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The first five years: Being your child’s first teacher (and free resources!)

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Child Devlopment
Many families want to support their young one's interest in learning and will benefit from new, free resources

The first five years of a child’s life is essential to set them up for lifelong learning, according to experts in Early Learning. While small children are always learning from the world around them, their first real teacher is you, their parent. Early Learning Project Officer Sally Harrison explains more. 


With so much learning that takes place during the first five years of your child’s life, many parents want to know how they can support their young one’s interest in learning and encourage a natural curiosity about the world.

“A child’s first teacher is their parent,” says Sally Harrison, the Early Learning Project Officer at the Catholic Schools Office in the Diocese of Broken Bay. “Play is your child’s work at this early stage in their lives.” Sally encourages parents to:

  • Facilitate access to quality early learning, this sets children up on a lifelong path as their brain matures.

“Their brains are exploding with energy and growth, which means imagination and interaction are the main focus of their world,” says Sally.

  • Encourage learning by answering questions and fostering curiosity.

“A child’s questions, though sometimes seem endless, are a sign they are curious and want to know more – which is fantastic!” Sally says.

St Bernard's Students

Give your child access to quality early learning ahead of starting school (pictures is St Bernard’s Catholic School)

The first five years: Resources to help parents

As many four and five-year-olds have been unable to attend preschool due to the Covid-19 restrictions, the Diocese has developed free early learning resources to help parents continue their children’s early learning in readiness for school.

Parents can collect a bag of free handy learning tools from their local Catholic primary school, including a booklet of suggestions on how to work learning into everyday life.

First Five Years

Suggestions include how to incorporate household tasks, such as cooking, to encourage learning through play, such sorting, measuring and counting.

“The kitchen and dining table are amazing places for introducing mathematical and scientific skills,” said Monique Berlioz, a Year 1 teacher at St Rose Catholic Primary School in Collaroy.

“Helping out in the kitchen can open [children’s] eyes to counting, measurement, sorting and organisation – not to mention the science of combining and changing ingredients into something edible.”

Cooking skills

A recipe idea from the free resource pack for parents

Monique suggested tasks such as:

  • Counting cutlery to set the table
  • Choosing seats for family members
  • Measuring and mixing ingredients to build a child’s mathematical and language skills

For more ideas and to receive a free early learning pack, contact your local Catholic primary school.

These learning tools are also downloadable and for more ideas or to watch some great tailor made videos created to support these tools, head here.

Play dough

Another of the fun (and educational) learning suggestions


More on children’s learning, schooling and development:

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