Changing the national conversation about childcare is the aim of the Early Learning Everyone Benefits campaign and families and educators across the early learning sector in Australia are playing a big part.
Ms Page shares what the campaign is seeking to achieve and how families and educators across the early learning sector can get involved.
Can you tell us about the Early Learning Everyone Benefits campaign?
It’s a national collaborative campaign which aims to change the national conversation about early learning and foster understanding of the benefits to children, families and the whole community of supporting children’s development from birth to five.
We are a coalition of early childhood organisations, service providers, research institutes, community organisations and parenting bodies, working together to ensure that all Australian children have access to quality early learning, and parents are supported in being their children’s first teachers and creating a nurturing learning environment at home.
What does the campaign want to achieve?
We want to increase public awareness and understanding of the benefits of investing in early learning for Australia’s future prosperity and secure political commitment to increase access to quality programs that amplify children’s development.
We ultimately want all Australian children to have access to at least two days of quality early learning. We want to see 100 per cent of four year olds (currently 99 per cent) attending early learning for 15 hours per week or more, and increase participation of three year olds from 66 per cent to 90 per cent by 2020.
What are the barriers to achieving this?
Firstly, a lack of understanding of the benefits of quality early learning.
We talk about ‘child care’ in public discussion, not ‘early learning’ or ‘early childhood education’, and the focus is often on child care as the means for parents to re-enter the workforce.
People think of ‘child care’ as a necessary evil because of the economic necessity of both parents working. They think of quality in terms of how ‘safe’ it is to leave their children there.
Social research conducted by the Frameworks Institute in 2013-14 shows that the general perception in Australia about early childhood has not caught up with the scientific evidence of what children need.
Governments taking inadequate action can also be a barrier. They believe they are addressing the issues, when so much is still left to be done. If the unintended consequences of government policies result in parents being unable to afford to send their children to early learning, then our participation rates will go backwards. The benefits to the whole society of children participating in early learning will be reduced if vulnerable children, who would benefit the most, miss out.
How can families help the campaign overcome those barriers?
Our main message to families is – ‘You are your child’s first and most important teachers’. Children are born ready and needing to learn. Engaging with our campaign on Facebook or by signing up to receive emails for families, you will receive valuable and practical information that will help you support your child’s development in the first five years, and beyond.
We want parents to feel reassured that sending their children into a formal early learning setting is the best way to amplify their children’s natural skills and abilities, and to prepare their children for success at school and in life.
Parents who are already experiencing the benefits of quality early learning are urged to join us in our efforts to ensure that government policies at a Federal and state levels support all Australian children to participate in quality early learning.
How can families and educators get involved in the campaign?
We encourage educators to join our campaign, learn about and improve their own communication about the benefits of quality early learning for children, families and our community.
Families can join our campaign too and receive useful information about how they can support their children’s early learning needs.
To learn more about the campaign, visit http://www.everyonebenefits.org.au/getinvolved, Facebook or follow the campaign via Twitter @EarlyEdBenefits
Next week, Ms Page will discuss the benefits of greater government investment in early learning.