The Australian Scholarships Group (ASG) has committed its support to undertake much-needed research in the area of early childhood learning and literacy. The five-year research project aims to discover why some children experience learning challenges at primary and high school, by studying how children learn at the early childhood level when they are potentially most receptive to learning.
Under the auspices of the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne, ASG's Early Intervention Research Program, housed at the University's Early Learning Centre, Abbotsford, is expected to provide a framework for teachers and parents in how to intervene with children facing learning challenges, and help children reach their full education potential.
With many children experiencing some form of learning challenge, the beginning years of education have been identified as the best stage for effective intervention. ASG's Early Intervention Research Program will provide the opportunity for a longitudinal investigation of early learning and literacy development from a multi-disciplinary perspective. The establishment of this program confirms the Graduate School's focus on delivering high-impact, best practice research.
ASG supports the need for early intervention, believing the early years to be critical to the positive education outcomes of children.
It has demonstrated its support in the area through involvement in a range of early childhood research programs, and its commitment to providing education and community initiatives, and resources that support its Members and the general community.
With an estimated 10 percent of primary-aged children in Australia experiencing academic under-achievement (and much higher in disadvantaged schools), the findings of the research will have significant implications for teachers, parents and teacher educators.
"Learning challenges us daily," said Professor Field Rickards, Dean of the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, "this study will investigate how very young children learn, focussing specifically on literacy, and draw out the issues that impact development."
"There is evidence that intervention beyond Grade 2 is less effective, so early intervention strategies are critical. With current debate about literacy standards in Australian schools, this project may challenge current practice," said Professor Rickards.
"Early intervention is preferable and far more sensible than producing band-aid solutions later in life," said ASG's Managing Director, Terry O'Connell, "all the research to date points to the importance of setting learning patterns in early childhood just as ASG encourages parents to plan for the costs of education early in their child's life."
Associate Professor Margaret Brown from the Melbourne Graduate School of Education and Program Director supported Mr O'Connell's comments, "Previously there has been a misconception that 'real learning' doesn't start until primary school commences. But this project challenges that notion and aims to show that the early years of learning are critical - that parents and preschool teachers have an important role to play in these early years".
ASG is proud to be associated with the Melbourne Graduate School of Education at The University of Melbourne in undertaking this important research.