Children 'not ready' for school at five


Thousands of children are not prepared for the rigours of school at the age of five because they are not receiving enough interaction with their parents, according to a child development expert.

According to research, up to half of five-year-olds are not ready for school as working parents increasingly abandon traditional games, nursery rhymes, bedtime stories and lullabies. This results in children failing to develop vital physical and communication skills after being robbed of interaction with mothers and fathers during the early years.

Sally Goddard Blythe told the Daily Telegraph: "It's alarming the proportion of children with immature motor skills when they start school, regardless of intelligence.

"A significant percentage of children have problems they don't need to have. They seem to have missed out on early stages of development."

Mrs Goddard Blythe, who is director of the Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology in Chester, has published a new book entitled The Genius of Natural Childhood, in which she claims that children develop many skills by playing traditional games with their parents and through "rough and tumble play".

"You can now buy seats that you place your baby in at home, use to carry them into the car and then press a button to rock your baby to sleep. It may be a great labour saving device but it means the baby may go hours without any physical interaction with another person," she explained.

"Likewise, we have seen the rise of electronic media as a substitute for communication between parents and babies or children."

But this often impairs children’s natural development, meaning many are wrongly labelled as suffering behavioural problems when they start compulsory education, she said.

Mrs Goddard Blythe acknowledged that it can be tempting for stressed and tired parents to put their children in front of the television.

However, she noted that this prevents the baby or toddler from socially interacting.

Mrs Goddard Blythe added that children with immature motor skills my find it difficult to hold a pencil and grip a knife and fork properly.

She cites a study from Northern Ireland in her book, which reveals that up to 48 per cent of children in their first year of primary school are held back because of their "baby reflexes".