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Early childhood expert questions holding preschoolers back: Podcast

After a Dandenong primary school principal recently considered the benefits of keeping preschoolers back for another year, Education Review approached Associate Professor Christine Woodrow from Western Sydney University to obtain her thoughts on the idea.

Woodrow highlighted how essential preschool is in terms of both social learning (taking turns, managing conflict, etc) as well as developing a rich idea of literacy and numeracy through rhymes, songs and finger plays.

Importantly, however, she also said it was difficult to make broad-sweeping judgments such as 'all preschoolers must repeat their 2020 year'.

For the early childhood expert, it's more of a case of which schools and which students might need to be held back? For instance, while young children who come from more affluent backgrounds with ready access to books and other cultural capital will probably transition easily, children from more disadvantaged backgrounds may need more consideration and assistance.

Woodrow also emphasised that there is a "financial penalty" in making children repeat preschool that is bound to be unpopular in many circles. In terms of assisting disadvantaged students who may have difficulty transitioning from preschool, the early childhood expert recommends rich, play-based and discovery learning, as well as fostering more family engagement with the preschools.

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