As one of Australia’s leading parenting educators I regularly travel the length and breadth of this country including cities, remote communities, rural communities and of course the digital world.
Everywhere I go I hear about the distress of many young children who are struggling — kids struggling with anxiety, serious behavioural concerns, developmental challenges, mental illness including depression in children as young as four, aggressive and violent behaviour, increases in ADHD and ODD diagnoses— in our beautiful country it makes no sense!
In 2013 I took a submission to the then Federal Minister of Education called Stop Stealing Childhood in the Name of Education. This was my request for a serious conversation about the changes that were concerning parents, educators and allied health professionals. Absolutely nothing happened except I felt I had tried to do something to build awareness of the concerns.
It staggers me to see the continued push down towards formalised learning in early years that is still happening across Australia, both within the education system and in other commercial businesses.
It has set up an unrealistic and unhealthy competitive perception that the earlier children start formal learning (especially around reading) the better for all children. In short, there is little or no evidence that pressuring children to read at five rather than seven improves their later reading; in fact there is much concern that it is damaging.