Minister for play
Federal Minister for Education, the Honourable Dan Tehan MP, was welcomed to the
University of Wollongong (UOW) on Wednesday 7 August where he toured Early Start, discovering the exciting work that has been achieved over the past four years since its opening.
During Minister Tehan’s first-time visit to Early Start, he had the opportunity to speak with key staff to understand the work Early Start around enhancing the quality of early childhood education and care for families locally and those based in regional and remote communities.
Early Start Director of Research and acting CEO, Senior Professor Tony Okely saw it as a fantastic opportunity to share Early Start's research and community engagement initiatives.
“It was wonderful to be able to showcase the way Early Start engages with the community and how our research is having an impact,” Professor Okely said.
Minister Tehan saw how Early Start’s virtual excursions are giving access to authentic play-based experiences regardless of where children are located. He also learnt about breaking research on the role of dad’s and grandparents in children’s literacy and numeracy skills.
Minister Tehan took a keen interest in the Early Years Toolbox – a collection of freely accessible measures of young children’s emerging cognitive, self-regulatory, language and social development. “The Early Years Toolbox is transforming how educators and researchers assess and respond to a child’s developmental needs,” Professor Okely said. “It’s addressing a real industry need.”
During the tour Minister Tehan was able to speak directly with children and families that were playing in the Early Start Discovery Space. He was impressed by the unique learning environment created and grateful that families could access the state-of-the-art facilities.
“Early Start Discovery Space has seen close to 500,000 children and families engaging in play-based learning since opening in 2015,” Professor Okely said. “It is our hope that we can continue to help children realise their potential no matter their background, location or circumstances.