Family reading gets $1m boost
ABORIGINAL parents who can’t read will be taught how so they can read storybooks to their young.
It’s hoped the $1 million NSW Families As First Teachers reading program will lift flagging Aboriginal literacy rates and school enrolments, giving kids the best possible start to their schooling lives.
Parents will also be taught about the importance of early education.
Aboriginal mum Natalie Bolt knows plenty of other parents who silently feel shame for being illiterate.
“Lots of Aboriginal kids are disadvantaged because they don’t get read to enough at home,” Ms Bolt said. “It’s a great idea to help Aboriginal parents shed the shame of not being able to read and write, because it stops them helping their kids with their homework.”
Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Early Childhood Education Sarah Mitchell hopes the Families As First Teachers program will level the playing field so all kids are ready for their first day of primary school.
“As a mother, I know how important it is for a child’s learning to start and continue at home, and feeling supported through a program such as this can have a really positive impact,” Ms Mitchell said.
“This program was developed because I believe it is crucial for all children, no matter where they are from, to have access to top quality learning experiences.”
The basis of the program is the belief that families are the main influence on learning and preschool education doesn’t go far enough.
Research shows preschool is essential for children’s academic and social development because many who start school without core skills in literacy and numeracy never catch up. But the government wants to go further by bolstering the ability of Aboriginal families to build a “rich home learning environment”.
The new funding is being offered to Aboriginal community not-for- profit organisations and local councils with proven ties to early childhood education services, particularly those with experience working with Aboriginal families with children younger than five.
It’s the latest effort in a campaign to ensure every child has at least 600 hours of education in the year before school. Last year the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who attended preschool more than 15 hours a week rose by 11.6 per cent.
Children like three-year-olds Piper Brindle and Callen Ridgeway, reading in Macquarie Fields during the week, will benefit from Families As First Teachers. Picture: Tim Hunter