Thirteen hundred toddlers will be tracked over the next five years to gauge the effects of early education on their long-term life path.

The Queensland study is the first of its kind in Australia.

Ellie Sibson reports.

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“Which one’s most different there? That one?”

Testing kids is starting earlier now. These toddlers are still in day care.

They’ll be part of a $5-million dollar study which is unique in that children don’t have to attend a formal program to be assessed.

The Effective Early Education Experiences Study will monitor progress whether they go to family day care, child care or are cared for at home.

Professor Karen Thorpe, Director of the Queensland Toddler Study: “We’re looking at the effects of these programs on their learning, on their social inclusion, so how they get along with others and their physical and mental health.”

Professor Thorpe says the study for pre-prep kids isn’t aimed at intervening in their lives to make a difference. It’s to monitor their experiences in a natural environment.

Professor Karen Thorpe, Director of the Queensland Toddler Study: “Obviously there will be some focus on these children because they’re a bit like the 7-up children where they’re going to be followed longitudinally over time.”

The study will make a big difference not only to how much governments spend on early education but where they spend it.

Groups of research assistants assess the children through cognitive and social inclusion tests.

The inclusion test asks them to choose three friends to go on an imaginary bus trip.

Robert Pearce, Research Assistant: “Basically what we’re looking at is if their friends match up with the friends they’re nominating. So we’re looking at the friendship structures.”

Researches will test the theory that children who have quality education at an early age do better in their long term schooling.

Ellie Sibson, QUT News