There is no need to tutor toddlers. Picture: iStock
There is no need to tutor toddlers. Picture: iStock

Experts warn tutoring preschoolers can backfire

TIGER  parents who send children as young as three to coaching courses before kindergarten could be crippling their learning development in core school subjects.

Experts say although parents think they're helping, they could be limiting their children's development.

The number of parents sending three- to five-year-old children to preschool coaching has been steadily climbing since the introduction of the Best Start Kindergarten Assessment in 2010.

But University of Sydney education expert Dr Rachel Wilson said it was not necessarily helpful.

"They are making the entry assessments high-stakes," she said. "You would think doing formal academic work would be a good thing, but there are lots of risks associated with it."

She said toddlers who were tutored missed out on learning through play, which develops mental flexibility and creativity - vital to maths and English.

"It is a habit of the mind which is applied to all types of thinking, so when kids lose those opportunities for play and the learning foundations that provides, there will be detrimental effects," Dr Wilson said.

This year the Best Start Kindergarten Assessment was upgraded so results are immediately put into a database which records a student's literacy and numeracy abilities against the curriculum.


Unstructured play is what preschoolers need, according to experts.
Unstructured play is what preschoolers need, according to experts.

Dr Majeda Awawdeh of Global Education Academy, which offers a year-long course for pre-kindergarten students, said interest had significantly increased, with parents now inquiring about younger children.

"Parents are more aware and educated and they can see the advantage of education in an unstable economy and changing world," Ms Awawdeh said.

She said three-year-olds could be taught high-level maths concepts such as multiplication by zero and fractions.

But Australian Tutoring Association chief executive Mohan Dhall said there should be no tutoring before kindergarten.

"At a very, very young age, children are being trained for an outcome rather than a level of learning," he said.

A spokesman for the NSW Department of Education said children did not need tutoring for the assessment, which was not a test but simply to give teachers an "accurate indication of a child's abilities".