Many parents may be thrilled to learn that they can send their kids to school earlier.
But why would all of those who have to deliver on this promise find out about all the work that they are going to have to do as a surprise? In the middle of the school year? (Link to Teresa Wright’s article in the Guardian here)
Sonya Corrigan, president of the Early Childhood Development Association, said since that announcement she has been overwhelmed with calls from parents wanting to put their children in kindergarten for the next three months so they’ll be ready for school in September
“Looking at what’s left of the school year – we’re talking weeks,” she said. “I really and truly don’t think we would be offering programs that would be in the best interests of children and that parents would be making the best choice.”
It is the parents’ choice, and many feel their children are ready.
But Corrigan wants to know why no one from the sector was contacted or consulted before this government decision was made.
“It’s not so much the change in date, it’s the absence of consultation with our sector. Our sector was called by parents who read it in the newspaper. And they weren’t even aware of what the change was.”
“We’re not sure where this came from, how the decision was come to, what input there was into coming to that decision.”
What kind of advice has the department also been giving the Premier? Here is a key statement in the press release:
“Premier Robert Ghiz says the revised policy reflects Government’s commitment to lifelong learning beginning in the early years. “There is a great deal of new research that indicates young children benefit from being in a structured learning environment,” he said. “We want to do everything possible to support early literacy and learning, to identify learning difficulties at an early age and provide the necessary early interventions,“ he said”
“Young Children benefit from being in a structured learning environment” is the key phrase. Well folks the opposite is the case.
Who is offering this advice? It’s not true. It’s wrong and if it was offered to the Premier as the truth, then someone is at best misleading the Premier.
Here is a link to a long and recent interview in MacLeans Magazine that reviews the research. At the core is the potential damage done to boys, who are already doing poorly, by adding structure too early. Here is a snippet:
Q: So when do you think boys should start kindergarten, if the focus remains on learning to read and write?
A: Seven years ago I wrote an article for the American Psychological Association saying the default age of entry should be five for girls, six for boys. That created quite a stir. I have since abandoned that assertion, though I still think it’s a good idea, because parents generally don’t understand it. They say, “Oh, you think my son’s dumb?”
Q: Obviously there’s going to be individual variation. How many boys are ready at age five to start kindergarten?
A: On the order of 12 per cent; 88 per cent would do better if they started at age six. The key to success in early elementary education is doing the right thing at the right time. Farmers understand this. You can have the best farmland in the world and the best feed corn in the world, but if you try to plant your crop in the middle of a January snowstorm, you will not be successful. Likewise, you may have a very bright boy, but if you’re asking him to do things that are not developmentally appropriate, he won’t be successful. And the danger is that he will develop negative attitudes toward school, and it will be very difficult to change them.
So here we are again – we have a department that will not engage with the public and with those affected by their decisions. We have a department that is briefing the premier with information that is wrong.
If I was the Premier I would be asking myself “What is going on?”