Parents are making Canberra schools responsible for toilet training their children in some cases, putting an extra burden on educators, teachers have reported.
An increasing number of children were starting preschool and kindergarten with toileting difficulties and some parents were expecting the schools to sort it out, the ACT branch of the Australian Education Union said.
It mirrored a trend that Queensland Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek raised during a budget estimates hearing this month about parents wanting schools to ''do it all''. He said parents should be more enagaged with schools.
"Many people have the expectation that children are going to come to school and they are going to be taught all of the things, including something as basic as speech, manners and toilet training,'' he said.
"That is not the school’s responsibility now. That is why at the early childhood stages it is very important to have parental involvement and, if there is ever a time when you are going to get parental involvement, it is in those early childhood programs.''
Queensland teaching associations supported the minister and some blamed smart phones for children being behind on their language skills because parents did not make as much eye contact with them or speak to them as often as in previous generations.
A spokesman for the ACT branch of the AEU said schools had busy curriculums and it was crucial teachers had time to attend to individual student needs.
"Some members are observing more children coming to preschool and kindergarten with toileting issues and sometimes parents hold schools responsible for toilet training their children,'' he said.
President of the ACT Council of P&C Associations Viv Pearce said families who had difficulty with toilet training needed compassion and assistance.
"Those kids who are coming in lacking those certain basic skills need support,'' she said. "All of the evidence says that, if you can get to those kids early – before they hit school – you can actually help them not just with toilet training but the sitting and listening skills which are needed for school.
"We need to think about access to childcare and preschool here. We have lots of disadvantaged groups and it's a bit rich of government to blame parents when this is a problem for all of us as a society. I don't think it's just parents on mobile phones.
"Some parents may not know the best way to support their children with toilet training. More needs to be done in those early years before school for disadvantaged kids.''
The office of ACT Education Minister Joy Burch said the minister had not received complaints about toilet training in Canberra schools.