In the small community of Robinson River, a 9 hour drive south-east of Katherine in the NT, an early childhood program operates — with the help of books and other literacy resources from ILF’s Book Buzz and Book Supply programs.
Because there is no pre-school in Robinson River, where 200 people live, the Stay Play Learn (SPL) Families as First Teachers (FaFT) program has pre-schoolers, babies and toddlers in its playgroup. Having a combined group of 0 to 5 year-olds each day has made for some adaptations for educator Stella Kim and the Early Learning Support Officer, Melissa.
Instead of a daily, designated group story time, they have integrated reading into the free play routine, with Stella and Melissa actively implementing Conversational Reading with individual children.
“Our goal is to read a book with each child every day,” Stella explains.
Initially families in the community did not always engage with the books but they became more enthusiastic once they picked up a few important Conversational Reading strategies, like talking with their child about the images in the books and not having to read every word.
“Now the families freely go to our book corners and read books with their child.”
It’s not only the parents and carers who have become enthusiastic with books and reading, however. The youngsters are also much more engaged.
“The children have developed a huge interest in books. They choose books and bring them to me or any adults available in the room. They have also started spending more time in the book corner, whether they are reading with me or pretending to read by themselves.”
The literacy resources from ILF have been invaluable, Stella says.
“The tent and books stay up in our outdoor area and the children freely explore books and enjoy reading whenever they want.”
Towards the end of last year, the families and early childhood educators sat down together to choose from ILF’s Books for Babies and Books 4 Kids lists for 2021, making sure there were plenty of board and picture books to appeal to all ages from 0 to 5.
“We love the books from ILF,” Stella says. “And the kids really love the toys that come with the books!”