What do children and houses have in common? They both need a solid foundation. When you build a foundation for a house you use two important materials: concrete and steel. The concrete provides the mass the building sits on and the hidden steel gives it strength. If you omit the steel, you can save money and the building will be finished more quickly. The house will function adequately until something unexpected happens – like a flood or the ground shifting. Then the walls will crack.
In early years, we help build the foundations for a child’s future. The literacy and numeracy are important and relatively easy to measure and inspect, like the concrete. Relationships and the sense of wonder and curiosity are the hidden steel. Although much harder to measure, it is those attributes and experiences that may uphold a person when life gets difficult.
We need to resist the temptation to reduce the steel. Most of us had childhoods where those crucial attributes were nurtured, and now it is our turn to keep doing what we know is right for children.