Parents and children can bond over a book

An article in the Herald Sun is encouraging parents to read to their babies from an early age.

Evidence-based parenting website, the Raising Children Network (RCN) says that listening to a parent’s voice and looking at pictures helps babies with bonding and development. The RCN is encouraging parents to make reading part of daily play, releasing a new guide on suitable books for children aged from four months to five years old.

Dr Sharon Goldfeld, a paediatrician at the Centre for Community Child Health and a scientific advisory board member on literacy for the RCN said international studies had found reading to children from an early age was linked to better educational outcomes and aided children’s literacy and brain development, imagination and stimulated curiosity.

Dr Goldfield said reading to children from an early age laid the foundations for social, communication and interpersonal skills later in life.

“Letting your baby hear your voice by sharing stories and talking will set (them) up for success later in life when (they are) learning to read.”

The Raising Children Network is a consortium between the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, the Parenting Research Centre and the Smart Population Foundation.

Read the article here.

Find out more about the Raising Children Network at

It’s never too early to start teaching our kids

An article on the importance of children’s first years of life has been published in The Australian.

In the article, Professor Frank Oberklaid, director of the Centre for Community Child Health says, “If children are behind the eight ball when they start school, it’s too late.They spend the rest of their school years trying to catch up, and many never do. We know absolutely that learning starts at birth. The first five years before kids get to school are probably the most important years in terms of education. But we’re still having a debate about access and quality of childcare. It’s crazy.”

See the article, ‘It’s never too early to start teaching our kids’, The Australian, Saturday 13 August, 2011.

Infant hearing screening funding announced

Infant hearing screeningIn July this year, the Victorian state government announced its commitment of $7.9 million to the Victorian Infant Hearing Screening Program (VIHSP) this financial year.

VIHSP is coordinated by the Centre for Community Child Health and is a state-wide screening program for newborns to identify any hearing impairment. The program screens the hearing of newborn babies while they are still in hospital or at an outpatient appointment in the first weeks of life.

See media coverage following the State Government’s announcement.

Read more about VIHSP.

Raising Children Network ‘Best in Class’

The Raising Children Network (RCN) has been awarded ‘Best in Class’ at the Interactive Media Awards. RCN received a perfect score in the community and family category and is the sixth website to earn a perfect score in the award’s history.

The ‘Best in Class’ award is the highest honour bestowed by the Interactive Media Awards and represents the very best in planning, execution and overall professionalism.

RCN is a consortium between the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute and the Parenting Research Centre.

Go to the Raising Children Network.

Study looks at parent perceptions of child obesity

Watch Professor Wake's interview on The Circle

A study on parent perceptions of child obesity has been published in the International Journal of Pediatric Obesity.

The study, ‘At what BMI are parents of pre-schoolers concerned? National cross-sectional study’ was led by the Centre for Community Child Health’s Professor Melissa Wake, drawing on data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children.

The study looked at the relationship between a child’s BMI (body mass index) and parent concern. Many parents were concerned about their pre-schoolers’ weight – but their concern was related only modestly to the child’s actual body mass index, and was not triggered by any definable BMI threshold.

Read the study’s full abstract.

See the recent media coverage from the study:


Memory, Attention, Trauma and Learning: translating research into educational practice

The next R.E. Ross Trust seminar is on working memory. Working memory is recognised as a vital cognitive system that supports learning, particularly during the childhood years.

Date: Monday 29 August, 2011

Time: 9.30am – 12.30pm (Registration from 9.00am)

Topic: Memory, Attention, Trauma and Learning: translating research into educational practice.

Venue: Ella Latham Theatre, The Royal Children’s Hospital, Parkville.

This is the third seminar in the Early Years: From Research to Policy to Practice seminar series for 2011.

This presentation will provide an overview of the relationship between working memory and other kinds of memory and executive functions, and evidence linking working memory with a range of aspects of academic attainment will be reviewed. The cognitive and behavioural characteristics of children with poor working memory skills will be described, and methods for minimising the learning difficulties associated with working memory problems including both training and classroom interventions will be discussed.

The impact of trauma on memory and brain function in young children will then be discussed and the neuropsychology and evidence in respect of interventions and how parents and children experience recovery will be outlined.

This seminar will be of interest to early childhood professionals, community child health professionals, psychologists, school counsellors, guidance officers, teachers, support and special education teachers and medical professionals.

For more information see the program and registration form.


CCCH and NIFTeY conference puts children on the agenda

The Centre for Community Child Health and the National Investment for the Early Years (NIFTeY) hosted ‘Children’s Place on the Agenda … Past, Present and Future’ – a national conference that explored the place of children on the Australian political agenda.

More than 400 delegates from the early childhood sector attended the event, held in Sydney from 28-29 July.

The keynote addresses were from:

• Professor Frank Gilliam, USA

• Professor Alan Hayes, Australia

• Joanne Shroeder, Canada

• Professor Frank Oberklaid, Australia

The Hon. Peter Garrett, Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth also spoke. Read the transcript of the Minister’s speech.

See the conference program.