Uni of Sydney and Minderoo Foundation roll out early childhood development app globally
The Sector > Research > Understanding Children > Uni of Sydney and Minderoo Foundation roll out early childhood development app globally

Uni of Sydney and Minderoo Foundation roll out early childhood development app globally

by Freya Lucas

March 29, 2022

The University of Sydney and Minderoo Foundation have begun the global rollout of a unique, culturally tailored app for carers focused on crucial early childhood development, with the first launch in Indonesia.


Through the initiative, the Minderoo Foundation and the University hope to reach every parent, and thereby every child, everywhere with the app designed to provide content to parents and caregivers through a variety of channels, both digital and non-digital, in their own language and tailored to meet each country’s language, cultural and social requirements.


With 30 countries in line for the app initially, the app will use tailored content led by the University’s Brain and Mind Centre. The scientific lead for the project, Professor Ian Hickie described the program as a world first, one which uniquely combines new insights from the science of early brain development with application of place-specific cultural knowledge. 


Using neuroscience and the practices of child-rearing together to create an environment that will help each child to reach their maximum cognitive and emotional potential is the ultimate goal of the app, the Professor explained. 


“Our special focus is on communities where awareness of the importance of early childhood development is low, or where access to this information is limited, and providing them easily accessible information tailored to them,” Dr Andrew Forrest AO, Chairman and Founder of Minderoo Foundation added. 


Academics have grouped the apps content into five developmental domains based on the neurobiological systems that support optimal social, emotional and cognitive development in early childhood, namely: 


  • Social 
  • Physical 
  • Cognitive
  • Communication and language 
  • Culture and identity.


Academic lead Dr Haley LaMonica, from the Brain and Mind Centre, explained that these domains can be targeted by parents, extended family and communities.


“Importantly, the content aims to celebrate traditional parenting practices and cultural values,” she added. 


“All of the collective actions are designed in collaboration with local parents to ensure that the content is culturally appropriate and relevant to the geographic context to ensure the greatest potential for impact.”


The program will initially be launched in Indonesia, followed by Afghanistan and Namibia. By 2024, the program will have been rolled out in 30 countries across the globe, spanning five continents. 


The program includes: 


  • The Thrive by Five App for parents and caregivers of children aged 0-5 years, in local languages and with tailored content.
  • Supporting Thrive by Five Content via online and offline channels. 
  • The Thrive by Five TED Talk from Molly Wright, “How every child can thrive by five”, voted the most popular Ted Talk of 2021. 


The app includes:


  • About 100 parenting activities.
  • Fast Facts with each activity, providing the scientific background of the activity and highlighting potential benefits based on the latest research.
  • Activity Pop Ups with each activity, detailing the cultural and traditional practices with which the Fast Facts are connected.
  • Text and audio options and local illustrations.


The Thrive by Five app will be available in each country’s app store and Google play as the program rolls out. 

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