For many of us with children, keeping them engaged, entertained and most importantly, safe and happy during lockdown has been a challenge!

While families all over Australia were faced with similar challenges, here at Access we were most concerned about our families who regularly visit our Community Hubs and Gateway. These families often have young children with particular needs and greatly benefit from social interaction with similar families.

Despite the physical closure of these spaces, we were still able to offer support via online playgroups, and have seen noticeable growth in many children’s language skills. In fact, the online nature of our support has meant children could receive more individual attention.

T* is just one of many toddlers who has greatly improved her language skills during lockdown.

Together with Hub leaders, Access staff noticed improvements to T’s ability to greet others, answer questions about stories she had been read, phonic ability (for example, matching animal sounds to the corresponding picture correctly) and share information about her favourite toys, tasks and activities.

T also showed improvements in her ability to follow instructions and complete tasks, which is a key skill required for prep and school. Wonderfully, T responded to her own improvements with increased confidence and engagement in the group week-to-week, something her mother said she was also seeing at home.

T’s story is just one example of how young children’s skills have flourished despite the challenges this year, thanks to the dedicated early childhood educators, hub leaders, occupational therapists and of course, the children themselves!

Both the Access Gateway and Community Hubs are slowly resuming face-to-face activities – keep an eye on the What’s on at the Gateway webpage and the Community Hubs Facebook pages for timetables and announcements (click here for Logan-based hubs and here for Ipswich-based hubs)

*Name withheld for privacy.