School readiness

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The journey to 'big school': supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children's transition to primary school. (PDF)
North Fitzroy, Vic. : SNAICC, 2014.

SNAICC is currently exploring how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children can best be supported in the transition to school - a crucial stage for any child's future schooling life and educational outcomes. A literature review, 'Supporting transition to school for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children: What it means and what works?', examined what constitutes a 'successful transition', and the key program elements involved. This new report investigates the practical implications of these findings and presents case studies of good practice from early childhood services, schools and family support services. The report also presents key recommendations for policy and practice and discusses the challenge of ensuring cultural competence within programs and targeted funding. It is hoped that this report will be a useful reference to inform the design, implementation and evaluation of transition programs.

A first look at the Head Start CARES demonstration: large scale implementation of programs to improve children's social-emotional competence
Mattera S
Washington, DC : Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, US Administration for Children and Families, 2013.

Head Start is a federally funded early childhood education program in the United States that aims to increase school readiness among low-income children from birth to age five years by boosting their cognitive, social, and emotional development. The Head Start CARES (Classroom-based Approaches and Resources for Emotion and Social skill promotion) demonstration project is trialing enhancements to the existing model. It is evaluating three interventions, including classroom-based social-emotional strategies, professional development, and related supports. This review report examines how well the enhancements were implemented, as part of a larger Head Start CARES randomized control trial.

The state of Victoria's children 2012: early childhood : a report on how Victoria's young children are faring (PDF)
Victoria. Dept. of Education and Early Childhood Development
Melbourne : Dept. of Education and Early Childhood Development, 2013.

This annual report series provides an overview of how children are faring in Victoria, serving as an evidence base to support planning and policy development. The 2012 report looks at early childhood, identifying how children from birth to eight and their families are doing against indicators of health, wellbeing, development, learning, and safety, and identifying where government assistance might be needed. The latest data is included for such topics as health, immunisation, breastfeeding, birth weight, obesity, wellbeing, developmental vulnerability, emotional problems, stressful life events, preschool participation, child care attendance, child care standards, parental involvement in learning, achievement in grade 3, neighbourhood safety, parental employment, housing, bullying, accidents, family violence, and child abuse substantiations. Some statistics for Aboriginal children and children for different family types are also included, as are examples of good practice and key government programs and policies.

Solid partners solid futures: a partnership approach for excellence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander early childhood, education, training and employment from 2013 to 2016
Brisbane, Qld. : Queensland Government, 2013

Solid partners Solid futures is the Queensland Government's plan to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders. It aims to support Indigenous children and young people in transitioning from home to school, engaging and achieving at school, and transitioning from school into the workforce or further education. This document sets out the Government's goals and commitments over the next four years, noting the plan's particular focus on building partnerships.

Supporting transition to school for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children: what it means and what works?
Mason-White H
North Fitzroy, Vic. : SNAICC, 2013.

This report reviews the literature on how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children can be successfully supported in their transition to school. It examines what is known - and the research gaps - on the transition from early childhood centres or their home to preschool and from preschool to primary school for Indigenous children in Australia and their families.

Footprints in time - the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children : report from wave 4.
Australia. Dept. of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs
Canberra, A.C.T. : Dept. of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, 2013

The 'Footprints in time' longitudinal study in Australia investigates how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children's early years affect their development. Two cohorts will be followed: 960 babies, aged 6 to 18 months old, and 727 children, aged 3 to 4 years old. This report presents findings from the Wave 4 data, with most of the participants now at school. It explores: learning and school readiness, health and nutrition, emotional development, family finances, family relations, socioeconomic disadvantage and child outcomes, and cultural identity and racism. This report also features special articles on breastfeeding, learning to read English, housing conditions and health, and body mass index rates. The findings show that though many Indigenous children are flourishing, there also many experiencing difficulties.

Education in Australia 2012: five years of performance : report to the Council of Australian Governments
Council of Australian Governments. Reform Council
Sydney, NSW : COAG Reform Council, 2013.

The National Education Agreement aims for all Australian school students to acquire the knowledge and skills to participate effectively in society and employment. This report assesses progress towards this goal over the last 5 years. It examines school readiness, school engagement, Year 12 retention, literacy and numeracy, the transition from school to work and further study, the impact of schooling on social exclusion and disadvantage, and Indigenous education. The report found that though there are high levels of participation and improvements in the early years of schooling since 2008, these improvements aren't flowing through into secondary school. Furthermore, while Year 12 attainment has increased, young people from these groups continue to be less likely to move on to further work or study after leaving school.

