ice cream in the rain

When it rains and rains and hails and rains and pours and buckets down all day, the very best thing to do in a small interlude in the late afternoon is to don coats and boots and go for a walk to the beach.

We got down there and found the stream was a fast moving river and best not crossed, so went walking along the back lane and up through the new estate to the dairy for ice creams. We ate our frozen confections under the shop eave while a blast of heavy rain thundered down and then walked on home to have hot baths and bacon hock, bean and kale soup.

The Christchurch Press had a good article on the 20 free hours of childcare for 3 and 4 year olds scheme in New Zealand, now about to begin it's third year. I can't find it online. It does not point out that the research endorsing free early years 'education' was not universal, but rather showed significant benefits for children who came from deprived homes (e.g. depressed carers, violence). Somehow that got extrapolated out to apply to all New Zealand 3 and 4 year olds. Big big benefits for affluent and almost affluent working families who get very cheap childcare while they work. Not big benefits for families who want to access kindy or similar provision in poor suburbs and find there are hardly any places and many many people wanting them.

The article suggested that targeting of the subsidy to reach those who need it most would have to be looked at at some point. I agree.

What always annoys me on this subject is the undermining of home caring skills. There is an insidious message going on here that mothers offer inadequate support to their developing children. One big bucks childcare person even wanted free hours for two year olds. Of course the only way they can do this is by misreperesenting the research but they seem to be very happy to do exactly that.

The current scheme is a sop to middle income earners. That was Labour's project and now National are cementing very similar priorities by cutting state school budgets and bailing out the private school sector to the tune of $34 million.

More kindies and playcentres, fewer private child care centres. More than anything, more confidence to parents. We do not need institutions to 'socialise' our children. What a stupid term anyway, but all of us with under-fives hear it all the time.

What else this weekend? The school gala. I collected money, prepped faces and helped children decide what they wanted 'to be' for nearly four hours. Next time I am going to either volunteer for something which isn't the one stall which starts early and finishes late, or find someone to share the job. Tomorrow we find out how much money we made. I only made one child cry which seems pretty good going to me.

I was going to sow some seeds today but there was the small issue of the endless rain. Some other time. Nothing is going to grow super fast just right at the moment anyway.

Still no camera. Which is a shame as we have been invited to a wedding next weekend and I am somehow going to stop being tired at night and make myself a party skirt using part of the gorgeous African print I bought in Brixton, South London, six years ago and some bright green and navy, this week. A panel skirt. I agree. Time to find the camera.


Mary said…
Very interested in your comments on that unsettling ECE article, which was also in the Dom Post. Did you notice that it didn't even mention Playcentre? I have a blog post in my head about it, but I don't know if it will ever get written! It's a classic case of middle class capture of public benefits. I also have strong misgivings about the whole normalizing of institutional care for many hours, while very young.
Playcentre doesn't fit into the model of disempowering mothers to the point that they perceive their only value as tax paying workers outside the home... Which in turn ups GDP as home running services are contracted out. Have you seen the Marilyn Waring article in the current North and South? It is worth reading. Weird shift in (their)spectra, when I find more to read in N & S than the Listener.

I didn't make the time to re-find your post on this subject and link to it Mary, but you are the source for a valuable critique of the way the research was misrepresented as part of the 20 free hours rollout - thank you.
Mary said…
I haven't read the article but will look out for it (funny, N+S is getting more interesting over time - I must be getting old!!). I'm familiar with some of Marilyn Waring's work though - I remember reading Counting For Nothing for an assignment many moons ago.

Maybe you were thinking of something I wrote which referenced Sarah-Eve Farquhar? (who also appeared in the ECE article).

Here's a reference:

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