Language skills barrier for kids
IF only all Rockhampton youngsters grew up with a passion for reading and learning like Danielle James, the future would look a lot brighter.
Concerning new figures show more than 20% of Rockhampton’s five-year-olds have language and cognitive skill problems, which incorporate things such as basic literacy, numeracy and memory.
The figure is above the state average (15%) and well above the national mark (8%).
The information comes from The Australian Early Development Index, which was released on Thursday and is a gauge of how young children are developing.
The AEDI measures five areas, early childhood development including physical health and wellbeing, social competence, emotional maturity, language and cognitive skills and communication skills and general knowledge.
Yesterday Member for Capricornia Kirsten Livermore said the Rudd Government’s purpose in producing the new information was to give a clear picture of the problem to enable the better targeting of services and support for young children and their families.
“These are pretty sobering results for people in Queensland and Rockhampton, but we have put this deliberately on the national agenda so we know what we need to do,” Ms Livermore said.
“We want to make sure kids start school with the best possible start they can.”
She said the Government was already spending money to improve services.
“We are prepared to spend money, but we need to know where to spend it,” Ms Livermore said.
Dr Ali Black, a CQUniversity early childhood expert and researcher, said children thrive in communities that have access to quality services, support and resources.
“These results show how families need support,” Dr Black said.
“The early years are crucial years, and so resources and services to support children and families are essential.
“Having the best possible start does not mean we need to do more testing, more benchmarking or create more structured learning for young children. Rather, we need to value childhood and to see that what is important for the young child is having responsive interested adults in their lives, strong attachment relationships with key people, and a sense of belonging.
“Access to quality care and education with qualified early childhood specialists, and learning that is child-centred, meaningful, and play-based also makes a really positive difference.”
Danielle, seven, was taking advantage of the books on offer at Rockhampton Regional Library yesterday.
“She loves reading and will probably get about 30 books here,” her mum, Sally, said.
For more information about the report check out www.aedi.org.au