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. Positive emotional and social connections from birth provide a strong foundation for later learning.
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.
The AEDC provides information for schools, communities and governments to pinpoint the services, resources and support needed for children and families to help shape the future and wellbeing of Australian children.
How does the AEDC work?
The AEDC is a nationwide measure that looks at how well children across Australia are growing up or ‘developing’. The AEDC looks at five different elements or domains that are important for children's development. These are:
- physical health and wellbeing
- social competence
- emotional maturity
- language and cognitive skills (school-based); and
- communication skills and general knowledge.
Every three years since 2009, teachers of children in their first year of full-time school have used an early development instrument – similar to a questionnaire – for every child in their class.
The Australian version of the Early Development Instrument is completed based on a teacher's knowledge and observations of the children in their class. There is no need for parents or children to provide any new or extra information to schools for the AEDC. Children are not taken out of class and do not need to be present while their teacher uses the Early Development Instrument.
The AEDC is collected every three years in schools across Australia. The data collection was completed in 2009, 2012, 2015 and 2018.