Breaking News

Humour helps toddlers learn

We all know that laughter is the best medicine, but a team of French scientists has discovered that using humour also appears to help toddlers learn new tasks, reports a new study in the journal Cognition and Emotion (

Building on the knowledge that making older children laugh can enhance many aspects of cognition, Rana Esseily and her colleagues designed an experiment to see whether using humour could also have an effect on the ability of infants to learn.

Why laughter seems to be related to the toddlers’ ability to learn isn’t entirely clear, but Esseily and her team put forward two possible explanations. The first relates to temperament. “In this case, it is not humour per se that may have facilitated learning,” the authors suggest, “but [that] temperamentally ‘smiley’ babies were more likely to engage with the environment and therefore to attempt and succeed at the task.” It could also be the case that ‘laughing babies’ might have higher social skills or cognitive capacities, allowing them to interact more easily with others and making them more amenable to mimicking the actions of others.

The second explanation the authors put forward relates to brain chemistry. It is well known that positive emotions, like laughter or engaging well with an experimenter, can increase dopamine levels in the brain, which in turn has a positive effect on learning. “Thus, the effect observed here might be a general effect due to positive emotion and not to humour or laughter per se,” they note.

Transition Statement shortcut

Teacher Learning Network (TLN) is a not for profit professional development provider that is supported by the Victorian Branch of the AEU and the IEU Victoria Tasmania Branch. It produces online PD, early childhood magazines and books. It also has an ongoing partnership with IEU NSW ACT to support the professional learning of their members. TLN has produced Transition to School Statement maker software that will output sections A and B of the Transition to School Statement onto the NSW template and comes with comments based on the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF). Each copy of the software is licenced to a teacher’s name, with this name appearing on the finished statements. As well as the statements built into the software, teachers can add their own statements to the statement bank or add individual comments for each child.


Disability funding boost

IEUA-QNT has welcomed an announcement from the Queensland Government of a $14.2 million boost to kindergarten disability support funding over the next four years.

The funding comes after demand for disability services in Queensland kindergartens has continued to increase by an average 11% each year.

The Government’s Disability Support Funding program provides kindergartens with access to between $2000 and $6000 to support children with suspected or diagnosed disability.

However, the new funding also recognises children with complex multiple disabilities and in these instances will allow services to access funding on a needs basis rather than having their support capped at the top rate of $6000.

In a statement released at the funding announcement the government said “the objective of the new funding is to build the capacity of funded kindergartens to deliver sustainable inclusive programs.”

Kindergartens can lodge an application for disability support funding through the government’s online QGrants portal.

To apply for funding visit

Bargaining starts

Collective bargaining has commenced in Lutheran Early Childhood Services in Queensland for a replacement collective agreement.

IEUA-QNT has sought advice from members and has subsequently compiled a Log of Claims. The employer has, in turn, provided its Log of Claims.

Significant matters will be in contention in this round of bargaining including:

  • wage increases which match the increase applying to teachers in state schools
  • protection of existing Hours of Work provisions
  • additional allowance and release time for nominated supervisors to acknowledge their expanded roles
  • the length of the school year to be 40 teaching weeks or 41 where four pupil free days are provided, and
  • no diminution of existing conditions.

Disturbingly, the employer’s Log of Claims seeks an increase in the number of teaching hours from 27.5 per week to 30 per week, without any offsetting release time or compensation.

The Union will keep members informed as negotiations progress.

Pay parity in Victoria

Victorian preschool teachers will receive a long awaited pay rise, delivering pay parity with school teachers, in a landmark Heads of Agreement signed on 23 September.

Australian Education Union Victorian Branch Deputy President Justin Mullaly said the bargaining process had stretched over two years, with the outcome a win for preschool teachers.

“Providing pay parity with school teachers will help to attract and retain a quality workforce to deliver our children’s early education,” Mr Mullaly said.

The agreement also includes a mechanism to regulate workload of preschool teachers and promote work-life balance.

“Teachers are teachers, whether they are teaching preschool or school students their pay and conditions should reflect their qualifications.”