Author: Flinders University Childcare

From Little Things Big Things Grow (Thank you Paul Kelly): Pumpkin Fest…a Family Night

Back in early December last year, when the weather was hot and dry one Kent pumpkin seedling was planted in a raised garden bed as part of the summer plantings at Sturt House. We had wanted to plant more seedlings but that was all that was available from the garden shop on that day, and maybe that was a fortunate coincidence. When we returned from the summer break the garden bed was full of strong vine with tendrils spilling over the edge. Over the next four months it grew bigger and stronger, pushing through the garden fence in multiple directions and draping over the Westringia and Passion fruit bushes, creating magical nooks and crannies for the children to explore and play in. Flowers and then pumpkins were discovered. Daily reports of new sightings were investigated; three, five, no, seven pumpkins. Research was needed. When should pumpkins be picked and how could we use them? As the stems browned we harvested the pumpkins and placed them on the tin shed roof, eight pumpkins by this time, until we were ready to use them. The children thought it was a funny place to keep the pumpkins but that is what our research had advised us. Someone told us it reminded them of Malta where it is common practice. We began to cook with the pumpkins as part of our garden to table program; pumpkin scones, pumpkin soup and pumpkin pizza but….what to do with all the extra pumpkins (twelve pumpkins in totalRead more

The Forest

Walking into Flinders you can’t help but notice the new garden development at Preschool House. Your eyes are immediately drawn to the path; along it’s twists and turns, down the hill to the new gate. What a stark difference it has made visually to the space. What difference will it make to play at Preschool House? A new path, new possibilities; we wonder where it will take us. The children and educators at Preschool House are very excited to witness the development of the Forest, beginning with the pathway that connects to the affectionately names Jungle Path along the fence line. Many children spend time during their day looking over the fence; watching, listening and asking questions. We have also begun documenting what is happening. We are learning about different tools and the material that is needed to make a path; logs, rakes, wheelbarrows, quarry sand and rubble. Inspired, we add logs and wheelbarrows to our play. Some children enthusiastically begin making a path with the logs; two children use spoons from the sandpit as a tool to cut the log to size and others take the wheelbarrows and move sand or leaves around the space. Following our risk assessment and our knowledge of the children’s competence in using logs safely, we add more logs as the week continues. This means that the Preschool House children can complete pathways, yet is also opens up opportunities for new inventions. The log is a remarkable loose part. A loose part is aRead more

Acknowledging Country

The Early Years Learning Framework and the Australian Government have declared an ongoing commitment to embedding indigenous perspectives in education and in ‘closing the gap.’ As a part of this ongoing commitment and our ethical responsibility as inhabitants of Australia, Flinders is developing a Reconciliation Action Plan. Among the strategies we wish to implement is the development of an Acknowledgement of Country. Flinders is located on Kaurna land, and we wish to formally acknowledge this. We have worked through a number of drafts, and we are seeking feedback from various community participants, including families and local indigenous community members. We acknowledge that Flinders University Childcare Centre is located on the traditional country of the Kaurna people who have educated and nurtured children on this land for thousands of years; we hope to learn from this wealth of experience. We pay respect to the Elders, past, present and future. We commit to reflecting on reconciliation and equity. Would you like to share your thoughts?

The Passing of Time pt.3

Over the last few posts we have shared the journey of redevelopment in the Sturt House garden. Today we share with you the final product… The fence has been down for a few weeks now and the children have celebrated by thoroughly exploring the space and all the challenges it has offered their bodies and minds. New ways to balance, swing and climb; individually and together. New skills to learn, practice and then master. The Educators had expected this physicality but what has been most impressive has been the respect and empathy children have shown within the space. Bird’s nests have been discovered in a tree, now called the ‘bird tree’, within the space. Nests and offerings have been created in and around the tree for the bird sitting on the nest while keeping a respectful distance. Children have empathised with others who are struggling with the new skills, and have guided their peers with instruction, demonstration and encouragement. As is the case with peer tutoring, these types of interactions seem to cultivate confidence in both the tutor and the student. The construction focus within the children’s play has continued; the children are taking their tools into the play space and investigating the construction work in detail, looking carefully at the nuts and bolts that join the timber work. Using their tools, found objects and loose parts they have built playgrounds for the dinosaurs and nests for the birds. Some children have also created games with quite complex rules and objectives. Our documentationRead more

