Check out the activities to help get kids away from the TV these school holidays.
Check out the activities to help get kids away from the TV these school holidays. Darryn Smith

Mackay prep students “developmentally vulnerable”

MACKAY has more children with developmental problems than the rest of Australia on average.

Figures from the Australian Early Development Index (AEDI), released last week, said more than 12% of Mackay children in Prep were "developmentally vulnerable" in two or more areas, compared to 10.8% in Australia.

In a survey of 289,973 students in Australia, children who scored in the lowest 10% were considered "developmentally vulnerable".

Aside from the Northern Territory, Queensland's figures for children's development were the worst in the country.

The AEDI showed Mackay children were worse than Queensland average in language and cognitive skills.

In Mackay, 9.4% of Prep students were vulnerable in basic literacy and numeracy, compared to 9.1% in Queensland.

However, Department of Education policy and programs Deputy Director-General Gabrielle Sinclair said Mackay's figure for last year had improved since 2009, when 13% of Mackay Prep students were vulnerable in the language and cognitive area.

The department's central Queensland regional director, Wayne Butler, said they would be reviewing the results for the Mackay area.

"The AEDI provides Mackay schools with the opportunity to reflect on the development of children entering school and to work with other early childhood services to improve children's development," he said.

Mackay's Prep students are better off physically, socially and emotionally and have better communication skills than the state average.

More than 75% of Prep students were considered "on track" when it came to physical readiness for school, fine motor skills, their approach to learning, readiness to explore new things, behaviour, communication with adults and children and storytelling.


  •  1390 children surveyed in Mackay in their first year of school in 2012
  •  87 teachers, 44 schools involved
  •  24.5% Mackay children considered vulnerable or "at risk" in social development



FOR mother of four Tammy Lonergan, encouraging her children to read is a no brainer.

Mrs Lonergan said she began reading to her children from their infancy.

"I'm a big reader myself, so I come to the library fortnightly," she said.

Her eldest, Emma, 9, said she enjoyed reading more than watching television. Nicole, 6, doesn't like reading as much but still enjoys trips to the library, as does Kate, 5, who has special needs.

"Reading's always been huge with me, particularly with (Kate), she's learning all the time," Mrs Lonergan said.

At seven months, her youngest child Ethan may not understand what he's being read but Mrs Lonergan believes it is important to expose him to reading at an early age.

With an abundance of television shows and other electronic devices to keep children busy, not all parents find the time to read with them.

A survey of 1100 parents has found infants to five-year-olds are spending eight hours a week watching TV and fewer than 4.5 hours reading books and sharing stories.

Despite two-thirds of parents agreeing it was important to spend time reading with their child from birth, 20% of parents had not started reading with their 12-month-olds, the survey found.

Household duties, tiredness and work were some of the reasons parents gave for not reading with their children.

In Mackay reading is still popular. About 700 children attend story time sessions each month across the city's five libraries.



MACKAY Prep students have had far less experience in pre-school education than others in Australia, figures show.

According to the AEDI report, 94.8% of children in Australia had some form of non-parental early education or care in the year before they started school.

However, in Mackay, this is the case for only 82.7% of Prep students.

In a breakdown of suburbs, 34.4% of Prep students surveyed who lived in Mackay itself didn't experience any form of early education or care before starting school.

In North Mackay, 23.3% of children didn't have the pre-schooling experience, along with 17.2% in East and South Mackay combined, 15.1% at Mt Pleasant and 13.2% at Andergrove.

Meanwhile, only 6.1% of West Mackay children missed out on pre-school.