Author: Flinders University Childcare

Beginning with Less

One of the biggest difference families notice when they begin their journey at Flinders is the “less” factor. Less resources, less colour, less displays, less stuff. At times, this can be surprising, challenging, or even shocking to those of us who are used to more. We live in a more culture, driven primarily by commercialism and economic imperative; earlier is better, more is better. Families ask us; what do my children do all day? They notice and comment on the lack of toys, or mention how spare the environments seem. All of this is intentional. Loris Malaguzzi once referred to the environment of the early childhood centre as an aquarium, reflecting the interests of the people who inhabit it. But the thing about authentic representation is that it is built on relationship. We can’t accurately reflect the lives and interests of the people who inhabit our spaces until we know about the people who inhabit our space. This takes time. It is hard, deep and vulnerable work, to begin to share our values with others. Working from a foundation of relationships requires educators to create a safe space for families and children, to listen carefully, to observe closely, and then to use this information to make informed decisions about what we provide in the physical and emotional environment. Research continually shows that learning in the early years is based on the quality of the relationships. When educators have strong, reciprocal relationships with children, they feel secure to explore and toRead more

A New Beginning

Welcome to 2021! We are looking forward to welcoming educators, children and families back for the start of the Flinders year. January at Flinders is a time of change – new families beginning, existing families transitioning to new buildings, and educators finding their feet as they navigate new buildings and relationships. At the beginning of each year, we ask two things from our families; patience, and courage. Patience, as we navigate a new space with new people. Patience, as we become familiar with you and your family. Patience, as we learn all about your child. Courage, as you bring your child to a new space with new people. Courage, as you say goodbye bravely and confidently. Courage, knowing that you have made a great choice by bringing your child to Flinders, and that they will be nurtured. We know how difficult transitions can be for families and children, even when these are cushioned by the stability that looping brings. We are here to provide the support and comfort that you and your child need as we navigate this transition together. For families who are new to Flinders, trust that we will get there, together. Last year we posted some tips for smoothing the transition for your child, and we share them again below; Sharing your positive thoughts about Flinders and the things your child might do Being brave Taking time to stay and play at pick up time, and making drop offs brief and kind Talking about children and educatorsRead more

Wrapping Up

We steadily tread towards the end of the year, the end of 2020. A year that challenged us in ways we never expected. A year that began with the smell of bushfires, and finished with the smell of hand sanitiser. A year many are eager to farewell. But as with all things, there was not only challenge this year. There was also much to be proud of. There was great kindness, compassion and empathy. Our community came together to support each other and navigate the ever-changing landscape of restrictions. We learned the value of Zoom, social media and video calls. We took care of ourselves, our families, and each other. At Flinders, our work is about community, but most of all, our work is about children. Children are at the heart of our community. There has been much in the media about what children have lost as a result of this year, and it is true that there is much to be mourned. But when so many choose to portray children as passive victims of this moment in time, we see something different. We see in front of us a community of children who are resilient, perceptive, compassionate and hopeful. Children who adapt and adjust, who persist, who continue to learn and grow and thrive. Children who are active participants, active citizens in the community. At the end of each year we send home children’s portfolios as a celebration of their learning and growth. This year, as they are lovinglyRead more

Water Play

As we have been experiencing some hot Wirltuti (spring) days, we have been offering water play to the children in all the houses. The best feature of water play is that it is open-ended. Children can choose to engage in:    Collaborative play as they work together to a shared outcome Physical play as they practice their fine motor skills, gross motor skills and hand eye coordination Experimentation as they conduct investigations to learn about scientific concepts like floating, sinking and cause and effect Filling and emptying as they develop mathematical understandings about volume, capacity, mass, measuring and estimating Problem solving as they work to find ways to orient different containers to hold water, transport water and more Sociodramatic play as they use water symbolically And of course, sensory play as they enjoy the sensation of the water on their bodies and connect with nature. You may wonder, how does this fit with our commitment towards Early Childhood Education for Sustainability? As educators invite the children to play with water, we remain aware of the value of water as a resource and strive to impart this awareness. We practice sustainable water practices during water play by limiting access to water and encouraging the meaningful play that arises from respecting the finite nature of our resources. For example, we employ tap flow restrictors, think intentionally about how much water we need in a trough and, in Sturt House, we have rainwater tanks for water play. If we have any water leftRead more

Numeracy at Sturt House

“Numeracy is the capacity, confidence and disposition to use mathematics in daily life. Children bring new mathematical understandings through engaging in problem solving. It is essential that the mathematical ideas with which young children interact are relevant and meaningful in the context of their current lives… Spatial sense, structure and pattern, number, measurement, data argumentation, connections and exploring the world mathematically are the powerful mathematical ideas children need to become numerate” Belonging, Being and Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia (p38) The Early Years Learning Framework definition of numeracy is highly nuanced. The concept of numeracy as a way of thinking about and understanding the world is far different to an understanding of mathematics that focuses on processes, or rules. Of course, both understandings have their place, but in early childhood the focus is certainly on numeracy as a tool for understanding and engagement. When we consider the EYLF’s broad definition, we can see how many of the experiences that we take for granted in early childhood education are fundamental to developing numeracy. Things like sorting, counting and pattern making are practices that encourage children to understand their world numerically. Below are some images of the work children in Sturt House have been undertaking recently. Some of the numeracy skills and concepts children have been developing include: Exploring order and number using number cards Experimenting with transformation and tessellation using puzzles and loose parts Representing quantity and number in a variety of ways Gathering, organising and reading dataRead more

