Ngalii staff still entertaining and educating preschoolers

Ngalii staff members Rachel Turton and
Rebecca Howard have been making up craft
packs for local families who are staying at
home during lockdown

Things have been quiet these past few
weeks at the Ngalii early childhood service
with just two to three children of essential
workers attending sessions due to the
COVID lockdown.
This has however given Ngalii’s new director,
Peta Rufos, who commenced a fortnight
ago, a chance to settle into her role.
It doesn’t however mean that Peta and the
rest of the staff haven’t been kept busy coming
up with ideas to help keep their students
at home engaged and entertained.
Peta said the staff have been making up
craft packs that contain some colouring
sheets, stencils and pencils.
“There is enough in there to last the three
days they would normally be attending.
“Next week we will be sending out some
paints and other things as well; different
things,” Peta said.
She said sending out these packs has been a
good way to be able to maintain a connection
with children and their families.
Peta said they have also been asked if they
could do up some craft packs for children in
Wilcannia who are in hard lockdown with
more than 10 per cent of the population having
been diagnosed with COVID.
“A mum, who’s been working out there,
said that while there is a lot of support for
parents with food packs and all those sorts of
things, there’s just not a lot that’s coming out
for children.
“So we thought that we would really like to
get on board with that.
“We’ve got so many resources that are just
sitting there,” Peta said.
One of the staff, Rebecca Howard, has also
done a virtual story time for the children.
They recorded Bec reading a book and then
posted it to their Facebook group page so the
children can watch a familiar face read them
a story.
The quiet time as also given staff a chance
to catch up on some things and also time to
redesign the environment a little bit.
Peta said while she’s worked in childcare
for most of the past 12 years, she wasn’t actually
working in the field during last year’s
lockdown so she’s glad to be guided by fellow
staff members Bec and Rachel Turton,
who experienced last year’s lockdown.
Originally from Newcastle, Peta and her
husband spent 15 years living in the Northern
Territory before moving back home to Newcastle
three years ago.
“We moved here about three months ago
for my husband’s work.
“They obviously needed someone over at
Ngalii and I met with everybody and it all just
went from there,” Peta said.
“I have worked as a director in two other
services and I’ve had room leader experience.
“I’m studying a Early Childhood Degree at
the moment as well.”
Peta said the committee is supporting her
through her degree by providing her with
study time.
“The other two educators that are working
here are also studying their Diploma.
“Giving educators and myself the time to be
able to do that in work hours is something
that is only going to benefit the service in the
long run,” she said.
Peta said she’s very excited about the centre’s
future with the plans of a new building.
“Our main focus is to be able to provide a
space for not just low socio economic children
but any children in Cobar to be able to
attend because we are a fee-free service.
“The long term vision is to get this new
build up and running,” she said.
Peta said with their new building to be located
on site at the Cobar Public school, it
will make for an easier transition for their
students onto big school.
“It’s such a big deal for children going from
one space to another,” she said.
Peta said it’s good for children to be familiar
with their surrounds and to also have familiar
people around them and so being located
close to the school during their preschool
years should make for an easier transitions
when the time comes to move on.