The ACA has recently set up a new state body in Tasmania, with the help of a passionate group of local Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) service providers, in order to immediately address Tasmania’ s emerging childcare crisis.
What is the problem?
The Liberal State Government plans to lower the school starting age to 3.5 years by 2020.
This goes against the best practice research from Australia and around the world which demonstrates that younger is not better when it comes to starting school and does not give children any academic advantage… in fact it can do the opposite.
This would create many issues:
- Research proves that this is too young ; starting later is better for children’s emotional, educational and social development. Children need play to become motivated learners.
- If children do not have the opportunity to test and develop their self-regulation, impulse control and problem solving skills prior to starting school, then they are less likely to succeed in a school environment. They are also more likely to be referred to specialist services for concentration issues.
- If children (especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds) have a less than successful transition to school in their first six months, this can lead to disengagement from an early age, ultimately resulting in truancy and drop outs in later years.
- This experiment has already failed in Western Australia.
- Children will be able to attend school at 3.5 years old which means many families suffering financial hardship will withdraw children from play-based learning at Early Childhood Education & Care services, rendering these services unviable and causing closures mainly in regional areas.
- This will result in less access to childcare places in each community and the remaining services will have significantly higher fees for families requiring childcare for all children under three years of age.
- This will disadvantage working families - instead of having one familiar place to get used to, young children over 3.5 years will need to attend Before School Care, then Kindergarten in school and then After School Care. Researchers point out that many transitions throughout the day cause additional stress for children and may affect their emotional wellbeing.
- This also means that 3.5 year olds will be in Outside School Hours Care (OHSC) with children as old as 12 years old, often in large school halls/ gyms with limited adult supervision.
For Kindergarten Teachers
- Kindergarten teachers will have to work with only one teacher’s assistant with up to twenty-five 3.5 year olds to manage, including toileting, meal times, naps and any behavioural issues.
- However because the starting age is not compulsory, some parents may hold their child back, increasing the age range within the class room to 18 months. This makes it difficult for kindergarten teachers to assess children’s development and cater to younger children’s needs; this in fact further disadvantages already disadvantaged children.
For Service Operators & Communities
- Over 50% of Early Childhood Education & Care services in Tasmania are likely to become unviable and therefore close down, many in regional areas such as the Midlands, East Coast, Circular Head and Huonville areas.
- Therefore educators will lose their jobs and create a negative economic impact within their families and communities.
- Many other businesses and suppliers to the Early Childhood Education & Care sector such as training providers, caterers and cleaning suppliers will also be economically affected.
For Early Childhood Educators
- Over 500+ childcare educators are likely to lose their jobs and will find it difficult to find other jobs with fewer positions available.
- The Tasmanian Government aims to invest over $100 million of tax payers’ money replicating early learning environments in primary schools, which already exist in the Early Childhood Education & Care services. This is unnecessary expenditure on infrastructure, resources and training when the EC&C sector already provides this for the families and the community.
|What can I do to make a difference?
How can I find out more?
Follow the ACA Tasmania Facebook page and share it with your professional network, families and educators.
For more detailed information about this important cause, please contact:
- Tammy Bennett (Bagdad Childcare & Early Learning Centre, Bagdad) on 0427 685 280
- Trudi Quinn (DMP Early Learning, Launceston) on 03 6331 8737
- Sydney Morning Herald: 'Preschool nerves put health at risk'
- New Scientist: 'Too much, too young: Should schooling start at age 7?'
- Sydney Morning Herald: 'What is the right age to start school?'
- The Mercury: 'Talking Point: Too much too young is dangerous' by Steve Biddulph
- New York Times: 'Let the kids learn through play'
- 'Moving up the Grades: Relationship between Preschool Model and Later School Success', Rebecca A. Marcon, University of North Florida
- 'Study finds improved self-regulatuion in kindergarteners who wait a year to enrol'. Standord Graduate School of Education
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- Sakic, M., Burusic, J. & Babarovic, T. (2013). The relation between school entrance age and school achievement during primary schooling: Evidence from Croatian primary schools. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 83, 651-663
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- Whitebread, D. (2012). Preschool children’s social pretend play: supporting the development of meta-communication, metacogition and self-regulation. International Journal of Play 1(2), 197-21