Kaitlyn Dunstone takes on the playgroup at the ACU Ballarat campus.
ACU student Kaitlyn Dunstone dreams of becoming a kindergarten teacher, and her dream is one step closer as she now coordinates the Aquinas playgroup at the ACU Ballarat campus.
Kaitlyn is in her third year of a Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood & Primary) at ACU and in 2012 as part of her course she participated in the Connecting Schools and Communities project which involved the facilitation of a supported playgroup in one of five local primary schools.
This experience further ignited her passion in early childhood education and she has now taken on the responsibility of setting up, recruiting and coordinating a playgroup at ACUfs Ballarat Campus.
Kaitlyn said that the aim of the playgroup at the Ballarat campus is to encourage and support parents and caregivers to play with their children, and it assists in fostering a positive relationship with the parents and child.
Kaitlyn volunteers her time to coordinate the playgroup aimed at children from birth to 5 years. It runs every Friday morning and is open to staff, students and their friends. Third]year education students run the playgroup with the assistance of second year]students involved in the Connecting Schools and Communities project and this participation forms part of their community engagement requirement within the course.
"The sessions are less structured due to the lower age of the children. We run various sensory play activities using textures and crafts; we aim to run activities that can be easily replicated at home. It is also a great opportunity for the parents to come along and get involved and play with their children," Kaitlyn said.
"It has been so successful that we now have families participating from outside ACU, due to powerful word of mouth. It is also a great way for ACU to be a part of the community."
Kaitlyn always wanted to be a teacher, as she admits she has a strong maternal instinct. She is keen to connect with young people, and believes it is important to connect with them early.
Upon graduation, she wants to be a kindergarten teacher or go in to specialist education as she has a particular interest in autism, but is interested in helping children with any kind of special needs.