A GOSNELLS mother says early childhood teachers need to focus on caring for students rather than punishment, after her daughter was disciplined for kissing another child.
Jessica Blyth recently took her four-year-old daughter Amelia out of Gibbs Street Primary School in East Cannington after a pre-primary teacher made her sit on a time-out mat for kissing another child.
“The time-out mat was excessive, a simple talking to would be sufficient,” she said.
“It is the teacher’s duty to show students, especially young children, compassion and I do not believe this has happened,” she said.
Gibbs Street Primary School principal Karen Jones said the school did not have a set policy concerning kissing but teachers were responsible for managing student behaviour.
“Students have boundaries in relation to physical contact and teachers are in the best position to manage unwanted behaviour in the classroom setting,” she said.
“Teachers work hard with students to teach them what appropriate behaviour is.”
Curtin University early childhood education lecturer Eva Dobozy said she could not comment on this specific incident but said curriculum demands and national testing were forcing many educators to teach young children a formal style rather than through play and inquiry.
She said this could result in children who were not ready for formalised schooling to misbehave.
“This push, on children from a very early age, could see them become disenfranchised, especially boys which could easily result in them being turned off learning,” she said.
“A child who doesn’t want to do something, or thinks they can not do something, will lose interest and it quite likely to act out.
“A play-based learning environment provides opportunities for social and academic learning… and they learn to trust themselves that they can learn, not just because they have to but because they want to.”
Dr Dobozy, who also has published a paper on the detriment of homework from a young age, spoke about issues such as play at a WA State School Teachers Union early childhood forum last week.