Children’s issues are rarely in the media for positive reasons. But this week (weather permitting, of course!) should see tens of thousands of children aged 3 to 4 starting the free pre-school year which was announced in the supplementary budget last April. Start Strong welcomed the free pre-school year – at a time of cutbacks, it was important that the government chose to invest in a scheme that could benefit all young children. The scheme is universal (subject to availability of places), free to parents, directly supports services, and requires services to commit to quality standards.
Those children starting on the free pre-school year this week will have the chance to develop their social skills, learning skills such as how to compromise, respect others and problem-solve as well as building their confidence and helping them explore their world. The free pre-school year is about much more than children becoming ‘ready for school’ – it’s about children taking their first steps towards becoming ready for life.
The free pre-school year was a bold step forward by the government. Now, they need to continue that and move towards ‘Children 2020’.
But for the children taking their first steps into the world of pre-school, this week is an exciting one – full of possibilities and new opportunities. They are not concerned with government policy. They have much more important things on their mind: new friends to make, new things to learn, new ways to play. Important matters of the world to settle, such as who plays with what toys and when. Enjoy it!