Led by Chair Kate Ellis, the Early Years Taskforce has created Words Grow Minds to support the developmental outcomes of South Australian children in the critical early years, and ultimately reverse the upward trend in children starting school developmentally vulnerable across the State.
According to data from the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC), South Australian children are more likely to be vulnerable on all five of the measured developmental domains than the national average, when starting school. Nearly a quarter of South Australian children are starting school developmentally vulnerable.
The first pilot of Words Grow Minds has this week been rolled out in Mount Gambier, with Whyalla to follow in early 2023. The campaign pilots are expected to build deeper community awareness around the critical importance, and lifelong impact of quality interactions with children in the early formative years.
Ms Ellis, a passionate advocate for early childhood, has spearheaded Words Grow Minds in collaboration with Raising Literacy Australia, the lead Early Years Taskforce agency. Ms Ellis said,
The statistics are clear. We cannot sit back and allow South Australian children to fall further behind those in the rest of the country before they have even started school.
“We know up to 85% of a child’s brain development occurs during their first three years. I’ve always believed that supporting children and their families during this time is one of the smartest investments that any community can make,” adds Ellis.
South Australian Premier, Peter Malinauskas, is in full support of the campaign roll out and reinforces his commitment to the future of South Australian children.
“Our Government has big ambitions when it comes to delivering life-changing policy reforms in education – earlier this month we announced the start of a Royal Commission into Early Childhood Education and Care,” he said.
“This Taskforce will create another layer and work in tandem with the work we are doing to ensure that every South Australian child gets the very best start in life.”
Backed by the latest research showing how simple interactions grow children’s brains in the critical early years, Words Grow Minds has been developed with input from early childhood practitioners, literacy specialists, researchers and service providers.
Raising Literacy Australia CEO Elizabeth Davis explains this campaign is the first of its kind in South Australia.
“The really innovative aspect of this campaign is that it combines advertising to build broad community awareness with specialised training for service providers and age-appropriate resources for families. This ensures local government and non-government services can reinforce the key messages while distributing parent resource packs,” says Davis.
The campaign recognises that while all parents and carers want the best for their children, sometimes it’s hard to know what they can do to help. It shows families that all they need to support their children’s growth is their time, attention and imagination, and empowers them with activities and tips to try out at home and in their community.
“Words Grow Minds gets straight to the heart of how parents and caregivers can help babies and young children thrive: talk, play, read and sing together from birth,” adds Davis.
Results from the pilot campaigns in Mount Gambier and Whyalla will be measured and evaluated to support and shape future early years campaign activity across South Australia.
The parent resource kits that form part of the pilot campaign include books, activities, songs and information on early childhood brain development, along with an introductory letter.
For further information on Words Grow Minds:
For further information on Raising Literacy Australia: