By CAMERON BROWN
Principal of St Paul’s Catholic School
ST PAUL’S Catholic School has started delivering an exciting and innovative birth to four years program for its school community. This program is called Engaging the Learning Community (ETLC) The goal of the program is to create a community rich in learning and teaching so that it can provide opportunities to develop meaningful relationships with the three central protagonists in a child’s learning – the child, the family and the school.
ETLC involves the bringing together of families, educators and community support groups. The engaging the learning community program both enables the school to support existing school families and allows for on-going relationships with potential families in the community who may not be aware of what St Paul’s Catholic School has to offer. Engaging parents with the learning community will enable greater communication between school and home, between the child and their family and support learning.
Sessions are conducted during Term 2 and are divided into a two-hour weekly session on a Monday between 9.30am and 11.30am and another two-hour session on a Friday every fortnight between 9am and 11am. Each session aims at providing support to parents and students.
Sessions may include:
- Reading – exploring different text and modelling reading to children (use Let’s Read as a resource).
- Early literacy and numeracy support.
- The importance of positive play and how to enable this.
- The development of fine and gross-motor skills.
- Music and dance.
- Nutrition sessions.
- Positive transition from home to Kindergarten schooling
Our first session began recently, and we were thrilled with the response with a large number of families attending. The program is being delivered in conjunction with the school, the Good Beginnings organisation (this is a national group that provides practical, community-based parenting programs and support to ensure children get the best start in life) and the Smith Family, who is another organisation that aims to improve outcomes for children and their families. St Paul’s Catholic school has created a new partnership with TAFE Tasmania by providing an opportunity for two of their teacher aide students to undertake practical experience by assisting with the program. All families with children between birth and four years (not currently attending kindergarten) are invited to attend the ‘Engaging the Learning Community’ program, the first of this kind in Catholic schools in Tasmania.