Children as Citizens, Children with Rights

We are delighted to announce that Flinders has been selected to participate in a 15 month project exploring children’s rights and children as citizens for children aged birth to three. The project is a part of the South Australian Collaborative Childhood Project, developed as a result of Carla Rinaldi’s Thinker in Residence position in South Australia a few years ago. So we have been thinking about children’s rights, about what it means to have rights, and how we enact this within our work at Flinders. We have been looking again at the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Australia is a signatory. As we refreshed ourselves of this important document, a few articles in particular stood out. Article 29 – Education should develop each child’s personality and talents to the full. It should encourage children to respect their parents, their cultures and other cultures. Article 30 – Children have the right to learn and use the language and customs of their families, whether or not these are shared by the majority of the people in the country where they live, as long as this does not harm others. Article 31 – Children have the right to relax, play and to join in a wide range of leisure activities. If you would like to take a look at a summary of the full convention, please click here. What are your thoughts on children as citizens from birth and possessors of rights?  

The Passing of Time: A Garden Redevelopment Part 2

Today the gate keys were returned and the builders finished work on the Sturt House garden redevelopment. The children’s excitement levels surged again. ‘Is the fence coming down and we can play?’ These ebbs and flows of excitement and energy have been a pattern over the past three weeks. So now the children are waiting again. Waiting patiently for an official safety check……then the fence comes down and then…… PLAY!

The Passing of Time: A garden redevelopment

Ever since Sturt House was established in 2012 the Director and the Educators have discussed a redevelopment of the outdoor environment. They have imagined, researched, planned and dreamed. Good things come to those who wait, and when the time was right a plan came together. Late last year the nature play and sustainability consultants Climbing Tree were employed to bring our imaginings into reality. They produced a concept proposal which was submitted to the stakeholders; Director, educators, children and the Flinders community for comment, and work finally began in early February this year. Sturt House was buzzing with anticipation and when the safety fencing went up the children really knew there were changes underway. Groups of children were constantly looking through the fence, catching the builders Ash and Nathan’s attention and confidently asking many questions. Early in week one of the construction work one educator was looking through the fence with a group of children and she said ‘Isn’t it exciting.’ One of the children responded with ‘It’s not exciting, we just want to play now.’ The Sturt House Educators shared the comment with smiles on their faces, noting once again (because these moments are brought to our attention often throughout our day), how differently adults and children can think. Then we thought more deeply about the comment. We run an emergent, play based program in Sturt House, one driven by the children’s interests together with provocations from the environment and wider Sturt House community. We use the term provocation often inRead more

Quality Area 1 – Educational Program and Practice

All early childhood services in Australia are required to work within the National Quality Framework. This involves regular internal and external assessments against the National Quality Standard, and ongoing continuous improvement. The National Quality Standard provides standards in relation to seven key areas. Quality Area 1 outlines standards that relate to programming and practice in early childhood. Quality Area 1, the Early Years Learning Framework and the Flinders Philosophy guide programming decisions in all houses at Flinders. Learning programs build on children’s current knowledge, ideas and ways of being, with play as a context for learning. Educators engage in an ongoing cycle of observing, reflecting, planning and implementing. Experiences, environments, routines, group times and resources are all considered within this cycle according to the children’s changing ideas. Each house has a programming journal, detailing specific plans, experiences and ongoing projects that children are investigating. The journals also include details of spontaneous play and emerging ideas through stories and photographs of the children at play. Educators at Flinders take programming seriously; children’s holistic learning is central to everything we do. Educators work together to better understand children’s ideas and support each other through critical reflection. Have you taken a look at the programming journal in your house? We would love your feedback!

The Role of Ritual in Transition

The beginning of the year brings many transitions for children across Flinders. Children, families and educators are all become familiar with new spaces and faces as we embark on new adventures; some for the first time. During the beginning of the year, all programs at Flinders have a strong focus on rhythm and routine. Predictable, familiar environments provide children with an opportunity to feel a sense of agency as they move through their day. Rhythms, routines and rituals help us all establish a sense of belonging, finding the familiar in the unfamiliar. The importance of predictability is important not only during big transitions like moving houses, but also through the many smaller transitions children experience each day as they enter and exit spaces. Having a ritualised pattern of actions on entering and exiting the Flinders environments can allow children to feel a sense of control over their day; they know what is happening and what will happen next. Some children even benefit from the same words being spoken each day as they prepare to enter their House. Our programs provide rhythm in children’s days by providing enough structure that children can predict what happens next (after lunch we have a sleep) and enough flexibility to allow for spontaneous or emerging projects (group time is running late because we were watching a koala walk through our garden out of the window). Does your family have special rituals, routines or rhythms? You might like to share them in a comment.