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There was pride and excitement aplenty at the 2019 PEEP Graduation event at Cecily Court playroom on 10 December. Twenty-two four-year-olds with mortar board hats, graduation certificates and wide smiles stood before their families – and it was difficult to say who was prouder, parent or child.

The Parents Early Education Partnership (PEEP) is a program of Tomorrow Today, whose office sits behind the playroom at the end of Cecily Court. “There is nothing more important than investing in children to support the future of our Benalla community”, says Sally Matheson, Program Manager. “Parents should always be recognised and supported as their child’s first and most important educator. At PEEP, children and parents learn together and that strengthens the bond between them, encourages mutual respect and highlights the importance of life-long learning.”

One of the goals of PEEP is to prepare children for school. Children learn to follow instructions and routines in the playroom, such as pack up time and sitting at the table to enjoy a healthy snack. The great activities in the PEEP room expose children to pre-literacy, pre-numeracy, oral language and socialisation skills they need to thrive at school.

In 2019, the PEEP program has provided a meeting and learning place for approximately 100 Benalla families each week. Many of the children and parents at the graduation event have been attending PEEP since their child’s birth. Local mother of two, Carlie Tonkin, attended PEEP for six years. “I love how welcoming it is. I’ll miss it. I’ve made friends I wouldn’t have made otherwise.”

PEEP Coordinator Cath Warnock says that it’s the dedicated talk time about children’s development that sets PEEP apart from other play groups. “Information is provided about child development and parenting. Parents can share issues they are experiencing at home and can feel re-assured that they may not be the only ones with these challenges. The best learning happens between parent to parent.”

The PEEP program was recently recognised by State Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes as being among the state’s best early learning initiatives. Behind its success is the determination of Tomorrow Today that every child in Benalla starts school ready to learn.

Participation in PEEP is free, voluntary, and open to all. If you know of a family living in Benalla and district who would be interested in participating in PEEP, please contact Cath Warnock, PEEP Coordinator, on 5762 1211.