In various countries early educational institutions are called different names: nursery in UK, day care or infant care in US, kindergarten in Europe etc. I’m using a term “day care” and I mean educational institution, where kids (aged 1 – 5 yrs) are taken to in the morning and stay there till late afternoon or evening. This might be confusing, but I hope you got me.
Many people have asked me about Vedic day care center and when will I establish one. My answer is that two concepts – ‘Vedic’ and ‘day care’ – are incompatible. Why it is so and why we don’t send our kids to day care centre, I will try to explain in this article, so please read on.
- The Vedic lifestyle means to live life according to the guiding principles of nature.
Children should live in a natural environment, meaning WITHIN the family together with their parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters – not living APART from them, being constantly surrounded by a group of their peers and following the guidance of stranger.
There are no similar examples in nature and, moreover, in adult life they will never find themselves in such circumstances ever again.
Vedas suggest that children should be homeschooled till the age of 5, because until that age a child does not distinguish between a teacher and a parent. For a child ‘teacher’ and ‘parent’ are synonyms. A child is not ready for purposeful education and is more into play. Vedas recommend not to send under-fives to educational institutions, because the psyche of a child is focused on free play without definite objectives., sitting at the table in a restricted area and following instructions (all eat together, all draw together, all go outside together etc.) causes stress and emotional tension in a child, thus it can lead to illnesses. Up to 5 years the child has a greater need of support from parents, family and other people close to him.
2. Usually children can instinctively sense what is right and what is wrong in their upbringing process. Initially when children start to attend day care, or when they are left with their nannies, they cry and occasionally have tantrums. These signals are often ignored by parents and other caregivers. If they are neglected, then psychosomatic disorders are more likely to appear, for instance, a child may catch a cold more often than before (every other week, to be exact). Nowadays psychology has even introduced the term ‘emotional rhinitis’ – this is a chronic rhinitis, which occurs apparently “without” reason and can last for months. Quite often this kind of rhinitis has wrongly been diagnosed as an allergic reaction. In fact, this is true, to some extent – in this case, the allergen is the feeling of being abandoned.
When children frequently fall ill, it may be explained by their inability to ‘digest’ emotional experiences. This is, actually, how they signal ‘No, such an upbringing does not suit me!’. The common scenario is like this: one week at the day care, child falls ill and one or two weeks at home and repeat. Parents ignore these SOS signals and continue to send their children to day care and comforting themselves with the idea that ‘it occurs with almost each and every child, therefore, it must be normal!’ Almost all children have this reaction, accordingly it has been viewed as normal by psychologists and the teachers at the day care. It is common viewpoint that if the majority of children have the same reaction then it is alright – but this is absolutely wrong!!! Experienced teachers at day care will soothe you in the morning (when you are about to leave your crying child there) by saying: ‘Oh, the majority deal with this issue, just be calm and ignore it, because everyone, after a while, gets used to it’. Of course, if teachers are used to seeing such scenes every single day, their empathy level diminishes towards children’s genuine emotions. The length of time taken to adapt depends on specific child’s resistance till he/she ‘is broken’.
3. The consciousness of a small child is built in such a way to always please their parents, because their survival depends on their parents. If a child sees that his parents want him to attend day care (even if the motive is unclear for him), he sooner or later learns to suppress his own feelings and reconciles himself to it, because this is the parents’ will. This kind of pressure totally destroys parental authority in the eyes of a child. Moreover, it dramatically influences a child’s emotional, mental and physical health. The consequences may have far-reaching effects – a child may lose his natural empathy.
Children learn by imitating their parents and other adults’ actions and behaviour.
A child whose opinions and signals (telling that something is absolutely wrong in this process) have been ignored, may consequently become totally indifferent to other people’s and animals’ feelings, emotions and opinions. Such a person will be unhappy in later life.
4. Parents use various motivational methods to persuade their child to accept day care. Unfortunately, all these motivating factors lead to only short-term results, and in the long run, they dramatically distort a child’s perception of the world, thus instilling unwanted character traits. I would like to show you some examples. Parents usually say: ‘Everyone has his own job – mummy and daddy go to their jobs, but day care is your job’. It is, in fact, a lie! You receive money for your job! Child does not get paid. Sometimes a child can get rewards for going to day care (for instance, sweets, or gifts which they have long desired); however, by such methods parents may instil selfishness in their child or a wish to do something only if they see a reward. Bribery is dangerous, especially, in everyday and routine activities. It is good to reward certain achievements; however, if it happens daily, it leads to a reduction of the motivation. From the perspective of a child, the real purpose of attending day care has been misrepresented. Earning rewards has become the main aim, not the learning process and socializing. Besides, in the child’s consciousness the word ‘work’ has started to become associated with something unpleasant, where they have to go with gritted teeth, without joy. This will surely instil a dislike of work.
