When it comes to our children’s education, we take it very seriously. So much so that we’re enrolling them more than ever into early education services. In fact, in the March quarter 2022 , 48.3 per cent of children aged 0-5 years used approved childcare which represents a whopping 1,392,860 children from 1,000,840 families.
But what happens if they reach the early years of school and you have concerns about their learning?
We talk to a few educators and Cluey Learning about the education inside of early childhood services and the additional support that tutoring for preschoolers can provide once they embark on their formal school journey.
So, what are children actually learning at early education?
Inside your early education service, the centre provides ample opportunity for academic excellence but should focus on and nurture learning through play. You won’t see the traditional teaching and learning methods here – it’s all about fun and engaging kids in a positive way.
You can get more information on the learnings and expected outcomes from the ACEQUA Early Years Framework for Australia .
Looking inside services around Australia
Angela from Sentia Early Learning says, “When it comes to literacy and numeracy, we take a learning dispositions approach. Our aim is to embed a love of learning, curiosity about the world and skills to follow strengths and passions. We teach children to think!”
Ali Evans, Head of Early Learning and Education at G8 Education says, “The environments, routines and rituals of attending an early learning program enable a smooth transition to formal school by growing their independence, ability to self-regulate emotions and behaviours and development of gross and fine motor skills.”
What should children be focused on?
Children should absolutely be focused on learning through play. In the early years, it’s more productive to teach children through things like STEM activities than it is to sit them down and teach them maths in the traditional way. Children learn when they’re involved, and interested and certainly retain more information this way.
When it comes to the written word and early literacy skills, commonly referred to as pre-literacy skills, children will begin showing interest in looking at books, listening to narratives, recognising printed words, learning vocabulary and identifying letters and sounds. When reading is a part of your daily life, this almost seems like it comes naturally.
Where should they be at the end of their childcare journey?
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to where a child should be, but there are certain skills they’ll be assessed on in their first year of foundation. This isn’t a reflection of them, it’s generally just to give teachers a base to start. Can they recognise their numbers and letters? Can they sound things out? More importantly, are they resilient learners, ready to go into the formal education years with a growth mindset? These are the things that early education provides.
Ali Evans reminds us, “It’s important to remember that every child’s learning journey is different and unique in meeting their individual needs and interests. One of the most important skills is for children to self-regulate their emotions and be a confident learner. Attending early learning supports children’s skills in these areas and sets them up to be a successful, engaged lifelong learner.”
And what about the later early years - primary school?
We talked to Cluey Learning, an online face-to-face schoolwork support program, about how parents are seeking more support, the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic and how we can best support our children through their earliest years.
Have you seen a rise in parents enrolling children in tutoring earlier or have you noticed a surge in parents enquiring for children younger than school age?
Yes! We are seeing it more. Last year we had over 1500 enquiries that were looking for year 1 tutoring which would have been a decent jump on the year before. People are looking at enlisting the help of a tutor early and not just if their child is behind. In the past parents would typically only look at primary school tutoring if there was a noticeable learning gap.
How much do you feel the pandemic has impacted parent concern?
The experience of home schooling gave parents insight into their children’s learning and the gaps in their skills and knowledge. In many cases, it also showed parents that they don’t necessarily have the skills themselves to help their children. By interrupting schooling, the pandemic shone a light on gaps in learning that already existed.
As a recent Grattan Institute Report states, “OECD report shows about two in five Australian students do not meet the Australian proficiency standard in reading and mathematics by the time they are 15.” The pandemic didn’t necessarily create these learning gaps – they have been years in the making – but it certainly shone a spotlight on them.
What are the main reasons parents are seeking additional support?
One of the key reasons that parents seek additional educational support for their children is that they feel that they do not get the support they need in the classroom. Schools are busy places, and children are often reluctant to ask questions in class. These unanswered questions lead to learning gaps that affect a child’s confidence and enthusiasm for learning.
The additional support they get through Cluey can make a huge difference to a child’s attitude to learning as well as their academic results.
What are some of the signs parents should look for before seeking support?
The need for additional support could be signalled by teachers and report cards, particularly if a child is struggling with fundamental skills in literacy and numeracy.
But there are other signs as well.
It may be that your child is becoming increasingly reluctant to go to school, or reluctant to talk about school or what they have learned. Children who repeatedly complain about being bored at school may be struggling to understand what is going on or need greater challenge; either way additional support is needed to stop them from opting out of education altogether.
Signs of needing additional help
Even then at the end of their childcare and preschool days, some parents have decided that is not enough and they’re enrolling them into small group or one-on-one sessions at businesses aimed as early as three-year-old kindergarten. Businesses like Leap Street offer kinder aged early intervention.
Either way, Ali Evens reminds us that, “open communication between the service and home is important to ensure your child’s needs are being met. Your team of professional educators and teachers will be able to support you and your child and provide advice on what, if any, additional support your child may benefit from. It is important for families to be able to make informed decisions regarding their child’s development, learning and wellbeing."
A special thanks to the team at Cluey Learning for their insights. If you think your children may benefit from the additional support Cluey can provide, don't hesitate to get in touch with the team via their website.