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Four- and five-year-olds who crawl rather than walk

From an anonymous article in Tuesday’s Guardian called “My pupils have been badly set back by the pandemic. ‘Catch-up’ lessons aren’t what they need”:

In my school, some children are now struggling to articulate what they need or want, answer simple questions or follow short instructions. This has a knock-on effect on their social skills. Those who haven’t had much practice taking turns in conversation or sharing with others find playing and using school resources difficult. Many children have missed out on physical development opportunities; it has been eye-opening to witness four- and five-year-olds choosing to crawl down the corridor into the toilets rather than walk.

I take a fairly forgiving view of the actions that our government and others took when the pandemic hit. As an immediate strategy lockdown may well have been the right thing to do, and even if it wasn’t, it is easy to be wise in hindsight and when it is not you who has to make the decision. Boris & Co. were faced with a type of crisis they had never faced before and a cacophony of conflicting advice, all of which claimed to be expert.

But it was clear quite early on that the slight risk that Covid-19 presented to young children was far outweighed by the harm done to their development by masks and lockdown. That is difficult to forgive.

18 comments to Four- and five-year-olds who crawl rather than walk

  • Steve (Aus)

    Much as I love the opportunity to attack the unintended consequences of government intervention, perhaps the inability of a five year old to engage in a structured discourse or to walk reflects more on the parents.

  • jorgen

    Its the shots too.

  • Lee Moore

    I’m afraid I don’t believe this story. That is to say, it might be true, but if I was forced to lay money down, I’d be betting heavily against.

    Obviously strikes 1 and 2 are that it is (1) in the Graun and (2) anonymous.

    But strike 3 is that it seems to be preaching a gospel that in order for a young child to be properly socialised, and even in order to learn to walk, it has to go to school. (A notion that seems very convenient for the fanatically anti-homeschooling Graun.)

    This all seems very unlikely, especially as humans have been around for a few hundred thousand years, and there have only been schools available to most children for the past couple of hundred. Before then, children got socialised in their families. Oh, and they learned to walk there too.

    So, I say it’s c**p.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    I take your point, Steve, but in normal times those children whose parents are inadequate would have had a second chance in school.

    (I have argued for many years that state welfare is a major cause of family breakdown leading to bad parenting, and also that state education has crowded out the better forms of education that would exist in its absence. That is my opinion still. However we are where we are, and for many children their state school is the nearest thing they get to a nurturing environment.)

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Lee Moore, you write, “…it seems to be preaching a gospel that in order for a young child to be properly socialised, and even in order to learn to walk, it has to go to school. (A notion that seems very convenient for the fanatically anti-homeschooling Graun.)”

    In fact the article contradicts the most recent version of the Gospel According To Graun, in that it admits lockdowns have done harm. A few of the commenters do point this out. The pure form of the doctrine was expressed by Los Angeles teachers’ union leader Cecily Myart Cruz, who I posted about six months ago who said,

    “There is no such thing as learning loss. Our kids didn’t lose anything. It’s OK that our babies may not have learned all their times tables. They learned resilience. They learned survival. They learned critical-thinking skills. They know the difference between a riot and a protest. They know the words insurrection and coup.”

    Several of the Guardian commenters point out, as you did, that the level of underdevelopment represented by a four year old who prefers to walk rather than crawl is not normal. My response to that is the same as I gave to Steve above: indeed it is not normal, but those children who were already neglected and starved of stimulus have lost the chance of better care that school could have given them.

  • bobby b

    It’s easy to blame parents for the lack of socialization during lockdowns, but society has led most people directly into the idea that you go to work all day while responsibility for raising your kid is transferred to state schools. The state schools seemingly accepted this new contract eagerly. Parents then became two-earner households, which became the benchmark for how much you had to earn in a family to get along.

    And then, one day, the teachers decided otherwise. It left lots of people high and dry, trying to earn livings while also handling the kids at home. Most people didn’t have the option of simply transferring all of their daily attention to their kids.

    I come from a schools family. Dad was a teacher forever, mom a school admin. But I blame teachers for most of the socialization problems that we’re now seeing. They showed their true colors about their concerns.

