Should parents follow ‘5-a-day’ childcare checklist?

Parents to be given a 'daily checklist' on how to bring up their children best

A new ‘five-a-day’ checklist will be given to parents spelling out how to play, read, talk, praise and feed their children every day, under a proposed guide supported by ministers.

The potentially controversial campaign would be fronted by television and radio advertisements and posters in nurseries and on buses, detailing how five key steps will improve their child’s welfare.

Companies that manufacture toys, children’s books and baby food will also be encouraged to adopt an official logo promoting the scheme.

Modelled on the successful ‘five-a-day’ dietary campaign, the guide aims to promote findings that the quality of parenting in early years has a substantial impact on the future social and behaviour skills of a child.

The think-tank behind the scheme, CentreForum, says: ‘We have found overwhelming evidence that children’s life chances are most heavily predicted on their development in the first five years of life.’

Parents in the poorest 20 per cent of the population could also be entitled to extra child benefits if they attend parenting classes run by the scheme.

The children’s minister, Sarah Teather, has praised the scheme although many parents say the checklist is simply common sense and it has already been dubbed ‘ridiculous’ by critics.

Tory MP Philip Davies said: ‘It’s ridiculous. Anyone would think we have money to burn in this country. It’s another well-meaning, but ill-thought-out, hare-brained scheme.’

And Nick Seaton, of the Campaign for Real Education, said: ‘It’s another example of nanny state meddling. While a few parents may need this sort of advice, the vast majority manage perfectly well on their own.’

The schemes five daily pledges are:

1. Read to your child for at least 15 minutes a day.
2. Play with your child on the floor for ten minutes a day.
3. Talk to your child for 20 minutes with the TV off.
4. Adopt positive attitudes towards your child and praise them frequently.
5. Ensure your child has a nutritious daily diet to aid their development.

Helpful or patronising? Would you welcome the guidelines? Tell us your thoughts in the comments box below…

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