In recent months I have started to learn about the history of our school system. And quite frankly, it is scary!
Spotted any important education news in the media recently? No doubt you heard a bunch of stories about NAPLAN earlier in May, but here’s some other stories you may have missed. From fidget spinners to disability funding, forest kindergartens to credit cards in primary schools, continue on for the highlights:
Let me start off with this – there are many reasons why I love Montessori schools! I even wrote a post about all the wonderful benefits (read it here). My children have been involved with Montessori playgroups and preschools since my first-born was 12 months old. I think that Montessori schools are a fabulous option that many parents in Australia aren’t aware of.
I have seen this question asked in multiple parenting groups recently. All a variation around this question:
“My 5 year old seems to be really struggling lately. She is having massive meltdowns and tantrums every day after kindy and is so exhausted that we are unable to do anything fun on weekends!
Her teacher reports that she is doing great at school.
She is keeping up academically, has a great little group of friends and no obvious issues while there. But at home she is a nightmare!
Is this normal?”
Today I was the mum who.... *gasp*… let her son climb up the slide.
Yes, that’s right. I let my three year old son climb up the slide. And what’s worse – this wasn’t the first time. We are serial offenders.
There were witnesses. Other mothers stood there horrified, whispering to each other about this awful behaviour. Looking at my son then pointedly searching around to identify the neglectful mother. Only to discover that I was right there, smiling and not doing anything about it. Oh, the horror!
The judgement from other mums shocked me. Has everyone forgotten what playgrounds are for? Playgrounds are meant to be a place for children to play. To explore. To have fun. They are not meant to be a production line obstacle course where everything is used in only one way.
Going down the slide is boring for my 3 year old. He knows how to use it “properly” – he has been climbing the ladder and sliding down again since he was 9 months old. He sees no point in doing that anymore. To him, climbing the slide is much more challenging. It strengthens his muscles, develops his coordination, allows him to practise risk-taking and enhances his imagination (today he was pretending to climb into a pirate ship). But most importantly, he is having fun doing it.
He knows to be courteous. He knows how to take turns. If there are other children wanting to slide down, he will happily move away and allow them to do it. But if the slide is free, it’s an open invitation to climb!
So yes, I will continue to be that mum. I will allow my child to move outside the box, even if you worry that it will inspire your child to do the same. Because the world needs more kids who are free to play.
I discovered the Montessori method when my first-born was just a baby. So far we have experienced two different 0-3yr old playgroups, and two different 3-6yr old preschools (often known in Australia as Children’s House). Plus we have toured multiple other Montessori schools! So while I am not a trained Montessori teacher, I feel I know a fair bit about the Montessori method and the benefits of this type of education.
My favourite aspects so far:
I am a huge fan of conferences – especially free online ones with awesome speakers! There are a couple of great ones coming up that I have to share. I have no affiliation with them, besides being excited to attend myself!
While the major news headlines of the past fortnight have been very focused around Trump and the North Korea situation, there have been a few interesting education articles you may have missed. Catch up below!
This is a conundrum I face at present. For various reasons, we are not entirely sure where we will be living in the next year or two – which makes planning school for young Joey and Lambkin hard! But we have a rough idea of possible locations.
One potential location is in the greater Brisbane area. So far in my research, I have found a Montessori school that sounds like a great fit for our family. The major issue is, if we live close to that school, we will be a substantial distance from hubby’s work. The best case scenario is living in a suburb that puts us about 30 minutes from school, 40 minutes from work.
This begs the question –
Is a 30 minute drive to school too long?
I don’t even know yet how much peak hour traffic affects this route. Perhaps it’s even longer!
If you live in a rural area and have no other choice, you may have to put your kids on a school bus for an hour long trip to school. In the city, however, an optional hour long round-trip twice per day through city traffic is a big commitment.
Just jotting these pros and cons down, I can already see that the cons likely outweigh any great benefits the school can provide. Do I love the Montessori framework enough to accept the drawbacks? Is there a closer school that would suffice? Back to the research I go!
I am curious – what would you do? What have you done? How far would you travel for an amazing school?
Do you know what age your child is meant to start school? Surprisingly, the laws vary between states! Some are flexible and you may have a choice which year your child starts, whilst in other states the laws are quite strict on which year your child must start school.
Of course, the topic of school starting age is a heavily debated topic at present, with many believing Australian children are starting formal education much too young. A topic I will go into depth in a later post! In the meantime, check out what the current laws for your state are below.
Try not to get too confused by the names – depending which state you are in, the first year of school may be called Prep, Kindergarten, Pre-Primary or Reception!
Kindergarten – Children must be 5 years of age by 30th April in the year they commence.
It is compulsory to be in school by age 6.
Further info here and here from the ACT Government Education Directorate
Kindergarten – Children can start if they turn 5 on or before 31st July. Some parents will choose to wait until the following year.
It is compulsory for children to be enrolled in school by their 6th birthday.
Further info available at NSW Education
Preschool (optional) – Children must be 4 by the 30th June. In remote areas, children may commence preschool at age 3 with parental supervision until 3.5 years.
Transition (optional) – Children must be 5 years of age by the 30th June.
All children must be enrolled in school from the age of 6.
Further info here from the Northern Territory Government
Prep – Children must be 5 years of age by 30th June. Delaying by a year is allowed, and they must be in school by 6 years 6 months.
From 2017, children must do Prep prior to Year 1 (previously some families chose to skip the Prep year)
Further info from Queensland Government Preparing For Prep
Preschool (optional) – children must be 4 years of age by the 1st May.
Reception – children must be 5 years of age by 1st May.
All children must be in school by their 6th birthday.
Further info at South Australian Government School Life
Kindergarten (optional) – the year prior to Prep, for those who have turned 4 by the 1st January.
Prep - Children must start full-time schooling if they are 5 years by the 1st January.
Further info available at Tasmanian Government School Information for Parents
Prep – Children can start if they are 5 years of age by 30th April. Delaying until the following year is allowed.
It is compulsory to be at school in the year they turn 6.
Further info from Victoria State Government Education and Training
Kindergarten (optional) – children must be 4 years old by 30th June in the year they commence
Pre-Primary (compulsory) – children start pre-primary if they will be be 5 years old by 30th June. It is very uncommon for children to be allowed to delay to the following year.
Further info here from the Department of Education WA
Homeschooling is legal in all Australian states. While each state has their own rules and regulations around home education, generally families will need to register their home education intent and plan by compulsory ages (similar to above – usually around 6 years). I will explain this further in later blog posts.
What do you think of your state's laws? Surpised by how different they all are? Have you moved interstate and found the differences impacted your child? Comment below.