When kids are at daycare they’re used to doing certain activities they can’t always do at home. By now you’ve asked your child what one of their favourite things to do at Eskay is and wondering how to replicate it at home. Well, wonder no more!
The existing theory is that loose parts inspire kids to use their creativity. Loose parts is someone else’s rubbish but a daycare’s treasure!
The parts themselves are what people might find in a skip bin: pipes, fabrics, rocks, balls, buckets, leaves…and the list goes on. You might not have an extensive collection like the daycare centre. But having a few spare pipes, a bucket, and some other bits and bobs in the backyard will keep your child entertained for hours. Their ability to create forts or even a drum kit from the ‘rubbish’ in your backyard will amaze you.
The children at our Karana Downs centre request tea parties on a regular basis, with the fire pit being a popular location during the cooler months. A good amount of time is spent just being in one another’s company, chatting about family and what games the children want to play later.
Having a tea party at home, or even as a playdate, is easily done. Most Australian homes have a teapot, cups, and saucers. The teapot is necessary because it lends to the overall excitement.
Don’t underestimate the power of a good book. Mem Fox, one of Australia’s treasured authors, is a fierce advocate of childhood literacy and encourages parents to read one-on-one with their kids. This boosts a child’s enjoyment when reading and strengthens the bond between you. Helping your son or daughter read, and giving encouragement when they get the big words right, will boost their confidence through the roof.
Graduating from daycare is a momentous day for parents and children alike, and the next step is just as big. Big school. The change in routine and a new environment will be startling for your son or daughter. Luckily, there’s useful tips out there by experts to help them ease into their new learning environment.
The big changes
Primary school introduces children to a formal learning environment for the first time with set hours, a curriculum, and a whole new place to explore. The environment itself is strange initially, the furniture is bigger and the learning aids (books, posters) are more advanced.
We’re not just talking about rules of behaviour. Children learn good manners at home, way before daycare or big school. We’re talking about rules surrounding school routine. Unlike daycare, schools have periods where kids are taught certain subjects. There’s time for morning tea and lunch whereas before, at daycare, kids would eat when they were hungry.
Your child will learn classroom etiquette, too. This includes raising hands, lining up neatly, and listening for long periods of time.
A new school means building new relationships. Children who go to the same daycare together mightn’t go to the same school after they graduate. Your child will have to face not only making new friends but also getting used to the new teachers. Daycare is a smaller, more intimate environment with a few educators for one group of children. School has different teachers for different grades and subjects that your child will meet within days.
Your son or daughter is going to feel overwhelmed with the changes they face and there’s ways you can help them manage.
Do homework together
Doing this with your child has several benefits, including bonding time and promoting essential skills like literacy and numeracy. Also practice hand-eye coordination like cutting up items with scissors and stacking building blocks to make a small house.
Give them space
Little brains get exhausted quickly. Though you’re eager to hear about their first day, let your son or daughter just sit and breathe for a moment or two. Follow their lead. If they’re bursting to tell you about their day, then great! But if they look like they’re asleep on their feet, give them a snack and put them in comfy clothes when you get home.
Meet other parents
Making friends at a new school isn’t just for the children. Parents also make fast friends before the term begins, usually during open days and information nights. Bonding over shared anxieties about the first day of school will soon turn into sharing the pickup/drop off and arranging play times at each other’s houses.
This year in our Willy Wagtails room the children have shown a keen interest in all things gardening and cooking. In particular they have wanted to explore how we grow food and how we then cook with what we have grown. These ideas, interests and questions have all been documented in our floor book and show a lovely development of ideas and the teaching and learning experiences that the children have all been part of in this journey of food and cooking.
One of the most valuable learning experiences that has come from this interest in food and cooking has been our garden space. This space was created and designed by the children, it was a suggestion by one of children who said “ Can we use the space up the side of kindy for a garden?” and of course the answer was yes. This started a lovely 4 month (so far) journey, from the initial idea to creation of the space. Our garden space is our teaching and learning bought to life, the ideas of the children documented in the floor book implemented into a space that displays there ideas, thoughts and passion.
