The Queensland Government is providing an eKindy service for families on stations, in rural communities and those travelling further afield.
Story Ken Eastwood
In 2009, Queensland had one of the lowest uptakes of kindergarten in Australia. This was concerning, as research showed that children who had done a year or two of kindergarten were far more prepared to start school – particularly emotionally and socially – than those who hadn’t. The government was aware that many people in rural and remote areas were unable to access a kindergarten.
Three years later, the government started eKindy, a free, 15-hour-a-week supported program that helps parents give their child a kindergarten program at home, or as part of a small ‘pod’ of up to four children in their local community. More than 200 families registered for the program in 2018, from the Gulf Country through to Victoria. Although designed for Queenslanders, it is open to families from other states if they meet eligibility requirements. Some are travelling fencing contractors; others are diplomats and missionaries overseas; but most are from rural and remote areas in Queensland. They receive curriculum guides and learning materials, as well as a USB stick with songs and other resources, and each week the children are given up to an hour of face-to-face web time with a teacher – initially one-on-one and then in groups.
“It’s brilliant,” says Alison Todd, of Brigalow Downs, 100 kilometres out of Bollon, Qld, who has put three children through eKindy. “You can see it in the kids when they start school the following year – they’re much more ready. Prep is such a big step up and from what I’ve seen, the ones who have done kindy are miles ahead compared to starting with nothing. I would not contemplate not putting my child through a kindy program.”
This story excerpt is from Issue #122
Outback Magazine: December/January 2019