As parents of young children know, the development of our children’s learning starts well before they start formal education. Be it their first smile, their first steps or tying up their shoes – these are all small developments to their personal growth and learning. The years before our children start formal schooling are so important to their development, it is where they begin to learn and understand.
As a mother of a three-year-old, I am acutely aware of the benefits which preschool will have for Percy – particularly in preparing him for his first years of formal learning. This is also why I also believe it is so important that the government should continue to invest in early years learning.
Last week, Labor proudly announced that if we were to form government at the next federal election, we would provide ongoing funding to four-year-old preschool/kindergarten and, importantly, extend this to include three-year-olds.
Three-year-old preschool/kindergarten - some might say, ‘isn’t that a bit much?’ The reality is many countries are already doing it. The UK, NZ and Ireland are already offering at least two years of preschool and China has commenced implementing its plan to ensure children have access to at least two years of preschool by 2020. If we don’t act now we run the risk of falling behind.
To be clear, when we talk about preschools this isn’t children at desks, in front of blackboards. This is play based learning, which focuses on cognitive, social and emotional skills - developing our children’s memory and thinking - learning through play dough, paint and negotiating their skills in the sandpit.