Abecedarian approach for all

It may sound like a mouthful, but Abecedarian is a powerful approach to developing language – the key ingredient in our children’s early learning.


The Abecedarian Approach, first used in 1972, places a priority on children’s language acquisition, because research shows that language is key to children’s early learning and school readiness. That’s because language allows children to organise their thoughts and explain their ideas, giving them the ability to express their feelings, and the tools they need to make connections with those around them.

Language also allows children to use private speech, talking aloud to themselves to work through a problem or regulate their emotions. As our kids get older, they internalise this speech so that it is no longer out loud but still a means of navigating the world around them.

The Abecedarian approach focuses on developing frequent and intentional adult-child interaction, usually one-on-one, for children from birth to age 5. Research on the Abecedarian approach shows that it builds skills early on that last across the lifespan, emphasising the benefits of children learning in active, engaged, constructive, and interactive environments.

Susan Cary, Partnerships and Innovation Officer with the Queensland Department of Education & Training said of Abecedarian: “Its about supporting our families to have more adult-child interactions which are key to development, attachment, child self esteem, and sense of worth. This allows children to build a secure base for future growth”.

The main areas of focus for Abecedarian techniques are the use of: learning games, conversational reading, enriched caregiving, and language priority. These techniques support children to create bonds and attachment with adults from ages 0-1, feel secure and know they’re supported when exploring the world from ages 1-3, and use play to explore from ages 3-5. The tools also support healthy emotional, social, and cognitive development in children and babies.

“Its about supporting our families to have more adult-child interactions which are key to development, attachment, child self esteem, and sense of worth. This allows children to build a secure base for future growth” – Susan Cary, Partnerships and Innovation Officer, Queensland Department of Education & Training.

The Queensland Department of Education & Training (DET) has accredited Abecedarian trainers in the Southeast region, which includes Logan. They were taught by Dr. Joseph Sparling – one of the original creators of the Abecedarian approach. DET has partnered with Logan City Council Library to train early childhood education and care practitioners in Logan in Abecedarian techniques. In turn, these practitioners and community service providers are able to teach parents and carers Abecedarian games and techniques.

Two groups of over 100 individuals in Southeast Queensland have already undergone the training, including representatives from Community Kindergartens, Communities for Children, Good Start and other Early Childhood Education and Care services, community hubs, schools, libraries and playgroups.

Abecedarian training first began in Logan in September and October 2015, and DET is now supporting the implementation phase, ensuring that trained individuals from all community groups and services that interact with children and families coach using the strategies.

With DET’s commitment to maintain an accredited Abecedarian trainer long term in Logan, the approach looks set to benefit the community over many years to come.

Download Abecedarian resources for parents

Learning Priority Family Booklet

Learning Games Family Booklet

Conversational Reading Family Booklet

Enriched Caregiving

Attend a free Abecedarian play group:

Families can access free Abecedarian play groups delivered by Kingston East Neighbourhood Centre in Logan City Council Libraries – details via Council’s What’s On page.

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