"Children are starting school less well prepared than ever because parents are failing to raise their youngsters properly, according to the [British] government's Chief Inspector of Schools" (The Sunday Telegraph, Aug. 31). David Bell further charged that children entering school have been subjected to a "disrupted and disheveled" upbringing.
The result? Verbal and behavioral skills are at an all-time low, leaving teachers to act as substitute parents. National Curriculum test results show that "one in four primary pupils fails tests for reading and math" (The Independent, Aug. 20). David Hart, general secretary of the National Association for Head Teachers, stated that "too many are starting school without basic social skills and simply do not know how to communicate. This puts enormous pressure on the teachers" (The Sunday Telegraph article).
Even persuading children to sit still for just a little while is proving to be a very difficult challenge for many teachers.
Longtime British journalist Mary Kenny pointed out that the parents are not always entirely to blame for children who cannot talk properly, fasten buttons or even hold a knife and fork. She wrote: "The government is constantly skewing the tax and benefits system to pressure [both] parents into going to work and leaving their pre-school children with minders who may or may not do a good job. (It is not politically correct or fashionable to look after your own children, it seems)" (Daily Mail, Sept. 1). (Sources: The Sunday Telegraph, Daily Mail, The Independent [all London].)