At this time when parents are taking their 5 year olds to their ‘big school orientation’ some media reports indicate just how active the ‘tiger mothers’ (and fathers) are at influencing and, dare I say it, bullying childcare and preschool staff.
An article by Jordan Baker in the Telegraph on 19th October reported that ‘childcare centres and preschools are giving homework to four-year-olds’. When your child starts at primary school, you as a parent have an opportunity to stop this nonsense. The excuse often used by tiger parents to bully childcare and preschool staff is that homework for four year olds is getting them ready for the ‘real world of big school’.
In fact, there are thousands of educators in our primary schools who know that research clearly indicates that home work in primary schools damages children psychologically and educationally. Psychologists such as Michael Carr-Gregg have for years patiently and persistently pointed out to parents the well documented damage done to primary school children by homework. What is equally important, is that the research shows that young kids who do more homework are more educationally damaged than those who do less homework. The link below to an article entitled ‘Homework overload gets an ‘F’ from experts’, quotes Associate Professor Richard Walker from Sydney University as saying: “Kids who do more homework actually perform worse on standardized tests”.
So why is this situation not being addressed? As far back as 1991 Barry Dwyer a Director of Catholic Education published some of his own research in the Bulletin. In quick summary: it showed that the vast, vast majority of parents do not want all this competitive academic curriculum. School leaders face a dilemma. As modern age leaders they genuinely want to listen to parents but unfortunately it is the tiger mothers and fathers who make all the noise. I spent many years associated with schools in many roles in many different states and I can attest to the obsessive paranoia of this anxious noisy group.
Some nations are trying to introduce legislation to stop the incredible damage being done by this powerful group of bullies. There is evidence too, of another response to the situation. Around the world there are now millions of parents who are simply withdrawing their children from school. Some experts say that home schooling or unschooling is now the fastest growing segment of the schooling system.
I have major reservations about the effectiveness of both these reactions to the current problem. However if only the ‘silent (and vast) majority’ of parents would stand up to these bullies it would greatly help many primary school leaders who dearly want to stop the damage and get back to their true calling which is to assist young kids to do what young kids want to do, which is to learn.
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