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Innovative volunteer program supports families at Seymour

Goodstart centres

Strong relationships between early learning centres and families play an important role in achieving positive outcomes for young children.

Understanding a family’s goals, challenges, culture and routines are the key to close and supportive connections and form the building blocks of the secure relationships children need to do well in early learning.

Decades of research has reinforced that secure relationships benefit all aspects of children’s learning, development and wellbeing. Feeling secure helps children to develop confidence and enthusiasm for learning and makes them primed to build their budding social-emotional and physical skills, and their overall sense of wellbeing.

These are all really important outcomes for children in their early years, and it puts the importance of strong relationships between centres and families into stark perspective.

Goodstart Seymour fully embraces the importance of these relationships and have developed an innovative and unique family volunteering program which not only supports these vital connections, but also helps families to meet the costs of childcare more easily.

As centre director, Rebbecca Buttriss, explains, the formation of the program was a direct response to the needs of the centre’s families and the community.

“We’ve visited a lot of our families in their homes, and the same message kept coming to the forefront,” Rebecca said.

“Families want to be connected to their children and what is happening in their lives, and what we do with children in our centre is a huge part of that.”

The volunteer program encourages families to participate in the centre in whichever way they can. Volunteer families might help the centre by reading to the children, setting up experiences, cooking, yoga or dance sessions, and more.

“Our volunteers enjoy being in the centre, engaging with our team, other parents and other children.
“Being able to see their children actively engaged in play and building relationships with their peers is something that all parents have commented positively about.

“We don’t place any time restrictions so families can stay as little or as long as they like and we’ve seen how much it’s helped them to feel more connected to their child and really understand what we do in the centre each day.”

A unique aspect of the program is the way it helps families reduce their own fees, or pay their reductions forward to other families who may need support. This is a commendable initiative and demonstrates the centre’s meaningful contribution to social inclusion.

The program has proved beneficial in many unexpected ways for the family volunteers too, by allowing them to develop new skills and a deeper appreciation of early learning.

“Bobbie is one of our parent volunteers who wanted to develop more knowledge about the benefits of play and how to use the toys and resources she had at home to help her two year old daughter.

“Our team meet with Bobbie prior to her first volunteer session to talk about what she wanted to achieve, and what her expectations were so we could develop a plan for the session and subsequent visits.

“Speaking with her after she’d done some sessions, she reflected on how her thoughts about what happens here with her daughter each day was very different to what actually happened.

“She enjoyed being able to see that play-based learning wasn’t just about the toys or equipment, but the connection and engagement that we have with children.”

This innovative approach by Goodstart Seymour is just one of the many ways Goodstart centres connect and develop vital relationships with families.
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