At Wyndham Early Learning Centre in remote WA, the arrival of any parcel causes something of a stir, especially when it’s a delivery from our Book Supply Program.
“Families that attend our centre become very excited to see what the new books are each time they are delivered,” says Jane Parker, former manager at the Wyndham Early Learning Activity Centre (WELA). “We encourage the families to look at what’s in the packages and we have an informal discussion on what each book is teaching our children.”
Wyndham is the oldest and northernmost town in the Kimberleys. On the Cambridge Gulf, it’s 2210 km north-east of Perth, and far closer to the NT, being just 100 km as the crow flies from the border.
WELA has been receiving books from our Foundation for six years now, having first heard about the work we do through local education networks. It runs three main activities: the Let’s Play Program for 0 to 4 year olds; a Breakfast Club for school-aged children; and a School Holiday Program for 0 to 12 year olds. The books from our Book Supply program are used extensively in each.
“There’s a reading corner in the main activity room, with seating. We make a point of reading stories to the children there … Using books on a daily basis to assist children in becoming comfortable with reading and writing helps them become confident in their own literacy abilities.”
The staff not only foster a love of reading but also teach the kids how to care for books, including putting them back on the shelves when they are finished with them.
“There are not so many in our book repair box these days!” Jane says. “By the time the children get to school they know how to use a book.”
In some ways the centre functions as an extension of the kids’ homes, with some children having attended WELA regularly since they were babies. At the Breakfast Club, besides serving breaky and helping with daily hairdos, staff listen attentively as the kids do their reading homework before heading off to school.
“The majority of the children are unable to read at home due to either lack or resources or lack of support and in some cases both.”
The kids’ parents, and often extended family members like aunties and grandparents, attend the centre with the children. Many of them can’t read themselves, but WELA staff reassure them of the importance of looking at the pictures in the books and telling the stories about them to the kids.
“Having this resource … is extremely important for not-for-profit community groups like ours. It helps remote communities have a better outlook on education and reading. We wouldn’t have these books without [ILF’s] program.”