the Government spends £2 billion a year on providing part-time nursery education for 3- and 4-year-olds in England. In the sample used for the research, 1 in 10 children attended an ‘Outstanding’ nursery, two thirds attended a ‘Good’ nursery, 1 in 5 attended a ‘Satisfactory’ one and 2% attended an ‘Inadequate’ nursery.

The research was conducted by teams from the Centre of Economic Performance (CEP) at the London School of Economics, University of Surrey and University College London.

Dr Blanden, a senior economics lecturer at the University of Surrey, said: “Successive governments have focused on improving staff qualifications, based on the belief these are important for children’s learning.

“Our research finding that having a graduate working in the nursery has only a tiny effect on children’s outcomes surprised us.

“It is possible it is driven by the types of qualifications held by those working in private nurseries, they are not generally equivalent to the qualifications of teachers in nursery classes in schools.”

He added: “Some nurseries are helping children to do better than others, but this is not related to staff qualifications or Ofsted ratings.

“It is extremely important to discover the factors that lead to a high quality nursery experience so we can maximise children’s chances to benefit developmentally from attending nursery, particularly as the government extends the entitlement from 15 to 30 hours.”

The teams compared data on children’s outcomes at the end of reception with information on the nurseries they attended before starting school for 1.6 million youngsters born between 2003 and 2006.

The research found that commonly used measures of pre-school quality in England were not able to explain much of the variation in children’s outcomes at school.

Bridging the gap between evidence and policy in early-years education

Bridging the gap between evidence and policy in early-years education

High-quality early years education and care is a government priority, and the fact that it brings numerous benefits for children, parents and society more widely is beyond doubt. However, there is little consensus on how we should define ‘high-quality care’ from the perspective of child development. What is the evidence which demonstrates how it can best be achieved in the UK?

A report by Imogen Parker, The IPPR report in to early years childcarepublished by the Institute for Public Policy research, part of their ‘Childcare: A strategic national priority?’ project, reviews the evidence of both the benefits of quality childcare, and the policies which have been successful in improving standards in the UK and abroad. From this body of knowledge it draws 10 lessons for UK policymakers on how our care system can be improved, providing answers to vital questions such as:

  • Which aspects of early years education and care provision should be prioritised, protected and reformed for different preschool age groups which have very different developmental needs.
  • How graduates can improve the quality of provision and outcomes for children, and how the qualification levels of all early years professionals can be lifted.
  • Where the priority areas are for any additional funding: for example, greater access to high-quality care for children from an early age is more important than extending the hours that older preschool children spend in early learning.
  • Why Ofsted may not always be an accurate judge or effective driver of quality in the early years.
  • What kind of provision has the greatest positive impact on child development.

It also sets out some concrete measures which are easily implementable in the short term, but which could be of great benefit to the next generation of children throughout their lives. Government policy for early years education and care should:

  • prioritise qualifications and ratios to meet age-related developmental priorities
  • use funding mechanisms to boost uptake by the most disadvantaged children in high-quality care settings
  • ensure monitoring and assessment reflects best developmental practice
  • build the professional infrastructure, and accountability and support structures, that is necessary to drive quality

The full report can be downloaded here.

We’d love to hear you comments below.

Commons debate revised proposals for ‘More great childcare’

Commons debate revised proposals for ‘More great childcare’

Yesterday afternoon, at 3.45pm, Elizabeth Truss offered more clarity on her proposals for the UK childcare industry, following the Government u-turn on ratios.

She stated, “This is a matter of pressing need, and we are taking forward the following proposals: introducing early-years educator and early-years teacher qualifications; introducing tax-free child care; ensuring that more money for child care goes to the front line; increasing the supply of childminders through the establishment of childminder agencies; and making it easier for schools to take two-year-olds in their nurseries.”

She then came under fire from several other ministers, including Sharon Hodgson, Labour MP for Washington and Sunderland West, who stated, “The Government have got themselves into a complete shambles. With every passing week, it becomes more and more apparent that Ministers do not have a credible plan to tackle the child care crisis they have created. Under this Government, parents are facing a triple whammy: costs are rising faster than wages and even general inflation, with the average cost having risen by almost 20% since 2010; support from the Government for those on tax credits has been cut, meaning that some families are up to £1,500 a year worse off; and there is a real struggle to find places in some areas owing to the cuts in supply-side subsidies and direct provision, such as through children’s centres. Since the election, we have lost almost 900 nurseries and more than 1,500 child minders, and there are 500 fewer Sure Start children’s centres.”

Meg Hillier, Labour MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch, sought clarity on the proposal for ‘Tax-free Childcare’ asking, “On new clause 10, the Minister made great play of introducing tax-free child care, but she should be clearer in her closing remarks about what exactly that means, as I fear she is misdescribing something. What she seems to be proposing is that after people have passed through many hoops, including having both parents working and receiving certain levels of income, 20% is paid, which is not tax-free for the higher rate taxpayer. I want her to clarify this point: she talked about those paying additional tax not qualifying, so will she explain what tax threshold this will and will not apply to, so people who might be affected can know about that?”

In response, Liz Truss stated, “We have had a wide-ranging debate on the various child care issues, but one point that I think we can all agree on is that there is an urgent need for high-quality, affordable child care in this country. At the moment, many working families are struggling to afford their child care, and I can assure the House that the Government are fully committed to improving the situation. Tax-free child care, which is the key policy that we have been promoting in the Bill, will contribute to that.

I would particularly like to thank Dan Rogerson for his very constructive comments, particularly on the point about our tax-free child care scheme. I want to reassure Meg Hillier that “tax-free” refers to the 20% that parents will benefit by. The critical point is that it is open to many more families.”

Read the full debate here

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