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Holistic approach to early childhood at Coonamble Pre School

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Woman in blue and white blouse sits at small table with craft materials. She holds a baby while looking at a young child in blue shirt working with craft material.
Erin Chapman and her son Dexter doing some craft work together
16 May 2017

The Coonamble Pre School in Western NSW is taking an innovative approach to increase education outcomes for children and parent engagement in the region.

The preschool has a holistic approach to early childhood, involving nutrition, occupational therapy, and youth leadership to ensure local children get the best start in life.

Heidi Cormie is the preschool’s director.

“We know preschool can be exhausting for young children both physically and mentally so our nutrition program provides them with a healthy, nutritious breakfast ensuring they have the right fuel for the day ahead,” Heidi said.

“We also encourage families and older students from the high school to participate in the nutrition program, which increases parental and family engagement and provides youth leadership opportunities for older kids in our community.”

Erin Chapman, whose son Dexter attends the preschool thinks this is a great way for parents to be involved in their children’s schooling.

“It's a great program and ensures all kids have a full tummy and lots of energy ready for a busy day,” Erin said.

“Dexter loves it when I come to make a healthy breakfast for him and his friends and it also gives me an opportunity to watch him learn and play with his friends. It's nice to get to know his teachers and friends as well as other parents.”

The preschool has also formed a relationship with Coonamble High School which has provided an avenue for local Indigenous high school students to regularly visit and volunteer at the preschool.

“The preschoolers really look up to these students and look forward to their weekly visits. They have become real role models for the younger children,” Heidi said.

“We also arrange an occupational therapist to visit and undertake individual assessments that provide teachers and families with extensive information about the child’s current skills and abilities and what they need to work on ahead of starting school.”

“The teachers are then able to plan and implement a program based on the individual needs of the children as well as support families with activities that they can do at home to support their child’s learning and development.”

The preschool also employs two Indigenous staff members who work closely with the children, staff and the wider school community to ensure that programs are delivered in a culturally appropriate way.

“Our Indigenous staff members facilitate engagement with the Indigenous community; connections are made with families and they feel a sense of belonging at our preschool,” Heidi said.

“In Coonamble, we want to ensure our children have a comprehensive preschool experience. That includes learning about our local Aboriginal culture and language.”

Find out more

The Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS) is the way in which the Australian Government funds and delivers a range of programs targeting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.