Do 2-year-old's belong in a school classroom?

I say, yes.

The NSW Catholic Education Office is planning a new approach to their schools, including the possibility of providing education in classroom settings for two-year-olds, The Daily Telegraph reports.

I think this a fantastic plan.

All the research shows that the first five years of a child’s life is incredibly formative. We know that kids who get some formal education before they go to school are more attentive and more in tune with their emotions and empathetic towards others. They will outperform their peers who have not attended childcare or preschool for a number of years after they start school.

Toddlers need to learn more than just pouring tea.

Like many families, my children attend an early childhood education centre and have both done so since they were about 14 weeks old.

So, I must admit, I was mystified by this call on two counts.

Firstly, does the Catholic Education Office not know that many two-year-olds are already in a formal early childhood education setting? The Australian Bureau of Statistics 2008 Census shows that nearly half of all two-year-olds in Australia are.

Sure, that means that there are another half of two-year-olds who aren’t but it’s a furphy to suggest that two-year-olds aren’t learning.

Two-year-olds are learning.

Secondly, the Catholic Education Office don’t seem to understand what happens at early childhood education centres. “CEO Parramatta executive director Greg Whitby said the early years should be about more than childminding and sand pits.”

Well, Mr Whitby, early learning is absolutely more about childminding and sand pits and I think if you were to visit any childcare centre in your area, you’ll find a group of educators who are serious about the education framework and curriculum they work to.

Having said that, I am delighted to see an education stakeholder call for more funding for early childhood education.

It’s no secret that we need to rethink the way we fund early childhood education in this country. Costs to the government are ever growing, while most mothers with children in childcare are forking out the majority of their salaries in fees.

Perhaps bringing childcare into schools, and funding childcare in the same way as school in recognition of the incredible benefits education brings to the economy, is the way forward.

What do you think about two-year-olds being at school?

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