A MUM has shared a baffling newsletter sent home from her child's preschool with US-based parenting site Scary Mommy, Kidspot reports.
Why so baffling? Well, it appears that the staff of the preschool have some pretty unrealistic expectations of a group of three and four-year-olds.
"We made it through a really tough first month with tears, attitudes, unwillingness, not listening, not obeying the rules and especially, too much talking and not enough sitting in seats when asked to," the October 2017 newsletter of this particular establishment reads.
"We work on this every day at school, but we need help from home, too. We realise kids don't want to sit and would rather talk and play when they want to; but that's not how school works.
"Preschool is preparation to go on to 'big' school and these things are important there, too. We simply can't say that our kids don't like colouring and sitting still because Kindergarten and first grade have a lot of colouring. Please, work five or 10 minutes each day with your child on this and you'll see improvement. We have seen improvement with several kids already.
"We realise it's a fast-paced world and parents work, but the adults in the house have to be in charge and help the kids to understand this. Please, talk to your child about the importance of sharing, not fighting, keeping their hands to themselves, and learning to get along with each other. Remind them that once we pick up the toys that we don't get them back out again, because we are done playing and going on to learning fun things."
WHAT'S REALISTIC TO EXPECT FROM A PRESCHOOLER?
We checked what's expected behaviour of a preschooler over at Raising Children - an expert parenting advice site supported by the Australian Government and the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne - and it's fair to say, mums have good reason to find this newsletter infuriating.
As children settle into a new environment at a preschool, some tears and separation anxiety is very normal behaviour. Many children at age three are still having tantrums and a good preschool will have effective management strategies to help children communicate their feelings in a more positive way.
Preschoolers have short attention spans - around 30 minutes - so sitting still and listening for long periods of time is simply not a realistic expectation for a group of three and four-year olds.
Children at this age are still learning to follow instructions. They're easily distractable. It is very normal to have to remind children of rules and expectations several times. After all, that's how they learn.
Not to mention that unstructured play is shown again and again to be essential to early childhood development.
THE IMPORTANCE OF PLAY
Angela Hanscom, an paediatric occupational therapist and expert on the important of play for young children, has written repeatedly about the dangers of an ever-increasing push to structured settings in preschool environments in the US. (It's worth pointing out that in Australia, play-based education is at the heart of most early childhood curricula.)
"It is through active free play outdoors where children start to build many of the foundational life skills they need in order to be successful for years to come," she writes in the Washington Post.
"In fact, it is before the age of seven years - ages traditionally known as 'pre-academic' - when children desperately need to have a multitude of whole-body sensory experiences on a daily basis in order to develop strong bodies and minds."
She goes on to explain how dangerous it is to kerb children's free play.
"If children are not given enough natural movement and play experiences, they start their academic careers with a disadvantage. They are more likely to be clumsy, have difficulty paying attention, trouble controlling their emotions, utilise poor problem-solving methods, and demonstrate difficulties with social interactions."
All of that makes you wonder, just exactly what is this preschool trying to achieve?
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