The Impact of a Pyjama Angel Volunteer
Our program supports children to reach their full potential. This is a wonderful story of how one Pyjama Angel has had a wonderful impact on a child in care.
Our program supports children to reach their full potential. This is a wonderful story of how one Pyjama Angel has had a wonderful impact on a child in care.
AS Australia continues to brave the COVID-19 storm, community spirit and kindness can be just as contagious, as we continue to cope with these unprecedented circumstances.
The Pyjama Foundation has been preparing for its biggest annual fundraiser, National Pyjama Day, celebrated on July 17th. The aim of the day is to raise as much awareness and funds for the Love of Learning Program, so The Pyjama Foundation’s mission can continually be pursued.
This year’s planning has looked very different for us and our registrants. Many obstacles have crossed our path as we discovered new and inventive ways to fundraise. CEO and founder Bronwyn Sheehan said absolutely loves how innovative people are being during these unparalleled times.
Melbourne Pyjama Angel, Stacey Lowry is back celebrating National Pyjama Day for a second time, defying all odds in her pursuit to make a difference.
Stacey has been working with “Miss 14” for two years. She says she just loves her mentoring role; it is one of the most rewarding things she has ever accomplished.
Stacey was conscious that the option of hosting a social gathering wasn’t available this year due to Melbourne’s strict lockdown laws.
“Last year I had so much fun hosting a dinner and movie screening to raise funds, I just knew I had to step it up with something even better to bring some love and happiness during these uncertain times,” she said.
With the intention of bringing joy to her local neighbourhood all while raising funds for a cause she is so passionate about; Stacy exercised her imagination.
“I have been baking handmade sourdough breads & sourdough banana breads for my friends. It’s been so hugely successful, that I am at my “baking capacity” for the next three weeks… Each day I bake, wrap and walk the neighbourhood hand delivering warm, baked treats to my friend’s front doors. It brings me so much joy seeing smiling faces at front doors across the suburb.”
Stacey continues to work with “Miss 14” on a week-to-week basis virtually all while channeling her inner Betty Crocker!
Stacey, The Pyjama Foundation would like to thank-you for your fierce passion, contribution and commitment to National Pyjama Day and your work with “Miss 14”.
Please continue to let your light shine!
High profile celebrities are usually seen riding around in Premier Limousines’ luxury limousines, but this past Christmas some very special children were lucky enough to take a ride instead.
For many carers, Christmas can place a severe financial strain on their families; with many caring for upwards of five children at any one time. Carers so desperately want to ensure each and every child in their home is overwhelmed with joy on Christmas morning, as it’s often the reality that these children may have never experienced this magic before.
Each Christmas, The Pyjama Foundation team collects presents from generous community groups which are then given to children participating within its Love of Learning Program. This year they have teamed up with the very generous Premier Limousines to make Santa’s final visit before the big day extra special.
Our founder Bronwyn Sheehan said she’s proud to offer this special experience for these families this Christmas.
“It’s so amazing that we’re able to not only surprise these children with the appearance of Santa at their homes but also take them for a ride in a limousine, something they may never have the chance to do again,” she said.
Ms Sheehan said she wishes she could do so much more, with the number of children in care rapidly growing.
“Currently there are more than 48,000 children in foster care, and statistics show that approximately 75 per cent of these children will not complete high school,” she said.
“Many children in care bounce from home to home, and to difference schools which greatly hinders their ability to build relationships and meet learning milestones.”
The Pyjama Foundation recruits, screens and trains volunteer mentors, and then carefully matches them with a child in care.
Together, they focus on learning-based activities and games, with the aim of improving the child’s educational outcomes and confidence. Currently we are mentoring more than 1,400 children on a national scale with the hopes of expanding its reach in 2019.
To hire your own limo and feel like a star for an upcoming event or special occasion, check out our friends at Premier Limousines for a comfortable ride of luxury.
We all know our special little ones are creative little geniuses. They’re always experimenting with something so we’ve found some pretty mind-blowing and hands-on science experiments that you can do on your weekly visit with them. Best of all, they all use things you probably have lying around at home.
We feel these super-easy science activities are a great way to spend quality time together where the little ones are exposed to a wide variety of scientific concepts.
Learn about surface tension with this fun experiment. This is possibly the easiest and most beautiful science experiment out there!
What happens when you mix peroxide, food colouring, water, dish soap and yeast and wait for two minutes? You get elephants toothpaste!
Talk about a groovy project! This fun science experiment is sure to impress – make a lava lamp by pouring vegetable oil into water, then sprinkling salt on it to make the blob of oil move.
