Decades of early year’s research indicates that investing in your children’s literacy learning in preschool (0-5) will give them the best start in life, including being developmentally ready to start school. Being exposed to developmental play and storytelling are the basic foundations of literacy and language progression. It is the key to academic success that can assist in breaking the cycle of poverty. Sadly, many children from poorer backgrounds are not getting the educational nourishment they need.
Since the pandemic, there has been a major spike in early reading development problems, especially with children from low-income homes (41% have stalled in their reading development), widening the literacy skills gap between children from low socio-economic backgrounds and their wealthier peers. They will remain poor readers unless they receive additional support, books and tutoring. A staggering 62% of children from disadvantaged backgrounds do not own a single book at home!
At ROOP it is our mission to enhance the language and literacy skills of children, beginning at birth by supporting parents as their child’s first teachers.
Today an article published in “The Age” newspaper has reported that, “preschoolers living in some of Victoria’s most disadvantaged postcodes may not have access to state-owned affordable integrated childcare centres and that just one in four of the state’s most needy communities were earmarked for these centres”. An analysis produced by Deloitte Access Economics (commissioned by Social Ventures Australia), found that of the top 50 Victorian communities in need of integrated childcare centres – based on both the number of children in a suburb and the proportion who are developmentally vulnerable – just 13 are set to receive new government-owned and run childcare centres.
This issue really highlights the need for these children to have access to literacy resources and early childhood development educational centres, as without this they are at risk of falling through the cracks and not being ready for school.
One out of five children commence school with at least one area of developmental delay and one out of six children aged 0-14 years are living in poverty.
ROOP has been advocating in this space for over a decade and continues to provide programs that target these children to ensure that they do not get left behind. Our flagship programs – ‘Books from Birth’, ‘Pop-Up libraries’, ‘Read, Learn, Play’ activities, and ‘Read-Aloud’ story sessions use our volunteer network to assist with rolling out these initiatives in several settings including playgroups, maternal and child health nurse centres and medical clinics.
Through these programs, ROOP can get literacy resources into the hands of the children who would otherwise fall through the cracks and be left behind. We know that investing in children’s early literacy development gives them a solid foundation from which to grow and places them in a better position to begin their primary school education. Children who grow up in low-income families enter school with substantially smaller vocabularies than their classmates, and this disadvantage leads to further disparities in achievement and success over time, from academic performance and persistence to earnings and family stability even 20 and 30 years later.