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Playtime in the North

by Rebecca Gill

Parents and their children in playtimeIn March to early April, preschools across the northern suburbs were a lot busier and louder than usual, as parents took up the challenge of joining in with their children’s playtime.

Their incentive was Project Lapsit, a half-hour interactive session, in which UniSA Early Childhood Education (ECE) students encourage parents to engage in their child’s language and literacy development by reading books, reciting rhymes, engaging in finger plays and singing songs.

The project was facilitated by the University of South Australia’s Northern Adelaide Partnership (UNAP) in collaboration with the cities of Salisbury and Playford Library Services.

UNAP director, Mike Elliott, said that Lapsit benefits students, children and parents alike.

"In a supportive environment such as Lapsit, parents are empowered to be involved in the development of their children’s pre-reading skills," he said. "It is a great example of institutions reacting to real needs and working with the community – not at them. It reflects complex and powerful relationships, and a commitment to equity."

Jeff Meiners, ECE/Lapsit course coordinator, said students had received fantastic feedback.

"Site staff and parents are full of praise for the leadership, management and enthusiasm demonstrated by the student facilitators and we are looking to further develop this project as an ongoing feature of the ECE program," he said.

A visitor to Elizabeth Grove Preschool, ECE student Jacqueline Forjan said Lapsit was a unique way for children to build relationships with teachers early in life.

"If we as educators can form trusting relationships with these families before kindy, then the task of educating children will not be so difficult once they get to school."

And Claire Brideson, who was involved in the program at Family Day Care Network Group at Craigmore, said it had provided her with valuable real life experience.

"Lapsit has provided a window into how our future teaching roles intersect with other community organisations."