Families stick together in good and tough times

By SIMONE JOHNS

MORE than 25 local families from Bridgewater and Gagebrook gathered at St Paul’s Primary School, for a Pyjama Reading Party as part of the charity organisation Good Beginnings’ celebration of National Families Week 2011.

Mum Melita Maley and her son Joshua are all smiles playing on a bike on the bike track in the St Paul's new Early Years playground
Mum Melita Maley and her son Joshua are all smiles playing on a bike on the bike track in the St Paul's new Early Years' playground

The theme of the event was  ‘Sticking together: families in good and tough times’.

Families were joined by Aileen Ashford, Tasmania’s Commissioner for Children, Andrea Sturges, South West Area Director Child Youth and Family Services, Rebecca Moles, CEO Early Years Foundation, Dr Patricia Hindmarsh Director Catholic Education Office Tasmania, Annie Nolan Catholic Education Office Early Years coordinator, Cheryl Caulfield, Early Years leader, Jordan Learning Federation Cameron Brown, Principal of St Paul’s, Sister Carmel, Early Years teacher, St Paul’s

Staff of Good Beginnings: Donna Evans state coordinator, Simone Johns Brighton Early Years Centre coordinator, Karen Browning, Tanya Hose and Diana Graham Early Childhood workers, and Cathryn Farrow family support worker.

St Paul’s principal Cameron Brown reads to Blake Ward.
St Paul’s principal Cameron Brown reads to Blake Ward.

St Paul’s principal Cameron Brown said was delighted his school was hosting the event and encouraging families throughout the Bridgewater/Gagebrook communities to come together in their pyjamas and enjoy reading stories to all the children. Sister Carmel who runs the Early Years programs at the school, and sporting a bright blue dressing gown, happily welcomed all the parents and children into her room.

Invited guests were asked to bring a book and read it to the children, and leave the book with the group, all in their pyjamas!

Area director SW Child and Family Services Andrea Sturges and Good Beginnings state coordinator Donna Evans reads to Joshua Downer and his mum, Debbie Downer.
Area director SW Child and Family Services Andrea Sturges and Good Beginnings state coordinator Donna Evans reads to Joshua Downer and his mum, Debbie Downer.

Good Beginnings builds better outcomes for children through programs that include supported playgroups and literacy programs to fathering initiatives and at-home volunteer visiting for new parents. Good Beginnings programs are free to children and families in need.

Good Beginnings Brighton hosts numerous family support programs in the Bridgewater region designed to support, educate and encourage parents by supporting them with the knowledge, practical skills, community networks and confidence to raise their children well.

The pyjama Reading Party in Bridgewater coincided with other events hosted by Good Beginnings sites across Australia in recognition of the importance of early childhood literacy in determining school readiness, success and later outcomes.

Children wearing their pyjamas symbolises the fun and importance of bedtime reading.

Good Beginnings Australia CEO Jayne Meyer Tucker said reading at home played a vital role in preserving a child’s right to early literacy, which forms one of the essential foundations of a childhood education and school readiness. The right to a quality education is enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“The Good Beginnings pyjama reading parties recognise that reading and being read to during early childhood is an essential basis for school readiness and literacy development. Literacy is one of the key early childhood developmental indicators known to be a significant factor in a child’s path through school and in later life,” Ms Meyer Tucker said.

The CEO from the Tasmanian Early Years Foundation Rebecca Moles donated several children’s storybooks to the Good Beginnings Play and Learn Groups. The books were shared among the invited guests to read to the children and their parents, all clad in winter pyjamas and dressing gowns. It created a lovely picture.

The children were excited to see the adults also in their pyjamas and there was lots of giggling and pointing. Brown looked the part in his flannelette football pj’s as did the Commissioner for Children in her flannelette top with yellow ducks!

Children’s Commissioner Aileen Ashford sharing popcorn with Owen Smith, Blake Ward and Elsie Bruce.
Children’s Commissioner Aileen Ashford sharing popcorn with Owen Smith, Blake Ward and Elsie Bruce.

Sister Carmel complained that she only wears shorty pyjamas and so she was allowed to get away with wearing her long blue dressing gown. Parents enjoyed a morning of activities based around reading to their children, as an extension of their usual weekly playgroup session.

Machlan and Riley Hunt made masks with their dad while mum Chantelle helped make the children a piñata. Mum Mel, and her son, were all smiles playing on a fun bike on the bike track in the St Paul’s new Early Year’s playground.

Andrea Sturges got into the spirit by blowing up balloons and sharing special moments with the children. Dr Patricia Hindmarsh was delighted to see first-hand the benefits of the Good Beginnings play and Learn group that runs at St Paul’s Primary School every Monday morning.

The groups were joined by our Gagebrook Play and Learn families who were bussed over by the PCYC and who brought some children’s gym equipment for the children to play on outside. Any family interested in joining any of Good Beginnings Play and Learn  groups, please call the coordinator of the Bright Start program, Simone Johns on 6268 4257.

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