Starting Smarter – The Early Years Toolbox Expands Nationally for 2024

The implementation of the research-based Early Years Toolbox as part of the Lifelong Learning Curriculum has seen a marked increase in literacy, numeracy and working memory outcomes for children aged 4-5 years. A formal research partnership between Affinity Education Group and the University of Wollongong, which commenced in 2023, has seen the completion of almost 10,000 formal assessments of children's learning and development as they prepare to enter primary school in 2024 or 2025.

All children enrolled at centres operated by Affinity Education Group enjoy a combination of play-based learning and formal kindergarten or preschool education before they commence primary school.

Affinity Education Group Head of Education and Pedagogy Dr Lesley Jones said the encouraging results of the first 126 centres included in the program had resulted in further centres that would be onboarded into the program in April 2024.

"The introduction of the Early Years Toolbox as an age-appropriate assessment tool for children aged 4-5 has been one of the most exciting progressions in our Lifelong Learning Curriculum, enabling us to use data to plan learning experiences," said Dr Lesley Jones.

"Progress records from 2023 have shown a formally assessed improvement of between +2% and +6% points of achievement for children in their knowledge and application of early numeracy, literacy, working memory and impulse control."

"Families have been the biggest advocates – they love seeing real time reports on the confidence their little ones are gaining in vital learning skills."

"Our teachers and educators have also embraced the program because children are just so engaged, and it responds to future-facing learning styles. It gives our educators and teachers tangible evidence of the impact quality early education can have."

Dr Jones said the goal was for the EYT to be made available as an opt-in assessment tool for all children and families enrolled in Affinity's centres.

"Our initial 126 centres will be joined by a further 107 centres to be onboarded in April 2024, and we are also completing an internal assessment dashboard so we can track the education milestones of our children."

"Affinity's teachers and educators delivering the EYT are supported by our Education Team who work closely with families to ensure they understand the intention of their child participating in the programs, which has been welcomed."

What is the Early Years Toolbox? 

The Early Years Toolbox (EYT) is a collection of readily accessible measures of young children's emerging cognitive, self-regulatory, language, numeracy and social development. 

Each measure is a brief, engaging, game-like assessment developed for the iPad.  

EYT was developed as an advance over existing measures to capture abilities that research has shown to predict later academic, social, emotional, cognitive and life outcomes. 

Find out more here.