When it comes to the question of whether, when and how their children are cared for by third parties, parents should listen to their gut feelings, says author Nora Imlau.Photo: getty images / leaderina
Nora Imlau is one of the most famous educational advisers for children. In her new book, In Good Hands: How We Create a Strong Network of Connections for Our Children, the journalist, author and mother of four, addresses the question of what kind of care and bonds our children need and how parents could be relieved.
In an interview with Watson, he tells how Corona shaped children, what parents need from society now, and why you can just borrow grandparents.
Nora Imlau is a mother of four and the author of needs-based education.photo: nessi gassmann
Watson: Ms Imlau, in your new book you give some tips on choosing the right kindergarten. Doesn’t that miss a bit of reality? Especially in big cities, people are lucky if they can find free nurseries at all.
Nora Imlau: There is a chapter in the book. Therefore, it is important to realize that care can still go well as we may have some confidence in kindergartens as well. We do not need an ideal nursery for our children, just as children do not need perfect parents. Children quite forgive one or another imperfection, as long as the basic attitude is right and the educators treat children friendly and caringly. This is all and that’s it.
So what is important?
Then it is important to discuss the basics that are particularly important to you in advance with the facility. I wrote in a book and I want to reiterate that most kindergartens are good, even if they are not perfect.
“If I have no choice, I have a 90 percent chance that my baby will be cared for from super to fine.”
How can you be sure that your child is in good hands in kindergarten?
We know from the so-called Nubek study – the largest quality study on nurseries in Germany – that around ten percent of all facilities in Germany provide excellent quality of care. 80 percent is somewhere in the middle, and 10 percent. all nurseries are so bad that they must be closed immediately, because they are in really dangerous conditions for children. And if I have no choice, I have a 90 percent chance that my child will be in great to good care.
Ten percent of bad day care centers – but that doesn’t necessarily sound like enough.
There is also a 10% chance that your child is in the wrong kindergarten. I know it’s hard when you’re under a lot of pressure to take care of her: But especially when I had no choice, I should be especially careful during my adaptation period and my first day in kindergarten. If my child ends up in a really bad kindergarten, I can’t close my eyes.
The kindergarten does not need a Waldorf or Montessori concept to be good.picture: getty images
Young children cannot speak well. How can you find out?
It’s important to keep an open mind during the adaptation process and not just watch people talking to me or my baby. But: How do the other children in kindergarten behave? Do they move freely and confidently? If the children seem very shy and withdrawn and the children do not dare to contact their teachers: that would be alarm signals. Adults can do their best when there are other adults in the room, but children behave in kindergarten as they feel in kindergarten.
In your book, you describe the importance of children’s attachments. Due to Corona, many nurseries were closed for a long time. How did this affect retention?
Interestingly, there is a study from Canada that the bond between parents and children actually improved during the blockade. But at the same time, it can be proved that the network of family ties became very small during contact restrictions. Many children almost only saw their parents, some of them did not stay in the nursery for weeks, although they were already acclimatized. This is extremely detrimental to bonding if you’re starting from scratch. Many parents have told me that it took a lot more time to get used to it and it was much harder for the kids to settle in. The parents themselves also felt that it was more difficult to let go because they didn’t really contact the educators themselves.
“For me, it’s all about calling out to parents and children: you don’t have to do everything together.”
How did this affect the children?
Many children today have more social anxiety and difficulty interacting with others outside of their immediate nuclear family. Because Corona babies and toddlers are not familiar with these random interactions in the supermarket or in the playground.
Could this permanently damage your relationship ability?
Bindings can always be repaired. Such a bond is not a static thing that happens once and then is good or bad and stays that way forever. A bond arises from countless interactions, from many experiences. Fortunately, in a child’s development, it is not that the time window for building a network closes again after a year or two.
Ideally, children should enjoy going to kindergarten or school.picture: getty images
You write that a “village of bonds” should be established to care for children, because it is difficult for parents to do everything on their own. But what if friends and grandparents are not interested in the baby?
Such a web of ties or a prison village shouldn’t be another stress on your to-do list. What I want to do specifically is tell parents and children: You don’t have to do everything together alone. And such a network of connections may look completely different. Big or small, they are all equal options. But I think it’s important that we as parents ask ourselves: what kind of attachment network would I be perfect for, what would really give me strength? Then I have to make a balance sheet. If I do not have grandparents, there are, for example, deliberate grandparents in which lonely or elderly people who still have the resources support the family. Very valuable relationships can arise from this.
one says time and time again children and families are the losers of the pandemic. What do you think can be done to improve family congestion?
When it comes to family policy, I believe that the most sensible measure is to switch to the working time model. Men and women can accumulate hours, and both only work 50 or 60 percent while caring for young children, for example. And sometime later, when the children leave the house, go back to work. The term is “breathing CV”. Why is our society really expected to work statically 40 hours a week, whether we are 28 or 58? And it doesn’t matter if we have small children to look after, do we look after their parents, do we have a lot of space and strength at the moment?
So, so to speak, preparatory work for the time when you have less time due to family or caring work?
Ideally, weekly working hours could decrease, especially for parents in the family phase, and families still have an income to live on. From my point of view, this would be the greatest relief in terms of family policy: families have more time together. It is important for society as a whole to pay attention to the fact that family and children are not private enjoyments. But we, as a society, also bear responsibility for the generation to come.