Curriculum for Babies?!
Posted by homeschoolmentormom on May 4, 2010
A day or two ago I got an email from a reputable homeschool supply company describing their newest product—a homeschool curriculum for babies.
I object. In my opinion, babies do not need “curriculum”.
Don’t get me wrong…I’ve often stated that I homeschooled my four children “from birth” (maybe I’ll quit saying that.) But to me, “homeschooled from birth” refers to the fact that my children were cared for at home versus being sent away for childcare–not that I actually used a “curriculum” to “teach” them at such a tender age.
I have to admit, the idea of an infant curriculum makes me mad. Perhaps it’s just me. Perhaps it’s just semantics, but this is a personal pet peeve. We developmentalists have enough trouble encouraging parents to relax and enjoy the preschool years without the need for curriculum (and the pressure that goes along with it) without curriculums being offered for babies and toddlers.
I decided to see if this was an unusual phenomenon, so I Googled “curriculum for babies” and found that this is not a new or unusual thing. I quickly found other curriculums—for babies as young as three months old. Additionally, our state and national governments are developing national curriculums for babies, which include “benchmarked standards” (is your baby rolling over yet? Well, why not?!) Can you imagine? What’s next, the child development police?
Time for a reality check. The common definition of “curriculum” is a “course of study; an integrated course of academic study”. Do babies need academics? No, of course not. My definition of curriculum is very different; I say that curriculum is “anything and everything that helps your child learn.” In this sense, I guess you could call developmentally appropriate toys and such baby’s “curriculum”. Even so, do parents really need to spend hundreds of dollars on something like this? Do babies really need to be “educated”?
Many of the “toddler curriculums” I found include workbooks. I definitely have a problem with this. Toddlers do not need coloring books, cut and paste books, and so on. The term “toddler” traditionally refers to babies once they are learning to walk (toddling)–until they walk with good coordination–usually children between the ages of eleven months until the age twenty-four months. Children this age do not need any type of workbooks.
It certainly is true that babies and toddlers are learning and growing at an amazing rate, but I object to the idea that they need any type of pre-planned “curriculum” to “maximize” or “optimize” their development (you’ll hear lots of phrases like that if you research early curriculum or “educational” toys.) In fact, I object to the term “curriculum” having anything to do with babies and toddlers and I can’t imagine the type of guilt and stress such “curriculums” must place on young parents.
The more companies carry such products…the more websites offer such “curriculums”…the more parents will feel that such “curriculums” are necessary. The temptation for many parents will be to rely on the curriculum, making it a slave driver while turning the happy, fleeting years of babyhood into a “to do” list.
Rest assured, your baby does not need any type of pre-planned curriculum to grow up healthy, happy, physically coordinated and intelligent. All they need is loving, consistent care from their parents, and an enriching home environment.
Next post: If babies and toddlers don’t need a curriculum, what do they need? How do we provide an enriching home environment for babies, without going overboard?
Related posts: Check my archives on the topics of “Babies,” “Readiness” and the tab, “the 4 R’s: Readiness.”
© 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.