CO-DIRECTORS’ REPORT JULY 2017
Wednesday 19 July, 2017.
Once again, it is our pleasure to present our monthly report.
Our groups continue to enjoy their full complement of children. We welcomed Napat and his family to Miss Lauren’s group this month as a vacancy had arisen after Ryan and his family moved further south.
Generally, the health of the centre has been good over the past weeks although half of this has been spent away from the Kindergarten due to holidays. We hope to continue to keep the community healthy as the cooler months pass by. As usual, we are grateful to families for keeping unwell children at home so they can recover and so that no one else catches the germs. Handwashing continues to be a major focus for us as we encourage the children in personal health and hygiene.
Upon both groups’ return for the new term, new directions are already being pursued. The children are continuing to pursue an active interest in our gorgeous outdoor environment. There are many Chasing Games and other collaborative projects being carried over from last term. There are concerns about working together to discuss so that everyone is safe and happy. The children respond well to these types of efforts and as such are keen to be fair and just. This skill is essential to be able to negotiate our world, so practice in this environment is welcome.
Skye’s return this term has seen a new interest in camp fires. We have been very fortunate to have been given a fire pit by Bunnings’ and it’s already been put to use. There were long, earnest discussions about what safety considerations needed to be taken into account and preparations were made together beforehand so everyone’s safety was ensured. When these kinds of challenges are put to children, they draw on all their previous knowledge and rise sensibly to the occasion. We enjoyed preparing the fire together before Skye used her flint to light it. We watched as the adults toasted marshmallows over the flames. We sang songs and watched the fire dance and the smoke billow skyward. Afterwards, some children helped to extinguish the flames and discard the remains after collecting the cool charcoal for use in our drawing.
Both groups are thinking about the world and its myriad lands and peoples. By looking at our own family origins we will be beginning to develop a deeper understanding of the innate connectedness we have with many other cultures and indeed with each other. Everyone hails from somewhere and by exploring those similarities and differences we can come to see our common threads and in turn feel more empathy and interest towards others. There will is a display on the wall in our entrance foyer, which shows just how far some people have travelled to eventually become a part of our Kindergarten community. It is fascinating and really heartwarming. Please take a look!
A definite highlight for everyone next week will be our excursion by bus to the Numinbah Valley Environmental Education Centre. This experience never fails to have a profound and long-lasting effect on all who have it. Everyone has received their relevant notice by now. We like to have as many adults join us as possible on this journey. One per child is our ideal situation. Miss Jane’s group will have their day on Tuesday 25 July and Miss Lauren’s children will go on Friday 28 July.
(Children are showing increasing respect for and understanding of environments. They are exploring their role in caring for these. Connectedness – Queensland Kindergarten Learning Guideline)
Miss Alanna will return this term in her role as Artist-in-Residence. The children will be exploring the art world further under her guidance. Initially she will be helping us all acquaint ourselves further with clay and how we can use certain techniques to express ideas and understandings.
Japanese lessons began this term. Miss Emily has visited both groups now and the children are learning songs and games and with these, new vocabulary. A greeting song is already familiar, as are the names and sounds of some well-known animals. It is so interesting to hear how easily the children can recall words and phrases just learned. They truly are in an ideal position to develop and remember this knowledge. Miss Emily’s cheerful and enthusiastic presentation helps keep the children focused.
Last week, all teaching staff attended the biennial Reggio Emilia Australia Information Exchange Conference in Sydney. Following Jane’s amazing trip to Reggio Emilia in April 2016, where she embarked on a week-long intensive Study Tour, the natural progression to a group experience was obvious. The Reggio Emilia philosophy is not one that can be written on a piece of paper and passed around so everyone will become knowledgeable and confident about utilizing its ideas in their own individual contexts.
The Reggio Emilia Education Project is already over 50 years old and continues to evolve and change as the teachers and other staff immerse themselves in it. It was born of a vision of Loris Malaguzzi, who was a teacher in Reggio Emilia following the second World War. He believed that the way children learn and develop should be paramount to the work undertaken with them by teachers.
The centres in Reggio Emilia are inextricably intertwined with the local community as well as the wider context of Italy. They do not provide us with a model, but rather the opportunity to reflect on our own educational theories, practice and organization.
And reflect we have! The four conference days have given Jane, Lauren, Mandy and Kate an incredible opportunity to think about our own beliefs about how children learn, what our role is within their learning, how we can best facilitate what we believe to be their individual explorations of their own identity and all that this entails.
We arrived back on the Gold Coast brimming with ideas about how we can all move together towards changing the ways we work with our children so we can honour their identity and do their journey justice. We are all agreed that we must go slowly as we adjust our thinking and methods of working. We will meet and reflect on a very regular basis so as to adjust as necessary.
It will be about utilizing our time each day in ways that allow us to work with the children in much smaller groups so as to be able to truly engage with individuals and actually listen so as to hear what they are trying to tell us about their self-awareness and their perspective on their world. To do this we are experimenting with ways to support each other so we can all take moments alone with small groups for meaningful conversations and experiences.
This conference was a “gift” to us that will change us professionally and we will always be very grateful for the support of our Committee as we take our new knowledge and inspiration forward.
Prior to the end of last term, we began to make contact with the families whose children will join us in 2018. It is hard to believe that this time is once again upon us. We will soon begin organizing the distribution of Enrolment Packs and holding Orientation Days and Play Days. It appears that our groups have already reached their full complement.
There is a notice on the sign-in table asking families whose children are going to Prep next year, to write down which school their child will go to next year. This gives everyone a clear picture of who else their child may know and encourages us all to begin to establish connections. If you’re still deciding on particular venues, you’ll also be able to use this list to chat with other families.
Thank you all once again for your support as we begin new journeys and continue to relish our days together.
Jane Hely Lauren Regan