Smart table lets families bond over learning

Kohan and Ella play on a smart table at Bellambi Point Community Preschool.Picture: SYLVIA LIBER
Kohan and Ella play on a smart table at Bellambi Point Community Preschool.Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

Preschoolers in 38 childhood education centres across the state will soon be playing - and learning - with an interactive "smart table" and panel to be delivered to their classroom.

The University of Wollongong's Early Start initiative is being rolled out across the state after a successful 18-month trial at Bellambi and Nowra early education centres.

The initiative is aimed at addressing educational disadvantage from an early age in low socioeconomic areas across NSW, including centres at Warrawong, Corrimal and Koonawarra.

Chief executive of the Big Fat Smile-owned centre in Bellambi, Bill Feld, said since the technology was introduced, children's literacy and collaborative skills had excelled.

The first group of children to experience the program and then move on to kindergarten were deemed the most school-ready preschool cohort with the best attendance rate at Bellambi Public School last year.

But the best part of the Early Start program and its technologically interactive focus was witnessing families bond over learning, Mr Feld said.

"I remember one case of a dad coming in to the centre with his child and a web address, and they worked together using the technology from the program," he said.

"We hadn't seen such co-operative learning between this child and the child's family before."

As part of the Early Start program, parents will also receive real-time updates of their child's day through a Facebook-Instagram style app called Kinderloop.

Early childhood educators upload images to the secure and private app, to be viewed only by a child's family (and extended relatives, if allowed). Parents could then become more connected with their child's learning.


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