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A very special new bedtime routine for three kids missing dad
The day before the ACT went into lockdown in August, SHINE staff had worked with a father to complete a Storytime recording for his youngest child. The father is working to improve his literacy skills, so staff practiced the book with him multiple times and recorded each page separately. The father was persistent and patient with the process.
SHINE had intentions to complete a second story with the father for his two eldest children, however the lockdown persisted so SHINE contacted the children’s mother and asked if she was happy for SHINE to send them the recording and book for the youngest child. She explained the children were missing their dad and that it would be helpful to receive the book.
The mother later emailed to say “the book is now his favourite!”. During lockdown the father in custody also emailed, asking when we could complete a story for his two eldest children as they had expressed eagerness to receive one.
When SHINE returned to the Alexander Maconochie Centre after 4 months away due to COVID, the father was eager to record again. Staff received support from the Aboriginal services coordinator to arrange a space to record although it was looking unlikely that it would be possible due to staff shortages.
This time when SHINE staff met with the father, his literacy skills had noticeable improved. He said he was making more of an effort to read things that were around him, whether it was on a wall or a piece of paper, or an email. Staff repeated the process of practicing the story and recording page by page. The father completed the book in half the time as before.
The father explained why the first book sent during lockdown meant so much to his family. His story exemplifies the power of the Storytime program. He said his partner told him over the phone during lockdown that she now knows when the children would like to go to bed each night – they will ask for her phone (for the recording) and the book. She said this was usually instigated by their eldest child. All three children would then go into their bedroom together and listen to their Dad read them ‘On the Way to Nanna’s House’ before falling asleep.
This story highlights the connection opportunities of Storytime. Separation from a parent can be very traumatic. Place COVID challenges on top of this and it can be very overwhelming for children, young people and families. Through participation in this activity the children were able to feel close to their dad and feel comforted from hearing his voice when they go to bed each night.
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