Education: Letter - Teaching from the word go

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The Independent Online
Both as parent and retired teacher I understand the concern of Ms Clare Lorenz (Your Views, Education+ 30 April) about lack of adequate state provision for "gifted" children, but I believe that in the long term we need a completely new approach to the problem. In the meantime, "setting" across all ages would do much to help.

Briefly, nine months in the womb does not create an intelligent child, but only a little animal with the potential to become one. The great need is to discover why so many children reach five years of age with that potential permanently stunted.

Unfortunately, most parents still have a primitive attitude to the rearing of their pre-school children. Physical nourishment is insufficient. Young human babies require both physical and mental nourishment. Education starts at birth - if not before - not at five years of age.

I believe that appropriate stimuli during the months and years immediately following birth determine the level of a child's intelligence; but there is a strict time limit for the brain to be fully energised. I have no scientific proof, but I am sure that very early experiences actually help to complete the structure of the brain. For good or ill, parents are therefore the child's - and the nation's - most important educators. This applies particularly to mothers.

We worry about the physically starved children of the Third World yet at the same time mentally starve our own. If a man physically starved a child by allowing him only scraps that fell from the table until he was old enough to have school dinners, we would commit him to Broadmoor, but, even today, that is how very many parents treat their pre-school children intellectually.

Parents should be aware that if two travellers, starting from the same point, follow tracks that differ by just one degree, they will be more than a mile apart after only 60 miles.

WH Cousins