Childcare is so often seen as a necessary evil for working parents, but I’ve come to learn that it is so much more than that – it’s a place of remarkable learning.
When my son was in day care I can admit that his learning was probably the last thing on my mind behind the upfront cost of child care, juggling work and staying on top of all my responsibilities at home. Even just getting the front lawn mown was, still is, at times a bit beyond me.
Thankfully, the wonderful educators and teachers at my local day care were focused on providing both of my children with quality early learning experiences. Not formal sit down school, but play based learning following their interests and tailored to their stage of development.
I’m so confident that this is going to make such a difference when my eldest starts school– he will be settled and ready to learn.
Alys and her son William, who starts school next year after five years of childcare. Image supplied.
This is a familiar situation for single mum Simone and her two boys – Kayden, four and a half, and Tyler, eight from Eagleby in Queensland.
Kayden started preschool in Eagleby South in February this year and attends for two days one week and three days the next.
Simone has seen the positive effect of early learning in boosting Kayden’s development:
“Kayden is very sporty and loves to run around outdoors. He got a PV-50 motorbike for Christmas and recently started doing Karate and other Martial Arts. But I couldn’t get him to sit down and look at a picture book. He would just flip through a few pages and running off to find something else to do.
“Since starting [kindergarten] in February Kayden’s concentration and attention span have increased phenomenally. Now when it’s time to read at night, he'll go and find something he wants to read, and ask us to read it. He sometimes even has a book under his pillow.
“He’s much more interested in wanting to learn his numbers and ABC, he looks for the letters in his name anywhere – in books and on TV. Right now he’s fixated on the number 4, his age.”
Most parents recognise the social benefits that access to early education provides children, but as Kayden’s experience suggests it is also critical time for early literacy development.
Prepare to drop your jaw: We now know that by age five, a child’s vocabulary will predict their educational success and outcomes at age 30.
Australian children who participate in quality early learning score up to 40% ahead of their peers in year 3 NAPLAN results.
Children who attend more than one year of early learning score ahead of their peers on maths, literacy and science by the time they reached age 15- even a decade after preschool.
Thankfully most children in Australia have access to preschool or kindergarten in the year before school- but this is only for one year.
All children benefit from early learning from age three – and that’s why many developed countries around the world like the UK, New Zealand and France provide an entitlement to access from this age. In Australia only 66% of children attend preschool or child care at age 3, but many vulnerable children miss out.