Online Story Time Nominated at the 2022 ZEST Awards

EarlyEd’s Online Story Time was among the nominees in the category Exceptional Project in a Not for Profit Organisation during the 2022 ZEST Awards held on Friday 17 June. It was an honour for EarlyEd to be at this amazing event with other nominated contenders who have also been working to support Western Sydney communities. Congratulations to the winners!

Online Story Time is screen time with a difference as it keeps families connected and children learning at home.  It has proved to be more than just a program that filled a gap when COVID-19 lockdowns meant no playgroups for children and families. With lockdowns now over, Story Time continues to attract large numbers of individual families and preschools and childcare services. It continues to offer quality early childhood education experiences and build community connections for families.

EarlyEd’s live online interactive Story Times use a supported, inclusive playgroup approach. Key word signs, visual supports, developmentally and culturally appropriate stories, and songs engage children and families and then support them to take part in low-cost, no-cost play activities at home. Children of all abilities can connect and “play” together while online. Parents are engaging their children in social and learning experiences. Families are now confident online service users.

Congratulations to EarlyEd’s educators Kylie and Seta for stepping up to take on a challenge and make technology keep children and families connected, learning, and developing!

EarlyEd’s Online Story Time was developed to provide support and early childhood education experiences to preschool aged children and their families during lockdown in 2020. It is promoted across Western and Northern Sydney only, being funded under the NSW Department of Education Start Strong Pathways program.

Story Time started as a short-term, stop-gap, lockdown measure to replace playgroups. In the beginning, numbers were low while we all learnt how to use telepractices. A special event with United Way and the Dolly Parton Imagination Library provided the first experience of engaging with large numbers of children online.

In July 2021, as COVID-19 “areas of concern” went into strict lockdown, EarlyEd’s Story Time immediately became popular. It attracted high numbers. We now even have preschools and childcare centres joining in.

Thank you to our committed community networks who helped in promoting the program and our team supported families to also develop their digital literacy skills and to manage being part of an online session. This meant numbers grew and grew. Channel 9 featured Story Time as a COVID-19 good news story, and the numbers grew much more.

Even though lockdowns stopped, families didn’t stop coming to Story Time. Hot weather, wet weather, ongoing concerns about COVID-19, and the cold and flu impact of winter prove that this is a format that not only engages with children, but works for families. EarlyEd has now delivered over forty Story Time sessions.

Looking Ahead:

This is a scalable programme. Our next challenge is to find the funding to help Story Time reach families in other communities.

For more information about EarlyEd’s Online Story Time, you can check out our Start Strong page.

You can also follow our Facebook and Instagram pages and find out what the story is for the week. Story Time sessions are held every Thursday at 10 AM. To register, visit our What’s On page and follow the TryBooking link.


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