For one of the region's speech pathologists, the launch of a new e-learning program is the realisation of a dream.
Created for early childhood educators by speech pathologists, HealthWISE's 'Sounds Good To Me' (SGTM) course is designed to give children a step up before their schooling life begins.
HealthWISE integrated care manager Anne Williams was first inspired to create SGTM five years ago after speaking to a teacher in Narrabri.
"She worked with children at risk of educational disadvantage and learning difficulties," Anne explained.
"She had noticed that a lot of these kids didn't have the skills they needed to learn to read and so fell quickly behind when they started school. And I thought 'we can do something about this'."
By passing on her knowledge to educators, she realised kids would be better prepared for school.
Shortly after, Inverell speech pathologist Linda Foskey joined the team.
A 2014 trial in four childcare centres showed children who took the program improved in pre-literacy skills.
With offices in Tamworth, Armidale, Narrabri, Gunnedah, Moree, Inverell, Glen Innes, Ipswich and Goondiwindi, HealthWISE have been running the program face-to-face right across the region.
But Anne's vision of seeing the program reach an even larger audience has now been realised, with the course officially launched online.
It is satisfying to send our pre-schoolers off to 'big school' with the skills they need to learn to read.Prue Jamieson
Nurruby Children's Services have been using the program since 2014, and managing director Prue Jamieson is thrilled to see the digital version come to life.
"I have seen big improvement in the skills and confidence of the educators in my team, with the program now embedded in all areas of our curriculum," she said.
"It is satisfying to send our pre-schoolers off to 'big school' with the skills they need to learn to read."
A free live webinar will be held during NSW Education Week from August 3 to 7.
The course comes with a physical resource kit with a detailed program guide, USB, a 'full-body listening' poster, picture prompt cards and more.
Speech pathologists are also available for consultation calls to support members.
To learn more or to register for the webinar, click here.