Save the Children suggests families learning together

This article reports on a scheme to encourage families to spend time together. But how practical is this when all parents are now out of the home working? A long-time FTM member comments.

How will the current model of two parents employed outside the home tie in with this scheme aiming to helping families ‘sit down together to eat a meal’  and have time to ‘ play and read with their children’! The idea sounds good, but how realistic is this when parents are often away from home most of the time – or if they are single parents struggling to cope with it all with very little income or opportunities to improve their lives?

Has Save the Children, the charity suggesting this, researched why parents do not do these things already: is it lack of desire or time – or both? Are parents stressed or feel isolated in their parenting? The charity says they are targeting people from deprived backgrounds (often this can mean workless households so working status might not be a factor)  – but often the lack of a ‘nurturing’ loving stimulating environment is down to things like poor housing/no space or table to work on,  huge debt stress,  lack of community support,  overcrowding, no close extended family nearby to help out, etc.

A top-down approach with well-meaning young adults, fresh out of college,  coaching parents to play and read to their children isn’t really going to make that much difference in the longer term. Home Start volunteers do this kind of thing already – and Speech and Language therapists always talk about the importance of communication/conversation – as do Health Visitors-  but they receive little government and will not change.

Perhaps charities should work together more. If Save the Children is putting £12m into this scheme – why not share it with  Home Start and work together to help families? Everything is so fragmented creating lots of overlap and confusion, not to mention the costs of ‘training’ new workers – 8,000 for this scheme apparently.

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