BOOKWORMS: Councillor Danita Potter, South Burnett First Five Forever co-ordinator Julie Jenkins and regional librarian Anna Derham encourage families to read together.
BOOKWORMS: Councillor Danita Potter, South Burnett First Five Forever co-ordinator Julie Jenkins and regional librarian Anna Derham encourage families to read together. Jessica McGrath

South Burnett youngsters rising to top of the class

"IT'S as simple as talking, playing, singing and reading with your child.”

This is the advice South Burnett Regional Council librarian Anna Derham has for parents to give their children the best head start in life.

She said interactions between parents and children were crucial, especially in their first five year, and new data shows South Burnett parents are making the effort.

South Burnett Regional Councillor Danita Potter said data from the 2018 Australian Early Development Census showed positive changes within younger children over the past four years in Kingaroy.

"We used to be below the Queensland average and now we're above it and nearly spot on with the Australian average,” Cr Potter said.

Significant positive changes were reflected in Kingaroy's data for physical health and wellbeing, social competency and the child's emotional maturity.

The statistics showed the percentage of Kingaroy children at a vulnerable risk for physical and wellbeing had halved, down to 9.8 per cent.

The results for both physical wellbeing (78 per cent) and social competency (74 per cent) both beat the state average to be on par with the national average.

Kingaroy data also shows improvements in language and communications skills, but they are still below the national benchmark.

Before a child is three, 90 per cent of their brain has been developed.

"That's why the first five is so important,” Cr Potter said.

Ms Derham said if a child entered school with a lower literacy level, their progress was slower than their peers' and the gap widened.

"It has an economic effect down the track, and impacts the child's confidence,” she said.

This is why South Burnett libraries run programs like the First 5 Forever's Story Time and Rhyme Time for families.

South Burnett Regional Council libraries' First 5 Forever co-ordinator Julie Jenkins said the programs were all about facilitating relationships between children and parents.

"It's about raising literacy,” she said.

Speech language pathologist Suzanne Mungall said the census data showed the value in rich relationships between a parent and child from the beginning.

"Parents are the biggest influences on a younger person's life, which is essential for under fives,” Mrs Mungall said.

She said reading together was one of the easiest ways to build that relationship.

"I encourage all families to allocate some non-work time to reading or craft,” she said.

First 5 Forever sessions, which include Rhyme Time and Story Time, are held regularly at Kingaroy, Nanango, Murgon, Proston, Wondai and Blackbutt South Burnett Regional Council libraries.