Neuroscience in early childhood: What do we know? What do we need to know, and how do we translate this knowledge to practice?

Neuroscience is not an overly familiar term or topic of conversation heard in our early childhood settings. Defined as the study of the structure and function of the human brain and nervous system, neuroscience has been a growing focus of research worldwide over the past two decades. Interestingly, weaving its way through this field of study has emerged a relevant question for our early childhood services: Can knowledge of neuroscience benefit the area of education and everyday teaching and learning practices?  

To explore this question within an Australian context, The QUT Centre for Child & Family Studies is currently leading a research project in collaboration with the Thriving Queensland Kids Partnership, ARACY (the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth). 

Early findings have identified potential challenges in bridging the gap between the two disciplines – translating concrete scientific knowledge into early childhood pedagogy’s theoretical and philosophical landscape. It is hoped that with input from the sector, we can discover what learnings are already accessible within pre-service training and professional development initiatives and what educators believe should be implemented to strengthen these learnings and successfully translate neuroscience into our teaching practices with young children. 

Lending your voice 

We are now seeking input from early childhood educators and teachers across all settings in Australia from birth to five years about their ‘neuro-literacy’.  

  • Is understanding brain development important knowledge for your work with young children and families?  
  • How confident do you feel in your current understanding of brain development in the early years?  
  • What types of training to strengthen your ‘neuro-literacy’ would you like to see available and accessible to the early childhood sector? 

You can have your say through a short online survey here  

The survey is now open and will close on Friday 30th September. 

With your help, we can gain an insight into the current understandings, perspectives, and needs of today’s early childhood sector and, in turn, develop a holistic and integrated approach to enhancing pedagogy: a system that will translate and integrate the best possible evidence on early childhood brain development into our collective knowledge and practice, establishing the best start for our children. 

Tanya Burr

Tanya is a lecturer and researcher in the School of Education at ACU in Brisbane. She is currently completing her PhD at Macquarie University with her research focus on infant and toddler pedagogy. Tanya has a background in psychology and the early years. She has worked as a teacher, centre director, and early childhood consultant for state-based and national organisations for the past 20 years.

2 thoughts on “Neuroscience in early childhood: What do we know? What do we need to know, and how do we translate this knowledge to practice?”

    Helene Pouliot-Cleare says:

    I am very much interested in knowing more about how new knowledge in neuroscience can impact practices in early childhood education.

    Kerry Ssmith says:

    It is absolutely imperative that early childhood practitioners have a high level of understanding about healthy brain development and their role in supporting children’s own understanding of how the brain functions. Taking a neuroscience lens of child development would strengthen understanding of appropriate curriculum and interactions.

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