School 'no place' for Supernanny techniques

BY JOHN HARTEVELT
Last updated 05:00 04/04/2009
PETER MEECHAM/The Press
TIME OUT: Logan Lovel, 5, of Rangiora, has time out while the other children play.

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Television's Supernanny has been sent to the naughty step.

Behaviour-control techniques popularised by the TV disciplinarian have spread to preschools despite being in breach of the United Nations (UN) Declaration of the Rights of the Child and the national curriculum, an Auckland academic says.

Pauline Bishop, a Unitec lecturer with 20 years experience in early childhood education, this week told the Early Intervention Association conference in Auckland that Supernanny techniques were unprofessional for teachers.

"What you're really doing is you're punishing the child for doing something that is not appropriate, instead of teaching them, which is our mandate," Bishop said.

"It could be quite traumatic for children they might have hit somebody because they didn't understand or they couldn't communicate so they lashed out.

"Instead of teaching them a way of communicating, we're punishing them by putting them on a naughty chair and giving them time out."

Bishop said the Supernanny techniques were OK in the home but did not belong at early childhood centres.

"Some people think of children as being cute. Of course, that's not something that a professional should ever think about a child," Bishop said.

"Children are competent and capable, so if we're saying that, then we should give them the opportunity to engage in problem-solving, instead of putting them under a time-out sort of system."

Teachers who used the Supernanny techniques were breaching the UN declaration and the national curriculum document, Te Whariki.

"That talks about respectful, responsive relationships," Bishop said.

She is launching an investigation into the extent of Supernanny's prevalence in early childhood centres.

"I have seen it in people's behaviour-management policies that time out will be used," she said. "I've been in to quite a few centres and seen them used and I want to question that use."

The two-day early-intervention conference, which finished on Tuesday, was partially organised by the Ministry of Education.

The ministry's deputy secretary for special education, Nicholas Pole, said the conference was for training and professional development for staff working in a specialist workforce.

"It's a timely and critical opportunity to reflect and adapt our practice for those working with children who have complex and challenging needs," he said.

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