Expert’s view on three-year-olds at school
CHILDREN as young as three could be attending schools from next year as two local primary schools take part in a Queensland pre-kindy class trial.
Around 25 Queensland schools will take part in the trial which will begin in 2020.
The free pre-kindy learning program for three-year-old children will be run for at least six hours per week and is aimed at helping little ones transition to school and develop some of the basic skills used at primary school.
The program, called KindylinQ, will be play based which registered play therapist and founder and CEO of Centre for Play Therapy Kylie Ellison said was vital for children so young.
"In my opinion, developmentally, young children require play-based learning to support their developmental capacity," Ms Ellison said.
"Play is a child's natural mode of communication in their formative years, and is an essential component of learning at three years of age.
"Therefore any program considering involving three-year-old children must factor in play based activities to ensure a successful outcome for the child."
Ms Ellison said while the program could provide a good start to school for some children, others may not be ready for the change.
"The advantage of sending children to school early would be to provide the opportunity to become familiar with the school setting, teaching staff and routine of school to ensure their experience of school is a positive one," she said.
"However it is important to consider the individual needs of the child and whether they are developmentally ready for school - are they socially, emotionally, intellectually ready to engage in a school based program at three years of age?
"Should they not be ready, they are likely to have a poor experience and view school negatively which could further exacerbate a child's view of school for the future."
Ms Ellison recommended parents considering the program thought about how it would be received by their individual child, and to be sure the program was play based.
She also said rather than whether a child had previously been to daycare, it was their relationship with teachers that would help influence their experience.
"What is likely to impact most is their experiences of attachment and connection with their caregivers (like) teachers, school employees," she said.
"Should a child have a positive attachment experience they are likely to also cope well with the transition to schooling, however it is important to view each child's requirements on an individual basis."
The $2.2 million pilot program would be lead by the school principal, a qualified teacher and early years support coordinator and sessions would offer indoor and outdoor play experiences, shared storytelling, music and rhymes.
Parents can self-select to access the program by contacting the school and registering their child.
The first 25 Queensland state schools to offer KindyLinQ in 2020 include:
Beaudesert State School
Carole Park SS
Macleay Island SS
Pimpama State Primary College
Rainbow Beach SS
Richlands East SS
Runcorn Heights SS
Russell Island SS
Sandy Strait SS
Urangan Point SS
An extra 15 schools are expected to be added to the program pilot during the 2020 school year.