5. Both mother and child take this to heart. Both cry because it is so unnatural and wrong to abandon your toddler. A child receives contradictory signals. He thinks: ‘If day care is so good (that is what my mummy said), then why does she cry?’ However, teachers start to comfort a mother that the time has come to ‘set your child free’ and if it does not work, a visit to psychologist is being suggested, because the mother is making the period of adaptation ‘difficult’. In other words, it is suggested that a mother should ignore her own natural, maternal instincts and convince herself that it will be better this way. Suppressing her strong emotional feelings, which are connected with her deep maternal instinct, has negative consequences, which may manifest themselves as a physical illness in the womb or breasts (two organs related to motherhood).
The mother-child connection or in other words ‘yoga’ (‘yoga’ translated from Sanskrit means ‘connection’), which exists from the very moment the child is conceived, has been irreversibly damaged.
6. When in the mornings a screaming child has been left alone (yes, alone, because this is exactly how he feels even though surrounded by people) and he has been longing and waiting all day for when his mother would come, he becomes afraid that it might not happen. If parents don’t have a genuine interest in their child’s opinion, then later when a child becomes a wild teenager he will not take into account his parents’ opinions. Any child is ‘broken down’ with time, because he simply does not have a choice, but he never forgives that. No wonder how children are capable of violence, why teenagers ignore their parents’ opinions and why later on children as adults are struggling with their emotions, faithfulness towards others and being able engage in loving relationship. Instead of taking care of their parents, when they have reached retirement, many adults willingly arrange for them to live in retirement homes, where they would to pretty much the same thing children do at day care – being together with people their own age, play games and go for walks. They are waiting for their children and grandchildren to visit them. Will they ever come? Even though these old people are surrounded by many peers and carers, they feel alone, cast off and useless to anyone.
Nonetheless the main reason why the environment of day care is unfavourable is the lack of love.
7. A child should grow up surrounded by parents’ love, because when they live in a loving environment, it is more likely that they are able to fulfil their true potential. Love is ‘prana’ (the Sanskrit word for ‘life force‘ or vital principle), which children receive from having close contact with people, whom they love and who love them. You can only love a person whom you know. Parents know their children the best. But a teacher does not have enough time to get to know each and every child in the day care group, because there are usually too many. It is next to impossible to physically devote enough time to each of them. “Love” equals “attention” equals “time”. We love those things the most, which we devote the most time and attention to. Consider this: how much time do parents and grandparents devote to a child and how much does a teacher? To find out what your priorities are and who your loved ones are, it is necessary to check what you have devoted your time to.
The object of a child’s love and affection is his parents and family. A child’s attachment to his parents is a cornerstone of normal personality development to become an independent person in the future. But then, out of a blue, this object of the child’s affection leaves them in an environment, where love does not exist. From vedic point of view, a child is left without prana (the energy). A child can not thrive without prana.
8. A child lives in a continuous present moment. Explanations like ‘Mummy will return in the evening’ don’t help much for a child. Up to 4 or 5 years a child has not clearly grasped the concept of the future and what ‘after a few hours’ or ‘in the evening’ mean. If parents are not with a child, they do not exist (for the child) at all. A child feels as if the ground has been cut from under his feet.
Each morning a child feels as if he is losing his parents forever.
Most of the day is spent in tremendous stress without the object of the child’s love and affection being present. Naturally, a child will jump, run around and play with others, but he will be stressed all the time. This is how hyperactivity begins, because stress stimulates the release of adrenalin, which intensifies physical activity. In the mornings a child has been dressed in a rush and taken to the day care, where he spends the whole day, and in the evenings he is hurried to go to sleep to have this all over again in the morning. This adds to the stress level a child already has.
9. Many people believe that more important is not the quantity of time being spent together with a child, but its quality. This, in my opinion, is an excuse to not interact with your child, but to devote as much time as possible to yourself. They also include the fact that a child should communicate not only with his parents but also with other people. But, more importantly, no-one ever asks the child whether or not he wants to. To be honest, a child does not necessarily need quality time spent together with his parents. He just needs the people closest to him to be around. They can even be busy with their own things. But they are reachable. Near. Simply their presence is essential. Of course, I do not imply that it is alright when everyone sits with their own gadgets and stays silent. What I mean is that it is more comfortable for a child if everyone is busy with their own work and occasionally talks about something in a natural manner without a special pre-planned scenario or organized games. Those who talk about spending quality time, become children’s entertainers trying to please and amuse. They usually play, draw or drive toy cars instead of allowing the child to play independently without adult assistance.
