NARELLE BARR: NO to lowering the school starting age

NARELLE BARR: NO to lowering the school starting age

I’ve been an educator for thirteen years. I know first-hand what a difference early learning makes in a child’s life. The Hodgman Liberal Government’s plan to lower the school starting age to 3½ years is a mistake – it will be too much, too soon. Early learning is where confidence is built – it’s play-based for a reason, working as the building blocks for future learning. Concerned about Hodgman’s plans, I went to the community forum in Invervay to hear from other educators, politicians, and parents.

Everybody at the forum was worried. Many were angry. At one point a primary school teacher stood up and said the children in her year three class were already grappling with fears of failure – how are nine-year-olds feeling that? How is our school system already putting that amount of pressure on our children? It was upsetting to hear, especially in this context, at a forum about the Hodgman Government’s plan to push even younger children into structured learning.

We cannot let the school age be lowered to 3½. We know that early learning works. To push children into an environment that isn’t play-based will impact all of Tasmania. Families do struggle with the costs of a child care, but this isn’t the way to solve affordability. It will take our state backward. Surely we want our children to have the best chance possible?

Although it was hard to hear the truths spoken by the educators, politicians, and families present at the forum, I did leave feeling hopeful. Everyone there was committed to stopping the Hodgman Government from taking us backwards. Everybody left with information about the campaign, ‘Tasmanians say no to a lower school starting age’, and how to contact their MLCs. I wrote to Hodgman himself.

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