Welcome to our Winter 2017 edition of QKindy and early childhood.
Our Government is committed to giving young Queenslanders the best possible start to their learning journey.
We’re working together with families, early childhood services and schools to help children enjoy a confident start to their education.
I recently had the pleasure of visiting our eKindy hub, at the Brisbane School of Distance Education in Coorparoo, to officially open new and upgraded facilities worth almost $450,000.
These upgrades include new webcams and contemporary teleconferencing equipment, which will enable around 180 children in rural and remote locations to access an approved kindergarten program.
This year, we are also stepping up measures to help children transition smoothly from kindergarten to Prep.
My Department is currently working with the early childhood sector and schools to explore ways to make it easier for families to share transition statements with their child’s school at the end of the kindy year.
These transition statements describe a child’s progress at kindy and are important in helping schools support their ongoing learning and development.
Through the new Early Years Count website, we are supporting young parents in their important role as their child’s first teacher.
So far more than 14,400 people have visited the website to access information about Queensland’s early childhood services.
Families with a child under one have also flocked to sign up as “Play Stars” to receive a free 12 month Playgroup Queensland membership.
More than 3,600 families have registered for membership and 40 new playgroups have sprung up across the state since this Queensland Government - Playgroup Queensland initiative began in July last year.
I thank families, educators, service providers, staff and volunteers for positively contributing to the lives of our youngest Queenslanders and starting them on the path to a lifelong love oflearning.
Minister for Education
You wouldn’t read about Pittsworth’s passing parade
The last thing you’d expect to see parading down Pittsworth’s usually quiet main road is a procession of dinosaurs, cowgirls, superheroes — and a giant frog.
But that’s exactly what happened in the small town near Toowoomba during the annual Read with me Parade.
The motley collection of storybook characters were dressed to impress for the procession, held in Term 3 to support families and kids who are preparing to start school the following year.
Kids’ artwork and storybooks decorated shop windows, and the local Vinnies had a handmade book-cover ball gown ondisplay.
Children and their families, educators and community members marched towards the school hall where they split into small groups to read and talk with each other.
Lead event organiser Prep teacher Tracey Hayes, and the Pittsworth Early Years Network, themed the fun-filled event around the importance of talking and reading with children aged five and under, and working together to support children’seducation.
‘We asked parents to bring a picnic lunch on the day, hoping they might meet new friends and build on their own support networks, especially for families with children starting Prep,’ Ms Hayes said.
‘Starting school is a huge milestone for families and children, and the day was a fun way to connect families with educators and other parents who can support each other at this time.
‘The kids got to meet other kids their age too, as well as prominent members of the community, like our local police officer, shop owners, and principal of Pittsworth State School, Mr Winter, who are all committed to providing these kids with the best start in life.’
Donning a bright, multi-coloured bowtie for the parade, Principal Matt Winter agreed that everyone had a part to play in educating children, and events such as this reminded people how important the early years are.
‘Children are learning everywhere, long before they start school, so it’s great to see the whole community come together to help children to learn and grow from such a young age,’ Mr Winter said.
‘It’s also a nice way for me and the other school staff to meet families in our community, and it’s an exciting introduction to school for the kids.’
Participant and mum-of-two, Megan Smith, was thrilled to be involved in the community event.
‘I met a lot of parents who had kids starting Prep, just like me, and even some who had kids the same age as my youngest,’ Ms Smith said.
‘It’s great to speak with them and get the feeling that everything is on the right track, and know they’re going through the same things as my family.
‘It feels like a really good interactive base to have, especially during such an important time in our lives.
‘I’m comforted to know that what I am doing at home with my kids — reading and talking with them often — is the right thing to be doing, even though they haven’t started school.
‘Plus, we really loved dressing up.’
Here are some great tips for you to help you and your child start school:
•Listen to your child’s thoughts about starting school.
•Make time to talk, read, play and relax with your child.
•Practise new routines.
•Encourage your child to keep trying when something is hard.
•Assist your child to know how to get help.
•Get to know your school community and meet new children and families before the first day.
•Share your child’s kindy transition statement with yourschool.
•Celebrate starting school.
