When Is It Too Early to Start?

They say it’s never too early to start most things (although I suspect this does not apply to wearing leopard prints). But I wonder if there are some things of which starting early is not necessarily good. Not that it has a negative effect, just that it doesn’t have a positive effect and then you’re just wasting energy. And all parents of small children know that you must conserve energy.

As a developmental researcher, I’ve read that parents’ involvement in their child’s education leads to positive outcomes. This is a well established effect. In a meta-analysis (a study of other studies) done by William Jeynes in California a few years ago, it was found that there’s a significant effect for parental involvement. That is, children whose parents were more involved in their education had higher grades and better academic outcomes. This was true across cultural and ethnical groups, financial situations, and is generally quite the robust effect.

So, knowing this, when my son started daycare and I found out this daycare had a parents’ board I – of course – signed up. Never mind that I was trying to bring my PhD to rest (shouldn’t be more than two years now, I hope). Never mind that I was so very new at this whole working mom thing. And, this year, never mind that I have two kids under three while still figuring out this working mom thing (it’s hard to figure work out when you haven’t been at work for two of the last three years). 

However, I suspect one year old may be a bit too young to get involved in your child’s education. I couldn’t find any research claiming that there is, indeed, an effect for parental involvement in the early years – the effect is typically found in elementary school. There are no parents from the baby room on the board with me. Now, that my son is 2.5, there are a few parents of kids from his room (the toddler room) in the board with me. And all of them either just had a new baby or are expecting one, so they’ll soon be vested with two kids at the same daycare. Granted, I’ll be vested with two starting next Friday (yay!), but mostly it’s parents of preschoolers.

So I wonder if I’m the only crazy parent who got into the (effectively) PTA when her child was one year old? Are you involved with your child’s school/daycare/whatever? When did you start?

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4 thoughts on “When Is It Too Early to Start?

  1. My children have done cooperative preschool. Between the two of them (neither yet in Kindergarten), I have participated in the equivalent of 6 PTAs (they are co-op boards, but same thing). For me, it’s not necessarily about the direct impact on their education but more about putting my talents to use to make the meetings efficient and productive. I generally find that the parents with the most on their plates are also the more likely to volunteer. I think it’s a level of comfort with juggling/time management.

    1. Thanks for sharing! But what do YOU get from the meetings running efficiently and productively? Does it make your child’s daycare better? Does it make your experience better? From my very personal experience (i.e., me), I tend to think that it’s the control-freak parents (who typically have more on their plates) that participate more. I know that for me it gives me a sense of being involved. I don’t mean this as a personal attack by any means – I’m just wondering what we get out of volunteering for the board?

      1. For me, it’s knowing that I have the skills to run an efficient meeting. I can share those skills or suffer through a meeting run by someone who does not have those skills. Parent meetings are a required activity in co-op. So, I can ride along and get out late or drive the ship and get home on time. 🙂

      2. Oh, I see! In our co-op daycare the board is voluntary – we need a number of parents but not everyone is required to attend. When you put it this way, of course it makes more sense to run the meetings! 🙂
        That’s an interesting model – making parents get involved in the educational process. Do you like this model? Would you have preferred to skip these meetings completely?

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