Evaluating the effectiveness of the Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters (HIPPY).
Barnett T, Roost F and McEachran J
Family Matters no. 91 2012: 27-37

Children living in disadvantaged areas are vulnerable to developmental delay. In 2009, the Australian Government commenced the rollout of the Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters (HIPPY) to 50 socially disadvantaged communities across Australia. HIPPY aims to support parents in their role as their four-year-old child's first teacher, so that their child starts school on an equal footing to that of their more advantaged peers. A two-year quasi-experimental research design was used to evaluate the effectiveness of HIPPY. A propensity score matching technique was used to identify a matched control group from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC). Positive effects were found across a number of important developmental domains and spheres of influence, including the child's cognitive ability and social-emotional adjustment, the parent's self-efficacy and parenting style, the home learning environment, and the parents' social connectedness and inclusion. Currently, HIPPY operates as a targeted place-based initiative. But, if the program is to have an impact on reducing social inequalities in child school readiness at the population level, it will need to reach the majority of parents and vulnerable children who are in need of more support and be linked to a universal early childhood education and care platform.

Parents as partners in Indigenous children's learning (PDF)
Muller D
Canberra : Family-School and Community Partnerships Bureau, 2012

"The objective was to document, analyse and report on existing innovative and effective partnerships between schools and Indigenous, most particularly, Aboriginal families and communities. The intended outcomes were: Acknowledgement, understanding and celebration of successful Indigenous family- school and community partnerships; Provision of documented accounts of successful partnerships to inform and encourage similar partnerships; Promotion of effective strategies to foster family-school and community partnerships across all schools regardless of sector or socio-economic and cultural conditions." -- Introduction.

A picture of Australia's children 2012
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
Canberra : Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2012.

This report provides updated data on how Australia's children are faring. Statistics are presented against key national indicators of child health, development and wellbeing, including the Children's Headline Indicators. Topics include mortality, disability, breastfeeding, dental health, physical activity, nutrition, early childhood education, transition to school, literacy and numeracy, social and emotional development, teenage births, birth weight, alcohol and tobacco use during pregnancy, family functioning, family economic situation, parental health, non-parental care, neighbourhood safety, social capital, injuries, bullying, child abuse, violence, crime, homelessness, immunisation and screening, child care, and child protection. Though Australian children are doing well in some areas, there is still room for improvement, especially for children from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds or from socioeconomically disadvantaged areas.

Starting school: a strengths-based approach towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children
Armstrong S, Buckley S, Lonsdale M, Milgate G, Bennetts-Kneebone L, Cook L and Skelton F
Canberwell, Vic. : Australian Council for Educational Research, 2012

This report looks at the role of resilience in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children's successful transition to school. Based on a literature review and analysis of data from Footprints in Time: The Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children (LSIC), it examines the development of resilience in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and the predictors of school readiness. The report argues for a strengths-based approach to school readiness, with schools recognising the existing capabilities and knowledge that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

Footprints in time - the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children : key summary report from wave 3.
Australia. Dept. of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs
Canberra, A.C.T. : Dept. of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, 2012

The 'Footprints in time' longitudinal study in Australia investigates how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children's early years affect their development. Two cohorts will be followed: 960 babies, aged 6 to 18 months old, and 727 children, aged 3 to 4 years old. Wave 1 data was collected in 2007/2008, and Wave 3 in 2010. This report summarises findings from Wave 3, with data collected on education, learning, health, family structure, housing, parental education and employment, parental health, family income, parenting, culture, and community. The report also contains feature articles on special topics, including social and problem gambling, social and emotional development, and mothers' educational aspirations for their children.

Retained primary reflexes in pre-primary-aged Indigenous children : the effect on movement ability and school readiness.
Callcott D
Australasian Journal of Early Childhood v. 37 no. 2 online annex Jun 2012: 132-140

The research reported in this paper links children's movement skills with learning difficulties, particularly school readiness, in the early years. The aim of the research project was to (a) determine the prevalence and severity of retained reflexes, predominantly the Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex (ATNR), and (b) investigate the movement skill ability of pre-primary-aged Indigenous children in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. This provided an important first step in understanding and addressing movement skill deficits that may compromise the acquisition of foundation school readiness skills in young Australian Indigenous children. This project challenged the stereotypical assumption (by non-Indigenous Australians) that the majority of Indigenous Australian children have well-developed or even above-average movement skill development, based on their being more likely than non-Indigenous children to engage in regular physical activity and perform well in sport. It was important to test this assumption if a comprehensive picture of the developmental challenges and educational disadvantages faced by Indigenous Australian children, particularly those in remote regional areas, was to be established. Sixty-five per cent of the sample of Indigenous children were found to have retained moderate to high levels of the Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex (ATNR) which in previous research has been linked to developmental delay, not only in movement skills but also in areas strongly related to academic achievement.

