May 1, 2011

Wanted: Mothers!

I read of a study in which researchers attached electrodes to the heads of 16 sleeping newborns within the first 24 hours after birth.  They found that when other women (doctors, nurses) spoke, the section of the brain that controls voice recognition fired up.  It took the sound of the mother's voice to trigger neurons in the part of the brain responsible for learning language.

I thought - since so many mothers have relinquished caring for their own children and give them to babysitters and daycare centers from infancy, maybe this study explains the explosion in keria and reading problems I've been reading about.

Then I read a letter to the editor of a frum publication which gives professional backing to my thesis.  A woman wrote in response to a chinuch article and said that the author of the article suggests that a mother help her child overcome "auditory processing deficit" by keeping a running conversation with him as they shop together (naming fruits, vegetables, and groceries) and as they walk along the street (naming stores and what they sell).

The letter writer says:

"Sounds wonderful but most young children today are not being raised by their mothers.  Many mothers are working or are otherwise busy, and many young children are in a play group from a very young age.  When do they have time simply to walk along the streets with their children and name trees, stores, and car colors?

"A renowned special-ed professional once told me that the number of children with these deficits mushroomed when mothers were forced to go to work, whether to support Torah learning, pay tuition, or make mortgage payments, and that if mothers returned to their primary task of raising children, most special-education teachers would eventually be unemployed.

"The 'quality time' theory doesn't take into account the fact that the woman a mother hires to watch her young child for most of his or her waking hours will not spend time engaged in meaningful conversation with the child.  The current situation, in which most of our young children do not benefit from their mothers helping them acquire language-processing skills, is a hidden crisis that might also be a significant factor in the burgeoning kids-at-risk phenomenon.

"Rabbanim, Roshei Yeshiva, Rebbes: Please unite and help rectify this 'gezeira'!"

I rest my case.

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