For more tips on helping to support your child’s positive transition to school, visit our website at
Little free libraries popping up in Acacia Ridge
One of the world’s smartest people, living or dead, Albert Einstein, said the only thing you absolutely have to know is the location of thelibrary.
Now children in Brisbane’s Acacia Ridge can follow this advice through the Free Little Libraries program.
Early childhood educator Fiona Hartley said reading, and being read to, was critical to a child’s development so having children’s books at hand wasimportant.
With no public library in Acacia Ridge, community organisations, local businesses, a school and early childhood services rallied together to give families another option, and the Little Free Library concept was born.
The inspiration for the pop-up libraries came from a closer examination of the 2012 and 2015 Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) results.
The local working group, led by social purpose organisation, United Way Australia, identified that more than one in five children in Acacia Ridge started school without the basic language and cognitive skills they needed to do well.
‘Twelve Little Free Libraries are now dotted across the suburb in places families visit, such as early childhood centres, doctors’ clinics, a state school, and even a local bank and coffee shop; and with more to come,’ MsHartleysaid.
‘Each Little Free Library is stocked with books for children aged zero to eight, ready for families to borrow, return and re-borrow – all forfree.’
United Way Australia community impact manager Abbey Richards said the group had been looking for ways to increase the number of children’s books available in Acacia Ridge.
‘Little Free Libraries stood out as both
a creative and practical step,’
‘So we took this to the community and the interest and enthusiasm wasphenomenal.
‘A range of local businesses and organisations, including the local men’s shed, generously gave their support, time and resources.’
Local mum Renae Boyle (pictured with her son Liam and Acacia Ridge literacy mascot Ridgey the possum) said she couldn’t be happier with the idea.
‘Little Free Libraries are a positive addition to the community,’
‘My son loves being able to go to the box and choose a new book to read.
‘It’s fun, it’s free and it encourages my son to read – which is always a hugepositive.’
The answer to a lot of tricky questions can be found in books, and you don’t have to be a genius to know kids and books go together like E = mc2.
For more information on the
AEDC visit and
(search for “AEDC”).
Messy play makes a splash across Queensland
Studies show something that kids have always known: Playing in the mud makes you happy.Mud contains microscopic bacteria called Mycobacterium vaccae, which increases the levels of serotonin in our brains, helping to relax, soothe and calm.
More than 1000 families said yes to mess and mud, celebrating National Playgroup Week across the state in March.
The ‘Messy Play’ theme lived up to its name with kids and their grown-ups rolling up their sleeves to squish slime, spray shaving cream, paint plant pots and much more at four events in Redlands, Cairns, Ipswich and Mt Isa.
Redlands mother Michelle Horn said she loved watching her daughter Sophie concentrating so hard on creating an ink masterpiece that it ended up on paper — and her t-shirt.
‘It’s been a fun day for both of us,’ Ms Horn said.
‘I’ve enjoyed watching her experiment with different textures and materials, and the best part is, I don’t have to clean up.’
Playgroup chief executive officer Stephen Alderman said National Playgroup Week encouraged fun and learning throughplay.
‘Every activity is designed to stimulate the senses and imagination,’ Mr Alderman said.
‘What looks like a mess on the surface is truly a learning experience for your child.
‘The activities celebrate all that playgroups can offer and give families a taste of what to expect when they join a local group.’
A Queensland Government $15,000 sponsorship ensured even more kids across the state experienced the importance of play.
Our youngest Queenslanders weren’t forgotten.
Baby activity areas at every location showed parents and carers that it’s never too early to start playing.
Cyclone Debbie’s wild weather hasn’t dampened spirits in Rockhampton and on the Sunshine Coast: their postponed events will be held later this year.
Families with children under one year can continue the fun and register to become Play Stars, a Queensland Government-Playgroup Queensland partnership to give families 12 months free membership to Playgroup Queensland.
To sign up for Play Stars or find out more about Playgroup Queensland and coming events, visit
Championing learning for little ones
Most parents and carers in Queensland know that kindy is an important step on a child’s learning pathway.
Last year, the majority of youngsters, including over 90 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, reaped the developmental and educational benefits of kindy.
This is great news but the Queensland Government is determined that all children have a strong early learning foundation to help them to thrive in school and as adults.
Early learning – at home, playgroup, kindy and school – has amazing benefits for a child’s thinking, language and socialdevelopment.
