Parent’s outrageous request to teacher
SIMPLE tasks such as teaching kids to ride a bike are being outsourced to frustrated teachers - and parents are warned their "customer service mindset" is a threat to their children's education.
A new report reveals most parents and teachers believe that behaviour, literacy and numeracy have declined during the past decade.
In a bid to help improve outcomes in the classroom, an increasing number of schools are facilitating parenting courses to help mums and dads boost their skills.
Leading social researcher Mark McCrindle said the latest Future of Education Report found 59 per cent of educators and 39 per cent of parents around Australia believed student behaviour had declined over the past 10 years.
He said this and the perception that literacy and numeracy was decaying, was a shock result.
"This is despite all the increases in teacher education, resources, budgets and the sophistication of the system and focus on a national curriculum and testing,'' he said.
"What it shows is that parents have to get more involved. Clearly, the pathway is not going to work unless the parents step up and set clearer boundaries and share responsibility for educational outcomes.''
Mr McCrindle said parents now had a customer service mindset, in which they provided the children, and the government or independent school was expected to deliver the outcomes.
It was even more prevalent at independent schools as parents were paying and expected even greater "service'' for their dollars.
Teachers say they are increasingly taking up the slack for parents reluctant to enforce social media curfews, homework and exercise. The lines have never been more blurred, with one father even taking a new bike to school and leaving it with instructions for a physical education teacher to show his child how to ride it.
Other parents want educators to solve traditional family issues such as siblings who fight all the time, and kids who push back when asked to get off their devices and do assignments or go to bed.
Parenting expert Justin Coulson said despite spending less time with their kids, modern parents had higher expectations for them than any other generation in history - and it wasn't always good for the child.
Dr Coulson, a father of six daughters, said that while many parents did a great job in trying circumstances, some were overwhelmed and that was why they turned to teachers and coaches.
He said they routinely outsourced duties and, unfortunately, these were "lost opportunities for genuine connection'' with their kids.
"Time is crucial and people are so busy it's about quality time, which means limited time," he said.
"You can't build strong relationships or build resilient children by looking at the clock."
School partnerships with the state government-funded Triple P (Positive Parenting Program) are soaring.
An extra 1000 facilitators, many of whom are teachers or guidance counsellors, have come on board since 2015.
Triple P is an internationally-acclaimed parenting program offered free to Queensland parents and carers of children aged up to 16.
It offers a framework to help parents raise happy, confident kids, manage misbehaviour, set rules and routines, and feel confident they're doing the right thing.
Triple P Queensland program director Carol Markie-Dadds said the start of the school year was the perfect time for parents to do a stop-check on their skills.
Ms Markie-Dadds said this was most applicable to those with children starting Kindergarten or Prep or Year 7.
"It's a great time for parents to ask themselves what they can do to help with their child's education,'' she said.
"There is plenty of research that shows children who start school with more co-operative, helpful and socially responsible behaviours do better with learning.''
Ms Markie-Dadds said a common response from parents who had been through the course was that their households were much calmer after they learned language skills and tips on regulating emotions and behaviours.
"Escalation (of conflict) is a big thing. It happens when you are doing those mundane, routine things … mealtime, bedtime, getting out the door in the morning. If those times are a battle then everyone is tired and stressed before the day has even started.''
Among the Queensland schools on the front foot when it comes to encouraging parents to upskill is Brisbane's Ferny Grove State School, which has 900 students.
It has a trained provider on campus. Peter Wheeler has been a primary teacher for 35 years, and is now in charge of student welfare.
He said the courses were not just for those "with naughty kids''. Feedback from parents and teachers had been that children had improved in a variety of ways.
"It's about building positive relationships,'' Mr Wheeler said.
"You also learn how to take care of yourself, identify potentially-stressful situations for kids and set and communicate boundaries.''
Brisbane mother Kathryn Anderson said doing a parenting course had vastly improved family and school life for her and husband Liam and their sons Kyha, 12, and Luca, 10, who are in Year 8 and Year 5 this year.
Ms Anderson said she completed a Triple P program and took away vital tips on how to calm situations, improve communications and set clearer boundaries.
"What I learned was how to simplify things and take the heat out of arguments,'' she said.
"As parents we can have all these different sets of rules and it gets confusing and frustrating. With the program, you are given the ground rules and then can adjust them to what works best.''