Play-based early education from birth to starting-school age is delivered via a range of service models in Australia.
These include long day care centres, early childhood centres, public and community preschools/ kindergartens as well as public, private and independent schools.
Early Childhood Australia (ECA) advocates that all children should have the opportunity to attend early learning from three or four years of age, during the two years before they are eligible to attend school on a full-time basis.
"Children's brains develop quickly during early childhood," Early Childhood Australia CEO Samantha Page (pictured) said.
"In the first five years of life, children's brains are wired to learn quickly.
"Children's brains are hard at work while they are playing and the environment, experiences and relationships that a child is exposed to during their first 1000 days are particularly significant for brain development.
"Early childhood education provides opportunities for children to learn alongside and with other young children, through participation in age-appropriate experiences and intentional play-based activities facilitated by qualified educators.
"This complements the role of families and can amplify children's development."
Quality early childhood education can make a significant contribution to children's long-term educational outcomes, according to ECA.
"Evidence based on data from the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) shows that early learning delivers significant educational, social and emotional benefits for the children who participate, and that children who attend early education and care services are less likely to be developmentally vulnerable across all five developmental domains."
For more information go to startingblocks.gov.au or other parent information sites which provide great tips for choosing preschool.
Some tips include:
- Making time to visit the preschool and get to know the educators/teachers
- Understanding quality and asking about the service's quality rating
- Asking questions about the service and considering how it meets your child's and family's needs. Eg: ask about the educational program, compliance, policies and procedures.