'Parents must place more emphasis on child care, education'

Israel Prize c'tee says Pnina Klein's methods for gauging connections between children, caretakers are "cornerstones of caretaking.”

May 11, 2011 03:12
2 minute read.
Israel Prize laureate Pnina Klein.

pnina klein_311. (photo credit: Faith Baginsky/Bar-Ilan University)


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Israeli parents need to demand high quality childcare for their infants and realize how important such care is to their children’s development in later life, Bar-Ilan University professor Pnina Klein said Monday, a day before she was awarded the Israel Prize for Education.

“I hope that parents in Israel will learn to stand up for their young children and be more assertive in demanding quality care for their infants,” Klein said, adding “people don’t ask enough questions because they aren’t interested in the mental ingredients required for the children’s mental growth. These things are very important and quite easy to change early in life, but very difficult to change later in life.”

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Klein and nine other Israelis were recognized for their achievements at the annual Israel Prize ceremony in Jerusalem on Tuesday.

She was joined by longtime Maccabi Tel Aviv chairman Shimon Mizrachi (Sports), Hebrew University professor Ruth Gavison (Law), composer Noam Sheriff (Music), Tel Aviv University professor Michael Schwartz (Israel Studies), sculptor and painter Yaakov Dorchin (Art), Tel Aviv University professor Yosef Shilo (Life Studies), aeronautics industry leader David Harari (Engineering), and Hulda Gurevitch and Eli Elaluf, who were recognized for their activism in social issues.

Awarded each year since 1953, the Israel Prize is the country’s greatest civilian honor. In addition to prestige, the winners receive a cash prize of more than NIS 75,000. The award ceremony is traditionally held each year on Independence Day in the capital.

Born in Tarnow, Poland, in 1945, Klein was only four when she came to Israel with her parents, both Holocaust survivors from families that had been decimated by the Holocaust.

She said she did not believe that moving to Israel at a young age had an adverse effect on her development, saying “in terms of my mental diet, I have received an enormous amount of love, and everything I did, every minor drawing or scribble, was so highly appreciated and I received so many smiles and feelings of confidence.”

On its website, the Israel Prize committee calls Klein “one of the world’s leading researchers on the subject of child development” and says the methods she developed for gauging the connections between children and their caretakers “have become the cornerstones of the teaching of caretaking around the world.”

Klein heads the Baker Center for Study of Development Disorders in Infants and Young Children at Bar-Ilan’s Churgin School of Education. She has written a number of widely-acclaimed books on child development and headed a team of researchers who went to Sderot and studied the effect of rocket attacks on the city’s infants.

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