Dr. Jean-François Chicoine[1] raises the question, noting a degree of indifference on the part of parents who spend increasing amounts of time on their electronic devices, are less physically active, spend less time outdoors, meditating, having dinner with family or volunteering.

It’s no wonder kids are glued to their screens! These devices are everywhere. Young people who watch television fall into a state of passivity. Those who abuse it or who are often in the presence of screens are more likely to develop delays in language and self-regulation.

Many children therefore start kindergarten with some delays. According to Dr. Chicoine, even though we are able to detect a lot of these cases, unfortunately, there are no professional services available.

The pediatrician is very concerned about the 4-year-old kindergarten project. Will the teacher-child ratio serve the most vulnerable children well? Where will the children go between 3 pm and 5 pm? And what about summer? He also wonders about the effects that changing locations and staff will have on the development of children.

The importance of educational services

Dr. Chicoine emphasizes the importance for children of attending a quality educational service. Since babies first attach to one person, then to four or five others, it is crucial that the presence of the workers remains stable. Educational services with high staff turnover create insecurity, especially in children aged 9 months to 2 years.

Play-based learning

To grow well, children must be physically active at least two to three hours a day, according to Dr. Chicoine. They must also play freely, as this gives them space to invent, create and ask questions. Moreover, learning through play is the method by which children learn best.

Ideally, one third of the time spent in an educational service should be devoted to free play, one third to solitary play, and the last third to interaction with the educator. Children love to play and educational services do a good job!

1 Dr. Jean-François Chicoine is a pediatrician and author of several books on child development. He was a speaker at the Congrès de la Fédération des intervenantes en petite enfance du Québec (FIPEQ-CSQ) in June 2019.