The Woodside Development Fund has committed $20 million over 10 years to support programs and organisations that contribute to the education, health and wellbeing of children aged zero to eight. In doing so, we're helping to provide a better start for the lives of children, and nurturing the connections between families and the communities in which they live.
It is an investment that can also deliver exponential gains in later life, and to the wider community. Every child is important, and we see the far-reaching implications of education in building a stronger community.
Why is early learning so important?
"Early education allows your children to feel safe and secure in an environment that's not with you. It provides them with a sense of belonging, and to have the confidence to grow and develop," says Emma Brosnan, parent at Goodstart Nollamara in Perth, Western Australia.
For many parents like Emma, the first day of school for their child is perceived to be one of the biggest steps of their child's journey to adulthood. However, studies have shown that it's the time spent with our children before they are old enough to start school that has the most lasting impact.
Cecilia Waters, Centre Director of Goodstart, explains, "It's really important to invest in early childhood. That is when children develop foundation skill-sets for the rest of their lives."
Focusing on early development is crucial, with 80% of a child's brain growth occurring before they start school. Research shows children that participate in early learning experience significant long-term improvements in cognition, social skills and school, as well as gains in earnings later in life.
"The early years are stepping stones for children to be successful learners as they go into school and as they go into life," says Cecilia.
One factor relates to creating positive associations of educators for children, through a nurturing and encouraging environment. There is a wealth of evidence to show that when a child enters school, healthy and ready to learn, not only do they do better, their opportunities will also fundamentally change for the better.
Cecilia adds, "When a child feels safe and that they belong, they have the opportunity to reach out and engage in other learning opportunities."
Engaging in learning allows children to reach their full potential, and with family support, it helps to create stronger, more resilient communities. Positive education experiences early in life also help to build communities with sustained employment, and better economic and social development.
How does the Woodside Development Fund help?
Initially starting with a handful of Goodstart Early Learning centres, Woodside is providing resources to more than 30 education centres, benefiting over 3,000 children. Woodside has also helped fund training for more than 400 educators, encouraging professional development, mentoring and better connections with parents and caregivers.
At Woodside, we believe there's truth to the adage, "It takes a village to raise a child." As such, we know it's important to create a sense of community around education. But it's not just about connections between families and educators either. we strive to connect early years networks, work with policy makers to effect positive change and encourage other businesses to invest in early education. This is just the start, and we look forward to watching the village grow.
For more information about Goodstart, visit www.goodstart.org.au