Ideal infant needs middle-class mum

18th April 2003 at 01:00
Libby Purves's writings always amuse yet challenge me. "How to make an ideal infant" (TES, April 4) was very thought-provoking and it brought back memories of my own daughter's foray into the world of nursery education.

She is now 22 and continues to be a joy as well as a source of immense pride. As a young child she had stability at home and a routine for night-times as well as during the day. We communicated to her, fed her a diet of literature, discussed issues, made her aware of the disadvantaged, encouraged her to share and to cope with failure. She is not perfect as she has an incessant need for gossip.

However, those formative years have paid dividends in that she can cope with working in Thailand for three months on her own, handle the disappointment of not getting a plum job as well as give her time to do voluntary work.

None of this would have happened if she had not had a caring environment in which to thrive. She experienced the divorce of her parents but says she has little recollection of any trauma. In fact she says her childhood was idyllic.

Nursery education enabled her to develop her creativity and encouraged her love of books and a hatred of anything mathematical. Hence three attempts for a grade C at GCSE in order to get to university.

The long-term effects of nursery have been beneficial but they were only so because she had parental support and guidance.

We did not see it as the only form of education but as an additional one.

It was our job to put in place the moral and social skills, something very lacking in a number of today's students.

The best a parent can do for its child is to give it guidelines on right and wrong, a stimulating environment, and plenty of love. You also have to listen to them, accepting their ideas, concerns and hopes.

There are some success stories from we middle-class mums. Keep up the challenging writing, Libby, I really enjoy it.

Sue Hewitson

4 Sorrel Way

Baildon, West Yorkshire

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