Engaging parents in the Goonellabah Transition Program

Document Type


Publication details

Austen, K & Newell, S 2006, 'Engaging parents in the Goonellabah Transition Program', paper presented to 4th National Indigenous Education Conference, Newcastle, NSW, 27-29 November.


Project Overview & Aims: The GTP is an early learning program for children needing additional support with transitioning from home/preschool settings into Kindergarten. It is strengths-based, family-friendly and culturally-sensitive and uses a developmental, health, linguistic and social framework. It works with families to identify health and educational factors impacting on a child’s ability to learn and interact socially - then develops and implements individualised support programs. Children attend two days per week during school terms (for one school year) and families receive fortnightly home visits. Eligibility: 20 children, living in Lismore/Goonellabah, who are eligible to enrol in Kindergarten the next year and are identified as needing intensive additional support to achieve foundation outcomes for a successful transition to school. Priority is given to Indigenous children – who represent 90% of enrolments. Project evaluation: A comprehensive evaluation framework has been integrated into GTP operating systems – to routinely monitor its implementation and progress – in engaging children and families; improving children’s developmental, educational, social, behavioural and health outcomes; improving families’ attitudes towards and confidence in the health and education systems; and improving teachers’ attitudes towards, understanding of and confidence to support these children and families. Presentation focus: Active parent/carer engagement in stimulating children’s early learning and development is widely acknowledged as a key indicator of later success within the formal education system. This presentation will focus on our definition of what constitutes parent/carer engagement and on how the GTP develops the whole family’s understanding of literacy and numeracy learning – using various strategies to increase child, parent/carer and sibling participation in literacy and numeracy activities within the home setting. These strategies include the home visiting program, personalised resources and the home talk/school talk strategy. It will also discuss the ECHIDNA Health Plans, which work to enhance parental engagement in managing their children’s health.