Supporting early childhood development

Supporting early childhood development

Parents, families and carers are a child’s first and most important teachers. Evidence shows that the early years are crucial for the healthy development of a child, and a person’s life successes, health and emotional wellbeing are dependent upon these years. We know that if we get it right in the early years, we can expect to see children thrive throughout school and their adult lives.

During the first few years of a child's life, their brain develops at a rapid rate. While a baby’s genes provide the initial blueprint for development, it is the experiences and relationships babies and children have that are the real building blocks in shaping children’s brains.

Parent engagement in education is about parents being positively involved in their child’s learning and school community - to help them learn and enjoy school. As a parent, you and your family play an important role in supporting your child’s education. The earlier you and your family become engaged, the better it is for your child’s learning. 

Research has identified five ways that you can make a big difference to your child’s learning:

  • set positive expectations 
  • have regular conversations 
  • support good study habits 
  • encourage reading 
  • build a partnership with your child’s teachers. 

Learning Potential is full of tips and ideas on how to put these ideas into practice, with specific suggestions depending on whether your child is under five, in primary school, or in high school. 

Other useful resources for parents are available, providing practical and in-depth information on issues ranging from child health to reading tips:

  • The Raising Children Network is an Australian parenting website with comprehensive, practical, expert child health and parenting information covering newborns to teens: Raising Children Network.
  • Regular reading with children from birth helps build the skills that your child needs for school and for life! Visit the Let's Read website for tips and tools: Let’s Read.

Caring and supportive environments that promote optimal early childhood development greatly increase children’s chances of a successful transition to school. This, in turn, promotes children’s chances of achieving better learning outcomes while at school and better education, employment and health after they have finished school.

Families are the most important ongoing influence in children’s development. The community that children grow up in, the education or care before school, school and other health services they interact with also play a key role in supporting optimal development. When schools, communities and governments invest resources during these early years, it brings life-long benefits to children and the whole community.

Supporting early childhood development

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