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.

Following on from our wonderful work from our Auditors (thanks children!) Chloe and Anna have devised a draft plan for improving our Sustainability efforts at My Story. We have reflected on practices in areas of energy and air quality, water usage, waste, paper use, gardening, energy and air quality etc. and set some realistic timelines for change. We look forward to sharing progress with you as we take this journey!

What Next: Share our QIP with families and educators, and nominate a ‘Sustainability Champion’ at the centre to keep us all on track!

Quality Areas: 3.2.3

As part of our commitment to embedded critical thinking and action regarding sustainability, we have set our children a very important task! Children from all age groups will be involved in conducting a sustainability audit for the centre!! Over the coming weeks, the educators will be assisting children to look around our centre and comment on how we manage waste, air, electricity etc. The educators have also planned  some fantastic provocative questions for conversations, ‘Can air be dirty?’, ‘Where does electricity come from?’, ‘Where does the water go?’ ‘Who needs water?’ etc…
After receiving back the audits, Chloe and Anna will devise a plan of action, informed by the requests of the children.

What Next: Make improvements to operations to improve sustainable practices.

Quality Areas: 3.2.3, 1.2.3

A run-in with some bad plumbing today has made Anna and I reflect on sustainable practices within our service. How can we improve our relationship with our environment? In what creative ways can we educate the children about the impact our lives have on the world around us? We have started this journey by asking for suggestions from families. We will then take these ideas to our professional development day in April to assist in establishing a sustainability statement, policy and plan of action. Please feel free to contact us with your ideas!

What Next: Family consultation

Quality Areas: 3.2.3, 6.2.3,

Anna and Chloe both grew up in different states. We both found it tricky to move to a new area with children and not know ‘the basics’. After chatting about this experience we decided to start a project that would serve a dual purpose – to connect new families to the services in the area, and to support some of the small business owners in our community. And so, the My Story Local Services Directory is born. This will be distributed to current and new families. Inside they will find all they need to know as a parent in the Hills District (e.g. late night chemists, vets, therapists, playgroups, early intervention, financial counselling, migrant support etc.).

What Next: Continue to connect with local services to gain insight and advice regarding the welfare of young children and their families.

Quality Areas: 6.1.3, 6.2.3

 

 

Thank you Miss Narges for your beautiful decoration of our foyer in celebration of Persian New Year! We are very lucky this year to have Harmony Day and ‘Norooz’ on the same day. The Preschool children have also completed some pictures of their own interpretations of the decorations.
All of our educators are making plans to bring experiences from other cultures into the program so that all children can feel a sense of belonging, and to ensure that all cultures, values and beliefs are respected in our service.

What Next: Diversify our menu to incorporate traditional dishes from cultures represented in our community.

Quality Areas: 6.1.2, 6.2.3

 

A casual chat in the staff room about the different cultures and experiences the educators and staff bring to this service has led us to reflect on our understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Culture. On reflection, we all felt like we should be more knowledgeable about our indigenous cultures, and specifically those of our local land. To kick start a larger piece of improvement work around cultures, difference and inclusion we have started a Reconciliation Action Plan. As we navigate this process we will share updates with you, and ask for feedback from families and educators. If you are part of our community and either identify as Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander, or you have some knowledge you could share with us, please get in touch.

What Next: Develop a comprehensive RAP and share with families/community

Quality Area: 6.2.2