Early Start celebrates second birthday
An initiative bringing research, education and community together for all children
To celebrate its second birthday, Early Start at the University of Wollongong (UOW) is hosting a week of music-inspired games, workshops, special guests, activities, giveaways and lots more in the Early Start Discovery Space. On Tuesday 23 May, the media are invited to a cake-cutting ceremony and a performance by the Little Ngargens Dance Troupe.
Early Start is a unique initiative that brings together early childhood researchers and educators with families and the community with the guiding aim of helping all children realise their potential, especially those growing up in regional and remote Australia or living in vulnerable circumstances.
“Early Start is delighted to contribute to children’s development and their love for learning. This celebration continues to focus on that commitment and helps us reflect on our journey,” Early Start Chief Operating Officer Anita Kumar said.
Since Early Start first opened its doors on May 20 2015, more than 200,000 children, families and carers have crawled through the Discovery Space’s giant inflatable intestine, searched for treasures in its archaeological dig, hoist the ropes on the HMAS Discovery or otherwise experienced the many delights of this hands-on learning space. Each Discovery Space experience is shaped by evidence-based early childhood research to be educational, as well as a whole lot of fun
The musical theme of the birthday celebration is to highlight the role music plays in childhood development; all children are naturally musical and exposure to music from early childhood onwards helps children to speak more clearly, develop a larger vocabulary, and strengthen social and emotional skills.
Scenes from UOW Early Start's second birthday party.
One of Early Start’s aims is to demystify university education for the many families unfamiliar with it. The success of Early Start can be seen in the fact that 39 per cent of visitors to the Early Start Discovery Space were first-time visitors to a university campus.
Early Start has also built important links between UOW and the Illawarra community it serves, allowing carers, early childhood educators, childcare centres, schools and volunteers to benefit from the educational and research-based resources of a university. In 2016 alone, 2933 primary school children participated in curriculum-based learning through school excursions.
Also 2016, Early Start:
- provided support to 1347 children and their families in 41 early education and care centres in regional and remote Australia through face-to-face and virtual programs;
- completed individual development assessment of more than 800 children and families assessing the Early Start Engagement Centres, of which 34 per cent identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander;
- supported more than 117 early childhood educators in targeted professional skills development and embedding quality practice in the centres.
About Early Start
Early Start empowers children, families and communities. The Early Start Discovery Space allows for direct interaction and engagement with children and families to inspire imagination and ignite a love of learning.
A partnership with a network of engagement and early childhood centres enables Early Start to make an impact through service providers, focussed on the local environment and issues.
Research allows Early Start to understand the key challenges and develop community interventions based on evidence and finally teaching and learning programs allow us to develop leadership and a greater understanding of the importance of quality of programs to deliver a sustainable impact.