NZSM Online

Get TurboNote+ desktop sticky notes

Interclue makes your browsing smarter, faster, more informative

SciTech Daily Review

Webcentre Ltd: Web solutions, Smart software, Quality graphics


School Study Sees Sorrow

Five-year-olds usually start school looking forward to it, but that quickly wears off, according to a study carried out by the University of Otago's Children's Issues Centre.

At school, children cannot initiate, choose and control activities and their learning as much as they do at kindergarten. One child in the study said he hated lunchtime at school because after he had finished lunch he had to wait with his hand up until he could go and play, and often the teacher did not see him.

"One missing part of the research puzzle in understanding childhood has been the voice of the child," says Professor Anne Smith, the centre's director. "This research seeks the understandings and interpretations of children and young people and suggests the importance of taking their views into account and allowing them to participate."

Sixteen children were observed and interviewed from the time they were four, at the kindergarten, until they were half-way into their first year at school. Smith says the change was not traumatic for most children, but some did find it difficult.

Dramatic differences between settings, lack of good communication between home and school and between kindergarten and school heightens children's difficulties. Smith believes that much more attention needs to be given to helping children to make a good transition, and that better relationships between early childhood and school teachers should be developed.

A second study, of 27 Dunedin children whose parents had separated, showed that young people were more competent and articulate about their experiences within the family than had been previously supposed.

"More than half the children did not know why their parents had separated and had not talked to anyone about it," Smith says. "Most children had no part in custody decisions, whereas most children had a say about access."

Keeping contact with both parents, and access, are important in helping most children adjust to the changes.

"The study suggests that children benefit from information and support before, during and after their parents' separation," Smith says. "Different parental views of the separation can add to children's confusion, suggesting the value of having an independent and more neutral adult to support and inform them."