New interactive storybooks, and modules for social and family workers and educators are now available to support children and families where a parent is deployed or travels away for work or training, from the Early Childhood Defence Programs team.
The new resources complement a suite of downloadable e-books and activities developed for families who have had little in the way of Australian research-based resources to help young children understand and cope with a long parental absence for work or training.
The newly-released information modules aim to create better community empathy and support for children and their families. They help parents, educators and family and social workers understand children’s social and emotional responses, and offer strategies for children to express and interpret their feelings and build resilience.
Stemming from the PhD research of UNE early education researcher Dr Marg Rogers, the first children’s e-books and resources were developed for military families with a parent on or returning from deployment.
Other resources have since been developed for families that experience work and training absences for other reasons, such as FIFO and DIDO work, or even busy times on a farm.
Central to the resources are children’s storybooks in the form of beautifully illustrated e-books, most written from a child’s point of view. Eight of the 12 e-books have interactive versions for an iPad, tablet, PC or Mac computer.
Three stories are written for families where a parent has experienced a work related physical or mental health condition, particularly for currently serving, or previously serving (veteran) defence force personnel, or others such as first responders.
These Australian-first resources are based on the experiences and stories of real Australian families and were co-created with stakeholders, including defence parents, educators of defence children, veterans and their partners, social workers, psychologists and family researchers. The resources have now been tested and evaluated by families, educators, social workers, military and other stakeholders.
The resources also include accompanying read-alongs, and activities such as puzzles, puppets, matching and sorting activities, sequencing and storytelling activities, card games and board games. Some of the books also have activity books for children to personalise the story and Key Word Sign read-alongs.
All resources are free due to generous funding from The Ian Potter Foundation, the University of New England and the Association of Graduates of Early Childhood Studies.