Debates Day 6 - Thursday 19 October 2017
Parliamentary Record 8
Debates for 13th Assembly 2016 - 2018; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 13th Assembly 2016 - 2020
Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES Thursday 19 October 2017 2731 expanding pre-school access for all eligible three year olds increasing the proportion of regulated early childhood education and care services meeting or exceeding the national quality standard to at least the national average of 75%. This plan builds on the work we are already doing. We have the ADC and national quality standards for childcare and preschool regarding early childhood services. It is about using those standards, setting targets and working towards them. There are 36 Families as First Teacher programs operating in remote and urban communities across the NT. We are on track to have 38 FaFT sites by the end of the year. That means more children and their families will be able to access quality early learning and family support programs in the Territory. Over 1300 children and 1200 parents are enrolled in FaFT programs and 27.5% of NT ch ildren attend approved long day care, family day care and outside school hours care services. While these numbers are encouraging, we want more children and families to access early learning programs because we know how important they are for supporting families and promoting childrens learning and development. When children up to three years of age and their families participate in programs, such as FaFT and playgroups, it provides early learning stimulation to those young children and supports those families. Early learning and play experiences are so important for the healthy development of young childrens brains. The first years of a childs life are when the neural circuits in their brains are created. These circuits are built through interactions and relationships, and become the foundations for later development. They impact on the childrens future health, development and wellbeingand the adults they will become. The research on that is growing stronger. It is fascinating research. If you have not had the chance to look at research on the first 1000 days of a childs life, I encourage you to do some reading in that area. As parents, we can l ook back at what we were doing during those first 1000 days to support our kids. Quality early childhood programs promote play and interaction between children and their parents; provides opportunities for parents to engage with other parents and learn from each other; and provides early learning and family support programs in a non-threatening and stimulating environment. We will continue to work with families and communities to strengthen services to meet their needs and increase the number of families participating in early learning programs, like FaFT, which support children to transition into preschool. The Northern Territory is very fortunate to be one of the few places in Australia that provides free preschool education. Preschool programs operate throughout the Territory and provide early learning programs to many children. I started my career as a preschool teacher. It was not until a few years after I had been in education that I realised not every state and territory across Australia has free preschool programs. That has been a cornerstone in the Territory for decades. It is wonderful that, in the Territory, when a child turns four years old they are able to attend a quality preschool. One of the key things we need to do is make sure all kids, even in remote settings, are able to attend a quality preschool program and have those opportunities. To support early childhood educators implement quality learning play-based programs and the intentional teaching of early learning of literacy and numeracy skills, the Department of Education has developed two resources. In the early childhood area the department has been developing some wonderful resources. I have some of them in my ministerial office. The first of these is the preschool curriculum, which uses a play-based approach to intentional teaching that suits the Territory context. It also focuses on ensuring children have a strong sense of identity; are connected with and contribute to their world; have a strong sense of wellbeing; are confident, involved learners; and are effective communicators. The second resource is the Northern Territory preschool maths games, which promotes early numeracy and maths concepts. The games focus on numbers and counting, shapes and spatial thinking, patterns, structure and measurement. They provide teachers with adaptable examples of play-based maths activities. However, great programs alone are not enough. We have to do more to increase regular attendance and participation in preschool. The data shows that in 2016 only 60% of four year olds in the Territory attended
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