Personal stories show positive impacts of early learning

  • Hekia Parata

Education Minister Hekia Parata has welcomed a new report from the University of Waikato showing the positive impact that participating in early learning has on Māori and Pasifika children and their whānau.

“The stories of the children and their families contained in this study demonstrate beyond doubt why early learning is so vital,” says Ms Parata.

This is the fourth report evaluating the Participation Programme, a series of initiatives to engage families with early learning. The study focusses on 18 children and their families involved in the Engaging Priority Families (EPF) initiative.

EPF coordinators support the hardest-to-reach families to enrol their 3 and 4 year old children in early learning services, including playgroups, kindergartens, early childhood education centres and home-based care.

The report found that most of the children would not have enrolled in early learning without the support of the coordinators.

“Being part of the EPF programme and enrolling their children in early learning programmes changed the course of some of these families’ lives. That’s what we were looking for.

“This report delves into the stories of individual children – painting a picture of what early learning and starting school was like for them and their whanau.

Another key finding from the researchers is that participating in early childhood education not only lays the foundations for learning but also makes starting school a better experience for children.

“This study provides real insight into the factors that help make a child’s start at school as smooth as possible. This includes the skills they have developed in early learning, the level of support from everyone involved in the child’s life and the new entrant teacher’s information on the child and their abilities.

“The Government has more than doubled funding into early learning to $1.79 billion, so it’s important to know that we are getting effective outcomes for kids and their families.”