Early Start Collaborative Seminar

Date / Time: Monday 19 February 2018: 4.00 - 5.30pm
Venue: TT1.05 Te Kura Toi Tangata Faculty of Education

The Early Start Collaborative Seminar has three sessions that will run approximately 20 minutes each followed by a discussion.


Examining literacy learning opportunities across the contexts

Lisa Kervin (right) and Jessica Mantei (far right)

The importance of literacy education throughout the early years is well documented and universally supported. Also well established is that the transition from prior to school settings to the first year of formal school presents major challenges for children. One of these challenges relates to the different experiences, expectations and opportunities for literacy learning that occur in different settings.

This presentation shares a framework for analysis of literacy learning environments emerging from a larger study researching literacy transitions (TRANSLIT) across educational settings. The framework affords in-depth analysis of the nature of interactions between and among educators and learners, and the ways time, space and resources are used for literacy learning. The framework is elaborated in this presentation through findings from data collected in prior to school settings and in the first year of formal school. And concludes by considering the implications for successful literacy transitions for all children.

Lisa Kervin is an Associate Professor in Language and Literacy in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Wollongong. She is an active member of Early Start Research and leads the research theme “Play, pedagogy and curriculum”.  Lisa’s current research interests are focused on young children and how they engage with literate practices and she is currently involved in research projects funded by the Australian Research Council focused on young children and writing, digital play and transition.  She has researched her own teaching and has collaborative research partnerships with teachers and students in tertiary and primary classrooms and prior-to-school settings.

Jessica Mantei is a Senior Lecturer in Language and Literacy for the School of Education in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Wollongong, and a member of the Play, Curriculum and Pedagogy in Early Start Research Group. Jessica has extended experience as a primary school classroom teacher, early career teacher mentor, and Reading Recovery teacher. Her PhD focused on the development of teacher reflective capacities and the ways primary school teachers’ professional identities are evident in the learning experiences they design. Following the completion of her PhD in 2010, Jessica commenced in an academic position at the University of Wollongong. Since that time, Jessica has taught in undergraduate and postgraduate literacy and research education subjects, co supervised Honours and PhD students to completion, and taken on the role of Academic Program Director of the Bachelor of Primary Education degree.

My Mother, Your Mother

– the importance of Country centred approaches to health and education

Anthony McKnight (right) & Rebecca Stanley (far right)

The theories, frameworks and evidence used to understand and guide the development of health and education interventions have predominantly been from a mainstream scientific approach. This can undermine the Indigenous ways of knowing and limit understanding of effective, sustainable and culturally meaningful strategies to promote healthy lifestyles and education among Indigenous populations. This is a story of the Bird and the Tree, a message from Yuin Country on how to work in partnership (respectful, reciprocal relationships) by placing Country at the forefront of health and education practices, theory and research.

The purpose of this presentation is to demonstrate how an Aboriginal man and a non-Aboriginal woman built a relationship with Aboriginal community members to develop an afterschool cultural program for Aboriginal children aged 5-12 years. The story shares how the program gave community members an opportunity to strengthen their children’s connection with Country through culture to enhance engagement in healthy lifestyle behaviours and education. By giving our story away, we are opening an opportunity to extend this story in relationship with other Indigenous, non-Indigenous academics and communities to nourish a global storyline around reculturalisation of health and educational practices, theory and research. You need to give a story away to keep it living.

Anthony McKnight is an Awabakal, Gumaroi and Yuin Man. Anthony is a father, husband, uncle, son, grandson, brother, cousin, nephew, friend and cultural man. Anthony is currently a lecturer in the School of Education, Faculty of Social Science at the University of Wollongong. Anthony respects Country and values the knowledge that has been taught to him from Country, Elders and teachers from the community(s). He continuously and respectfully incorporates Yuin ways of knowing and learning with a particular interest of contributing to this area to validate Yuin approaches in academia and schools. Anthony has recently completed a PhD called Singing Up Country in Academia: Teacher education academics and preservice teachers’ experience with Yuin Country,in the Faculty of Social Science at the University of Wollongong.  He holds a Masters of Education (HRD) from the University of Sydney and a Bachelor of Education, Health and Physical Education from the University of Wollongong.

Dr Rebecca Stanley is a Research Fellow in the Faculty of Social Sciences in Early Start at the University of Wollongong, Australia. She currently holds a New South Wales Health Early-Mid Career fellowship exploring the link between Australian Aboriginal culture and physical activity and sedentary behaviour. She obtained her Bachelor of Occupational Therapy degree at the University of South Australia, and went onto complete her PhD at the University of South Australia in 2013. In 2014, she moved to the University of Wollongong where she was an Associate Research Fellow and Project Manager on an Australian National Health and Medical Research Council funded project exploring “Increasing physical activity among young children from disadvantaged communities: a group randomised controlled effectiveness trial”. Her research interests are in the development, implementation and evaluation of culturally appropriate school-, afterschool-, and community-based interventions to increase physical activity, reduce sedentary behaviour and promote healthy lifestyles in children and adolescents, particularly in Indigenous children. Rebecca is currently leading a Global Challenges research project exploring the concept of strong culture, healthier lifestyles through the development of an afterschool cultural activity program for Aboriginal children living in the Shoalhaven region. When Rebecca is not researching, she is a semi professional dancer and teaches ballet and jazz to children and adults.

Physical Activity and Movement Play

Tony Okely (right) and Rachel Jones (far right)

Physical activity and movement play is imperative for child development and short- and long-term favourable health, social and emotion outcomes. This presentation will describe six of Early Start’s most prominent studies in the area of physical activity and movement play. The presentation will focus on the following studies:

  • HOPPEL: An online professional development program for ECEC Educators. Data from a recent step wedge design study will be presented;
  • MOVERS: An environmental rating scale, which was developed in 2017 to specifically assess the quality of movement play and physical activity in ECEC settings. Our most recent data will be presented which will highlight common areas of concern within ECEC settings;
  • Time2bHealthy: An online healthy lifestyles program for parents of preschool children. Data from a recent randomised controlled trial will be presented;
  • Jump Start: An 18-month physical activity program for ECEC settings located in areas of disadvantages. A randomised controlled trial was completed in 2016;
  • Educators’ interactions: This study investigated the role of educators’ interactions in relation to the promotion of physical activity in ECEC settings. Data from two studies will be presented;
  • 24 hour Movement Guidelines: Current and future studies will be discussed.

Professor Anthony (Tony) Okely is Director of Research at Early Start at the University of Wollongong, Australia. He has been awarded over $11 Million in competitive funding, and published around 200 peer-reviewed journal articles which have been cited nearly 10,000 times. Tony’s research focuses on physical activity, sedentary behaviour, and motor development in children. Tony led the research team that developed and recently updated the Australian Physical Activity Recommendations for Children 0-5 years, and the Australian Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines for Children and Young People. He is also part of the Guideline Development Group for the upcoming WHO guidelines on physical activity, sedentary and sleep behaviours in children under 5 years of age.

Dr Jones’ research is primarily focused on movement behaviours (physical activity and sedentary behaviour) for young children (3-5 years). Her main areas of research include prevention and intervention studies for young children. She has a  particularly interest in delivering and facilitating  professional development for early childhood education and care (ECEC) educators, either face-to-face and/or online. In more recent years her research has focused on the importance of quality of early childhood education and care settings within the physical child development domain. She has recently developed, along with others, a professional development packages for educators which aims to improve the quality of the ECEC environment in relation to movement play and physical activity. She has been a CI on category 1 grants and currently co-supervisors six PhD students.