Did you know …
The Australian Government recommended in its Response to Contributing Lives, Thriving Communities—Review of Mental Health Programmes and Services, that:
‘Children will benefit from being supported by better informed and joined up services, a single integrated end to end school based mental health programme.’ (Australian Government Department of Health, 2015)
- KidsMatter has initiatives that support the mental health and wellbeing of children and their families from birth until the end of primary school.
- KidsMatter Early Childhood focuses specifically on children up to the age of five years
- KidsMatter Primary targets mental health in childhood for the remaining primary school years.
Understanding the early years can support a child’s wellbeing through to adulthood
A focus on childhood in the early years is important within a school setting. All who work with young children, and if possible, those who work with older children, need to understand how critical the early years of life are to children’s development, learning and wellbeing. Early childhood is the time when mental health and wellbeing foundations are established―particularly from birth to age three. During this time, brain development is very rapid, and actions taken to support the mental health and wellbeing of children and their families can have great effect. Improvement in subsequent years is always possible, but intervention becomes gradually more difficult and expensive.
Making connections between KidsMatter Early Childhood and KidsMatter Primary assists in promoting a ‘seamless’ approach to benefit the mental health of children and their families across the ages and educational settings. There are many ways for early childhood services and schools to do this. Some might start with KidsMatter Early Childhood and progress onto KidsMatter Primary and some vice versa; others will progress through both simultaneously.
KidsMatter Pathways: Integrating Primary and Early Childhood will be particularly useful for early childhood educators that are co-located or share the same administration with a school participating in KidsMatter Primary.
This document outlines ways to combine KidsMatter Primary and KidsMatter Early Childhood and:
- Reflect a whole-of-service approach; a core principle of KidsMatter.
- Offer a seamless KidsMatter journey for the community (the structure of the resource lends itself to using the KidsMatter Primary structure).
- Provide essential knowledge about early childhood mental health in a context where the majority of staff are likely to be educators for older children
- Reduce the potential for professional isolation of early childhood educators from colleagues on a school site.
- Make the needs of many children under the age of five attending schools more visible when implementing the KidsMatter Primary Framework
The benefits of integrating the initiatives
It might be ideal for early childhood educators to undertake both KidsMatter programmes; however, this may not be realistic—considering the use of a ‘modified’ or ‘streamlined’ version might encourage all participants to explore the KidsMatter Early Childhood resources in more detail.
There are some other potential benefits too. Schools and educators could:
- Increase connections between colleagues and community
- Achieve whole-of-setting understanding about developmental continuum of mental health and wellbeing and appreciation for how certain factors (e.g. developmental delays) might influence a child’s place on that continuum
- Act as well-informed advocates for the early years in their school and be able to support provisions for excellent mental health and wellbeing for this age group
- Play a significant part in influencing and informing families about practices that will enhance their children’s mental health and wellbeing, with positive benefits for both adults and children.
Whatever path a service or school chooses the KidsMatter Early Childhood and KidsMatter Primary teams are available to support the way. Ask a question today by emailing or contributing to the comments below.