Is this key to helping kids read and write?
KINDERGARTENS are lobbying the Government to extend subsidised pre-school programs to all Australian three-year-olds, arguing it would help solve Australia's literacy numeracy crisis.
A new analysis of NAPLAN data by Goodstart Early Learning, the country's largest childcare operator, shows the reading and numeracy scores of Year 3 children significantly improved after universal kindergarten was introduced.
In 2013, only 52 per cent of Australian children who sat NAPLAN in Year 3 had attended a pre-school program.
By 2017, when that proportion had risen to 92 per cent, NAPLAN reading and numeracy results had improved across the country by an average of 12 points.
In Queensland, which also introduced Prep and raised the starting age for Year 1, the results were most significant.
The proportion of Year 3 students in Queensland who participated in a pre-school program rose from 32 per cent in 2013 to 97 per cent in 2017, and reading and numeracy scores increased by an average of 16.5 points.
Goodstart Early Learning's advocacy manager John Cherry has seized on the data to call on the Federal Government to extend subsidised pre-school to the second year before school.
"Evidence from around the world shows that access to two years of early learning in the years before school can double the impact on educational outcomes in school," he said.
Goodstart Early Learning, along with kindy giant C&K, is ramping up pressure on both sides of politics ahead of the Longman by-election in two weeks, to fund two years of early learning for children.
Karen Thorpe, of the University of Queensland's Institute of early learning and science, said research showed early learning programs had an impact in improving children's academic outcomes.
"The thing that makes the difference isn't that they learn the reading, writing and arithmetic, it's that they are learning those skills of sharing, getting on in groups, organising themselves, and regulating their behaviour so they are ready for school," she said.
Alys Gagnon, executive director of lobby group The Parenthood, said pre-school was vital in ensuring children didn't start school behind their peers.
Shannon Ross said her eldest daughter Tarni-Rose, 5, adjusted well to school after attending Goodstart Early Learning in Caboolture since she was in the nursery. "Having the kindy and pre-kindy programs definitely helped with the transition," she said.