Anna is a reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Parents worried over lack of holistic approach to stress at schools

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GAMING: Twins Lin Speth, 6 and Li Speth, 6 with parents Michael Speth and Cynthia Qiu playing the Dominion card game. PHOTO/GEORGE NOVAK
GAMING: Twins Lin Speth, 6 and Li Speth, 6 with parents Michael Speth and Cynthia Qiu playing the Dominion card game. PHOTO/GEORGE NOVAK

More than half of parents are worried their children are not being taught how to deal with stress at school and are concerned about the amount of time they are spending on electronic devices, a recent survey shows.

The 2016 Parents Report Card by Australian Scholarships Group (ASG) found out of 850 New Zealand parents, 54 per cent said their child was not sufficiently taught how to manage stress and 47 per cent said their child would become angry when they felt they could not control things.

In addition, about half of parents (55 per cent) thought their child spent too much time in front of screens, with 48 per cent of the surveyed parents struggling to control the child's screen time.

Included in the report, surveyed parents said time, peer pressures and friends were a concern to their child's learning.

ASG chief executive John Velegrinis said the results highlighted that parents had concerns around the holistic side of school-based learning for children.

Tauranga Montessori Education Trust executive officer Leanna Mitchell said the trust's teachers focused on teaching methods and philosophies which encompassed stress management for children through the learning being driven by the child rather than the teacher.

She also said children did have the opportunity for limited screen time at school.

Merivale School principal Jan Tinetti said a lot of primary schools did not have access to councillors, which was concerning due to an increase in pressures on children.

"Schools are needing a lot more support to help children cope with growing stresses in life," she said. "The general classroom teacher isn't trained in that."

Mrs Tinetti said some low decile schools had access to social workers.

"I do worry at times for the schools who don't have access to that"

Gate Pa School principal Richard Inder said children did learn about stress management at school, and thought due to the broad curriculum of education parents may not be aware of what schools deliver.

He said the basics for all teaching and learning was woven into a section called Key Competency.

"This includes managing self, relating to others and participating and contributing. managing stress is in quite a few of those."

Ministry of Education deputy secretary for early learning and student achievement Karl Le-Quesne said mental health was an important part of education and was taught from Year 1 to 13.

Social worker Ben Conning said a lot of stresses for children can originate from home.

"We're looking at things like financial needs, food, health, drugs and alcohol." Other factors such as bullying and peer pressure at school could contribute to added stress for a child.

Swapping screens for boards

Brookfield mother Cynthia Qiu limited screen time for her children "from the beginning", to help eliminate stress for her children.

"Some of the games are angry and addictive, and the stress is related to that. With bedtime stories, they become calm, but with video games, obviously they're not going to be able to sleep afterwards."

She said she believed it was the responsibly of parents of limit screen time.

"When you're watching TV it's not two-way communication. The children are just being fed with information whether they like it or not."

Ms Qiu and her family incorporated board games as entertainment for her two 6-year-old twins.

"It's relaxing, the children learn about counting numbers and reading and how to develop strategy."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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