10. When I mention, that my children don’t attend day care, I almost always hear an instant question about the lack of communication with peers and living in isolation at home. There is some kind of parental obsession with the fact that children at such young age need loads of communication. Here’s what I have to say. If a child spends most of his time with parents and family members, he is in a life-like natural environment, where he observes parents’ communication and shapes his own interaction with people. Thus, he is learning how to make contact and differentiate ways of communication in different real-life situations. Day care centre, on the contrary, is a restricted space with limited opportunities of communication and exploration of the world. Children don’t have the skill of communication yet and in most cases in day care they are left pretty much to themselves. There would be nothing wrong with that, except the fact that kids at such young age need mediator for communication in some situations.
Let us compare day care children to those who live at home. Day care children live in a monotonous routine under strict rules. Everything happens according to the schedule even such voluntary things as eating, sleeping, playing and even going to bathroom in some cases. However, for children, who live at home, every day is different, they explore different environments: visit public institutions together with parents, banks, the market, the post office, they are taken for a walk in different places, visit friends and playgrounds, go to some classes, go to the restaurant or café etc. They eat, sleep, play and do all the other things in tune with family’s and own voluntary rhythm. Who lives in isolation? I know that it is not a common practice, but why shouldn’t a father take his child to a business meeting or his work place, so that a child sees how things happen in the adult world and feels being part of it?
Parents’ arguments that their children ‘have to communicate with their peers’ should better be applied to age, when a child has more or less acquired basic communication skills.
The daily routine at day care center might be distracting for children’s development. For instance, if a child is carried away by some engaging game, but the time has come for everyone to do something else by the schedule, this activity is interrupted. A child’s cognitive process has been distracted. On contrary, sometimes teacher wants to engage the children in some kind of activity, because it is time to play according to the schedule, but she fails. Subsequently, teachers might draw conclusions about a child’s difficulties in concentrating or engaging in activities. The ability to switch concentration from one thing to another and child’s interest in activities are very variable throughout the day. Each child has his own inner natural rhythm and it may differ from the one at the day care center. Children have different dominating doshas, so the habits and abilities also differ. For example, for one child an hour of nap is enough, but for another 3 hours might be needed for harmonious development.
11. As I previously mentioned – a child learns by imitating what he sees. How can a child comprehend what actually happens in the adult world? Who does a day care child imitate? He imitates those around him with whom he spends most of his time. How well do parents know their child’s teacher or nanny and their values of life? None. How well do parents know other children? Most likely they do not know them at all. And then one day parents take their beloved child and put him in the charge of an unknown person in an unfamiliar environment, where he learns the communication from peers, who lack the same skills themselves.
Parents think that educational institution automatically means that a person will have the highest ethical and human standards. However, feedback, which I have heard from parents, makes me think that behind the closed doors a disciplinarian regime has been practiced with all its attributes: drilling, shouting, collective punishment, humiliation and so on. There are 2 teachers for a group with 20 children, probably, it is not possible the other way round. For the sake of discipline in the ‘herd’ each child’s personal needs and development have been sacrificed and this newly created personality becomes one of the ‘herd’ with unquestionable obedience and loyalty to the system.
12. In a Vedic or natural way, a child’s first teacher is his father. (Those who have studied Jyotisha Veda will know that the 9th bhava represents father and wisdom). The best way would be to educate your child at home. Most probably, many would start to worry, because rarely do they want to devote time to their child. Frequently there is no father at all. It is easier to put the responsibility for a child’s schooling in the hands of a stranger. But ask yourself: can you guarantee that these unknown adults in certain situations behind closed doors and when you cannot see it, will talk and treat your child the way you would want? Day care teachers (and also nannies) are strangers to both parents and children. Parents know nothing more about teachers than the fact that they have a proper qualification. Nothing more! Parents do not know their past, point of view, habits etc.
Children are like ‘small sponges’ who unconsciously ‘absorb’ from those around them everything they see, hear or feel.
