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Quality Early Childhood Education Matters

26 October 2001 – embargoed until 2.00pm Media Statement

Quality Early Childhood Education Matters

A significant research report just released, once again confirms the Government’s views about the importance and value of early childhood education, Education Minister Trevor Mallard said today.

“Competent Children at 10” reports progress from an on-going study by the New Zealand Council for Educational Research. It has followed the competencies of a sample of children, from aged five, in the Wellington region.

The researchers conducted the latest study when the children were 10, looking at them in the context of family background, home activities, early childhood education experiences and school resources. Competencies examined were communication, curiosity, perseverance, social skills, individual responsibility, literacy, maths, problem-solving and motor skills.

“From the beginning, in 1992, this long-term study related particularly to early childhood resourcing and targeting, and this continues to be of important strategic value,” said Trevor Mallard.

“I made it very plain from the time I took up responsibility for education that I would give considerable emphasis to beefing up participation in early childhood education. I am a strong believer in the value of giving our young children a flying start to their education.

“This new report confirms beyond doubt that this is the way to go. The researchers say that the benefits of early childhood education are still flowing through for these children, five years and more, after they started school.

“It’s noteworthy that at age ten, children who experienced quality early childhood education stand out.

“It really counts to have responsive early childhood staff, who ask open-ended questions, and who join in childrens’ play. A variety of activities in early childhood centres are important and so is having, and using, lots of printed material.

“One thing from the researchers’ findings that concerned me was that the amount of television which a child watched, did had a negative association with its competency rating at aged 10.

“Children who watch less than an hour of TV a day tend to rate more highly, and those who watch more than three hours a day rate more poorly.

“It’s a worry to learn from this latest study that children who watched more than two hours of TV a day when they were five or six tended to have lower scores for literacy and maths than other children. Those patterns continue as they reach eight and ten. Watching television takes valuable time which could be spent doing other things – like reading.”


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