An Introduction

The Capel Sound Children’s Project is an exciting ‘whole of community’ initiative aimed at improving long-term education and wellbeing outcomes for children residing in the Capel Sound area. This project is a joint collaboration between Eastbourne Primary School and Seawinds Community Hub, with supporting organisations providing funding. By developing an evidenced based Abecedarian Approach to early learning and care we aim to reduce developmental vulnerability, ensuring all of our children are not just school ready but raring to go!

Through a systematic approach to building the capacity of educators, carers, service providers and parents we will be able to provide all children with an educational experience that helps to change their life outcomes.

The project is being rolled out through a three phase plan, governed by a Steering Committee and guided by key success measures and feedback mechanisms.

Philosophy

Educational research identifies the fundamental importance of learning in a child’s first years of life; children who start school (and Kindergarten) with developmental delays are at significant risk of under-achievement at school. It is well known that education has the capacity to break the cycle of inter-generational poverty, but when children start school without key early childhood skills and understandings, ‘catching up’ to their more advantaged peers can be extremely difficult.

The Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) – known previously as the AEDI – shows that, compared with the rest of Victoria, Capel Sound has more than twice the proportion of children who are developmentally vulnerable in two or more domains. In 2012, a much higher percentage of local children were developmentally vulnerable when compared with 2009, and fewer students were attending Kindergarten. Jesuit Social Services’ ‘Dropping off the Edge Report 2015’ shows that, when compared with the ‘Dropping off the Edge Report’ 2007, there is very little improvement. Data from the AEDC, ‘Dropping off the Edge’ reports, ABS statistics and the Victorian DET (Department of Education and Training) identifiesCapel Sound as a community with a high level of vulnerability.

Many children in the Capel Sound area start without the skills necessary to become successful learners. They have significant gaps in their learning and development, and many have impaired language and cognitive abilities. This means that they begin school without key early childhood skills and understandings, and usually spend their schooling years trying to ‘catch up’. The cycle of vulnerability will be perpetuated unless we intervene – and intervene early. This approach interrupts the cycle of disadvantage.

Parents will be engaged and encouraged to continue the techniques at home with their children. Information is being given to parents through information sessions, newsletters and conversations with teachers.

Elements of the Abecedarian Approach

The Abecedarian approach is based on an evidence-based collection of teaching and learning strategies developed by Professor Joseph Sparling, a Canadian expert in the field of early childhood education.

At Seawinds Early Learning Centre, every child is assessed at regular intervals, using the ‘Ages and Stages’ questionnaire, across five developmental areas.  The five domains are gross motor, fine motor, communication, problem solving and personal-social. Results indicate where each individual child is at with their learning, and forms the basis for their program.

Engaged conversation is central to the Abecedarian approach. The number of daily ‘adult-child’ interactions (known as ‘dosages’) are a critical success factor in this approach. Through placing language as a priority, children are exposed to a much richer language experience.

The following proven techniques are applied in each of the classrooms daily:

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Conversational Reading

is a ‘back and forth’ conversation between adult and child. It is ‘child-driven’ and responds to spontaneous reactions from the children.

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Learning Games

teachers plan a series of learning games based on the identified needs of each child, their abilities and interests. The activities are based on 1:1 or 1:2 adult-child interactions and can be easily adapted by the adult so that the children feel they have been successful each time they play.

Over 150 learning games are available for teachers to use. These games are linked with the VEYLDF (Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework), and are purposely packed to make them convenient and simple to use. Each game is supported with a suggested set of directions on how to achieve the desired outcome. These directions are simply a guide and each game is adaptable to meet all abilities and skill levels.

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Enriched Caregiving

highlights the importance of using every-day routines as opportunities for pivotal learning experiences. This is done through incorporating conversation, ideas and song into everyday activities such as nappy changing, dressing and tidying, and meal times.

Our People

Our Valued Volunteers

Trained volunteers work to a roster and support the Teachers and Educators in implementing the Abecedarian approach within their classrooms. Each has a Working with Children Check, and a real desire to help the children to achieve great outcomes.

Seawinds Early Learning Centre runs a half-day volunteer training session as required, usually each term.

Our Trainers

All of our permanent staff of teachers and educators have attended a three-day training session; most were trained at the outset of the project in 2015 by Professor Sparling. Since then the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne, has licenced the program, known as ‘3a’, and provides the accredited training program.

Our Team

Sarah

Cath

Michelle

Kylie

Hayley

Deb

Lucy-Anne

Pru

Amy

Our People

Our Valued Volunteers

Trained volunteers work to a roster and support the Teachers and Educators in implementing the Abecedarian approach within their classrooms. Each has a Working with Children Check, and a real desire to help the children to achieve great outcomes.

Seawinds Early Learning Centre runs a half-day volunteer training session as required, usually each term.

Our Trainers

All of our permanent staff of teachers and educators have attended a three-day training session; most were trained at the outset of the project in 2015 by Professor Sparling. Since then the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne, has licenced the program, known as ‘3a’, and provides the accredited training program.

Our Team

Sarah

Cath

Michelle

Kylie

Hayley

Deb

Lucy-Anne

Pru

Amy

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