The government has enlisted the help of former kindy ambassador Jay Laga’aia to promote the early years count message to parents and carers and the wider community.
Jay’s work, and initiatives such as animations featuring Jess the little learner and Indigenous artwork NganaWaguna Woori Mumba (featured on pages 10-11) complement other programs and initiatives supporting the participation of kids aged zero to eight in early learning.
A familiar face takes on an important role
Jay’s friendly face and voice are familiar to many parents and carers, and children.
His entertainment career has taken him from Playschool to the plains of Africa on stage with The Lion King to a galaxy far, far away in Star Wars, and across Queensland on the Say G’day to Jaykindy roadshow.
As the official The Early Years Count ambassador, Jay said promoting the importance of early learning was a role that’s close to home.
‘It’s the wonderful thing about being a parent, seeing
the experiences your child has with you, and how this
has a positive impact on their learning and their life,’
‘You can see them growing before your eyes, through every single experience with you.
‘For me, the idea of being able to have a child who is confident in themselves, in going into school, is an amazing thing.’
Jay said it’s the everyday moments that made the difference: talking about different things in the home or community, learning to share and how to deal with emotions, eating the right foods and feeling confident to try new things.
‘One thing I would say to mums and dads is to get involved from day one and don’t be afraid to ask for help; you are allowed to not know everything,’ he said.
‘Parenting is a new experience. You can ask for help or advice from friends, your community or resources like The Early Years Count website.’
A little Queenslander with a big message
Little Queenslander Jess stars in and narrates three animations aimed at giving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents a greater understanding of the benefits of taking part in their children’s early learning.
Jess highlights how her experiences and interactions prepare her for kindy and school, and the important role community and culture play in making her early years count.
Jess yarns about her early learning experiences
So, tell us Jess, when did all your learning start?II
‘Before I was even born my mind and body were already learning and growing.’
‘My home was my first classroom where I was learning from my family all the time.
‘I was learning in the highchair, learning in the park, even from my big brother Jimmy.’
How do you think the kind of things you are learningII
at home will help you later in life?II
‘My brain is becoming choc-a-bloc full of all kinds of learning from all my family and community.
‘The stuff I learn at home helps me in kindy and the stuff I learn at kindy helps me at home.
‘I’m learning through every moment and it all helps me beprepared.
‘I’m ready for anything. I’m set up for life.’
A picture is worth a thousand words
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art is among the oldest continuing art traditions in the world.
Storytelling is at the heart of artistic practices, where messages and knowledge are conveyed through narratives that are spoken, performed as dances or songs, and painted.
Community members and artists around Queensland recently came together to create a piece of art, featured on pages
10-11, that tells an importantnarrative.
The early years artwork’s title, NganaWaguna Woori Mumba, is in the Alice River language of the Iningai country, which is the birthplace of artist Suzanne Thompson, and translates to: We grow our children together.
The piece represents the early learning journey of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and expresses the important roles of knowledge, connection and culture in the early years.
Ms Thompson said she was honoured to be able to work with parents and Elders to create a piece of art that reflected how children could grow, learn and thrive with their community.
The story behind the artwork
Ms Thompson, in collaboration with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and Elders from five Queensland communities, helped develop a narrative to tell the story behind the early years artwork:
Our lives start out as a seed that begins to grow. With the warmth and nurturing of country, the bodies, mind and spirit of our children develop.
Parents and grandparents, brothers and sisters, aunties, uncles, cousins and other family members surround us with love and learning.
They all play a part in helping us feel confident and strong as we grow and learn through playgroup, kindy and Prep.
Our ancestors and Elders are always watching over our children and community.
Our children are supported and guided towards knowledge, connection and culture, with pride in who they are and where they come from.
The Rainbow Serpent has weaved his path across our country. The head of the Rainbow Serpent represents our Elders and past, and the tail our children and future.
The bright colours of the Rainbow Serpent show the flow of love and learning between our children and community.
Our children learn and grow from us as we learn and grow fromthem.
Every day is a new day of opportunity for our children and our community to grow and learn together as we move towards a bright future.
Each child’s learning journey is unique and different, but with the support and love of communities, our children’s future will be strong and proud.
We all play a part in making the early years count for our littleones.