Morris Iemma’s initiative to introduce testing into Kindergarten discredits the very capable work already being done by Kindergarten teachers. Particularly in NSW the teaching profession has long been aware of the importance of progress in the first years. Extra funding for Reading Recovery teachers is a very expensive but certainly worthwhile program.
The biggest drawback to early development of children’s literature from my own experience, is the lack of interest in literacy due to the family situation. Families – especially those of hard-working and financially struggling or recent migrant groups, need ongoing support to assist them with improving the literacy and numeracy of their children. Parenting programs, videos, literature and free short-term childcare which demonstrate the importance of reading to children with substantial quantities of good children’s literature, may help to stimulate those critical years when young children’s brains develop. Of course whatever is done should not be decided upon just before elections, with little accountability, planning or discussion with those child-care providers and kindergarten teachers who are truly the experts.
My own children have been excellent readers, as I read to them from before they could talk or walk. The ongoing discussions about pictures, storylines and concepts encouraged language development. One of the first items that I am organizing prior to the birth of my first grandchild, is a selection of well-used favourite books in preparation for long hours of comfortable story telling in my lap.