This morning my husband came home with our mail – our mailbox is about a five minute walk away, in a direction we don’t usually go in, so we check it about once a week.
Thanks to my new subscription to the Shaar Hamatchil, the easy Hebrew language newspaper, I have been an educated Israeli citizen for the last three weeks. (Said tongue in cheek.) On last week’s front page was an article about a new law that just passed – the mandatory age for school children has been dropped from 5 to 3. Currently, children who are in kindergarten in Israel have fully subsidized education, and apparently beginning in the coming year, three year olds will have their full day daycare experience paid for by taxpayer dollars as well (it’s not clear to me if this would apply to the programs that end at 1 pm). Yay! You can just hear the cheers around the nation.
Anyway, I’m not going to go into my thoughts about if this is a good thing or not. Obviously if you would have to pay these funds privately and now you don’t, you’ll be happy. And it’s not clear to me that the government is lowering the mandatory school starting age with this law or not, which would be a bad thing since lowered starting ages doesn’t correlate well with national academic success.
Here’s something that struck me as interesting and ironic, though. In our mail we received approval for ds12’s hot lunch program that we filed and paid for in August. Not so speedy processing, but nothing new for government agencies. And as parents of a child who will be three in the coming school year, we also received a registration form for school. Now how in the world could an incredibly inefficient government pass the law just one week ago, and already have the forms in my mailbox? This seems strange to me, and though there are lots of areas of government in which increased efficiency would be welcome, I’m wondering about this incredible and unusual efficiency for a brand new law. I’m guessing it was a done deal for a while now and they were just waiting for the official vote to roll it out.
I can’t help but wonder how this new law will affect the choices of parents who might otherwise consider keeping their child home at this age. And since it seems the law applies to full day daycare, will more people opt for the longer day? After all, it’s nice to have the kids out of the house and it gives us more time at home to get things done without them being in the way – and it’s paid for, so why not?
Earlier this year, ds18 commented to me that it must be pretty dull for ds2 to be home alone with me, after being used to the stimulation of so many siblings and constant action who were home all day. Then one day he was home with the two of us when everyone else was in school, and he told me clearly saw how nice it was for ds2 to be home. Not because I do anything exciting – I do the same basic things as everyone, getting the house in order, cooking, some errands. People constantly talk about how important stimulation is for young children, they rarely talk about the need of a child for quiet space. Being constantly stimulated is not a good thing.
In any case, these aren’t forms I’ll be filling in and sending out!