University of Wollongong: Nourishment for the curious minds

The inaugural Early Start Festival of Play comes to the University of Wollongong (UOW) this Saturday, March 26, from 8.30 am – 3.30 pm. The flagship event has been designed for children aged from birth to 10 years, their families and childcare educators.

The festival will encompass plenty of exciting (and FREE) family-friendly activities, from children’s creative arts and crafts workshops, interactive music and dance performances, storytelling, games, art exhibitions to expert talks, educator workshops and more. It will take place in the Early Start Discovery Space, surrounding gardens and the Early Start building.

“Every child knows that, but parents sometimes need a reminder: play is the most serious business of childhood. When children play, they explore new ideas, make choices, take risks and work to understand their world. At Early Start, we believe every child has the right to play,” said Professor Lisa Kervin, the Research Director at UOW’s Early Start and one of the Festival’s experts who will lead a workshop on the ways to engage children in safe and innovative digital play.

Children will have access to music, creative arts and storytelling. But there’s something for the parents too. While their kids dance and create, they can grab a coffee and participate in one of the information-rich parenting workshops delivered by UOW’s leading experts and researchers in early childhood. Planned as practical, 30-minute sessions, they’ll cover important family-related topics: kids’ self-regulation, digital play, movement, relationships and nutrition.

“Young children are born with an innate need to move. The COVID-19 pandemic has eroded much of the gains we made in recent years to promote play and physical activity through supportive environments and responsive caregiving. So how do we get children back on track? I’d love to show parents how to enhance their children’s health through movement,” Senior Professor Tony Okely said.

In another teaching series, early years educators will have a chance to participate in free professional development workshops, ranging from STEM education, bringing maths to life, to exploring why play is important for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

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