DIRECTORS’ REPORT - February, 2018
It is our pleasure to submit our first report to the Committee of Management for 2018
Our year has begun with a full complement of children in the centre. A staggered start to both groups (half of each group entering the centre for the first time on two parts of a day in the first week) afforded everyone the opportunity to settle in at their own pace, and thus avoid much of the anxiety that usually accompanies ‘first times’. After a few minor bumps in the road we are all truly on the way to happy, secure starts for everyone.
Thankfully there have been few absences since our term began. Hopefully this will auger well for the rest of the year! Thank you for keeping unwell children at home until they’re on the road to recovery. By nipping illnesses in the bud this way, epidemics can be largely avoided.
The children have settled in well and some friendships are already becoming established. Our emerging curriculum requires input from the children regarding the day’s activities as well as the day to day organisation of meal times and tidying up after ourselves. They have accepted these responsibilities eagerly and look forward each day to the time when the names of the daily helpers are revealed!
Our Circle Time each morning is a success. The children arrive and, after completing their morning chores, move promptly to the green mat to greet each other. Thank you for actively encouraging your children to participate in the morning routine upon arrival. Our settling song denotes the beginning of our day together and signals the opportunity to share news and discuss interests. (Our “Acknowledgement of Country” greeting also encourages us to be appreciative of those who came before us. Our local tribes were the Yugambeh people.)
The introduction of little name tags which are used by the children to label their work with ease has been popular. In the past some parents have been a little alarmed by this because they think that if the children are simply selecting their name tag to name work, they will then cease to practise writing their name themselves. We look on the tags as an adjunct to name writing. They are providing another opportunity for the children to continue to reinforce their knowledge of their own name, as well as those of their friends. When children first start practising their writing, they have to work very hard on the fine motor skills required to do it well. For this they need plenty of space and a smooth, unimpeded surface, along with larger pens or crayons which are easier to grip. It is difficult to name a wet, wobbly collage construction themselves. The independence gained when writing one’s own name on work is more than equaled by a child finding a name tag amongst 23 and attaching it to work unaided. There are always lots of opportunities for the children to practise writing skills in other ways.
The Belonging Stones, which were introduced early in the year, are a tangible way for children to quickly connect with their Kindergarten and those in it. Our wellbeing is fundamental to our happiness and children need to feel that they belong here and are a part of a community. They’re part of the basketful of stones so they’re important.
Over the past weeks the children have had opportunities to explore their creative side through the presentation of art activities. As everyone comes to feel more confident and comfortable in the Kindergarten environment they will be able to decide on many of their endeavours by themselves. One of our main goals is to give children the opportunity to explore their own strengths and interests through decision-making and free choice. Equipment and materials are freely available to everyone to use as they require. Naturally, should the need arise, we will be there to help stimulate their explorations and assist to send these in the directions most meaningful to them.
Outdoors, many of the children are very involved in all aspects of the playground environment. Each day the children have the chance to explore those areas which are always available – ie: sand, water, mud (!), swinging apparatus, our amazing climbing equipment, etc. Within these areas, there are many new and changing accessories or configurations which alter and evolve as the children’s interests and skills ebb and flow. It is through our observation of the children’s interactions with each other, ongoing discussion with them and the materials provided that we begin to see the path that the developing curriculum will take.
Already we have been busy in our outdoor area. The children have helped clear the vegetable patch in preparation for replanting with Miss Mandy when she returns to us. They may plant their own plants so as to begin to create a pot of colour for a special surprise later in the year. We will work together over the year on sustainable practices and a deeper connection to the world outdoors. We will focus on considered risk taking and physical skills which encourage resilience and perseverance. Of course, these traits carry through with us into adulthood. Practising them as early as possible is very desirable.
Miss Alanna began working with us in the Art Studio last week. Alanna, our Artist-in-Residence, will be guiding the children throughout the year as we explore the world of self-expression through artistic pursuits. We have begun our journey by thinking about what an artist is and examining the concept of colour and their creation. We have developed a “Colour Recipe” which shows us how new colours are created when others are mixed together. Even the most accomplished artists had some guidance and training in techniques and methods before they could produce what is in their head and heart. In this way, we can give children the skills and then the opportunity to use these skills in whatever ways they see fit. Alanna will work with the groups each fortnight and introduce new concepts and methods for examination.
We are already thinking about “Green Things”. We have thought about the way we package our lunch and morning tea boxes and the effect this can have on the natural world. We are becoming more aware of how plastic products in our world lead to greater rubbish creation and danger to sea creatures in our waterways as the rubbish is washed into their environment. We know that it costs families much less to buy food in larger quantities and then use small amounts in reusable containers in our lunch boxes. The tiny cheese and crackers packaging creates no less than three separate pieces of rubbish! We are all thinking about our practices at home and the ways we are already using which help to take care of our world. We will go on to discuss Recycling, Worm Farming, Keeping our Native Bees and Exploring the Work of Honey Bees.
The Afternoon Chats to be held this week for each group will provide an opportunity for some common questions to be addressed. Thank you to those parents who are able to come along. If you aren’t able to attend, a small handout with some points of discussion is available for you to collect.
This Friday 16 February, Miss Kate and Miss Jane will attend an all-day conference on Emotion Management for Children with ASD. We will then report back to other staff on our new knowledge and how this can further enhance our work with our children and families.
The following day, Saturday 17 February, all staff will attend a Reggio Emilia seminar from 8:30am – 12:00pm. This is an Introductory Course conducted by Kirsty Liljegren which will be of great benefit to everyone as we all work further into our Reggio journey as a team and use this information to inform our discoveries alongside the children.
Next Saturday 24 February, is our first Working Bee for the year. Families are asked to participate in two of the four Working Bees planned throughout the year. There is a notice on the sign-in table where families may volunteer. If you’re joining us on this occasion, please arrive at 8:30am. We anticipate we will be working for about 2 hours all up. Our Working Bee Co-ordinator will be contacting everyone whose name is on the list for this time. They’ll let you all know what tools etc you will be needing to bring, if you have them.
Our first few weeks together appear to be a portent of the year to come - ie: exciting, happy, productive and meaningful! We’re looking forward to many days of fun and sharing with you all.
Jane Hely and Lauren Regan