Kid's play: index to map development

This week more than 7500 government and non-government schools across the country will start taking part in the most comprehensive collection of information about the development of Australia's children.

Minister for Early Childhood and School Education Peter Garrett visited yesterday the Mount Rogers Early Links to Learning Playgroup to launch the second data collection for the Australian Early Development Index.

The index, which began in 2009, measures five key areas of young children's development: physical health and wellbeing, social competence, emotional maturity, language and cognitive skills, and communication skills and general knowledge.

''Australia is the first country in the world to have collected comprehensive and population based data on young children across the entire nation,'' Mr Garrett said.

He said the second national index data collection would be ground breaking because, for the first time, governments and communities would be able to track progress in their work to improve the health, education, social competence and emotional development of children across the country.

The government spends $28 million to collect the data every three years.

''It's a vital tool for educators, governments and the community, as it helps us understand the importance of early intervention and provides information about the support children and families need,'' Mr Garrett said.

''It's time to get the basics of early learning right, because we know that by supporting children in the years before school we greatly increase their chance of a successful transition to school as well as being happy and productive in their later years,'' he said.

The data collection will finish on July 31.