Port Lincoln Children’s Centre rallies to ensure children keep up with reading
The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in many early childhood education and care (ECEC) providers having to pivot, and become innovative in their program delivery to ensure that all the families they work with maintain a sense of connection during closure periods.
For those services who have remained open, a number of elements of program delivery have needed to change in order to comply with state and federal regulations designed to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Port Lincoln Children’s Centre, located in the Spencer Gulf of South Australia, is no exception, with the team of educators working to ensure that books gifted by the Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF) continue to reach children and their families.
Usually, as soon as the delivered books have been unpacked, Centre Director, Joanne Smith, encourages each child at the centre to choose a book to take home, something she says “gives them a sense of pride” in choosing and keeping a new story.
Of the 55 children enrolled in the centre’s pre-school and the 30 in its child care program, a high percentage are Aboriginal, with many of the children drawn to the books which are written and illustrated by Indigenous creators.
While playgroup and other activities at the service are on hold, Joanne and her team are making weekly or fortnightly home visits to playgroup families, dropping off “Learning at Home” packs, which include four books to borrow and one to keep.
“The books are very easy to read for those family members with low literacy levels” Joanne explained. “The families feel connected as the books depict Aboriginal stories and content … and the children love the books. They are high quality, Aboriginal focused, and beautiful to look at and read.”
Before COVID restrictions were put in place, an elder from the community would come into the centre each week to read to the children.
“They’re quite a rowdy little bunch, but when it was a book by an Aboriginal author the kids would all sit quietly and listen” Joanne said.
As well as supporting those using the children’s centre, Joanne and her team have been dropping off ILF books to nearby primary schools too, so older Aboriginal children in the community also have access to books in their homes.
Some of these youngsters emailed Joanne afterwards: “Thanks for the best books in the world,” wrote one. “Thanks for the books,” emailed another. “I’ll enjoy reading them.”
To help promote the work of the Foundation, the centre sets up an ILF display at each open event.
“It’s important for the parents to know where the books are coming from … Even our staff can’t believe how good the books are – and that we receive them from ILF free of charge!” Joanne said.
To learn more about the work of the ILF, please see here.