Close to home – How research-based children’s books will help young minds understand military health issues.

Posted by | March 05, 2021 | Education, Research | One Comment

Dr Marg Rogers, Lecturer in Early Childhood Education at UNE is involved in a project that is producing a series of research-based children’s eBooks. The 3 book series is part of a larger research project aimed at supporting children in defence families and assisting educators with teaching young minds to understand the challenges of those in defence families. This research project is the Early Childhood Defence Programs research project.

Dr Rogers’ research has culminated in a series of eBooks aimed at giving young children whose parents have military service-related health issues a better understanding of their parent’s conditions in an age appropriate way. For example, one of the eBooks titled ‘Nathan’s Story’ uses characters portrayed as Australian wildlife to explain the situation of a parent returning home from military service with mental health issues, such as Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These books will discuss various military service-related injuries, including physical injuries and/or mental health issues; all of which will be addressed in empathetic and age appropriate ways.

Not only will these eBooks present information helpful for young children, but they also contain research-based information to help parents, carers and family workers connect with further literature on the topics raised in the book.

The research that informs these books is ongoing and while plans have been laid for their development, they require will be tested with parents and military service family workers across 2021 and 2022. They will then be adapted based on feedback and released to the public as free eBooks.

 “The publication of books such as this has not been possible before,” Dr Rogers notes. “However, the children in these families are potentially vulnerable due to the huge changes and stress within the family.”

“The concepts of these changes are very difficult for young children to understand. The use of Australian animal characters responding to the changes will help increase children’s emotional intelligence and promote resilience. The narrative portrays practical ways of coping and understanding. It is really important for these children to see their lives reflected in age and culturally appropriate children’s literature so they have a sense of belonging and acceptance within the community.”

Taking full advantage of the medium, each of Dr Rogers’ eBooks will have a video and audio read-along, activity based teaching materials, content for older children and activity sheets to accompany the story that can be used by family workers, parents and educators to create further stimulus and activities such as: puppets for role plays, puzzles, matching games, memory games, board games.

 

The books have been illustrated by the media team in LaTT through funding from The Ian Potter Foundation and the University of New England. If you would like to know more about the Early Childhood Defence Programs research project that these eBooks are part of, follow the link here: www.ecdefenceprograms.com.

 

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