When Is It Too Early to Start?

They say it’s never too early to start most things (although I suspect this does not apply to wearing leopard prints). But I wonder if there are some things of which starting early is not necessarily good. Not that it has a negative effect, just that it doesn’t have a positive effect and then you’re just wasting energy. And all parents of small children know that you must conserve energy.

As a developmental researcher, I’ve read that parents’ involvement in their child’s education leads to positive outcomes. This is a well established effect. In a meta-analysis (a study of other studies) done by William Jeynes in California a few years ago, it was found that there’s a significant effect for parental involvement. That is, children whose parents were more involved in their education had higher grades and better academic outcomes. This was true across cultural and ethnical groups, financial situations, and is generally quite the robust effect.

So, knowing this, when my son started daycare and I found out this daycare had a parents’ board I – of course – signed up. Never mind that I was trying to bring my PhD to rest (shouldn’t be more than two years now, I hope). Never mind that I was so very new at this whole working mom thing. And, this year, never mind that I have two kids under three while still figuring out this working mom thing (it’s hard to figure work out when you haven’t been at work for two of the last three years). 

However, I suspect one year old may be a bit too young to get involved in your child’s education. I couldn’t find any research claiming that there is, indeed, an effect for parental involvement in the early years – the effect is typically found in elementary school. There are no parents from the baby room on the board with me. Now, that my son is 2.5, there are a few parents of kids from his room (the toddler room) in the board with me. And all of them either just had a new baby or are expecting one, so they’ll soon be vested with two kids at the same daycare. Granted, I’ll be vested with two starting next Friday (yay!), but mostly it’s parents of preschoolers.

So I wonder if I’m the only crazy parent who got into the (effectively) PTA when her child was one year old? Are you involved with your child’s school/daycare/whatever? When did you start?

@2015 - Gal Podjarny