Distance pre-school pit-stop returns post pandemic

The state’s littlest, most-remote learners were welcomed back into the classroom for the first time in more than 12 months last week. Vivienne Jones reports.

Image: DSODE pre-school and primary students in front of the school’s living mural sandstone wall.

NSW distance education pre-schoolers at the Dubbo School of Distance Education (DSODE) stepped into the classroom last week for the first mini-school week since the pandemic stopped face-to-face learning.

The distance education preschool program offers 72 students who are geographically isolated from other early learning centres access to early learning the year before kindergarten and is split between the DSODE campus and the Broken Hill School of the Air.

Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell said this was a great experience for the youngest of learners.

“We need to be maximising preschool opportunities for children in all parts of the state, including our rural and remote locations,” she said.

“Early education is vital for our youngest of learners’ development, particularly in the year before school so they have a solid foundation in learning and a smooth transition to big school.

“I want every family and student in NSW to have an opportunity to quality education and this is an innovative way of achieving this.”

DSODE principal Debbie Murray said students from rural areas including Mount Hope, Louth, Hernani and Coonabarabran visited the Dubbo campus from May 23 to 26.

“This was our first “Preschool Pit-Stop” since this time last year,” she said.

“The visit is important for all our students, and presented with wonderful opportunities for them to interact with their peers, teachers and some of the older primary students at the school.

“The students were involved in an assortment of fun, hands-on and play activities during the week that saw them exploring their creativity, solving puzzles, cooking, sharing stories and learning together.

“The students also worked with Aboriginal artists to contribute to our brand-new sandstone art wall mural and ended with a fun afternoon at Dubbo’s newest adventure playground.”

Distance education preschool caters for children who cannot physically access other early childhood education services on a regular basis.

The educational programs provide the children with opportunities to maximise their potential and develop a foundation for future success in learning. The program is structured to support a smooth transition to kindergarten for students enrolled from a variety of locations across regional and rural NSW.

The preschool operates four classes with dedicated staff located at Broken Hill and Dubbo.

The preschool program has existing places available for 2023 enrolment and interested families are encouraged to visit Distance education preschool (nsw.gov.au).

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