Rotary in Action: Support for early literacy program

The Rotary Club of Corrimal hosted as their guest speaker at their meeting last week, Roz Webb, co-ordinator and an early childhood teacher at Noogaleek Children's Centre and Winningay Preschool, Berkeley.

Literacy program:  Children aged between three and five are getting a head start on literacy thanks to a Rotary-backed  initiative at Noogaleek Children's Centre, Berkeley.

Literacy program: Children aged between three and five are getting a head start on literacy thanks to a Rotary-backed initiative at Noogaleek Children's Centre, Berkeley.

Roz was joined by her colleague, Julie Farquhar-Nicol, also an Early Childhood Teacher of three- to five-year-old children at Noogaleek. Both women are passionate about teaching early literacy as a preparation for school and future life and have become enthusiastic collaborators with the Imagination Library.  

Noogaleek, meaning belonging to us, was established 28 years ago and runs a program of “intentional teaching”, which means a very structured program for their students.

A recent article, http://unitedway.com.au/get-involved/dpil-home/casestudies, shares an article “A Better Start for Children in Noogaleek”. 

Julie has seen first-hand the difference books and early literacy activities can have on a child’s overall development. That’s one of the reasons she volunteered to help sign up parents to Illawarra’s Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program, initiated by all Rotary Clubs of the Illawarra some three years ago. 

“This program has brought the family together like you wouldn’t believe, the big siblings reading to the little ones. It’s great.” Julie said.

The program is also changing parental engagement in learning and education, something Julie believes is critical.

“One mother said to me, ‘I’m going out to buy her a bookcase’, which shows that the place of literature in that household has lifted,” Julie said. “Changing the way that parents think about education is so important to changing the core issues arising in these communities.”

Children’s confidence and social skills are also improving thanks to the increased shared reading, which is critical in terms of starting school prepared.

“Kids will be able to go to school and ask questions and not be afraid to start learning because they have the basic knowledge. Their parents will be more engaged in the learning process,” Julie said.

For Julie, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a powerful way for the community to combat the social and economic disadvantage experienced by many local children.

“We are trying to bring them as far as we can before school starts. I’m hopeful that through early intervention and introduction of books that we are overcoming a proportion of the early disadvantage in education and getting them off to better start.”

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library supports Noogaleek’s existing community programs to improve early development outcomes.

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