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Preps under pressure being suspended from schools

Carol Amai, Jade Potton and Victoria Shearer are organising a Steiner education program in Gladstone.
Carol Amai, Jade Potton and Victoria Shearer are organising a Steiner education program in Gladstone. Christopher Chan

KICKING, punching, scratching and swearing led to 580 suspensions being issued to Queensland state school Prep students last year.

And a Gladstone education expert says the youngsters are lashing out over too much pressure.

Co-ordinator of Gladstone Reads and The Pyjama Foundation, Lyn Hughes, doesn't believe in having high academic expectations for Prep students.

Of the four- to six-year-olds who were suspended, violent behaviour was behind 440 issues, while 95 involved weapons or 'objects' being used violently.

"I think we have a lot of children with social and emotional issues. We are expecting younger and younger children to sit and listen to direct teaching now," Ms Hughes said.

The mum-of-three has taught students from childcare through to university.

"It's not the kids' fault, or the parents' fault. I think our world is so complex, everyone has a role in this," she said.

Boys with a more rigorous lifestyle self-regulate their emotions and understand about balance, such as needing to relax their body with a good book

Of the 582 suspended students, 504 were boys.

"Boys are now living in a much more sedentary world, often attached to technology," Ms Hughes said.

"By not being allowed to go outside because it's perceived to be dangerous, means they are finding it hard to find an outlet for their important physical development.

"Boys with a more rigorous lifestyle self-regulate their emotions and understand about balance, such as needing to relax their body with a good book."

She said the trend of more children becoming less sociable had been a gradual process.

"Too much technology has taken many children away from the outdoors and the social play with other children from the neighbourhood.

"There is an increasing number of children who are finding these classrooms stressful, rather than safe and secure. A lot of it comes down to they don't know how to be with 25 other people."

Ms Hughes said parents needed to figure out what was happening before the behaviour issues arose.

"People don't understand the impact that this is having on everyone's learning," she said.

Parent who would like help or advice with children's difficult behaviour can call the Child and Family Centre on 4972 1184.

Steiner schools offer alternative where kids can be kids

PARENTS pushing for a Steiner school in the Gladstone region say the alternative education system takes the focus off academic achievement.

The system prioritises letting children play in a social and creative environment, and they can learn vital interpersonal skills.

Victoria Shearer is organising a Steiner Education school in Tannum Sands, Curtis Coast Steiner.

"It is the formal learning part of the Australian Curriculum that I struggle with - in particular the assumption that at this young age all children are at the same level and should be learning the same.

"This is not taking into account the individual child and their uniqueness."

Steiner schools operate with the belief that a child should not be rushed into adulthood but should savour their childhood.

"Children of this age are not considered ready yet for formal classes," Ms Shearer said.

"The Australian curriculum is taking time away from play in which children learn to relate socially."

She said Steiner education did not exclude kindergarten and Prep schooling.

"Steiner education attempts to alleviate the pressures and stress on young children in early childhood."

Topics:  education, prep, schooling, steiner school



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