Children as young as two are being sent to “school readiness” programs with private tutors.
Children as young as two are being sent to “school readiness” programs with private tutors.

Two-year-olds sent to private tutors

TODDLERS as young as two are being sent to private tutors to learn basic language and numeracy skills, as experts worry kids are coming under too much pressure in their first few years of school.

Private tuition companies operating in Queensland are seeing a surge in the popularity of "school readiness" programs, which use a mix of play-based and other learning strategies to teach children basics skills such as reciting the ABC and counting to 10, before starting Prep.

Some of these companies, including Fruition Tuition and Begin Bright, even have "age appropriate" learning courses for two-year-olds.

Early Childhood Teachers' Association president Kim Walter said the trend was being driven by parents who were anxious about their children's learning because of the publicity around NAPLAN and standardised testing.

The association is so alarmed by the increasingly demanding nature of early primary school that it put out a policy statement on the matter last week.

"ECTA is concerned by reports from our members that there is increased pressure being placed on early childhood teachers to teach academic curriculum earlier and produce students who are performing at a high academic level earlier," it said.

A toddler using a tablet computer.
A toddler using a tablet computer.

"This has resulted in curriculum and testing being pushed down to the early years of schooling."

Sherrin Gugenberger, of Fruition Tuition, said the fast-paced nature of the Prep curriculum had led to many parents wanting their children to have a good grasp of basic literacy and numeracy skills even before entering the classroom.

"If kids don't get those fundamentals they fall behind very quickly," she said.

But she said private tutoring was not about "hot-housing kids" or turning them into rocket scientists.

"Very rarely have I met a parent who is bringing a child to us because they are determined their child will get A-grades. In fact it is usually the opposite. It is usually because they are worried," she said.

A Begin Bright spokeswoman said the company had seen demand for its school readiness program "steadily growing". It is also now catering to two-year-olds.

"In these classes Begin Bright children benefit through games, arts, crafts, song and dance," she said.