Learn how to make a cloud in a bottle, instantly! If you’ve ever wondered how real clouds work, try this experiment.
Who doesn’t like to pretend like they’re a secret agent? Write secret messages to your friends and try to get them to decode them. The trick? Holding it close to any source of heat – like a candle or incandescent light bulb.
This is a super fun way to show the kids how primary colours mix to form secondary colours. Because water and oil don’t mix, the kids can see how the primary colours separate back after they’ve been mixed around. For this fun project, we use water which is coloured by regular food colouring and baby oil which is coloured by oil-based food colouring.
Making rock candy means the little ones can actually see the shape of tiny little sugar crystals on a magnified scale. Giving them lots of time to grow means they’ll form much bigger! you can eat these pretty little things once they done or you can keep them. What a yummy and beautiful experiment!
We had no idea that electricity and magnetism were so closely linked! You can build your very own miniature electromagnetic train by experimenting with the two materials.
Thought you could never stand on top of The Big Banana or ride The Big Cassowary? Well, you can make anything look possible with forced perspective photos!
Gather some of the kids favourite toys, plus things from around the house and garden and have the kids guess whether they object will float or sink.
How cute are these eggheads? Plant grass seeds in an empty eggshell and watch their hair grow! You should see sprouts in a few days that you can style any way you want.
For more ideas on how to incorporate fun in your visits, check out our arts & crafts and fun food blog posts!
Back to school after the holiday break can be a terrifying time for many children, particularly those in the foster care system.
But thanks to dedicated Townsville Pyjama Angel volunteer Robyn Narratone one child’s experience has been far more positive.
Lexi* was just two-years-old when Robyn was first matched as her Pyjama Angel.
Fast forward three years and countless hours of reading together and playing educational games, Lexi has soaring confidence and Foster Carer Sarah* said she couldn’t be more grateful for the support Robyn has provided.
“When our two-year-old began to develop an interest in language and books, we referred her to the Pyjama Angel Program and her Pyjama Angel Robyn has been such a great support to her ever since,” she said.
“I think for Lexi a key benefit was providing that individual, focused attention. As the middle child and having a brother with additional support needs, it was difficult for Lexi to get the learning support which was needed in order to catch up with her age group and develop foundational skills.”
Sarah said one of her very favourite moments was coming home from work and hearing little Lexi reading ‘Where is the Green Sheep’ by herself for the very first time.
“Weekly sessions have provided effective early intervention to support the development of a range of skills for school readiness, including following instructions, focusing on tasks, being able to talk and listen, identifying numbers and letters, basic manners, writing her name and taking turns,” she said.
“She has continued to thrive with Robyn’s support and we can see that she is set up for success with schooling.”
The Pyjama Foundation North QLD regional coordinator Mel Vaughan said quality interaction with adults in the early years is vital for educational success.
“We have a number of Pyjama Angels in our program, who are matched with toddlers or children about to start school,” she said.
“These volunteers provide positive learning experiences in a safe environment and build a love of reading and learning that will hopefully transfer to formal schooling experiences.
“Robyn sang simple nursery rhymes to Lexi, played counting games, read books, improved fine motor skills through finger painting and play-dough and completed puzzles.
“Concentration is like a muscle that requires regular exercise to strengthen. Some kids are born “stronger” in this area than others, but all kids can learn strategies and engage in practices that help improve their ability to focus and sustain their attention”
– Dr. Jamie Howard
Children in out of home care often lack interest in learning and find difficulty in concentrating and staying on task. With 92% of children in care below average reading skills by the time they are seven years of age and struggle to catch up, it is important as mentors to help our children build and train their ‘concentration muscle’.
Here are some tips for our Pyjama Angels to implement in visits to help their children stay on task.
1. Set A Plan
It can be a good idea to create a plan for your visits. At the beginning of your visit you can work with your child to write out a set plan for the visit. This gives both you and your child the opportunity to decide what you will aim to achieve within your visit.
2. Set Time Lengths For Tasks
When setting a plan or just completing tasks, it is important to set appropriate time lengths for specific tasks. As a Pyjama Angel, you will get to know the typical time length your child will concentrate and focus on a task. Use your understanding to set appropriate time lengths on tasks you aim to complete.
3. Use Timers
When aiming to complete a task for a specific time, it can be helpful to utilise timers or stopwatches. Clocks or stopwatches can provide a visual aid for children, and help them understand when a task will finish.
4. Planned Breaks
It is also important to ensure that you build in planned breaks. After spending some time concentrating, it is useful to take a break – whether that be a small physical break such as throwing a ball around or trying a Brain Gym exercise.
