New push for children to start school at the age of three
This push is basically bullshit. Finland does not start kids at school until age 7 and they have famously good results. Let me quote just a small excerpt from someone who has surveyed the evidence on the question:
"University studies are often quoted to support the perceived academic beneﬁts of preschool. What is not often mentioned is that whilst these studies demonstrate preschool in a favourable light when compared with an impoverished home environment; preschool environments and results do not compare favourably with the average home environment.
Even Professor Edward Zigler, credited as “the father of Head Start” a well-respected American preschool program admits “there is a large body of evidence that there is little to be gained by exposing middle class children to early education…(and) evidence that indicates early schooling is inappropriate for many four-year-olds, and that it may be harmful to their development.”
So what about the long-term academic effects of preschool? The longitudinal studies, often quoted to argue an academic advantage provided by preschool for lower socio-economic groups, actually also show that this “advantage” disappears by grade three.
If preschool were truly beneﬁcial in terms of giving children a head start, those places with some form of compulsory preschool should do demonstrably better academically. The evidence does not bear this out. The two states of America which have compulsory preschool, Georgia and Oklahoma, have the lowest results for fourth grade reading tests in the country."
So why the deception? The push is in fact just a push for free child-minding
Children should start school at the age of three to give them the best start in life and to stop Australia falling behind Europe and China, leading experts claim.
Lobby groups are urging the Federal Government to boost funding for more children to have access to school earlier.
More and more private schools and early learning centres are offering 'pre-kindy' which exposes children to play-based learning so they are better prepared for when they start school.
Many programs have lengthy waiting lists and now an initiative led by the Early Learning Benefits campaign wants extra funding so more children have access to pre-school education.
'We have some children already having access to high quality learning, but many are missing out … equity is a big issue,' Early Childhood Australia CEO Samantha Page told The Courier Mail.
Latest statistics show only 58.5 per cent of three-year-olds in Australia are enrolled in pre-school programs, compared to 95-100 per cent of children in France, Denmark, Norway, Israel and Spain.
University of the Sunshine Coast senior lecturer Dr Ali Black, said international research showed children introduced to high quality education earlier were more likely to go to university, gain better jobs and even own their own homes.
They were more resilient, had better social skills and had fewer behavioural issues.
Australian Catholic University early childhood specialist, Laurien Beane, said the push would follow the lead of cutting-edge Scandanavian countries, who have invested huge resources to educating kids from birth to the age of five.
'We invest in the 5-18 age group and it starts too late … that's why as a nation we are languishing so far behind a number of other countries,' Ms Beane said.
Ms Beane said the main objectivity of early education was not about literacy and numeracy but to foster curiosity, creativity, imagination and social development. Children would typically attend two days a week for five-and-a-half hours.
They would have lessons in music, literature, languages, as well as more social-based lessons about respecting others and regulating emotions.
Ms Page said Labor made a commitment in October to extend funding to early education for three-year-olds by 2021.
Some parents say they feel pressured to be in favour of the push as primary schools are likely to give preference to children attending pre-kindergarten programs. Other fears include schools will favour children in those programs to boost rankings and funding.
Childcare and early learning provider C&K is among those leading the way with pre-kindergarten rooms, like Banyo in Brisbane's north.
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