Optimizing the 10,000 hours that prepare children for life – UQ News

The Australian Research Council (ARC) will support a large-scale longitudinal study by the University of Queensland of 600 children and their early experiences with education.

Professor Karen Thorpe from the Queensland Brain Institute at UQ has been awarded an ARC Laureate Fellowship worth $3.3 million over five years to study what constitutes a quality early learning and care program.

Professor Thorpe said a child’s experiences in their first five years shape the architecture of their brain, influencing their success in school and in life.

“An Australian child can spend 10,000 hours in early care and education programs before they start school and this is a critical period for their development,” Prof Thorpe said.

“Unfortunately, nearly one in four Australian children enter school developmentally vulnerable and not doing very well. Most of these children live in conditions of social and economic disadvantage.

“Through research and working with industry partners, we aim to understand why some programs fall short of the promise of quality education and highlight examples of programs that work well.

“Australia invests tens of billions of dollars each year in early childhood education and care, and it’s important to ensure as a nation that we provide learning opportunities of the highest quality to our children.

“This study will provide new insights to support that promise.”

Professor Thorpe’s research will engage Queensland children in early childhood education and care in a variety of contexts and geographical locations.

‘ARC-funded research will extend beyond the first five years, thanks to the Queensland Government,’ said Professor Thorpe.

“Thanks to the school records, we will be able to follow the progress of the students until the end of their school years.

“Ultimately, I hope this research will inform policies and practices that enhance children’s experiences in their early years, promote development and learning as they enter school, and support continued opportunities in their lives,” she said.

Professor Thorpe’s research builds on the work of te Science of Learning Centre, a collaboration between the Australian Council for Educational Research and QBI, to understand effective teaching and learning practices.

Image above left: Professor Karen Thorpe, Queensland Brain Institute, University of Queensland.

Media: Professor Karen Thorpe, [email protected], +61 (0)422 975 900; Queensland Brain Institute Merrett Pye, [email protected], +61 (0)422 096 049 or Elaine Pye, [email protected], +61 (0)415 222 606.

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