Anna and I really think we are getting a ‘feel’ for the community now; making lots of connections with small businesses and young families. We’ve identified an ongoing confusion some families have regarding ‘Preschool’ vs ‘Long Daycare with a Preschool program’. Obviously we think we have the edge here! All the advantages of a Preschool without the inconvenient hours and having to pack a lunch! We are a little biased of course…

We are starting a suite of projects focusing on clearing up this confusion in the community and clearly articulating our service.

You may notice some marketing/displays reflecting this project.

We are also building a clear ‘My School Preschool’ framework that is informed and underpinned by the NSW curriculum. This is a collaborative process between Anna and I, our Educational Leader /Preschool Teacher (Narges) and all educators at the Centre. Please let me know if you have any ideas regarding school readiness and transition to school and we will try to incorporate them.

What Next: Display and implementation of the My Story Preschool Framework

Quality Area 1.1, 7.1

We are very proud to have facilitated various activities and experiences to shine a light on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture during this week – on top of the embedded Indigenous perspectives that we incorporate into our weekly curriculum. Here are some wonderful pics from the week. There are so many others to share, however we have kept them on our private educational platform to respect the privacy of the children.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have consulted with the Aboriginal community regarding how to navigate the challenges of cultural appropriation and tokenism and endeavour to constantly improve the way in which we are educating our next generation about the First Nations.

Later in the year we will be engaging our educators in some quality professional development and resource purchasing through the Koori Curriculum program.

Quality Areas 1.1.2

From July 2 there are massive changes to the way we report, calculate and pay Subsidies for Childcare. If you haven’t already, please log onto MyGov and fill out your assessments so that you don’t experience any delay in receiving your subsides in the new financial year.

Anna and I saw an opportunity to share the word with the community through the local magazine! Thank you Paris and Aiden for being the ‘poster child/educator’ for My Story!

We are very proud to publish our first every Newsletter!

The My Story Newsletter will be published fortnight, and include include information such as:

  • Important dates
  • Administrative news
  • ‘From the Directors’
  • Vacancy information
  • Updates on our ongoing projects
  • News from the sector

It is important to us that respectful and supportive relationships with families are maintained, and that current information about the service is available at all times.

Quality Areas: 6.1

We are making wonderful headway in our Sustainability Quality Improvement Plan that was devised with the Preschool children. One of our aims is to reduce paper usage in the Centre. To this end, we have decided to go ‘single-use paper free’ in our spaces. So, for craft, drawing, and literacy activities we will be using clear sides of ‘once-used’ paper. We are encouraging families who notice wastage in their workplaces to bring in paper for our donation box! Thank you My Story families for your continuing support! We look forward to recycling becoming second nature to our precious next generation.

What Next: Consider the possibility of reducing single-use paper towels with a substitute.

Quality Areas: 3.3.1

Following on from the ‘Sustainability Audit’ that our Preschool children completed, we are working through the tasks on our Sustainability Quality Improvement Plan.

At My Story we are very lucky to be backing onto beautiful, peaceful bushland. I (Chloe) love sitting out in the back yard listening to the bell birds, and spotting flashes of colours between the trees.

In order to encourage native birds into our yard, we have purchased some native bird nesting boxes. I’ve made one up, now just two to go! They will be placed in the yard and become part of the cycle of observation, research and reflection for our young learners.

What Next: Research the possibility of planting some fruit trees in our yard spaces to encourage a sharing of our space with birds, bees and other animals.

Quality Areas: 3.2.1, 3.3.2

As we continue to address actions we have committed to in our Reconciliation Action Plan, we are overjoyed to overhear new conversations peer-to-peer, peer-to-educator and even educator-to-educator.

We recently erected Australia’s three significant flags in our front foyer; the Aboriginal Flag, Australian Flag and Torres Strait Islander Flag. Many of the Preschool children were intrigued, chatting amongst themselves regarding their knowledge of Australia’s first peoples. I’ve noticed that while several children could recognise the Aboriginal Flag, many children were unaware of the Torres Strait Islander Flag. This gives us a great place to start in our new ‘World Around Us’ section in our weekly room curriculum plans.

We’ve also gained some advice from a Local Aboriginal Elder about the differences between Nations, Bands, Clans and People, and have used this information to form a new Acknowledgement of Country to grace our foyer.

What Next: Work with some Local Aboriginal Elders to devise a culturally and locally relevant ‘Acknowledgement of Country’ song for the children to sign in the mornings.

Quality Areas: 1.1.1, 6.3.4

Our educators participated on an intensive ‘theory into practice’ professional development session on the weekend aimed at further extending our knowledge around child attachment theory. We discussed our ‘image of the child’, the various relevant theorists, self/co-regulation, interrelation of peers/educators/children and we tried to articulate our wishes for the socio-emotional development of the children at My Story. The educators have devised their own ‘Quality Area 5 mini-QIP’ to support excellence in this area (Quality Area 5).

Included in the plans are…

Reflection on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

Creating resources to assist children in emotional expression

Planned, consistent and supportive transitions for children

Encouragement of learning through play

Regular professional development opportunities for educators

Review and reflect on our current behaviour management and self-regulation policy

Develop a comprehensive, constructive Strategic Inclusion Plan to assist all children to express emotions pro-socially

Develop a plan for educator self-care to support us during challenging behaviours

We look forward to attending to our ‘Quality Area 5 mini-QIP’ over the coming 6 months, with a review during our October quarterly professional development day.

On Saturday our educators participated in a day-long professional development meeting at the Centre. There were many items on the agenda, but one topic seemed to promote especially passionate discussion. We reflected on the current state of Reconciliation at My Story – and Australia in general. We talked about the historical facts, life experience, equity and equality. The educators are very excited to start engaging with our ‘RAP’ Actions.

After gathering and carefully considering all of the feedback from this discussion, we are proud to present our Vision for Reconciliation…

My Story – Experiential Early Learning is committed to contributing to the Nation’s journey towards reconciliation. We believe that through the education of our young children Australia will truly ‘Close the Gap’.

 

‘Reconciliation’ as a concept can mean different things to different people – influenced by their life experiences, cultural background and political views. The educators, families and children have voiced diverse views on various platforms, but some themes or phrases are recurrent; acknowledgement of the past, tolerance, inclusion and meaningful change institutionally.

 

These steps towards reconciliation echo the 5 dimensions identified in the ‘State of Reconciliation in Australia’ report. Without tolerance there can be no unity, without acknowledgement there can be no historical acceptance, without inclusion there is no improvement to race relations or equality, and without institutional integrity we cannot embed any sociological change.

 

As a community, My Story stakeholders are prepared to meet challenges we may face when undertaking this journey. The Sate of Reconciliation Report confronts us with the fact that only 30% of the general community socialise with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. We understand that we need to invest in educating ourselves before we can facilitate change in the younger generation.

 

We also need to reflect on our own biases, challenge them, and become strong enough in our belief system to sensitively but assertively advocate for our reconciliation convictions. As espoused in our sector’s code of ethics, it is upon us to strive specifically towards equality in education and health outcomes for every Australian. In modern Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders experience a 60% year 12 completion rate (vs 86.5%) and 10 year decrease in life expectancy.

 

As advocates for children, it is intrinsic to our pedagogy that we uplift and support self-determination in groups in our society with a quieter or minority voice. Although a minority voice, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture is, and should be, recognised as a shared national identity.

 

Management, Families and Educators will be building connections that will enhance, enrich and fuel our sphere of influence. We look forward to engaging with the Elders of our local community, businesses that support the reconciliation vision, and experts in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and culture.