Families as first teachers

A child’s first experiences and interactions will shape their early knowledge of themselves and the world around them.

When you make little ones feel comforted, safe and loved, they will build self-confidence. Creating stimulating and interesting learning opportunities lets little ones develop a love of learning. When you offer support and praise, your child will be encouraged to try their best.

There are many things you can do as your child’s first teacher, to help the next generation of leaders grow strong, proud and capable. The lessons they learn from you can set them on the right path.

Early literacy

From before they are born, babies learn language and communication skills through their interactions with you. The more you talk with your child, the more their language skills develop.

  • Telling stories is a way to use words in a meaningful way.
  • Talking and listening helps them develop language.
  • Getting to know the alphabet helps them understand letters make words, words make sentences and sentences make the stories they enjoy.
Early numeracy

Talking about numbers and sums with little ones when they are young helps them be a strong learner, and it can be easy. You can talk about numbers anywhere; for example, counting steps as you walk or the number of trees you can see.

  • Try to count, measure, compare, match and sort things at home.
  • Discuss size; is something bigger, smaller, fatter, thinner?
  • Tell them what the time is, and how you use time in your day.
Health and nutrition

Teaching little ones to eat healthy food and lead an active lifestyle starts healthy habits from a young age. Children who are physically healthy are able to concentrate and learn better.

  • Healthy food is colourful and tasty and can be fun to eat.
  • If you are near the bush or have a garden, show them where food comes from.
  • Play games outdoors to get kids physical.
  • Talk about nutrients in the food and how it helps the body (for example, milk and cheese are good for bones).
Cultural identity

Having a strong sense of cultural identity helps kids feel a sense of belonging. It can help them connect to their heritage, language and community. Teaching culture and language is an important part of your child’s early learning.

Find more ways you and the community can get involved on the Indigenous Education website.

Image Mother and child sit closely as they learn and experiment with water play

Published — 20 October 2016 Last updated — 09 July 2019

Want personalised tips and activities?

Complete these short questions to get personalised tips and activities to see how simple and easy it can be.

Get started
01 / 05

What is your relationship with the child?


What best describes your location?


If you had a spare moment, what would you most likely do with the child?


And finally…

Do you speak another language at home apart from English?
Are you of Aboriginal and / or Torres Strait Islander descent?
Does the child need additional support with their development or learning?
Now we know a little more about the content that might interest you we’ve compiled it into a handy page for you.