The weekly sessions of our Parents Early Education Partnership (PEEP) program have become a fixture in the lives of Benalla’s young children and their parents, with over 220 families taking part this year. As well as being a place to share songs, stories and parent discussion, PEEP offers an important means of connection and support. So, there was quite a gap to fill when the pandemic shutdown meant that families could no longer come together.
“Our first priority was for the PEEP team to maintain regular contact with our families,” says Education Benalla Program Manager Sally Matheson. “Facing isolation and uncertainty while caring for young children can be particularly challenging. We started by using the phone to stay in touch, sometimes texting, but lots of calls. Many families really appreciated the opportunity to speak to someone familiar from the ‘outside world’.”
Our PEEP team − Cath, Nonie, Karen and Deb − also devoted time to finding ways to continue offering rich parent and child education opportunities. They quickly became masters of Zoom and Vimeo, sharing stories and songs online as well as live conversations with families, and interviews with parenting and education experts. Tomorrow Today’s community partners in health, education and community services willingly jumped on camera to share their expertise, and there were a few extra-special guests, too.
“Singing to our families on a video call with Jay Laga’aia from Playschool will be a career highlight forever!” laughs Nonie.
The PEEP team are now planning for a return to face-to-face programs in line with COVID-safe guidelines from Term 3 onwards.