Northern Bay partners collaborate to enhance early literacy
Weekly Storytime sessions at Korayn Birralee Family Centre provides families with an opportunity to engage in a targeted early literacy program within a welcoming and supportive environment.
Storytime helps families receive access to high-quality early literacy activities and enables families to develop a connection with the site, including but not limited to Our Place staff, on site services and practitioners. From this, families may then be referred to other services and develop new social connections with other local families.
The carefully planned session times and days for Storytime ensures families can attend straight after school drop off without going home and coming back for the session. The sessions also occur before the start of playgroup, enabling families to attend Storytime and then continue on to playgroup where there are further opportunities to play, learn and connect with other local families.
The community’s need for Storytime was uncovered by Our Place’s approach to implementation, which enables sites to identify needs and priorities within the community. These priorities are informed through collection of data and by undertaking consultations. A sitewide strategic plan is then developed and agreed upon by all partners. For the Northern Bay site, early literacy and language development for pre-school children was one identified key priority area.
In response to this priority, Our Place’s role of providing the glue enabled the initial planning, development, evaluation and sustainability of weekly Storytime sessions for families. The starting point for this began with discussions with the local library, who also had an aligned goal to engage with more families within the Northern Bay catchment area. From here, an identified opportunity for regular Storytime sessions to be held on-site became evident.
Our Place then worked with site partners regarding the logistics of enabling the activity to run on-site (e.g. Room bookings, rostering of guest readers etc.) and identified local volunteers who could commit to facilitating Storytime sessions. Our Place acting as the Glue has also enabled Storytime to become a shared responsibility with site partners, which aids in ensuring its sustainability.
As well as being well received by families, Storytime sessions have also been beneficial for site partners. For example, the Our Place team utilises these sessions to develop relationships with families. The school also engages with the program as it provides an opportunity for school staff to develop relationships with families who will be future families of the school.
Maternal Child Health nurses are also able to refer socially isolated families to Storytime as a way to support them to connect with the community. The library has also made a long-term commitment to supporting this initiative as they feel it has been an invaluable way to engage with and develop relationships with families.
A monitoring and evaluation process has been implemented to ensure that Storytime remains beneficial to and continues to meet family’s needs. This involves guest readers collecting participant feedback and recording attendance data. Our Place then collates this data and feedback to share insights with site partners and community members with the goal of identifying further opportunities for future collaboration, quality improvement and increased engagement.
High-quality Early Learning is one of the five evidenced-based Elements that are central to the Our Place approach. Our Place supports early learning from birth as well as playgroups, child health and parenting support on site. The key features of this element are:
- Early engagement and intervention
- High-quality early learning services and supports
- Continuity in learning between the early years and school
- Positive home learning environments.