Early education an investment in kids' wellbeing
I HAVE been an early childhood educator, researcher and expert for more than 30 years. I can confidently tell you that early education is important.
The early years matter.
Play for young children matters.
Strong attachment relationships between responsive adults and young children matter.
Qualified early childhood teachers matter.
It is high time we understood these key things.
And it is also high time that the pay and work conditions of those who work with our youngest children are addressed and improved.
The experiences young children have between birth and age five contribute significantly to their long-term emotional and psychological health.
If we are interested in improving life outcomes, learning outcomes and educational outcomes, then the early years is the place to develop policy and increase investment.
It makes economic sense.
"Investment” is a key word.
Early environments are important for children's wellbeing, learning and development.
Professor James Heckman is an economist whose research proves that high-quality early childhood education makes a difference to life trajectories.
Currently Australia is well behind other OECD countries in terms of its commitments to young children and early childhood education and care.
Some people in the media are offering distorted commentary about Labor's recent pledge to fund early education.
Most of Labor's proposed investment will go toward funding 15 hours a week of free preschool or kindy for three-year-old children.
A recent "independent” report by Susan Pascoe and Deborah Brennan, Lifting our Game, argues that in terms of improving school outcomes, the single most impactful reform Australia could make is to increase universal access to quality early childhood education.
Access to quality play-based early education is the right of every Australian child.
Labor's commitment to universal access for children to experience a play-based program facilitated by a four-year degree qualified early childhood teacher is to be commended.
This is truly an investment where all children, including disadvantaged children, will experience crucial educational opportunities that will help them thrive in school and in life.