Saturday, May 25, 2024

Early learners life skills programme to be expanded

The Government has announced $19 million funding for the expansion of the ENGAGE programme for pre-school children.

The programme is a method of teaching pre-school children, aged 2-5, that has been widely trialled and has had great outcomes so far that will benefit the next generation, Under-Secretary for Education, Jo Luxton said today.

It uses games and fun activities to teach young children a range of emotional, cognitive thinking and behavioural strategies to help them manage their emotions.

The funding will expand ENGAGE to around 1,830 early learning services by 2027.

“As a former early learning teacher and early childhood centre owner, and as a mother, I know how important it is for young children to be able to manage their emotions and behaviours for themselves and with others,” said Ms Luxton.

“Having more young children learn these skills from an early age will not only benefit them, but also their teachers, parents and wider society.

“The ENGAGE trial has been a huge success. Now, we want to scale it up so more pre-schoolers can benefit. ENGAGE has seen significant reduced hyperactivity, less aggression, and fewer peer problems in children taking part.”

She said participating pre-schoolers had also showed improved attention and emotional regulation, which were maintained for long periods following their involvement in the programme.

“The evidence tells us that even small improvements in behavioural skills at an early age can result in better health, wealth and wellbeing in later life. Such improvements can also result in a reduction in the costs to society of healthcare, welfare and crime,” said Ms Luxton.

“As more children from ENGAGE enter our classrooms, we also hope that their ability to self-regulate will allow teachers to spend more time teaching, and less time dealing with behavioural issues, and for students to spend more of their time at school learning.”

The Ministry of Education has partnered with Methodist Mission Southern to trial ENGAGE in around 300 early learning settings since 2021. The expansion is part of the Government’s response to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the terrorist attacks on Christchurch Masjidain in March 2019.

“This Government knows how important it is to give every child in Aotearoa New Zealand the best start in life. This $19 million funding boost to teach behavioural skills to more of our young children is another significant step towards achieving that goal”, Ms Luxton said.

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