Parents have been urged to stop blaming schools for their children’s deficiencies and start doing more educating at home by the West Australian Education Minister, Peter Collier.

The ABC is reporting that Mr Collier said there was evidence that an increasing number of children were starting pre-primary without basic skills – including the ability to paint a picture, count or hold a pencil.

He added that the on-entry testing results were showing that parents simply were not putting in the time with their children that used to happen in the past.

“Data from the 2015 on-entry assessments of all pre-primary children in public schools shows nearly one quarter lacked basic literacy skills, such as the ability to write their names or recognise simple rhyming words,” Mr Collier told the ABC,”Unfortunately schools are being blamed for a whole raft of things. Fundamentally a child’s education must commence at home.  We can do as much as we can … but fundamentally we must have the support of parents.”

In an attempt to encourage parents to be more involved with their children’s education, the State Government has launched a $500,000 television and online advertising campaign.

The ads, which feature the State Government’s “Bigger Picture” branding, direct parents to educational videos which contain tips on readiness for school.

A pre-primary teacher at Karrinyup Primary School, Liz Beament featured in the advertisements and also spoke with the ABC.

“Over the last few years we’ve noticed there’s been quite a decline in some of the skills that children used to come in with from home,” she said.  “One of them is their fine motor control, so the small muscles in their fingers that help for example hold a pen, hold a paintbrush, do craft and help cutting.

“We feel that the parents aren’t doing as much of that at home as they used to do.  IT has taken over now … swiping a screen is never going to give your child strength in their fingers and fine motors.”

She said it was her opinion that many parents were not aware of how important the early years were in a child’s development.


Image source:  Shutterstock

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  • we live in a world where we are made to wrap our kids in cotton wool. We as parents don’t know what is right or wrong as no matter what we do we are judged and criticised. I do think that we should spend more time with our children teaching them the every day basics of drawing/holding pens and pencils and learning their ABC’s and nursery rhymes….although we send them to school to learn…thats what teachers get paid to do…to teach our children.


  • What is school for? Perhaps they should be learning at school instead of being a glorified baby sitting service. Children are going to school as young as 4 years old. There are some children that can grasp reading and writing at a young age. But seriously, what is kindergarten for if not to learn the basics of letters, numbers, sounds, counting and basic words? Maybe if there weren’t 40 children shoved into one classroom with one qualified teacher, it wouldn’t be a problem. And perhaps if parents didn’t have to work 50 hours a week, each!, they’d have more time to educate their children a little. The government can’t have it both ways!!


  • My teacher cousin was telling me to teach my kid before school that letter make a word, words are separated by spaces, and words make a sentence. We do lots of reading but it was novel go learn the mechanics of reading go a small child!


  • Hmm…I don’t know if I totally agree with this. You go to school to learn how to count, read & write. Yes I agree you need to invest time in reading with your child,teaching them colours etc & exposing them to learning but it is at school where they consolidate & grow their knowledge. Let children be children instead of expecting them to be able to read War & Peace at age 5


  • It’s hard to know what to do – teachers criticise you if you teach your kid the “wrong” way to o it.


  • Cannot agree more! I come from a family where parents used to educate us at home in addition to what was being taught at school. This includes extracurricular sport activities. Now that I am a mum, I have started to do the same. My bub is only 5 months old, but we have an entire bookcase of books for him (ranging from children book’s to academic books). We teach him the alphabet, numbers, colours, textures and read at least 5 books to him daily. This is in addition to playgroup, babies rhymes group and swimming. You can never do enough, the more the better even if the kids pick up one new skill a month, it goes a long way. Invest in your kids, the school can only do so much.


  • The difference between the children who have had learning imbedded in their daily lives from a younge age is quite noticeable, when you are working with the children everyday! But even the parents attitude towards learning is very important! Some parents may not feel confident to teach their children basic skills, for what ever reason, but if they are supportive and encouraging THAT will go a very long way!!


  • I did all of the above with my child, and spent as much time as possible with him. He is really smart, loves sport, cooking and has a great vocabulary and understanding of stories etc. But he failed just about everything on the on entry assessment, at five he hardly knew how to count or write his own name. None of this was my fault, eventually he was diagnosed with dyslexia after years of struggling. My point is, is that parents can spend all the time in the world with their child, but they still might struggle due to an undiagnosed learning difficulty such as dyslexia. This article is spreading some really dangerous misconceptions that the reason why every child that struggles with basic literacy/numeracy skills is poor parenting, as I said earlier up to 10% of children have dyslexia and many more have other learning differences such as autism/add. So it is fair to say a good portion of the 20% kids that have performed poorly on the on entry assessment simply have an undiagnosed learning difficulties/differences, and only a very small minority could be attributed to faults in parenting. It makes me really angry that people are stupid enough to believe the minister of education that parents need to ‘do better’. I have spent 1000s dollars on tutoring/OT/speech therapy and an hour every day after school working with my son to help him be able to learn to read and write. He also works really hard, and is extremely smart, but at the moment every day at school is still a struggle. I am sure there are 1000s of parents in the same boat. A few weeks ago I read an article from the UK where one of the ministers there said ‘dyslexia doesn’t exist’. It was a ploy to cut funding to education. I wonder if this 500,000 ad campaign blaming the parents is also a ploy so that the Australian government doesn’t have to spend the many of millions of dollars it should to fix up the education systems so that it better caters to supporting and identifying students with dyslexia and other learning differences.


  • yes my kid’s teacher was suprised that my child could write their name and could count to 20., knew basic colours, shapes etc. all we have done was spend time playing and letting them get used to pens etc in their environment. my kids also love playschool so i will credit that show with helping me educate my child. it has been awhile since i was a kid so i forget some rhymes etc but playschool reminds me! lol. i get my children to help cook and learn to be responsible and clean up after themselves etc. just have fun and spend time with them and they will learn a lot even though you don’t necessarily realise that you are teaching them :)


  • I hope these ads have a positive influence. My youngest has not started school yet, but she already loves sitting at the table and doing ‘homework’ when her siblings are sitting there too. Its exciting to see her keen to learn.


  • Just saw the ad – not so sure it’s going to have much impact.


  • What an ideal world we would live in, if this was to all happen before a child started school. Not only are some children not ready for structured learning at home not all home situations are a place for learning to occur.


  • I agree. More and more the schools are being expected to teach basics that used to be the parents responsibility.


  • I agree that alot of parents aren’t teaching basic skills at home but on the other hand, there are so many pressures facing parents these days, they may simply not have the time they would like, to be able to spend with their kids. They have to be out working 2 jobs just to get by etc. Not saying this is the case all the time but i’d be betting there were quite a few!


  • Has any one considered failure to meet milestones in on entry assessment is often the result of learning difficulties, such as dyslexia. About 20% kids have leaning difficulties, and 5-10% have dyslexia, which will most likely result in difficulty/ inability to write their name/ rhyme words before starting school, so the fact so many kids are failing doesnt completely surprise me. I know this as my child didn’t perform well in this assessment, and he also has difficulties with fine motor, but thankfully rather than blaming me, the parent, the teachers encouraged me to have him assessed for learning difficulties and eventually he was diagnosed with dyslexia. While the school has and is doing there best I think the education department has a long way to go in ensuring kids get early supoort/ diagnosis. Stop blaming the parents and realise that if kids struggle in these areas it is more likely that they need extra support due to a learning difference such as dyslexia, instead of wasting 500000 dollars lecturing parents, spend it on teaching schools, teachers and parents on how to identify and support children with learning difficulties such as dyslexia.


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