Snapshot: Early Childhood Literacy in WA

Children reading books lying and sitting on a colourful rug

The ability to read and write English is an essential skill we all need. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to communicate, to express our opinions or to get far in life. To see a noticeable improvement in adult literacy skills, we have to look at where it all begins: at infancy.

When a child grows to three years old, their brain undergoes neural development by making connections between neurons (1). By reading to children at a young age, it makes a difference on how they perform at school which determines their success as an adult (2).

To measure early childhood literacy skills, there is a census called the Australian Early Development Census. A collection of data from primary school teachers every three years is used for the census. This data is split up into five different domains (3). When checking children’s language skills, the main domains measured would be language and cognitive skills (school-based) and communication skills and general knowledge. This data shows the change of the number and percentage of children at each development level for both domains in Western Australia from 2012 to 2018 (4).

Language and cognitive skills in WA graph

Communication skills in WA children graphc

With noticeable improvements across both domains, it is clear to see that our state is focused on improving the lives and education of young children to set them up for adulthood. But there is still a long way to go before every child in Western Australia receives the education and family support they deserve so that they can succeed. For these numbers to reduce further, we need to act and support early childhood literacy programs for children from disadvantaged areas with a lack of a supportive family background.

With programs such as Paint the Town REaD, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and Read Play Grow, United Way WA is doing all it can to promote early childhood literacy in communities, to allow all children to read and to encourage a safe and positive home environment for vulnerable families so that children can learn skills to get them school ready. For our communities to be secure and prosperous, we must ensure that the children of today are educated for the future of tomorrow.

Read more about United Way WA’s work in early childhood literacy here, or find out more about our upcoming Education Seminar here.


Savani Daluwatta

Savani is an emerging marketing and communications trainee and current intern on the United Way WA team.

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