PEEP song time on a special visit to the Benalla Art Gallery.
PEEP – Parents’ Early Education Partnership
Babies to five year-olds
Each week about 90 Benalla families with 120 children sing, enjoy rhymes, read stories and have fun with activities that teach skills that will resonate throughout the children’s lives. The PEEP program is designed for preschool children of all ages. PEEP responds to research findings that young children who are given lots of opportunities and support to explore, play, problem solve, read, sing and socialise in a group environment will be better prepared for life and learning.
PEEP was identified by Tomorrow Today and the Department of Early Education and Childhood Development as an ideal program for Benalla. So, in 2012, Tomorrow Today and Benalla Rural City were assisted by the Advancing Country Towns initiative to visit the UK city of Oxford, where PEEP was developed. UK trainers then came to Benalla to teach local providers.
Each PEEP session has a special ‘talk time’ where parents explore topics related to child development and parenting. The program also links families into local services and groups, as well as the wider community. Professional visitors are often invited to sessions to provide information and advice for families and there are regular social outings to local destinations like the Library, Aquatic Centre, Benalla Lake and the Botanical Gardens. For more information about PEEP please download the Early Years calendar on the right.
Great start to school
The aim of the Early Years Program is to have all children ready to learn when they start school and there have been great results. The Early Years specialist notes that children who have attended a term or more of PEEP have:
- Capacity to sit longer during group activities (some could never have sat to listen to a story)
- Greater capacity to take turns and help others
- Heightened independence during activities, such as scraping paint brushes and putting on paint smocks
- Greater ability to make choices, such as choosing foods at morning tea and serving themselves
- Some children aged 3 ½ or older are now finding it easier to take direction during sessions.
Importantly, PEEP groups have also lifted the mothers’ own educational aspirations. Mothers are reporting that PEEP skills are transferring to the home: children are eating well when given choices and are taking ownership of what they are eating. Parents are also engaging more meaningfully with their children thanks to PEEP providing recipes for playdough, paint and slime, and encouraging greater interest in books and reading.
PEEP – When and Where?
PEEP age-based sessions run for 60 – 75 minutes once a week for approximately ten weeks. Twelve programs now run at the Tomorrow Today PEEP Centre in Cecily Court. Registration is essential for all Cecily Court sessions as places are limited. The Maternal & Child Health nurse links into the PEEP program.
Current PEEP Groups
- Newborns 0 – 6 months
- Older babies 7 – 12 months
- Multi-Age Children 0 – 5 years
- Twins/Multiples 0 – 5 years
The Tomorrow Today Foundation venue is Shop 4, Cecily Court, 66 Nunn Street, Benalla.