Enhancing early childhood development in regional indigenous communities

A two-year project aimed at improving focus and attention in developmentally vulnerable children during the early years of schooling has received funding from the Ian Potter Foundation.

The project will use novel digital technology deliver a school-based cognitive training program aimed at enhancing attention, memory and focus to improve educational outcomes later in life.

According to project lead Dr Hannah Kirk, the project brings together a multidisciplinary team, including experts in childhood cognitive training, cognitive neuroscience, clinical and cross-cultural psychology, Indigenous health and methodologies, game development and paediatrics.

Dr Kirk says the project will also have a strong focus on co-design, ensuring that the investigation is developed in partnership with local communities and schools where the research will take place.

“We’ll be focusing on the developmental challenges of remote and regional communities. This includes indigenous children and their families who have been historically underrepresented in school readiness research in the past,” Dr Kirk said.

“By developing the project alongside these community partners, our aim is to develop a culturally appropriate and accessible digital cognitive training program aimed at improving school readiness and educational outcomes.”

Recruitment of schools across remote and regional Victoria will commence in early 2020.

Potter project team

(from left) Professor Mark Bellgrove, Dr Megan Spencer-Smith, Dr Hannah Kirk (project lead) Dr Laura Jobson and Professor Kim Cornish.