My name is Shaima Salamat and I have two children that go to a public school now. I arrived in Australia in March 2012 from India. My husband had some friends as he has been in Australia since 2002. However for me, it was a big challenge as I was feeling isolated since I am used to being surrounded by so many family members.
I was feeling isolated since I am used to being surrounded by so many family members.
I was introduced to a parenting circle in Strathfield by a family friend. At first it felt strange to be with people from many different cultures, however it didn’t take long to feel part of the group.
Soon after starting the group, parents were asked to come to a meeting to take up a volunteer role to manage the group. After the meeting I found myself taking a treasurer and administrative role. Each week I made sure parents registered at the door. I collected $3 from each family which I used to buy morning tea and resources for the parents and children. Each week parents shared different food and celebrated different cultural festivals, this made us very happy as we celebrated together regardless if this was part of our culture or not.
...we celebrated together regardless if this was part of our culture
In the 2 years that my children and I came to the group, I could see the skills that my children developed, including being able to socialise with other children and to do so many interesting activities. All these skills helped my children to make the transition to school with ease. They are both at school now and enjoy the Australian education system. The highlight for my children was a visit from the ABC Television crew at Playschool who were doing a special series on babies. I got to meet the producer Karen who was so friendly and made us feel like movie stars.
In my time at the parenting circle, I met many people from different cultures; I learned how to be a positive parent from a special parenting education program delivered to the parents by the family support workers from metro assist. I learned about sharing and caring, how to listen, how to be more tolerant with other children. The tips I learned I implemented in my life, especially how to manage behaviour, when my son is crying, how to communicate in a positive way. My daughter learned to speak English from coming to the group, and how to overcome her shyness. Now she’s excelling at school and really enjoying the learning experience.
My daughter learned to speak English from coming to the group, and how to overcome her shyness.
Although I am no longer going to the parenting circle at Homebush, I have referred many of my friends and relatives who have come to Australia in recent years, to join the playgroup as it would help them to settle in the new country the same way it helped me and my family to enjoy the new way of life.