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Issue 03

Book Review – Parenting by Kathy Walker: A Practical Guide to Raising Preschool & Primary-School Children

Australian educational and parenting consultant Kathy Walker offers parents down-to-earth advice and information for the preschool and primary-school years in Parenting (Viking, 2010). Using case studies and examples, Walker provides parents with the information they need to make positive changes to their parenting style.


The challenges of parenting preschool and primary-school aged children are different to those experienced with babies and toddlers. As children’s personalities develop and they become more aware, educated and exposed to outside influences, parents need adapt the way they interact with their children.

Kathy Walker’s practical guidebook offers advice on common challenges encountered parenting children aged four to twelve such as making decisions about the right age to get a mobile phones, sleepovers, birthday parties, extracurricular activities, household chores, chidlren staying home alone, pets and computer/game time. Walker also deals with issues such as fighting between siblings, friendships, anxiety and grief.


Walker’s underlying focus is helping parents formulate a parenting strategy that will allow them to be consistent in the way they encourage, organise and discipline their children. She encourages parents to assess their own parenting style and personalities as well as the personality-types of their children to develop a parenting style that will work for each individual family.

To facilitate developing a positive and proactive approach to parenting, Walker offers a series of questions and personality outlines as well as information to assist parents who are separated and/or divorced to develop strategies that will suit their specific situations and family structure.

Parenting is divided into four sections:

  • Understanding Yourself and Your Children
  • Proactive Parenting
  • Troubleshooting
  • Looking after Yourself

The book is well written in a very approachable, easy to understand style. It is well-set out with a logical format that makes it easy to locate relevant information in each chapter.

Information for Parents of Primary-School Aged Children

Parenting children between the ages of four to twelve presents unique challenges, but there is generally less information available regarding these issues than there is for parents for newborns and toddlers or teens. For Walker, this was a “major motivator” for writing this down-to-earth guide offering parents practical tips and relevant information.

“The primary school years bring a range of challenges that are different to those faced with babies and toddlers,” Walker states. “Attending school exposes children to a much broader range of values, family situations and experiences. Children in this age group are more likely to start comparing their family with others and begin to challenge the decisions of their parents with arguments and debates.”

Walker believes that parents of primary-school aged children “approach parenting with the best of intentions. They want what is best for their children and their family, but perhaps get carried away with the range of opportunities that weren’t available when they were young.” This includes getting involved in a hectic range of activities that often serve to simply make family life more stressful and balancing the physical and emotional needs of individual family members more challenging.

Walker believes that interactions at home and school during the primary school years are instrumental for children to develop emotional resilience, good self-esteem and a positive attitude about the world they live in. She advocates a weekly family meeting where all family members are given an opportunity to share their opinion on the issues that affect the household and believes that parents can use these discussions to offer opportunities for their children to learn responsibility, accountability and the ability to deal positively with disappointments and minor frustrations.

Kathy Walker

Kathy Walker is an educational and parenting consultant and a regular parenting commentator in the media. A former university lecturer in education, she is the author of the bestselling book for parents, What’s the Hurry, and the teachers’ guide, Play Matters.

Kathy is the founding director of the not for profit organisation Early Life Foundations. The Early Life Foundations website offers a range of information for parents including fact sheets for common parenting challenges.

A Practical Guide for Australian Parents of Primary-School Children

Encouraging and reassuring, Parenting is anideal book for parents who want to develop their parenting skills and approach raising preschool and primary-school aged children with confidence.

Kathy Walker’s practical tips and advice assists parents to develop a clear picture of the style of parenting that will best suit their family. Walker’s commonsense approach and advocacy for a simpler, less hectic family lifestyle will no doubt strike a chord with many parents.

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