Territory Stories

Let's start: a program for Territory parents and children



Let's start: a program for Territory parents and children

Other title

Let's Start parent child program


Robinson, Gary; Mares, Sarah; Jones, Yomei; Stock, Carolin; Hallenstein, Birgit; Branchut, Virginie


E-Publications; E-Books; PublicationNT




This paper describes the 'Let's Start' program for Aboriginal parents and children in the Northern Territory, including its context, rationale, and the evidence of its effectiveness. This program follows on from the 'Ngaripirliga'ajirri - Exploring Together Program' for school aged children in the Tiwi Islands, run from 1999-2004, and the 'Let's Start - Exploring Together for Indigenous Preschools' program for younger children in the Tiwi Islands as well as Darwin, which was run from 2006-2010. Based on this experience, the program has been adapted and redeveloped as the 'Let's Start Parent-Child Program'.; Made available via the Publications (Legal Deposit) Act 2004 (NT).


Centre for Child Development and Education, Menzies School of Health Research

Table of contents

Background -- Introduction -- What is Let's Start? -- Early intervention: context and rationale -- Conclusion: the Let's Start approach -- References.




Children, Aboriginal Australian; Services for; Parenting; Study and teaching

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Menzies School of Health Research

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21 pages : colour illustrations ; 30 cm.

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9781922104021; 9781922104038

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Check within Publication or with content Publisher.

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15Lets Start Parent Child Program think about how they influence the childs behaviour, safety and wellbeing. Attachment Theory demonstrates the lifelong importance of early relationships. The way parents and family are able to protect the child and provide security influences the childs behaviour, relationships and functioning at home and at school and across their life span. Children subjected to disrupted or inconsistent early care will develop strategies for maintaining adult attention that can be maladaptive. Patterns of behaviour within families are forms of communication that are met with positive or negative attention by a childs main attachment figures. The childs behaviour may reflect a probing for response by others amid uncertainty about the availability or responsiveness of these significant others. A lack of stimulus, inadequate responsiveness and disrupted connection to the growing child on the part of primary attachment figures may produce deficits in attention, self-regulation and social skills that profoundly affect later adaptation to school and other contexts of learning. The parents own early attachment experiences are important influences on the way they respond to their children and on the forms of communication and interaction that develop in their families. Some parents have had bad early experiences of their own and many are unable to identify these influences on their parenting. The program is structured to encourage parents to reflect on their childrens needs with empathy. Through this combination of approaches Lets Start aims to promote parental learning of new skills; to encourage empathy and awareness of their childrens needs; and it seeks to encourage parents to be more proactive in meeting those needs, by active use of supports within their families or by more actively responding themselves that is, not withdrawing from the child or deferring their response to its needs by letting others take over. As Lets Start helps parents to reflect on their childrens needs, they move from Knowing, but not doing (knowing that their child needs something, is unhappy, is looking for attention but not responding to that knowledge) to Knowing and doing (being aware of what their children need, what works to help them, and naturally and spontaneously doing what is needed). 2.2 The Transition to School Research clearly indicates that Aboriginal childrens educational disadvantage is already established by the first years of schooling and that many, if not most children who do not cope well with the transition to school are not able to catch up. As measured by the Australian Early Development Index, many children in the NT score poorly in developmental domains thought to be important for school readiness (Silburn et al, 2010). Many struggle to make the transition from preschool to school and by year 2 or 3 have lost significant ground academically; they remain vulnerable to behavioural Early Intervention: Context and Rationale difficulties and lack of academic engagement. Teachers working with Lets Start in remote and urban contexts reported high levels of communication problems, distractibility and poor attention in class along with poor compliance, aggression and peer problems (Robinson, Zubrick et al. 2009; Robinson, Tyler et al. 2011). This crisis in the first year in school leaves many children exposed to the effects of inconsistent or disrupted attendance and behavioural difficulties that will lead to frequent changes of school, academic underachievement and early drop-out (Arnold, Bartlett et al. 2007). Lets Start targets children from preschool through to Grade One. It aims to improve school readiness by helping parents and children to deal with early adjustment difficulties. Lets Start provides a neutral space where parents can be assisted to reflect on their childrens social and emotional competencies in a structured group situation a bit like school, but away from school. This helps parents to identify strategies to deal with the challenges of interacting with their child in groups. Although the focus is not on school or classroom, but on parents and children interacting together, the effect is to help the child accept the demands of the classroom as the parent increases the positive attention and