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.
Welcome to 2017 at Flinders! We have hit the ground running, with educators and children exploring new spaces as we transition and loop. We are all working on creating spaces that are welcoming and inspiring, spaces where people can feel safe to imagine, create and explore. We wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the amazing community which we are all a part of. Each year we celebrate together at our End of Year Party. We had 200 families and 52 educators participate in the Flinders community last year. 500 people attended our End of Year Party, and 50 educators. Our philosophy talks about the importance of relationships with families, and that Flinders is place of belonging for all. This was exemplified by the kind, generous and appreciative words so many families shared with us as the year came to a close. We want to thank you for being a part of our community, for living and breathing our philosophy alongside us, and for sharing so openly with us. We are most certainly stronger together.
On Saturday many of the Flinders Educators attended a Creativity Workshop with Maria Bootle from Tafe SA. Creativity forms a significant part of our teaching and learning at Flinders and children’s creative work is a constant source of inspiration for many of us. It is not often that we are able to meet and collaborate with our colleagues in different buildings, so this in itself was a wonderful opportunity for us to share ideas and generate reflective dialogue with professionals who share our philosophy. As many of you know, Flinders is a unique space and we work hard to create beautiful, inspiring environments for children, educators and families. Inviting people into our space always gives us an opportunity to look with new eyes, to be proud of what we have achieved, and to share our work with joy. Our presenter shared her ideas with grace and passion, and many of the things she shared with us resonated. We, too, value creativity, flexibility, beauty and freedom. We, too, value the role of wonder and awe. We, too, question the true meaning of words and resist the temptation to use terms without interrogating them first. She helped us generate questions and conversations together, to discuss our understandings of creativity and to be courageous in sharing. She emphasised the importance of our role as advocates for children, early childhood education, and children’s creativity, and helped us to understand that this work is never done. We, as early childhood educators, have access to anRead more
Outdoor learning spaces are a feature of Australian learning environments. Play spaces include plants, trees, edible gardens, sand, rocks, mud, water and other elements from nature. These spaces invite open-ended interaction, spontaneity, risk-taking, exploration, discovery and connection with nature. They foster an appreciation of the natural environments, develop an environmental awareness and provide a platform for ongoing environmental education. The Early Years Learning Framework, DEEWR, p15-16 We watched and listened to the rain from inside and on the veranda. Then I thought; let’s go and feel it too. The children at Baby House haven’t used the rain suits this year so just getting them on was an experience. The suits go over our clothes and makes lots of rustling noise. Once one was dressed, others looked on with interest and enthusiasm for what might come next. Four children along with an educator then headed out onto the deck. It was clear that something was different. One child held out his hand to feel the rain falling. We touched the decking, patting the water with our hands, then patted our hands together, feeling the wet. We began to explore and were soon gathered around the down pipe that drains onto the grass. Someone touched the outside of the pipe, listening with his hand. Then another noticed the water flowing out the bottom. Hands dived in and laughter was heard as hand after hand become wet. Another large drip was noticed; it was like a tiny waterfall where cupped hands could gatherRead more
Recently a number of our educators attended a conference with Ann Pelo, an American early childhood educator. Whilst some of us had seen her before, we were not completely prepared for the thoughtful and challenging work we would undertake together. Pelo is an advocate for inquiry in early childhood education, championing collaborative learning between children and educators as they engage in shared wondering about the world. She asked many questions of us, helping us to explore who we are as educators, why we do what we do and make the choices we make, what we value about our work, and how we can make our work and children’s learning visible. We were left with many questions, none of which have easy answers, and all of which we will continue to ask ourselves for a long time to come. Many of these centre on the role of documentation in our work, and how we support children’s learning through inquiry. There was a focus on educators not knowing, that we are not encyclopedias imparting vast amounts of information, but rather that we are learners alongside children. Educators were positioned as people who ask questions. Asking ourselves excellent questions helps us to reflect more deeply on our work as educators, and to discover different and better ways to work with children. This helps us ask children better questions. We are wondering… What kind of people do we want to be? What kind of world do we want to live in? What is the purpose ofRead more
My goodness, we have reached the end of another year! Flinders is always a hive of activity, but particularly as we wind down for the holiday break. There are many things to complete; portfolios, summative statements, transition planning, end of year party planning…and all the while making the most of these final weeks with many of the children and families who make up our community before they move on to their next adventures. During this busy and often overwhelming time, it is important for us all to take a moment to reflect on the amazing year that was 2015, and to remember what we value the most. We would like to take a moment to thank you all for being active and enthusiastic participants in the Flinders community over the past year. We would like to highlight a couple of events that symbolise what community and the holiday period mean to us. To celebrate the end of the year, we hold an End of Year Party. We opened the gates between Toddler and May Mills House this year and welcomed over 500 people through our doors. We shared food, enjoyed entertainment from The Amazing Drumming Monkeys, had our faces painted, and enjoyed frozen yoghurt together. It is wonderful to see families, children and educators spending time together and celebrating the end of the year with joy. Thank you for coming, and a very special thank you to our family, owners of Yo-Get-It! who donated the delicious frozen yoghurt for everyone toRead more
When Flinders reopens in January, we are asking many people to be brave. Our children, families and educators are bravely beginning new adventures in new houses at Flinders, and some are beginning at Flinders for the very first time. Change can make us feel uncomfortable, uncertain, and unsure, even when we know it is for the best. It can bring up feelings that are challenging to manage, especially for children who do not yet have the depth of experience to draw on. Children need their people, their families and their educators to support them to positively manage change. So in the new year, we hope our community will be gentle with each other, be kind, and most of all, be brave. We ask everyone to be positive and respectful, and to focus on the good that change will bring. Because 2016 will be a good year. A brave year.
