I'm working in Dubai. My daughter is 15 months old and living with my family in India. Day care and kindergarten aren't available near my family. Can you give me some idea about what is taught in child care programs and kindergarten? Are they really important? Will they really help my child's education?


How tough for all of you to have to be apart! For so many families, scarce work opportunities force a parent to leave spouse and young children for employment in a foreign country. It would mean so much for your family to know that even at such a distance you are thinking about how to make the best life you can for your baby girl. We hope they read this too!

Early childhood programs are a solution for working families when there is no community or extended family to take up the slack with the child. Since your daughter is in India and with your family, you may be able to comfort yourself with the oft-quoted but still true statement, “It takes a village to raise a child.

Your baby can learn a great deal from the adults around her: about herself, her emotions and those of others, all the complexities of language and—even before she speaks—nonverbal communication. In her interactions with those who take care of her, she is already learning to pay attention, calm herself down when she gets upset, try again when she fails, and developing so many other basic skills that any child needs to become a successful learner.

These will give her a firm base when she does get a chance to enter a school situation--hopefully by the time she is 4 if kindergarten is available where your family lives. (In the United States we often forget how many children around the world still don't have access to primary education!

Children 3 and 4 years old need to have an opportunity to learn how to get along with other children, share and take turns, understand themselves, and care about each other. These are also important early steps for children to be ready to learn. We have a term--“emotional learning”--that expresses how important the child's social and emotional development is as a base for cognitive learning.

Can you trust your family and the community they live in to give your daughter these? If so, then she won't miss out on these important experiences if she can't be in an early childhood program or preschool.

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