Winter Wonderland

Winter outdoor play is fundamental to the programs at Flinders. Children play outdoors all year round, ensuring ongoing access to fresh air and the natural world. Indeed, for many families the outdoor play program is one of the many reasons why they have chosen to come here. The winter outdoor play programs are in full swing across Flinders; everyone from Baby House to Sturt House has the opportunity to be outside in the elements. Flinders provides rainsuits and gumboots, and place to store any items of this nature that families choose to provide. Developing a strong relationship with the natural world is more that just experiencing the sunny, mild days. Any lasting relationship must also embrace and accept that which is less pleasant, such as rain, cold and cloud. As adults, it is easy to impose our own aesthetic preferences on children and their engagement with the elements, stating it’s too cold, wet or miserable to go outside. But any one who has spent time watching a child leap delightedly into a puddle knows that children don’t see things quite the same way. At Flinders we are mindful to remember that we are, at all times, role models for children. This is no less true when considering our attitudes towards winter outdoor play. So we don a smile and a sense of wonder alongside the children, dress warmly, and pack our gumboots – for after all, there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.

Community in a Washing Basket

A Special Message from the Director Today’s blog is taking a different tone to the usual. Most of the world has had a rough and bumpy last 13 weeks, and so has Flinders, but for far more reasons than you may think. Things are said to happen in threes, and by the middle of March, I thought we’d had our three, and I was moving on. I was very much mistaken. The beginning of March brought a stove ignition problem. It took three visits from a tech and three days of creative meal preparation from the centre’s fantastic cook, to be fixed, and all the while the children were fed. I thought this was the end. The next week, the industrial dishwasher in the kitchen decided it would get in on the action. It needed a new control panel. We did a fair bit of dishwashing and wiping during this week; it was okay, and we smiled through. The next breakdown was the washing machine. The digital code on the panel told me it was a blocked overflow pipe, and I knew how to fix it thanks to Dr Google. This breakdown was not going to cost us time or money! Alas, my ability as a washing machine technician was lacking; we needed a professional. The fan needed replacing, and it was going to cost, but it was fixable and quick. Over the next fortnight, the two heaters in Sturt House went, and we were unable to get replacement partsRead more

A Pot of Tea

Winter is certainly upon us; it’s cold and a little gloomy, however the outdoor program at Flinders is as strong as it is in the warmer months. The children are navigating the change in weather well. With support, even the youngest children are beginning to recognise their body’s need for extra layers of clothing and a change in hat. Some children even wear gloves, mittens, and gumboots, warming right to the tips of their toes and fingers. Just as educators adjust the program in response to the winter season, so the children adjust their play. Keeping their shoes on in the sandpit, seeking shelter when they feel drops of rain, recognising the need for gumboots with puddles and doing a little more running when they feel cold. The outdoors is important all year round and the colder months teach the children about body awareness and looking after their wellbeing. The winter menu provides children with hearty meals, warming them from the inside of their bodies. Alongside this, the educators have been making lemon verbena tea with the children during some mornings. Warm drinks and warm food encourage the children to take a moment and find joy in good nutrition and delicious tea. It is delightful to see a group of children, mug in hand, chatting about what they see, feel and smell. A time to gather and enjoy the simple pleasure of each other’s presence and calm those rosy cheeks. To make your own lemon verbena tea, simply add aRead more

Winter Menu

Food is an essential part of the programs at Flinders. Not only are meals a time to feed the body, they are a time to feed the community and the soul. Food and menus at Flinders are carefully planned to ensure they meet a range of requirements, including the guidelines developed by Nutrition Australia. The meals at Flinders are seasonal; during the summer months they include lighter foods and in winter we eat heartier, warming foods like soups and curries. All food at Flinders is prepared in-house, in our commercial kitchen by our cook. The meals are made from scratch wherever possible from locally sourced ingredients. Whole foods are the foundation of all meals. Allergies and other dietary requirements are catered for, including plant-based options. We are delighted to move to our winter menu for 2020, welcoming back such favourites as Build-your-own Baked Potato, Black Bean Soup with Corn Salsa, and Lentil and Vegetable Lasagne. For those of you who would like a taste at home, here is the recipe for Black Bean Soup with Corn Salsa: Black Bean Soup Ingredients 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 large onion, chopped 1 stalks celery, chopped 2 carrots, chopped 2 cloves garlic chopped 1 tablespoon ground cumin black pepper to taste 2 cups vegetable broth 2 cans black beans 2 can whole kernel corn 2 can crushed tomato Method Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Sauté onion, celery, carrots and garlic for 5 minutes. Season with cumin, and black pepper;Read more