Pirie group 'Learning Together' supports families

HAPPY: Julie Hoare with her grandson Sullivan fueling up his car at Learning Together. Julie has been bringing her grandchildren to learning together for the past four years and said she has found it very beneficial.
HAPPY: Julie Hoare with her grandson Sullivan fueling up his car at Learning Together. Julie has been bringing her grandchildren to learning together for the past four years and said she has found it very beneficial.

Julie Hoare and her grandson Sullivan love Learning Together.

Learning Together has been operating since 2003 and has seven centres around the state, including those in Port Pirie and Port Augusta.

The group offers a learning and support program ran by the education department for families with young children aged from birth to preschool.

Ms Hoare said she has been coming to the group for about four years with her two grandsons.

"It is fantastic. The staff are great and the socialisation was the main reason I started coming because their parents both work," she said.

"I thought we would do something a bit different and came to playgroup and the boys learned to get along with other children.

"I sit with them and we do reading. We always play with blocks and cars and we do puzzles.

"You are interacting, helping them and having great one-and-one time as well."

Ms Hoare said she has found the program beneficial.

"With my first grandson, there wee a few speech and socialisation issues, but the benefits of coming to playgroup are amazing and we have seen improvements," she said.

FUN: Learning Together manager Nicky Welch with her grand-daughters Charlee, left, and Maddison.

FUN: Learning Together manager Nicky Welch with her grand-daughters Charlee, left, and Maddison.

Learning Together manager Nicky Welch said the sessions are up-and-running again this term after a coronavirus shutdown.

The centre has since been refurbished with new areas set up ready for use. This includes a new floor covering as advised by the Targeted Lead Abatement Program which was funded by Nyrstar.

Ms Welch said while the group was not a pre-school or childcare it provides a range of support for families.

"Parents attend with their children and it supports their engagement, teaching them how to play and model or teaching language and it gives them confidence in their parenting," she said.

"We have an occupational therapist that comes on Tuesday's that will help families with toilet training, sensory issues and things like that.

"We also have Learning Together at home where field workers go out once a week into the home and engage with with families in a play based program."

PLAY: Emilia Taylor with Elena Sheply at Learning Together playing with their wooden coffee machine and toy register.

PLAY: Emilia Taylor with Elena Sheply at Learning Together playing with their wooden coffee machine and toy register.

The group also receives continued support from TLAP through nutrition cards and supplies such as fruit and vegetables, hand hygiene cards, hand soap, and paper towels, cleaning of the front footpath and advice, such as the new flooring.

TLAP Implementation Manager Byron Dietman said the organisation program is committed to ensuring help reduce children's blood lead levels in children remain as low as possible.

"We worked with the Department of Education and Department of Planning and Infrastructure and provided guidance on identifying suitable surfaces and lead management practices to ensure the upgrades reduced any present lead risks," he said.

"TLAP itself supports a lot of the child care centres in Port Pirie and part of that is providing nutrition cards, which is an important component when it comes to in helping manage blood lead levels through good nutrition and full bellies.

"Hygiene is another important huge component when it comes to reducing blood lead levels, so good hand washing is essential and TLAP provides paper towel and hand washing soap to child care centres in Pirie."

Learning Together operates Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and is open to anyone who would like to attend.

For more information visit Learning Together on their Facebook page.