The association between playgroup participation, learning competence and social-emotional wellbeing for children aged four-five years in Australia.
Hancock K, Lawrence D, Mitrou F, Zarb D, Berthelsen D, Nicholson J and Zubrick S
Australasian Journal of Early Childhood v. 37 no. 2 online annex Jun 2012: 72-81

Data from 'Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children' is used to examine the associations between playgroup participation and the outcomes for children aged four to five years. Controlling for a range of socio-economic and family characteristics, playgroup participation from birth to three years was used to predict learning competence and social-emotional functioning outcomes at age four-five years. For learning competence, both boys and girls from disadvantaged families scored 3-4% higher if they attended playgroup at ages birth-one year and two-three years compared to boys and girls from disadvantaged families who did not attend playgroup. For social and emotional functioning, girls from disadvantaged families who attended playgroup at ages birth-one year and two-three years scored nearly 5% higher than those who did not attend. Demographic characteristics also showed that disadvantaged families were the families least likely to access these services. Despite data limitations, this study provides evidence that continued participation in playgroups is associated with better outcomes for children from disadvantaged families.

Inequality in early childhood outcomes.
Bradbury B, Corak M, Waldfogel J and Washbrook E
Ermisch, John, ed. Jantti, Markus, ed. Smeeding, Timothy M., ed. From parents to children : the intergenerational transmission of advantage. New York : Russell Sage Foundation, 2012. 9780871540454: 87-119

This chapter investigates the emergence of inequality in early childhood. Based on comparable studies from Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States, the chapter examines the impact of parent education and income on child outcomes by age 5, including differences in cognitive and socioemotional development. The analysis is based on data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC), the National Longitudinal Study of Children and Youth (NLSCY) in Canada, the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) from Great Britain, and the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study Birth Cohort (ECLS-B) from America.

Early childhood development and school readiness.
Oberklaid F, Goldfeld S and Moore T
Kalil, Ariel, ed. Haskins, Ron, ed. Chesters, Jenny, ed. Investing in children : work, education, and social policy in two rich countries. Washington, D.C. : Brookings Institution Press, 2012: 127-143

The Australian Early Development Index (AEDI) is a population measure of early childhood development and wellbeing, adapted from the Canadian Early Development Instrument. This chapter describes the national implementation of the index and discusses the importance of addressing school readiness - with reference to new AEDI statistics on the prevalence of developmentally vulnerable children.

Supporting low-income parents of young children: the Palm Beach County Family Study fifth annual report
Spielberger J, Rich L, Winje C, Scannell M and Gouvea M
Chicago : Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, c2011.

The Children's Services Council of Palm Beach County in Florida has developed an integrated system of care to promote the healthy development of children in the first 5 years of life. It aims to increase the number of healthy births, reduce the incidence of child abuse and neglect, and increase school readiness, through a suite of early intervention and prevention programs serving families in four targeted low-income communities. These programs include maternal and child health services, early care and education services, school behavioural health programs, and afterschool programs. An 8-year long evaluation and longitudinal study commenced in 2006. This report presents findings from the fourth year of the study, and examines change in family characteristics, service use and selected maternal and child outcomes over time. The report also features recommendations for service improvement and design.

Predictors of school readiness in five? to six?year?old children from an Australian longitudinal community sample.
Prior M, Bavin E and Ong B
Educational Psychology: An International Journal of Experimental Educational Psychology v. 31 no. 1 2011: 3-16

This article investigates predictors of school readiness. Using data from the Early Language in Victoria Study (ELVS), it assesses child and family variables from ages 1 year to 5 years old, including early social, symbolic, and communication factors, receptive and expressive language development, letter and phonological knowledge, behavioural adjustment, socioeconomic status, mothers' health and well-being, mother and father vocabulary, and reading to the child at home. The article reviews levels of school readiness among this sample group, identifies teacher-rated predictors, and compares levels of school readiness among children with language problems, from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, and by gender.

Evaluation of the implementation of 'Foundations for Success - guidelines for an early learning program in Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities': final report (PDF)
Perry B
Brisbane, Qld. : Dept. of Education and Training, Division of Indigenous Education and Training Futures, 2011.

