Early childhood experts agree that preschool provides the best possible start to education, and encourages lifelong learning.
Research shows that 90% of a child’s brain development occurs before the age of five. Children who participate in quality preschool programs from the age of three or four reap long-term benefits including improved educational and employment outcomes.
Dr Sandra Cheeseman, Senior Lecturer, Department of Educational Studies at Macquarie University, said preschools lay the groundwork for social, cognitive and emotional development.
“Access to at least 15 hours per week, or 600 hours per year, of quality preschool in the year before full-time school is linked to higher levels of educational success, greater health and wellbeing and better employment opportunities later in life,” Dr Cheeseman said.
Dr Cheeseman said that while early childhood education is not one-size-fits-all, there are benefits for every child.
“Finding the right balance and what works best for your child is the key with early childhood education,” she said.
“Children who are experiencing disadvantage gain the most from quality early childhood education and we need to work together to ensure all children have these opportunities.”
To encourage parents to enrol their child in preschool, the Department of Education has released a new awareness campaign. The Children Starting Strong video features preschool children and educators from across the state highlighting the benefits of early childhood education.
Early childhood education programs assist in developing children’s brains. Before the age of five, the brain forms 700 neural connections per second. Structured preschool programs use learning through play to help children develop skills:
- making friends
- increasing independence
- participating in new routines
- feeling confident about starting school.
Minister for Early Childhood Education Sarah Mitchell said that making sure families considered enrolling in a preschool program was a priority for her.
“Parents need to know that not only will their children benefit from interaction with other preschoolers, they will also have access to top quality educators which will ensure their learning is enhanced during the formative years,” Ms Mitchell said.