Once again, it is our pleasure to present our monthly report.
Our groups continue to enjoy almost a full complement of children. Miss Lauren is waiting to learn if another family will arrive soon to fill a vacancy in her group and Finn O. and his family joined Miss Jane’s group this week.
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. Our beautiful new Atelier (Art Studio) is nearing completion and we are beginning to explore how this space will become part of our daily lives and how we will be able to continue to use our “hundred languages of expression” as described by the Italian educator, Loris Malaguzzi. His Reggio Emilia Project continues to inspire and inform our centre’s direction and focus.
The children are continuing to pursue an active interest in our gorgeous outdoor environment. There are many construction 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.
Our Neighbourhood Adventures continue as we widen our exploration of our local community. The stamina of the children comes into play and they are rising to the occasions very well. As we move away from the security and familiarity of the kindergarten environment, the children are having to consider possible problems that might arise and how we would manage these. What will we do if a car is coming along the road we want to cross? How will we make sure we don’t become separated from each other? What things should we avoid touching? What will we hear? See? Do?
Both groups will also begin to think about the world and its myriad lands and peoples. By looking at our own family origins we can begin 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
be a display on the wall in our entrance foyer soon, which will show just how far some people have travelled to eventually become a part of our Kindergarten community. It is sure to be fascinating and really heartwarming. Once you receive your handout, please complete it and return it as soon as possible so we can get to know each other even better.
A definite highlight for everyone this week is our excursion by bus to the Numinbah Valley Environmental Education Centre. Miss Jane’s children visited yesterday and as always it was an experience that presented so much to consider and consolidated knowledge we already had. (An added bonus that has never been enjoyed before was that one of our groups spotted a huge koala hanging in a tree! It was so close that everyone could have reached out and touched it!) This kind of experience never fails to have a profound and long-lasting effect on all who have it. Having so many family members able to join us helps to create special memories for everyone. Thanks to those families who were able to come along. What was your favourite part? Miss Lauren’s children will have their turn tomorrow, Thursday 26 July.
Miss Alanna has returned this term in her role as Artist-in-Residence. The children are continuing to explore the concept of self-identity. The children will be creating their self-portrait, but in unique and beautiful ways. What an amazing way to illustrate knowledge of self! These will become part of our displays planned for our Art Exhibition which will be held on Saturday 14 September. The exhibition will be in conjunction with our celebration of our centre’s 50th birthday and official opening of our Atelier on 14 September.
Japanese lessons resumed this term. Miss Emily has visited both groups now and it’s remarkable how much everyone has remembered! 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.
This time last year, all teaching staff had just come back from a truly inspirational conference in Sydney which was conducted by the Reggio Emilia Australia Information Exchange. The knowledge we gleaned has continued to inform our work since then. As a result, we applied for and were granted funding for all staff to attend the REAIE Conference in Perth in July this year. As we have now all returned from Perth a little over a week ago, our journey of learning and exploration of the Reggio Emilia Education Project is deepening. It was wonderful that Jakki was also able to participate in this conference as she is often the first person to converse with new families who may be considering joining our community. Being able to share some of our philosophy about our beliefs in the competence and creativity of children is an important role and as we all continue our explorations together as a team.
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.
We continue to reflect on our own beliefs about how children learn, what our role is within their learning and how we can best facilitate what we believe to be their individual explorations of their own identity and all that this entails. We explore how we can move together towards changing the ways we work with our children so we can honour their identity, join with them in opportunities for self-expression in myriad ways (hence the expression “the hundred languages of children” and do their journey justice. We are all agreed that we must go slowly as we adjust our thinking and methods of working. We 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. Our room configuration plays a really important role in this. You may have noticed the recent changes. We’re watching to see how this supports the children’s work.
Prior to the end of last term, we began to make contact with the families whose children will join us in 2020. 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 reached their full complement and we will wait to see if these groups remain static.
There is a notice on the sign-in table asking families whose children are going to Prep in 2020, to write down which school their child will attend. 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