'Foundations for Success' is a curriculum framework for planning and implementing early learning programs in Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities. It was developed to support the 'Bound for Success' pre-school programs for 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 year old children living in remote Cape York and Torres Strait Island communities. This report presents findings from an evaluation of the Foundations for Success guidelines, focusing on their implementation, their effectiveness in supporting educators, and the outcomes for children, families, communities, and educators.

Persistence, privilege, and parenting : the comparative study of intergenerational mobility
Smeeding T, Erikson R and Jantti M
New York : Russell Sage Foundation, c2011.

"Americans like to believe that theirs is the land of opportunity, but the hard facts are that children born into poor families in the United States tend to stay poor and children born into wealthy families generally stay rich. Other countries have shown more success at lessening the effects of inequality on mobility - possibly by making public investments in education, health, and family well-being that offset the private advantages of the wealthy. What can the United States learn from these other countries about how to provide children from disadvantaged backgrounds an equal chance in life? Making comparisons across ten countries, 'Persistence, Privilege, and Parenting' brings together a team of international scholars to examine why advantage and disadvantage persist across generations. The book sheds light on how the social and economic mobility of children differs within and across countries and the impact private family resources, public policies, and social institutions may have on mobility."

Long term effects of early childhood care and education (PDF)
Ruhm C and Waldfogel J
Bonn, Germany : IZA, 2011

"This paper critically reviews what we know about the long-term effects of parental leave and early childhood education programs. We find only limited evidence that expansions of parental leave durations improved long-run educational or labor market outcomes of the children whose parents were affected by them, perhaps because benefits are hard to measure or confined to sub-groups, or because leave entitlements were sufficiently long, even before recent extensions, to yield most potential benefits. By contrast, expansions of early education generally yield benefits at school entry, adolescence, and for adults, particularly for disadvantaged children; however the gains may be less pronounced when high quality subsidized child care was available prior to the program expansion or when subsidies increased the use of low quality care."

Inequality during the early years: child outcomes and readiness to learn in Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, and United States (PDF)
Bradbury B, Corak M, Waldfogel J and Washbrook E
Bonn, Germany : IZA, 2011.

This report examines the effects of socioeconomic inequality on child development. It compares school readiness and socio-emotional developmental outcomes in 5 year old children, including vocabulary development, externalizing behavior, and conduct behaviors, using longitudinal data from Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. The study found that while school readiness varies between relatively advantaged and relatively disadvantaged families in each country, there are country variations too. The report discusses the findings and considers factors that could account for these differences, such as parental leave, parental resources, and family policy. Note, data is taken from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC), the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (NLSCY), in Canada; the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) in the UK, and the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort (ECLS- B) study from the US.

Defining and assessing the school readiness of Indigenous Australian children.
McTurk N, Lea T,  , Nutton G and Carapetis J
Australasian Journal of Early Childhood v. 36 no. 1 online annex Mar 2011: 69-76

The research evidence that underpins the school readiness of Indigenous Australian children is reviewed in this article, followed by identification of issues requiring research attention. Two key questions are considered: 1. How is school readiness defined and how applicable are definitions to Indigenous contexts? 2. What methods of school readiness assessment are applied to Indigenous children and are the tools appropriate or effective? General definitions of school readiness are outlined. An ecological view defines school readiness as ready services, schools, communities and families. This view is scrutinised in detail to consider whether services, schools and communities are ready to promote Indigenous children's education. Extended families are pivotal social constructions in many Indigenous contexts. The extent to which this is recognised in the ecological view of school readiness is assessed. Thereafter, the methods of assessing children's school readiness are reviewed, highlighting the shortfall in techniques specifically designed and validated for Indigenous Australians and the variable applicability of the techniques currently in use.

Facilitating children's transition to school from families with complex support needs (PDF)
Dockett S, Perry B, Kearney E, Hampshire A, Mason J and Schmied V
Albury, N.S.W. : Research Institute for Professional Practice, Learning and Education, Charles Sturt University, 2011.

The transition to primary school is a key stage for children, families and educators. It is one of the key points at which families seek support and where a significant impact on the wellbeing of children - and potentially their families - can be made. This study explored this transition for families with complex support needs in New South Wales and how it can best be supported. It examines the key decision points and issues for families, the support needed before and after the first year of school, and the factors, practices, and policies that provide support to children and families starting school.

Ready set go : a good start for HIPPY children. (PDF337KB)
Barnett T
Brotherhood Comment Nov 2010: 8-9

A national evaluation of the Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters (HIPPY) is currently underway in Australia across 13 sites. This article discusses interim findings from the evaluation, which is being conducted over 2 years with parents with four-year-old children living in areas of disadvantage. The results are encouraging, with children's school readiness in particular showing significant improvement after 12 months of the program. The article discusses other findings, including social and financial inclusion and comparisons with the matched control group derived from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children.

