I don’t usually discuss or publish this sort of thing at Homeschool Family Life, but for various reasons, this subject is important to me at the moment. So I am stepping out of my comfort zone to share this with you.
This little article is from Jonas Himmelstrand, founder and director of The Mireja Institute, Sweden. He has been a consultant in business for nearly 30 years focusing on leadership, education and personal development. He is a family man, father of three children, who are homeschooled.
In this article he explains a little about policies, preschool life and family life in Sweden. It’s very interesting to us as homeschooling parents, and as mothers at home with our children. It’s both encouraging, in that we can see the value of having our children close to us. And it’s worrying, in that we see what happens when preschoolers spend most of their time away from their mothers. It is also concerning in that public opinion can be controlled by government. Maybe it will help us to treasure what we have, and to gently speak up when we need to.
From Jonas Himmelstrand, founder and director of The Mireja Institute, Sweden:
In Sweden 93% of all children aged 18 months-5 years attend day care, or preschool as it is called in Sweden.
Daycare is not yet formally compulsory, but the tax system and the day care subsidies are designed to make home care very expensive and demanding large financial sacrifices. Also the Swedish Government propaganda about the blessings of day care, even for one-year olds, is very intense. Not having your child in day care after parental leave is considered strange and even weird by a large part of the general public.
The use of highly subsidized early day care has steadily increased since its inception in 1985. The Swedish Government claims that research shows that children in day care develop and learn much better than home cared children.
But the Swedish statistics tell another story. Psychosomatic symptoms such as regular headaches, tummy aches, worries and anxiety tripled for girls and doubled for boys during the years 1985-2005. A Government investigation quoted a study showing that Sweden has the worst development in psychological health among our youth in relation to eleven comparable European countries.
The school results went down during the same period and are now, in some scholastic subjects, below the OECD average. The quality of parenthood has deteriorated, and adult sick leave is high, especially for women.
As Sweden is materially rich with a wealth of public social insurances and good wealth distribution and low child poverty this is hardly the cause. The most realistic cause is the early separation of children and parents for too many hours per working day as strongly encouraged by our Government.
I am often asked for a collected paper on these findings. I have written a book in Swedish, and I am working on a shorter version in English. However summaries of these facts can be found in a few written statements and a 60 minute speech recorded in Canada last year which is now on YouTube. Most of these written or video statements are listed on the web page of The Mireja Institute think-tank.