If a child spends most of the day with a day care teacher, but only a few hours (in the mornings and evenings) with parents, it is inevitable that a child learns not those family values which have been long cherished, views, behavioural models, stereotypes, mode of speech and manners, but the unknown ones which come from the teacher. The most pernicious is the information on a subtle level, because a child falls under the influence of teacher’s karma. What do parents know about the teacher and her karma? Nothing. Besides, teacher may seem nice for parents; not for a child. Adults pretend and try to show themselves in the best light. Every teacher wants to show a loving and caring attitude. But the moment parents are gone, the situation might change. A child senses insincerity, therefore parents may perceive it strange that their child refuses to like this ‘wonderful’ teacher. The same with nannies.
13. There is a commonly held belief in society: if a child does not attend day care, he might face difficulties starting pre-school or school. But this is not true. Here again cause and consequence have been mixed up. The ability to adapt to a new environment at school vary. It mostly depends on a child’s horoscope and karma how successfully they will begin school – in an easy or rather difficult way. There can even be cases when a traumatic day care experience hinders a normal start of school.
14. The day care environment is unnatural and therefore children quickly change their behaviour. The behaviour is obviously different from those children who have never attended day care. It’s very obvious in playgrounds, where children from various backgrounds meet. One of the unwritten behavioral rules in day care is that punching is ok and if you don’t want to punch, you will be punched even more. A child has got into a battle-field, and this fight for survival is physical. Shy children have been encouraged to defend themselves with fists, but those kids who elbow their way through life are praised, saying they will achieve a lot in their lives. From time to time the most aggressive ones are being silenced, but it is as clear as summer day that such methods work only short-term. Day care children are not used to verbal communication, but the physical one. They have learnt that the only way in which to fight for their place under the Sun is by applying physical force. Verbal negotiation, finding compromises or just having a dialogue are skills which have to be taught by mediator, but its impossible if there are 20 – 30 kids and only 2 teachers.
It is a paradox: social skills’ development is the reason why parents send their children to day care, but the result is the opposite. A couple of dozen children are gathered in one room trying learn communication skills, but lack adult assistance – adult role is merely to point out errors, not to interact and explain. Remark without explanation (why it was wrong, how to make it right etc.) is ineffective. Day care teachers don’t have time to go into details about the situation. I dare say that children are left to their own devices. The survival instinct cuts in and from there on the children’s interaction is governed by the laws of jungle. The winner is the strongest and the most shameless, not the most intellectual. In fact, an intellectual and mentally developed person would choose fighting as his last option and only if his or other person’s life were in danger. A child is often a witness of physical, verbal and emotional violence. How can he grow up to be sympathetic and polite towards other people?
I have met many ‘home kids’, and in none of them have I noticed an overreaction, stubbornness or applying physical force against other children. Violence is unacceptable to these children and most often their reaction to aggression is walking away or ignoring. Walking away is wrongly interpreted as an inability to protect himself, but the truth is that it is a choice(!) not to become involved in conflict and such a choice can be made only by a free personality.
15. One more reason why Vedic day care is impossible is that in order to learn something new, a child should feel secure and unstressed. Children learn new skills only when they feel at ease. The best way it can be done is when children are at homey environment. Any other environment is stressful (it increases Vata dosha) – either in a positive or negative way. Either way, a child is stressed, and these are not proper conditions for acquiring new knowledge. I know many children who have attended day care but nevertheless they have learned reading and writing skills at home, because its more peaceful there. Besides I can’t think of even one thing which can’t be taught by parents. Of course, a child might be more self-controlled in the presence of a teacher, but then the learning process occurs under pressure. Besides, a child can acquire many more skills being in the natural society where children of various ages can be met (in comparison with day care, where the age is the same). A child can learn a lot more from children older than himself. This is a natural situation in a family of multiple children.
16. The general education system, starting with day care centers and kindergartens and ending with universities, is oriented to the cultivation of extrovert personality traits – working in a team, speaking in front of an audience, self-promotion, the fight to be in the spotlight, confrontation. Conversely, introvert personalities are better listeners than speakers, they prefer creating new things, thus they would rather work alone and in silence, not in the herd. Introverts would rather avoid conflicts and withdraw, they would not be the ones who start a fight, but more likely choose a diplomatic solution. Introvert personalities are called ‘deep waters’, and such characteristic traits as inability to recite a poem by heart in front of the class, inability to protect himself, inability to work in a group, dreamily staring out of the window – in a kindergarten and school, to some extent, are perceived as negative and to be corrected. Introversion cannot be cured, but trying to change something may negatively influence the development of a personality in the future and lead to such problems as dyslexia and speech disorders. But, anyway, the best inventors, scientists and successful businessmen have been, and are, introverts. They invent new ideas, new businesses, new technologies and new workplaces. The ability to invent something absolutely new and plan a business strategy and to implement it in life is an introvert process. Introversion is an essential part in the process of concentration and internalization. Consciousness and attention have been directed to the ‘inside’ (intro – in the inside; vertere – turn), on one’s own thoughts and inner world, and that is the precondition for a successful ability to meditate (ability to practice dhyana). Naturally, all people have this ability, however, introverts by nature are better at this. Such people are able to focus their thoughts and calm their mind more easily, therefore they might be more successful in their development of consciousness and transformation, as well as in yoga. The transformation of consciousness is the most important life challenging for everyone and it is, in point of fact, an introvert process. Cultivation and glorification of extrovert characteristics lead to introvert people’s failure to realize their potential and become useful for the whole society.