These exercises can be utilised if child become distracted or simply as a planned break. These small physical activities will re-engage the brain and can help a child re-focus on a set task.
* Brain Gym exercises adapted from margdteachingposters.weebly.com/thinking-processes
Incorporating these tips will hopefully see your visits become more productive and time efficient, though it it important to remember that every child is unique and requires different techniques. Be patient and kind and see what works best for you and your child during your visits.
If you ever feel stuck and need any assistance or tips, our team is available for a chat at 07 3256 8802 between 9-5pm Monday-Friday.
The Love of Learning program is the only one of its kind. It provides children with the opportunity to strengthen their literacy and numeracy skills outside of school. But as a Pyjama Angel, you aren’t a tutor. You’re a mentor. Someone who can guide the children in the program and be a positive influence. You show them that reading isn’t really so bad. If you’re scratching your head about what to bring along, we have a few suggestions the could help:
The Empowerment series by Stephen Krensky celebrates the milestones children achieve at this age. This series has of four books: Now I am Big! I Can Do It Myself! I Know a Lot! I Am So Brave!
Another crowd favourite is the Clifford the Big Red Dog series by Norman Bridwell.
The works of Dr Seuss are perfect for this age group!
Other favourite reads of ours include What’s Cooking by Joshua David Stein and Pass it On by Sophy Henn.
The Pyjama Foundation firmly believes in cultivating the aspirations of foster children.
Goodnight stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo is a compilation of the stories of courageous women who challenged the status quo and changed the course of history. It is a great read for both girls and boys.
Another similar series is the Ordinary People Change the World Series by Brad Meltzer. Each book focuses on different key historical figures such as I am Neil Armstrong, I am Jane Goodall and I am Albert Einstein.
This age is an excellent time to introduce the books by Roald Dahl. This is the man who quoted ‘Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it’. His books are great to include in the Love of Learning Program for that reason; to help children believe in magic. You don’t need to look much further than Willy Wonka for an excellent read. Other titles worth bringing include The Fantastic Mr Fox, George’s Marvellous Medicine and Matilda.
The books by Enid Blyton ignite the imaginations of children at this age. Blyton wrote her books early last century but they have endured the test of time. The books are large, but because the stories are written for children, they’re easy to understand. Some of the timeless and most popular series include The Magic Faraway Tree, The Wishing Chair and The Secret Seven
As a Pyjama Angel, you have full access to our dedicated resource library where you can pick up many of these books. We want our kids to use their imaginations, be engaged and love reading just as much as we do. We hope these examples can help your inspire kids to do just that.
Get more advice here:
The double-edged sword of volunteering
We would thank you here or there,
We would thank you anywhere,
We would thank you in a wagon,
We would thank you on a dragon,
In the park, or at the zoo,
Cause that was awfully nice of you.
Thank you for spending a night with me,
Helping lots of kiddies in need.
A little over a month ago, we welcomed guests far and wide to join us for a night of fun and frivolity at The Pyjama Foundation’s Brisbane Cat in the Hat Cocktail Party as we raised much needed funds for kids in out of home care. Hosted at the State Library of Queensland, the party included live entertainment, endless photo booth opportunities and a crowd favourite candy bar!
Children living in foster care often bounce from different homes, to different schools, which can affect their opportunities to read and learn, causing them to fall behind their peers academically. The Cat in the Hat theme was a dedication to Dr Seuss, who wrote brilliant books that have inspired – and continue to inspire – children all around the world.
Instant win mystery box tickets and raffle tickets were available to purchase on the night with amazing prizes thanks to all of our incredible sponsors. Free trip to Phuket anyone?
By raising these funds, we are able to continue growing The Pyjama Foundations Love of Learning Program, and screen, train, recruit and match a volunteer ‘Pyjama Angel’ with a child in out of home care. Together, the child and Pyjama Angel read books aloud, focus on educational based activities, play games and so much more. Pyjama Angels become part of the family and are a constant positive support system when needed the most.
Former and present Pyjama kids joined us on the night, as well as many Pyjama Angel volunteers who continue to inspire us every day. The Executive Director of Child, Family and Disability Services Matthew Lupi was the entertaining MC for the evening, and welcomed the Honourable Shannon Fentiman, Minister for Communities, Women and Youth, and Child Safety and Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence to give a powerful address to kick off the evening.
The room was filled with love, laughs and great acts of generosity, to which we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Thank you for supporting The Pyjama Foundation’s Cat in the Hat Cocktail party, and we hope to see you all again next year with more festivities.