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Online Play2Learn keeps children learning

21 May 2020, Impact of Our Work

We have transitioned to online playing and learning – and it’s a hit! 

Play2Learn is Save the Children Australia’s largest Early Childhood Care and Development program in Australia and has been running for more than 30 years. Run by trained early childhood staff, the program runs free playgroups to help young children learn to play, socialise, establish routines and prepare for school.

Recently, due to the restrictions imposed by coronavirus, we’ve had to change how we deliver Play2Learn – from face-to-face with peers in a play-based environment to learning at home through tablets, computers and smartphones. The program continues to support children and parents by helping them develop the skills they need to be school-ready.


Play2Learn online maintains the play and learn program from backyards and loungerooms. 

 

Two facilitators thrust into a new challenge 

Early Childhood Educator Remonda Nohra and Family Support Worker Satarala Said facilitate the Play2Learn program in the Canterbury-Bankstown area in NSW. 

Moving Play2Learn to an online platform hasn’t been easy, says Remonda, as many families have needed to become familiar with new technologies. 

Many families haven’t used these technologies before, but by adapting to new ways of delivering Play2Learn though online platforms we are also supporting families to learn more about technology and they can feel more confident in using technology to socialise with others.

Remonda Nohra - Early Childhood Educator

The weekly online playgroup allows families to stay connected and find new ways they can keep playing and learning with their children at home.  
 


Satarala (top) and Remonda (bottom) lead the online Play2Learn playgroup.  

 

Parents feeling supported at home

Satarala knows the online support is making a huge difference while families face additional issues keeping children  away from their usual activities. “We are talking more frequently with parents through phone calls or video calls to assist with issues such as social isolation, children’s behaviours and needs, and family functioning.”

Remonda says parents with high needs children may need extra support. “One mum who attends the Play2Learn playgroup has two children, one with epilepsy and a very severe developmental delay; the other with a speech delay. The mum was finding it hard to attend to her second child, because of the high needs of his sibling. Though Play2Learn we have been working with her to find ways she can support the needs of both children. 

Now she has the two boys at home and she has been open about how challenging it is. But she is managing to allocate time to both children, and to play and do activities with the son who previously she felt did not get the parental attention he needed. The mum is now sharing photos of her son doing the activities that I share with the group.

Remonda Nohra - Early Childhood Educator


Kids at home participate in activities and share online

 

Creating a community

Remonda and Satarala also facilitate a chat group for parents to help them through online learning at home. The group keeps parents connected, sharing activities and tidbits from their day. 

“One mum, who regularly attended our playgroup with three children, suffers from anxiety. She is a single mum and all three of her children have speech and developmental delays. With the isolation as a result of COVID-19, the family has little social connection in their lives. But she is staying active and very engaged in our WhatsApp chat group. She sends us updates about the activities she is doing with her kids, and she’s staying motivated from the connections with other parents,” says Remonda. 

Creating an online community, establishing new ways of communicating with parents and maintaining that sense of community among playgroup families has been a real success in the current situation

Remonda Nohra - Early Childhood Educator

A win with parents and kids 

Despite the challenges of staying at home, Remonda says parents are keen to continue with the online Play2Learn model while restrictions are in place. “Parents have told us that as they are not getting out at all and are unable to see people during the day, playgroup has been their one space for socialising with others. Instead they’re making the time to be with their kids. The participation from parents engaging in the activities with their children has been really high”. 

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