Problem Definition 7.

How do we educate parents about their child’s school readiness and the consequences of starting school too early?


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5 responses on “Problem Definition 7.”

  1. Feda says:

    From a community perspective, particularly when communicating with CALD families, it is essential to ensure that all information is made available in multiple languages, and that there is someone with whom the family can communicate with in their own language, without having to rely solely on other parents who are bilingual. Often, parents will take recommendations from other parents, according to their own experiences, as this is perceived as an equal relationship, as opposed to the perception of the teacher – parent relationship.

    Schools can do a lot to ensure that they approach parents from an equal standing, by first of all recognising that most parents do really want what is best for their child. Parents will listen to advice from early childhood workers, as well as school teachers, if there is clear communication.

    Parents also need to be made aware of what the actual consequences of their child starting too early are. What is going to happen? How could this negatively affect their child now, and in the future? If the parents need to put their child in school (due to financial reasons or otherwise), what can the parent do to ensure their child has the best possible experience?

    Engaging with community organisations is also worthwhile, in order for parents to feel and see that there is a connection between their own community, and the school.

  2. Catherine W says:

    From a school’s perspective, there are a lot of factors we see that influence a family’s decision to send a child to school, often being personal circumstances related to work and financial issues.
    We urge parents to listen to the recommendations being made by their early childhood educators, who have worked closely with the child for an extended period of time.
    At our orientation sessions, we have started to demonstrate to parents exactly what takes place in a literacy or numeracy session and the expectations of the curriculum. This highlights to some that their child may not be ready to commence Kindergarten.

  3. For early childhood educators it is about that personal relationship of trust that you build where the parent shares their knowledge of their child’s strengths and weaknesses and for a whole year at least you both work together to prepare the child for their next step. In this process the early childhood educator must be also aware of what school expectations for that next step are by having a relationship with the local feeder schools so they can assist the child and their family to be prepared.
    If the child is not going to be ready for school then educators can honestly explain to the parent why an extra year at preschool will be beneficial to the child.
    Often the biggest problem for parents is the cost of a child staying at preschool and in my last practice we waivered fees if we all agreed the child would benefit. by an additional year. I do not recall any parent not agreeing to what was considered to be best for the child.
    For the 42% of Aboriginal children who arrive at school with one or more developmental vulnerabilities according to the AEDC 2015 this approach prevents failure and supports families.
    Jan Wright.

  4. Meni T says:

    Educating parents about their child’s school readiness and the consequences of starting school too early is as individual as each family, child and early Childhood Service that they attend.
    Ideally. strong relationships established between Educators, families and their local schools help facilitate these discussions, and the completion of the TTS document complements and adds value to this process.
    It is important to factor in the individual reasons that families may have for wanting their children to start school and consider ways of educating families from CALD backgrounds (particularly those with minimal English and those that may have preconceived cultural attitudes to education) about their child’s school readiness and choices.
    From experience, Multicultural Children’s Services has found that generally, when CALD families receive information in their home language where required (whether it is via an information session, playgroup, email, direct meetings with Early Childhood Educators), the majority of the time, families take on the expert advice.
    Whether it is educating CALD families about the value of play, the importance of bilingualism or their child’s school readiness – information and expert advice empowers and guides them.
    Ultimately the decision and reasons behind sending their child to school early is theirs. The best we can do is ensure that we have provided them with the information highlighting our recommendations and reasons for these.

  5. I have found some wonderful resources online, through the Department of Education website and other sources that I provide to families. We have a connection with the local school and the kindergarten and preschool teachers host a school information session at our service.
    We provide families with feedback regarding whether their child should start school or not, based on our own professional knowledge and understanding of their child. Each and every year we have at least two to three families that ignore our advice and send their children to school early, who are not ready. I feel so disheartened and concerned for these children, knowing the struggles they will face, but ultimately no matter how much we try to educate some parents they ultimately make a decision on what they feel is right for their child, even if it means disregarding our advice and expertise.
    I also find that if a parent takes their child to orientation at school and a teacher says they will be fine a parent automatically disregards our advice. Teachers see children for two hour sessions, a few times, and do not have a thorough knowledge of these children. I would love to see a more connected and individual approach to the orientation process, where the school seeks input from Early Education settings and teachers working with children regarding their readiness for school through a conversation, visit or email to the service. It would be invaluable if we were consulted directly on whether a child is ready for school. The TSS provides some information for teachers and is a great tool, however there is no way to share information where we have major concerns regarding a child’s ability to cope with the transition to schools directly.