Last month the NSW Early Education Minister, Leslie Williams announced $115 million in funding for Start Strong, a program designed to make early education more affordable for all NSW families, while removing nearly all fees for Aboriginal families and low-income families.
Now the NSW Government is launching what is described as a ‘thought-provoking campaign’ that draws attention to the importance of early childhood education.
The campaign, dubbed ‘It Makes You Think’, has a stated aim of increasing the amount of hours children are enrolled in day care or community preschool in the year prior to entering primary school.
“A child needs a great parent, and a great teacher. Many do not know that a preschool program, whether it’s in a dedicated preschool or a through long day care, provides the foundation for your children’s future health, happiness, growth, development and learning achievements at school and in life,” said Mrs Williams.
“It’s a confusing area and there are many myths about cost, availability and the real benefits to children – which is why it’s so important to break down the barriers.”
One of the key statistics underpinning the campaign is the fact that 90 per cent of brain development occurs before the age of five years – and this is the kind of detail that the NSW Government hopes will impress upon parents the importance of ensuring their young children gain maximum benefit from early education.
“Our social and emotional skills known as ‘soft skills’ are critical to success in school and life – for instance how to control emotions, take turns, share with others and pay attention to instruction, actually begin forming in childhood and learning these skills in preschool could prevent harder problems later in life,” explained Mrs Williams.
“Unlocking a child’s brain is the key to helping parents understand why early learning is such a must for their child’s development.”
Other Facts from ‘It Makes You Think:
- Kids who participate in early childhood education are more likely to have an IQ score higher than 90 at age 5
- Preschool puts disadvantaged children at a level playing field with other children
- In the first 3-5 years, there is a dramatic growth spurt, as approximately 90-95 per cent of cells organize and create pathways to more sophisticated brain functions
- A child’s brain undergoes an amazing period of development from birth to 3 – producing 700 new neural connections every second
- Young children have a unique ability to learn more languages easily and their vocabulary often quadruples between the ages of 2 and 4
Beginning in January 2017, the Start Strong initiative will deliver $115 in funding over 18 months to reduce the cost of early education and encourage parents to enroll their kids in 600 hours of early education each year.