The implications of poverty on children's readiness to learn.
Hilferty F, Redmond G and Katz I
Australasian Journal of Early Childhood v. 35 no. 4 Dec 2010: 63-71

This paper reviews Australian and international literature to examine the effect of poverty on children's readiness to learn. It includes a discussion of how children's readiness and ability to learn can be nurtured from birth, and how poverty places a child's healthy developmental pathway at risk. The paper concludes with a discussion of the barriers to the introduction of successful early intervention programs in Australia.

School readiness: what does it mean for Indigenous children, families, schools and communities? (PDF)
Dockett S, Perry B and Kearney E
Canberra, A.C.T. : Closing the Gap Clearinghouse, 2010.

This paper investigates school readiness for Indigenous Australian children from the basis of the strengths of all concerned: children, families, educators and communities. It analyses research and programs to outline what works - and what doesn't - in school readiness intervention for Indigenous Australian children. Sections include: what is school readiness?; links between school readiness and the health and learning aspects of early child development; what do we know about the readiness of Indigenous children, families and communities?; which readiness programs and activities have been developed both nationally and internationally?; and what are the data limitations and research gaps?

The state of Victoria's children 2009 : Aboriginal children and young people in Victoria
Victoria. Dept. of Education and Early Childhood Development
Melbourne, Vic. : Dept. of Education and Early Childhood Development, 2010.

The 2009 report in this series presents a comprehensive view on how Aboriginal children and young people in Victoria are faring. Their health and wellbeing is measured against a whole-of-government government outcomes framework, which includes connectedness to culture and community, social networks, equity and discrimination, economic wellbeing, housing and homelessness, infrastructure and facilities, maternal health and services, parental health and wellbeing, infant health, physical health, mental health and emotional wellbeing, crime and safety, child protection, out-of-home care, child care, school readiness, school attendance, literacy and numeracy, educational aspirations, school retention, teenage lifestyles, and teenage pregnancy. The report also includes sections examining major Victorian and Commonwealth Government policy initiatives, population data, and key issues impacting upon Victoria's Aboriginal community. These include the historical context, the Stolen Generations, and life expectancy. The report draws upon data from the Victorian Child and Adolescent Monitoring System (VCAMS, the 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS), the 2009 Victorian Adolescent Health and Wellbeing Survey (VAHWS), and other sources.

Head Start impact study: final report (PDF4.3MB)
Puma M, Bell S, Cook R and Heid C
Washington, D.C. : Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2010.

The Head Start program was launched in 1965 to improve the school readiness of low-income children in America. The comprehensive program includes preschool education; health care; nutrition services; and parent education and support. As part of its 1998 reauthorisation by government, a Head Study Impact Study was established to evaluate the program's effectiveness and to determine under what circumstances it achieves the greatest impact. This report presents the final findings from a 2002 longitudinal study following approximately 5,000 3 and 4 year old children through their preschool, kindergarten and 1st grade years. The children were randomly assigned to either a Head Start group that had access to Head Start program services or to a non-Head Start group that could enrol in available community non-Head Start services. Data was collected across cognitive, social-emotional, health, and parenting practice domains. This report examines: what difference Head Start makes to key outcomes of development and learning (and in particular, the multiple domains of school readiness) for low-income children; what difference Head Start makes to parental practices that contribute to children's school readiness; under what circumstances Head Start achieves the greatest impact; and which Head Start services are most related to impact. This report details the findings, comparing the two age groups and service-types across each domain.

Parent engagement and school readiness : effects of the Getting Ready intervention on preschool children's social-emotional competencies.
Sheridan S, Knoche L, Edwards C, Bovaird J and Kupzyk K
Early Education and Development v. 21 no. 1 2010: 125-156

The Getting Ready intervention aims to promote parent engagement with their child and schools, to help improve school readiness. The intervention is conducted with low-income families with children aged from birth to 5 years old, who are already participating in early education programs. This article presents findings from a longitudinal study investigating the effects of the intervention on two dimensions of social-emotional competence: interpersonal competence and behaviour. Participants were 220 preschool children aged 3 to 5 years, attending a local Head Start program for disadvantaged families in the United States, as well as their parents and teachers. The children were studied over 2 years. This study is part of a larger clinical trial of the program.

See more resources on School readiness in the AIFS library catalogue