17. Another reason why parents decide to send their child to day care is that a mother simply feels exhausted or overwhelmed by caring for a child. It happens if a mother believes that she has to perpetually entertain her child – has to take him to entertainment centres, children’s exhibitions, concerts and schools meant for small kids. Certainly, such a lifestyle may soon become tedious. Therefore, my advice is
live your life with a child, not for a child.
Living for a child might be expressed in a mother’s wish for her baby to succeed, so she does many things for him. This way a child’s natural ability to play, explore the world and experiment with things is taken away. If educational toys are initially introduced to a child, then they facilitate a child’s independence and natural playing ability develops over time and a mother doesn’t need to play with her child all the time. She has enough time for preparing meals, having a bath and devoting time to her hobby. 18 month old toddler may easily play without an adults’ assistance and focus his attention on the play, unless you offer an entertaining toy, which makes a child bored after 10 minutes.
18. And in the end I would like to add, that parents’ attitude towards their children in public places is important, therefore mothers should be braver and assert their child’s rights to be an equal member of society. Growing up in a home environment, a child naturally finds both a time for playing together with parents and also playing alone. If there are many children in the family, it is even easier, because they play together and invent new games. (And what do you think mothers do in such moments? Write long articles such as this one.)
Children are not born as blank sheets of paper, they have their own karma, which has ‘sent’ them to their parents. Karma decides what type of childcare will be implemented, not parents.
Many choices have been made automatically – only because it is done by the majority. I have noticed that decisions related to children are very rarely critically evaluated, but there is an instinctive following mainstream. Each child has his own karma and thus we cannot talk about a single method of care, which would be equally good for everyone. Everyone, according to their own karma, will receive such care as they deserve and it will be the best for them whatever it might be. I know that when taking care of a child, mothers might sometimes feel restricted and limited, tired and exhausted. My experience shows that such desperate feelings appear when mother with a child goes only to the playgrounds or other similar places meant for children. In order to avoid the feeling of being limited, mothers should go with their children wherever possible. In Latvian society, more than anywhere else, I have felt a huge dislike of children in cafes and restaurants, as well as in banks and public institutions. Mothers also feel very nervous, being afraid that their child may start to cry in a public place and they may earn condemnatory glances, so rather they choose not to go out with a child at all. I must admit that this situation is improving compared with 3 years ago. Now there are children’s play areas even in state institutions. However, actually, this is a result of daring mothers taking the responsibility to live a life with a child as an ally, not a burden. It is also normal that sometimes mothers need time for themselves, go for a manicure or attend a concert. then mother is away for a couple of hours and not the whole day, so the child is able to accept it.
Mothers love the phrase: ‘Do not lose yourself in caring for a child’, but it is equally important to keep in mind the other side of the coin: ‘Do not lose children in caring for yourself.’ Consequences will be seen at the age of a child when they begin to lose their milk teeth. But we should remember that children are not the same. If a child already now is demanding a lot of attention, it means that he has experienced a situation where he was in need of his mother, but she wasn’t there. So the child has developed an insecure attachment – constant feeling of insecurity, which is expressed as an excessive attachment to his mother and dependence. Without understanding the causes of the child’s behaviour, parents of such children want to sign them up for day care as soon as possible, thinking that it is the way to develop independence and become more secure. The chances are that the result is total opposite. Insecurities intensify. Then parents send a child to a psychologist. From psychologist to psychiatrist and then to a neurologist. And there you end up with a teenager having tranquilizer addiction. But it was the cause, that had to be dealt with – a change in the parents’ attitude and childcare pattern.
Do not entrust your children into the hands of people who don’t love you or know you!
Dare to be different!