This paper highlights the need for a strengths-based approach to school readiness for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, in order to recognise the skills, cultural knowledge and understandings they already have when they transition to formal learning. The study, a joint project by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) and the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA), reviews the literature and uses a strength-based analysis of information from Footprints in Time: The Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children (LSIC) to examine Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s abilities and knowledge at 4-6 years of age. The authors believe that school readiness is as much about schools recognising the existing capabilities and knowledge that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have when they arrive at school as it is about supporting children and families to become ready for formal learning. The study confirms that family support, strong cultural identity, good health, positive self-identity and engaging in shared activities such as storytelling are likely to lead to resilience in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Furthermore, responses of LSIC parents and carers show the critical importance of family and connections to land and culture in developing children who are resilient. The authors make the point that resilience is critical for successful transitions from home to school, as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who possess the resilience attributes of social competence, autonomy, mastery, optimism and problem-solving skills are better able to adapt and learn.
Recommended CitationArmstrong, Stephanie; Buckley, Sarah; Lonsdale, Michele; Milgate, Gina; Kneebone, Laura Bennetts; Cook, Louise; and Skelton, Fiona, "Starting school : a strengths‐based approach towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children" (2012).