A local Belmore pilot project into early childhood education may provide evidence that can enhance current group intervention models for school-starting children.
The Ready Set Go 4 School, a program run by Koorana Child and Family Services, uses a trans-disciplinary team approach – consisting of an occupational therapist, early childhood educator and speech pathologists – to promote a young child’s readiness to attend the first year of formal school.
The program targets families living in the Canterbury or Bankstown LGA who have children between the ages of 4 to 6 years old and will be soon attending their first year of school.
“Ready Set Go 4 School is intended to support children, within an inclusive setting, who may be at risk of developmental delay or who have recently been diagnosed as having a disability,” said Vicki Battisti, Chief Executive Officer of Koorana Child and Family Services.
In each session with the Ready Set Go 4 School specialist staff, they implement specific learning activities to encourage the development of a child’s language and fine motor skills such as using simple visual cues to communicate a need or improving their pencil grip.
“Staff blend into the children’s group naturally, working alongside them and modelling appropriate adult/child interactions through play. They can also explain to parents how a particular activity is helping their child’s learning and its relationship to school readiness,” said Battisti.
“Parents have reported that they have a better understanding of how they can support their child’s preparedness for school.”
Sinta Hon, one of the parents participating in the program, said: “The workshops made me appreciate that we (parents) can help each other in helping our children with special needs. The presentation was good because it was not just one way – it involved a two-way communication between parents and the professionals – and it gave me ideas on how to help my child prepare for school at home.
“It was really helpful to hear from other people’s experience; it was good to be able to exchange information from other parents and get advice from professionals.”
The Canterbury LGA school program was funded with a $26,744 donation from long-time sponsors Canterbury League Club.
“This program will help make the transition a lot easier for young children especially those who don’t have the opportunity to first attend pre-school. This way they will get the benefit of starting on equal terms with their peers and have a solid foundation to start their education,” said Dr George Peponis OAM, Chairman of Canterbury League Club.
Project staff member with one of the parents in the Ready Set Go 4 School program