  • SteveD

    Consciousness was once ubiquitous in humans. Is it dying?

  • Roué le Jour

    I appreciate your desire to be even handed, but Boris faced a cacophony of unanimous advice from a suspect source, i.e. card carrying communists. He took no notice when the WHO advised against lockdowns, nor did he listen to the pediatricians who were against injecting children.

    I suggest calling the poor little sods who have been masked, locked down and injected for no good reason ‘generation F’.

  • John

    Arguably the most vociferous and selfish opposition to allowing children to return to school came from teaching unions in the USA with ours being only marginally better. At every opportunity of returning to proper face-to-face teaching they placed their own “safety”, in reality a truly minuscule threat as statistics indicated at the time, ahead of the future well-being of their pupils. Even now I believe that many US states still require children to be masked as evidenced by the recent photos taken with a bare-faced* Stacey Abrams.

    * probably the only time I will ever use the term to describe Ms Abrams in this particular context.

  • decnine

    Am I alone in seeing weapons grade Irony in the contrast between this post and the one immediately above it? Make up your mind, Samizdata. Is compulsion Good or Bad?

  • Ferox

    How is not banning children from attending school “compulsion”?

  • Rob Fisher

    Semantics matter, decnine. Samizdata is multiple minds.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    decnine writes, “Make up your mind, Samizdata. Is compulsion Good or Bad?”

    Less compulsion is good, more compulsion is bad. But few real life dilemmas can be described by placing an X at one point of an axis from zero compulsion to total compulsion. Sure, it would be better if compulsory state education had never arisen. (Though that would not solve the thorny problem of to what extent, if any, parents should compel their children to learn, and to what extent, if any, parents should be compelled to educate their children.) Meanwhile back in the real world most children in developed countries go to state schools as a matter of course. Their lives and their parents’ lives are arranged on the assumption that is what will happen. Then the state suddenly reverses course and forbids what it used to compel. This hits families hard, particularly if they were struggling anyway.

    If you are interested you could always use the “Categories” box in the right hand sidebar to do a search of the 387 Samizdata posts in the category of “Education & Academia” and the 142 Samizdata posts in the category “Children’s issues”.

  • NickM

    I have to admit I have sometimes had to crawl to the toilet but that was after ingesting far too many ales than was, stictly speaking, good for me. Oh, and other “recreational” pharmaceutical products 😉 Oh, well – a short life but a merry one. Having said all that this was never before the age of 15. I think it was the Nottingham University Christian Union that really got me into booze and spliffs and ladies of dubious virtue. One look at that set of sanctimonious prod-nosed cunts and you’d get The Pope on crystal meth. We had.. I am not making this up (it actually was made up by a chem-eng student)… It consisted of two demi-johns on a skateboard connected by plastic hoses. It was very smooth. It was called the Lockness Bongster. I was homeless at the time so I slept in the attic that night.

  • george m weinberg

    Aside from severely disabled individuals, anyone who is 5 now was walking before the pandemic started.

  • Katy Hibbert

    Most of the Leftards writing at the Guardian are wealthy trustafarians or public sector “workers”, who were very much in favour of the lockdowns that have caused all these problems. Their own children safely ensconced in private schools, and “common” people bringing them stuff through Amazon and Ocado, meant that little Tarquin and Jocasta were just fine. Socialists are generally very wealthy these days and avoid the consequences of Socialism. But they love the idea of controlling and (literally) muzzling the riff raff, many of whom voted to leave their beloved EU, thus making the trip to their Tuscan villa so much more difficult. The horror! The horror!

  • Patrick Crozier

    I take a fairly forgiving view of the actions that our government and others took when the pandemic hit.


  • NickM

    Katy, sorry, no. They ain’t sending their kids to private schools (well some are) but they are mainly gaming the system (their system so they know how to game it) to get their kids into the better state schools. If you think the end of the 11+ brought a levelling in state edumacation then you are sadly wrong.

    Full disclosure: both my parents were teachers in the state sector, as were both my wife’s parents.