Strengthening young children’s learning

Through your donations, The Smith Family are providing training, tools and support for early childhood educators and parents on how to develop reading and math skills for young children.

A $25,000 grant from the Give Where You Live Foundation allows The Smith Family to deliver the ‘Let’s Count’ and ‘Let’s Read’ programs to communities within Corio, Norlane and North Shore.

Both programs help parents and carers to gain the ability and confidence to support their children’s learning and development at home.

Early exposure to important foundation skills such as reading and maths is crucial in preparing a child for school and educational achievement further down the track. The Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) measures the development of children in their first year of full-time school. Recent (2015) data has shown that the Geelong communities of Corio and Norlane/North Shore have a higher prevalence of children starting school that are developmentally vulnerable or developmentally at risk in language and cognitive skills than the state average*.

In 2016, ‘Let’s Read’ training was delivered by The Smith Family to 16 local professionals from early childhood services including the local Library, child care centres, the local Family Centre as well as local council kinders and play groups.  These professionals have committed to deliver the program in the first part of 2017, which will impact at least 1015 people in the local community including parents, carers and children.

Jacqueline Berkeley, Children’s Youth and Services Librarian for Geelong Regional Libraries was one of the first people to take part in the Let’s Read program.

“Children have been very excited to receive their book packs and explore their new book,” she said.

In early 2017, 10 centres will be involved in a two-day workshop to learn how to deliver the ‘Let’s Count’ program.  The training assists educators in early childhood contexts, to work in partnership with parents and other family members, to promote positive mathematical experiences with young children, aged three to five. It fosters opportunities for children to engage with the mathematics they encounter as part of their everyday lives and, to explore it in ways that are fun and relevant to them. In 2017, Let’s Count is expected to impact around 430 people including 270 pre-school aged students.

*2015 AEDC data for language and cognitive skills outlines that 26% of children in Corio and 32% of children in Norlane/North Shore, are developmentally vulnerable or developmentally at risk.  This compares to a state average of 15%.