The Challenges and Problems of Hot Housing an Infant to Become a Super Baby
Creating an Early Learning Environment For Infants
The question is, can a "Super Baby" be created through "Hot Housing"? We are all aware that it's important to have a responsive environment and that we should match the environmental stimulation to the infant's current abilities. It is also a known fact that infants learn and make associations from the day they are born, and perhaps even before.
Having all this knowledge, you would think that it shouldn't be a problem for us to create the best possible environment, that maximizes the opportunity for learning! You would also think that is should be easy for us to create an environment that provides early training in academics and other skills, with the aim of developing a "Super baby."
However, several researchers have tried -- perhaps, the most well known is Glen Doman in his "Better Baby Program", and other courses designed to stimulate advanced mental development. The results of these training programs are rather interesting. There are also some remarkable case studies involving children ranging from the age of 3-4 who have been taught to read at a second or third grade level.
Some of these children were even able to play the violin at the age of four, but the results were found to be inconsistent, and there are even some notable dangers involved. However, based on the results of these studies, here are the conclusions:
- It's believed that children who spend a great deal of time in tore learning have less time to explore the world around them, and to initiate activities with other children as well as with adults. As a result, there are few opportunities for discovery.
- Another belief is that overemphasis on cognitive development can negatively affects social and personality development. This can lead to insecurity or cause children to become overly dependent on their parents. Because of the high expectation often placed on children at an early age, some of them may become very anxious.
"Hot Housing" defined as the act of inducing infants to acquire knowledge that is typically acquired at a later developmental level(Segel 1987). The question is, how does most child development experts feel about this systemic stimulation and early learning approach? Professor Segel -- one of these experts -- used the term hot housing as a metaphor to convey what is happening to these children, simply because it reminded him of the tomato plant in the greenhouse, in an artificial climate, protected and sterile with chemicals that force growth out of season. He suggested that just as tomatoes grown out of season produce a flat taste, perhaps hot house children will be flat, unexciting individuals.
Most of these experts agreed that structured training of infants and young children too early in academic tasks tends to have serious negative repercussions on social and emotional development, as explained below.
- Children not only lose play time but also experienced achievement anxiety and may have limited informal social skills.
- Some may have limited cognitive development as well.
- Despite rote memorization of complex definitions or advanced skills in reading, these children may encounter gaps in their their understanding of the physical world.
- Early harvesting of hot house children may stunt full development, depress emotional range, and limit the ability to explore, create, and solve problems in new environments.
Suggestive Alternative to Hot Housing
Segel suggests these three alternatives to hot housing :
- Parents should instead, provide a rich and varied growth environment, complete with social supports.
- Parents should provide sufficient room for the child to self-select and self-pace cognitive development.
- Parents should also encourage social awareness, development of a strong self-concept, and positive methods of interacting with others.
Not all children were born to be what we as parents sometimes would like them to be. Some were born gifted children in certain areas, while others weren't. As parents, there is nothing wrong in creating the type of environment that stimulates early learning, but when the resluts are far from our expecation, instead of trying to hot house an infant into a super baby, we should know when to quit.