26 June 2020

What makes a great school holiday program?

| Communities@Work
Two kids playing on inflatable.

Communities@Work school holiday programs provide unique, fun and educational activities for more than 2500 children each holidays. Photo: Supplied.

What makes a great school holiday program? For Stephanie Brady and her son, Henry, it’s about engaging activities, new friends and focused attention from quality educators.

Henry attended the Communities@Work school holiday program in Narrabundah earlier this year and loved every minute of it.

“He came home each day raving about the activities he’d been doing with his new friends,” says Stephanie. “For us, that was just fantastic.

“Henry was really happy to be among new friends and to get focused attention from the wonderful educators. He would come home and proudly display his new pictures that he’d drawn up on the fridge. It made me feel so good to know he’d had a really great day where he was able to express himself, do some things he wouldn’t ordinarily get to do here at home, and get the focused attention I wouldn’t have been able to give him.”

Communities@Work out-of-school-hours care manager Karen Taunton says the school holiday programs are carefully crafted to provide a range of fun and educational incursions and excursions for school-age children. The programs allow them to explore and immerse themselves in movies, magic, art, craft, science, technology, cooking, drama, music, horticulture, sustainability, sport and so much more.

“Families love our programs,” says Karen. “They love the uniqueness and variety of our activities. It’s one of the things that sets us apart from other service providers because we’re providing something different.”

Farmer Dave holding two dogs surrounded by kids.

Farmer Dave (centre) and his dogs were a huge hit with the children in January 2020. Photo: Supplied.

Communities@Work certainly has experience delivering school holiday programs across Canberra and the ACT region since the 1980s. Today, more than 2500 children attend their programs each school holiday.

“Our school holiday programs are designed to give children a break from the routines of school life,” explains Karen. “They’re flexible, fun and spontaneous. They’re about play and leisure and making new friends. They offer a new adventure every day.

“Our activities are unique to Canberra because of our exclusive relationship with a Sydney events company, which sources service providers to come down to Canberra to provide a range of different experiences and activities for the children that they won’t get anywhere else.

“We also make sure that each school holiday we offer a new set of activities so children don’t get a repeat of the same incursions and excursions. Unless, of course, an activity has been a huge hit, in which case we’ll run it again.

“For many activities and events, such as the circus or huge inflatable obstacle course, our children often get exclusive access due to our numbers.”

This July, children at Communities@Work’s school holiday programs will practice landing a Royal Flying Doctor Service plane, explore the universe through telescopes and satellites, create a large-scale construction project, embark on a team scavenger hunt, take part in a hilarious interactive game show, nurture newly hatched chicks, and compete in a mini Olympics.

While the programs’ primary focus is on fun and friendships, they also incorporate important life-skill components so children build on their social and emotional skills, and learn values such as respect, kindness and acceptance.

Communities@Work educator playing with two kids on floor.

Families often praise Communities@Work educators for going above and beyond to provide quality care. Photo: Supplied.

Karen understands the importance of qualified and experienced educators.

“We have such a great team of educators here at Communities@Work,” she says. “Every school holidays my heart bursts with pride to read emails from parents and carers telling us how much they love our educators.

“Families tell us about the bond their children have formed with them, how they’ve gone above and beyond to provide quality care, and how they’ve made it a safe and welcoming environment for their child.

“We can’t wait to welcome children for this school holiday and offer a ton of fun after such a busy and uncertain term.”

For more information about school holiday programs, visit Communities@Work or phone 1300 212 273.

Communities@Work continues to be guided by the latest COVID-19 advice from the ACT Government and ACT Health to ensure the safety of children is paramount. They have implemented hygiene measures and increased cleaning and other steps across all of their services to reduce the risk of infection and spread of COVID-19.

Original Article published by Communities@Work on The RiotACT.

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