Improving children’s early school outcomes, health and wellbeing using a child participatory methodology

It started when Year 5 and 6 students at a school in South Western Sydney became aware that pre-schoolers were not starting school with the pre-academic skills they needed. The older children led the design of a school transition program, including educational resource packages and a playgroup program.

They developed packages targeting pre-schoolers’ foundational learning skills and enhancing parent-child interactions through play-based activities. These young ‘problem solvers’ were supported by a team of TeEACH researchers led by Dr Cathy Kaplun for over five years.

TeEACH’s involvement has been instrumental in demonstrating the impact that children can have as active changemakers. Dr Kaplun’s research has informed a holistic approach to program expansion including access to a speech therapist, occupational therapist and a trauma psychologist within the program.

“Not all children have the same experiences and opportunities to learn. This school empowered older students to help pre-schoolers on their learning journey. It is wonderful to be part of such a worthwhile and innovative project,” Dr Kaplun Research Fellow

The project has subsequently generated international interest. The same participatory approach is being develop for a project in South Africa, where older children are designing resources for pre-schoolers from refugee communities.