Australia’s national education evidence body

The science behind fostering children’s early learning and development

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Young pupil watching another pupil paint on an easel

AERO’s ‘science of learning and development’ project will support teachers and educators to incorporate knowledge about how brains and bodies develop into their practice, beginning with early childhood education and care (ECEC) services. The science tells us that a child’s early years lay the foundations for learning and development that lasts a lifetime, so it’s a great place to start. 

Every early childhood teacher and educator is a ‘scientist’ already. Every day, they gather observations about what children know and can do, experiment with new strategies to foster their learning, and then reflect on whether the strategies worked and how to make them better. 

The science of learning and development is complex and requires us to think holistically about how children learn and grow. When an educator responds to a worried child with care and attention, or when a teacher plans fun, playful experiences to extend children’s thinking, they are already using science and applying what we know about how children learn. Quality ECEC services use ‘intentional teaching’ to create purposeful learning opportunities in children’s everyday play. 

AERO’s project will make the science behind quality early childhood programs more visible. AERO will work with early childhood experts and practitioners to create resources to help teachers and educators describe the learning and development they observe, including language, mathematical thinking, social and emotional skills, and physical development. This will help teachers and educators document children’s progress, communicate it to families and plan to support each child to take the next step. 

We will also develop resources to help early childhood teachers and educators use evidence-based practices in their work. The evidence base for early childhood practice is growing rapidly, in Australia and internationally. We aim to help all teachers and educators have access to the latest research, tools and ideas to help them create even better programs for children and families.  

Injecting more evidence into this process can bring together the best of what the science of learning and development tells us, and what teachers and educators know about their unique service and children. AERO is pleased to be playing our part in strengthening the link between evidence and practice, and contributing to higher-quality ECEC services and better outcomes for all children. 

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