Helping our children shine

Each year, around 310,000 children start school for the first time in Australia. Of these, an estimated 13% – that’s 40,300 children – have attention problems that will negatively impact their learning in the classroom.

Monash University and the University of Melbourne are teaming up to help children with attention problems during their first few years at school, to give them the best chance of a good education, and a happy life.

Funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC), Project Spotlight is a joint research project that will study how well children in prep are able to concentrate in the classroom, and how this relates to their development of reading, writing, and maths skills.

An estimated 80 schools will participate in the study, the findings from which will guide teachers and researchers in developing the tools to help children with attention difficulties. Parents of participating children will benefit from receiving regular individualised reports on how their child is progressing, with access to expert researchers and support services at all times.

“The study of attention in young children, especially in the critical early school years, is so important because attention control impacts learning abilities more generally”, said Prof Kim Cornish, Director MICCN and Co-Lead of Project Spotlight. “In particular, literacy and numeracy are two fundamental cognitive skills that require attention as an essential building block, and yet the precise mechanisms by which attention impacts their acquisition is not fully known. We are excited by the potential outcomes of this research, and the difference it could make to the lives of parents, teachers and, most importantly, the children themselves.”

Project Spotlight is due to commence soon.

For more information, please contact one of the Project Leaders:

Prof Kim Cornish, Monash University: t 03 9902 0488, e

Dr Katherine Johnson, Melbourne University: t 03 8344 6349 e

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ARC grant