From the beginning of 2016, Flinders will change the way transitions occur for children from birth to three. Rather than the traditional annual transition to a new house with new educators, next year groups of children and educators will largely transition together in a process called looping. Put simply, looping keeps groups of people together for the first three years of a child’s life, so that whilst the setting may change (Baby House to Toddler House, Toddler House to May Mills House) the people, and most importantly the relationships, remain the same. Children and educators from Baby House go to Toddler House, then to May Mills House, then educators go back to Baby House to begin the looping process again. Contemporary research shows the significance of consistent relationships for children in the first three years of life. In early childhood environments, this consistency is often achievable due to traditional developmental systems, which move children into the next building as soon as they reach a certain age or developmental milestone. In the traditional system, a child who begins attending Flinders in Baby House would typically undergo three or four transitions by the time they are three. This means building relationships, establishing trust, and developing confidence three or four times. Whilst many children and families manage this well, and whilst our educators are extremely skilled at supporting children and families through this process, it remains a stressful time. Maintaining the majority of the educator team as the children transition eliminates one of the ‘unknowns’ forRead more
It’s time to think about spring and summer planting. One of the educators calls a meeting of the children. Over the year they have learned all about our garden, about the processes and purposes of planting, watering, weeding, caring. Of the rich harvest we can wash and chop to include in our cooking programme. Gardening is a labour of love and turns into nourishing food. The children also delight in the flowers and scents that come with gardening, wanting to grow plants for beauty and enjoyment as well as food. They embed rich literacy, numeracy knowledge, scientific understandings and artistic skills and ways of seeing as they interact with the garden. They know by now that it is right for them to come together at decision time, to give voice to a year’s worth of memories about gardening. The educator reminds them how much fun they had in early autumn, harvesting sunflowers that had been planted last year. She flicks back to photos and the children share stories. They cheer approval at the idea of planting more sunflowers but we remind them that by the time our next sunflowers grow they will have moved on to the next house, the children there will have moved on to school. “These sunflowers will be for next year’s children” an educator articulates for them, “for them to enjoy as much as you did.” The children wholeheartedly agree with this plan. Perhaps they realise that moving on to another house will also mean findingRead more
Children’s Eating Making sure your children’s diets are healthy, balanced and nutritious can be a difficult task at times. When your child spends a day at Flinders we are providing them with 50% of their total daily food requirements, so we share your concerns. We work hard at developing a menu which provides children with their daily nutrients, recommended by the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating, 2013, and which is varied, interesting and diverse. We strive to make mealtimes at Flinders a happy, calm time to share food with peers and Educators, but also a social time, to share conversation and develop appropriate mealtime behaviour and manners. Children’s mealtimes are also times at which carers are supporting children to establish healthy attitudes to food, attitudes which will shape attitudes to food and diet as they grow into adults. This is a big responsibility and achieving these goals can be difficult. Educators feel your pain. Rosie, our wonderful cook and Alex from Sturt House recently attended a course offered by Nutrition Australia with the intention to gain more knowledge and ideas about creating nutritional menus for long day care settings. The Dietician taking the course briefly referred to some interesting research by Dietician Ellen Slatter, MS, RDN, MSSW, which we have looked at and which sits well within our centre’s philosophy. We would like to share it with you. It is called The Division of Responsibility and it presents an approach to help you make decisions about how your child eats,Read more