Families as First Teachers program grows in Gapuwiyak
The small community of Gapuwiyak, located in the middle of Arnhem Land, about 3.5 hours’ drive inland from Nhulunbuy and 9 hours on the road from Katherine, Northern Territory, has seen an expansion of the Families as First Teachers (FaFT) program, based at the local school.
Despite the 2020/2021 wet season in the Top End, which has been “terribly wet” program worker Sharee Nagle said the program has gone from strength to strength.
In 2020 about eight children aged zero to four years attended each day. This year, on average, between 20 and 25 attend every morning with their parents or carers.
Sharee works with a Yolngu teacher. Officially the FaFT program starts at 8 am on Mondays to Fridays, but often there are kids and their parents waiting outside from 7 am.
There is little variation in the daily routine, which includes conversational reading, based around the books and resources supplied by ILF’s Book Buzz program.
“The children all have their favourites,” Sharee explained. “In fact some of the books are now a little worn from being read and handled so many times.”
Families at Gapuwiyak use both their first language and English in FaFT, and a few of the parents speak and can read Kriol, happy and proud to share the books that have been written in this language with their youngsters.
The children also enjoy the “touch and feel” books, and the “‘truck books’ are “the biggest hit ever.”
Learning and craft activities associated with trucks have proved popular among the Gapuwiyak children, who have taken to dipping the wheels of toy trucks in trays of paint and then rolling them onto big sheets of paper.
Some of the books from ILF are used for the attendance awards, handed out each Friday, with the children excited to take the book home.
Other books are distributed in home reading packs delivered by the two FaFT teachers during their scheduled visits to each family in this remote community.
Sharee says her hope is for every home in Gapuwiyak to have books in it.