So it turns out that some parents are so keen to have their children perform at the NAPLAN tests (Australia’s standardised tests) that they have started preparing them as early as kindergarten age. I couldn’t think of anything more dispiriting for a child. It’s bad enough I have to teach my Grade 3’s based on the questions they are bound to encounter during the tests, what could be worse than being subjected to it, up to 5 years in advance?
PUSHY parents are training kindergarten kids for Naplan – four years before they have to sit the controversial literacy and numeracy tests.
About a million students – in years 3, 5, 7 and 9 – will sit this year’s tests over three days next week.
But the pressure to perform is beginning years early, with some parents forcing their four-year-olds to take grade 3-level tests at home.
Dr Les Michel, from the Senior Students Resource Centre, said pre-school parents had joined the soaring demand for practice Naplan tests.
“This year we’ve even been getting kinder parents,” Dr Michel said.
“We would have had dozens, I’d say.”
Dr Michel said kindergarten parents bought the grade 3-level booklets, costing up to $24.95 each.
“They are really pushing their kids,” he said.
School Education Minister Peter Garrett said Naplan practice for pre-schoolers was “highly alarming”.
“It’s putting more pressure on kids at such a young age that they really don’t need, and it’s usurping the role that teachers in the classroom play, which is completely unnecessary,” he said.
However schools are also increasing the pressure, with “teaching for the test” now beginning as early as grade 1.
“We’re aware of it happening, even though people won’t admit it on the record, and why would they?” Parents Victoria executive officer Gail McHardy said.
“It demonstrates the desperation of some schools – their reputation hangs on it.”
Victorian Independent Education Union secretary Deb James said there was an “increased and unwelcome” focus on the tests in schools.
Australian Education Union state president Mary Bluett said: “Kids sitting down and practising tests is not the way to learn.”
Lucky for these pushy parents, I have some suggested exercises for them to set for their children.
To prepare them for the persuasive writing exam, you could set your child some of the following topics:
1. What is more fun, studying language conventions or playing outside with friends?
2. Is doing practice tests with mum and dad considered quality time?
3. Is learning for fun overrated?
To prepare them for the maths paper, I have the following suggested activities:
1. Count up the blisters that you have accrued from all the writing you’ve done and round the number to the nearest ten.
2. If Johnny went to school from 8:00 a.m until 4:00 p.m. and then spent the next 2 hours completing timed reading comprehension exams, how much time does he have to relax?
3. What percentage of pushy parents ends up rearing appreciative kids?
Good luck parents!