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  • Sarina Shirazee

Children haven't changed over time, yet our expectations of them have

Over the last 10 years, I have seen the Australian Curriculum change so much that children are now expected to perform and behave in ways that are simply not reasonable or appropriate for their age or stage of development. Children have not changed over time - yet our expectations of them have.⠀⠀ ⠀⠀ School has become increasingly rigid and all-consuming. I see far more children with low self-esteem and anxiety than I did 10 years ago. Many children are unable to meet unrealistic academic and behavioural expectations at such a young age - they are in an artificial learning environment, away from their family for long periods, and constantly being tested.⠀⠀ On second thought, kids have changed in some ways. Things like urbanisation and technology have lead to kids being less physically active and spending less time outdoors. This has affected foundation skills such as vision, gross motor, fine motor, social and emotional development. So if anything, kids have become less prepared for school, but are being expected to do more.⠀ This is disheartening, however I don’t mean for it to be discouraging. (Though I do hope this message continues to spread and we eventually see reform). I share this information in the hope that it will encourage compassion for children, ease parents’ worries about how their children are going at school, and help empower parents to advocate for their children if necessary.⠀ Teachers - I know most of you are already aware that you’re stuck in a system that isn’t respectful of children’s natural developmental trajectories. Let’s all keep abreast of age-appropriate expectations and help spread this information. Let parents know that what the curriculum expects and what is developmentally appropriate are two different things, and tell them where their child sits within these.⠀


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