Author: Flinders University Childcare

Welcome to 2022

Welcome to our first blog for 2022. At the beginning of the year we welcome new children, continuing children transition into new houses and educators transition into new houses. The focus of our learning programs is to support belonging and wellbeing as we experience shared change. The main way that we do this is through nurturing new relationships and strengthening continuing relationships. Relationships are at the heart of what we do. The Early Years Learning Framework tells us that, “Educators who are attuned to children’s thoughts and feelings, support the development of a strong sense of wellbeing…. Through a widening network of secure relationships, children develop confidence and feel respected and valued.” Attuning to children’s thoughts and feelings requires educators to stay present, move slowly, listen carefully, act consistently and reflect deeply. While experiencing transitions it is common for children to experience big emotions. One of the ways that educators support children when they experience emotion is through a process called ‘emotion coaching.’  You can use this with your child too. This involves: Emotional awareness. Being aware of your own emotions and the child’s emotions. Inviting connection and offering support. We understand that different children have different ways of being, doing and needing… some children need a cuddle while other children may need space. The important thing is that children know we are available to support them and respect their agency.  Listening carefully. Naming emotions. When ready, finding solutions together.  You can use this process too. If your child isRead more

Assessment at Flinders

Across the year at Flinders, educators undertake a Cycle of Assessment. This includes setting goals for children’s learning, planning opportunities for children to learn through play, documenting children’s learning, and assessing and evaluating their learning. Words like “assessment” aren’t words we usually associate with young children’s learning and can bring up thoughts of testing, but this isn’t what assessment looks like in early childhood education. Instead, assessment consists of documenting children’s learning as they are playing and engaging in the environments we have planned for them. You can see the results of our assessment and documentation in your child’s learning portfolio, which is available in your House. At the end of each cycle, which runs for about four month, we spend a month reflecting on and evaluating children’s progression towards the goal we initially set. This includes taking notes, sharing conversations with colleagues, and looking back on the documentation we have gathered during the cycle. The Programming Educator collates this information into a Holistic Overview; a strengths-based assessment of the child’s learning during the cycle. Holistic Overviews are now complete for the first cycle of the year. Some Houses have emailed these to individual families, and some will have them available in the House, in the child’s learning portfolio. We would love for you to take some time to look through the portfolio, to read the Holistic Overview, and to share your thoughts with us. Does our understanding of your child fit with the child you see at home? HaveRead more

The Three R’s – Rhythm, Routines and Relationships

At the beginning of the year educators, families and children are working together to develop relationships. We know that secure relationships are key to supporting children to develop a strong sense of belonging, which is our shared goal.  One of the ways that educators nurture connections with children is through our daily routines and rhythms.    A large part of our days at Flinders are dedicated to routines. Daily routines involve transitions from and to home, caring for our learning environment and our caregiving curriculum (eating, sleeping, toileting, changing nappies and putting sunscreen on). These seemingly ordinary moments can sometimes be overlooked; however, these moments are replete with potential learning opportunities. Routines help to give our days a rhythm. Their consistency and predictability enable children to anticipate what will happen next and to have a sense of time. This supports children to feel a sense of agency and to feel emotionally safe.    As educators support children to navigate our shared routines in an intentional way, attachments between educators and children begin to grow. A baby might notice the consistency between routines at Flinders and at home. A toddler might share a moment of achievement with an educator as they help clear the table after a meal. A May Mills House child might predict that it is nearly time to go inside and request a special book. A Preschooler might have an idea about what everyone could discuss at afternoon tea. A Sturt House child might come to morning teaRead more

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.