The children have shown an incredible amount of ownership over this space, they access it daily to water, feed and weed their plants. All the plants were picked by the children based on their ideas in the floor book and research they did to see what would grow in shady spots. This garden space also involved our parent community, inviting them to make donations to the space and to be involved in a way that suited them. Parents donated money, time and equipment to the space and it was very heart warming to see the support the parents provided. This space continues to change and develop as the interest and ideas of the children change. Watch this space, we are excited to see where this journey takes us.
Transitioning to school is such a big event for young children and their parents alike. With this milestone often comes insecurities about whether a child is ready or not and how are they going to cope. Well, I have an admission…being primary school trained and starting work here at KEEC 3 1/2 years ago, I wondered how what we offered children would prepare them for the ever demanding world of prep.
Our philosophy of letting children be children and directing their own learning sounded wonderful in theory, but I wondered how children would cope with the realities of the structured school environment. Well it’s taken a long journey, one of challenging my thinking and furthering my own education but I can now confidently explain the benefits of our amazing centre and its philosophy, the great start in life that we give our beautiful children and how they are more than well equipped to start prep.
We have such an incredibly rich learning environment here at Karana Early Education Centre. Research all points to children learning best through play, but how many early childhood programs truly embrace this? I’m so proud to say we do. Our children are not made to sit and do things they have absolutely no interest in, they are given a space that invites and encourages them to play, to explore, to learn.
Play is only beneficial if it holds meaning to the child and we make sure our children have a voice. When absorbed in this style of play, we as educators then have the privilege of being able to stand along side these children and unobtrusively question.. prompt.. encourage deeper thinking.. extend their understandings. And it is this scaffolding and self-directed play that incites their learning and knowledge as it is self-chosen and of personal interest.
So getting back to transitioning into school. Let me get one thing clear, children do not need to be able to read or write to start Prep, being emotionally and socially ready is far more important. By the time our children have finished their Kindy year they have become happy, confident individuals that are able direct their own play and learning. This in turn has more than prepared them for the classroom. Our children have the initiative to work things out, the courage to try and the confidence to tackle the unknown. They are confident within themselves as learners, with decision making and with extending their own thinking.
It is these qualities that see our children often succeeding at a higher rate than their counterparts. And it is these foundations that we have embedded in our children that have set them up for success in life, not just school.
Our program is unique and not for everyone but the children that come here have truly been given a gift and I’m proud to say that I am part of that.
“When life gives you rainy days, wear cute boots and jump in the puddles” – Anonymous
What drew me to this quote was the fact that this is something our babies do each day, something that comes from within and something they do not need to learn. As children they know how to take every moment as it comes and seize the day and make it their own.
For a while now, I have been observing my babies and how they react to and engage in messy play. Two things stand out from their play:
They make do with what they can find- as educators, we constantly have conversations about invitations to play, using toys in an innovative manner and the emphasis on creating play spaces that children find exciting and interesting. A close observation of the invitation to play, courtesy mother nature which can be a mud pit filled with water, a big pile of slushy mud, wet sand, a little pool in the bark has shown that children don’t really need a lot to keep them happy. Children are just happy as long as they can play.
They seem to enter a world of their own and enjoy the space for what it is- children’s play can often be complicated by adults and how we view the intricacies of play. With children, there is a sense of wild abandon in their play, one that comes with truly enjoying what they are doing even if it means doing it repeatedly, there was a sense of peace and calm about their play, which was very fascinating for me to watch. It almost felt like they were enveloped in a bubble and what happened outside of that bubble did not seem to affect them too much.
Here is an account of what happened on the really rainy day and a very wet, water logged mud pit:
The mud pit was filled with water and overflowing on the sides, creating a little pool of water and soft mud all around its edges. The older children were shouting, jumping in glee and were very vocal about their excitement with the mud pit. The little people on the other hand, stood at a distance, watching and taking it all in, their eyes curious, wide and somewhat awe struck. Once the excitement had died down a notch, slowly the little people made their way to the mud pit, tentatively placing one foot in and then the other, letting the water run up their legs, and slowly soak up their pants. The sensations led to two reactions: a little shiver followed by a smile as the cold water hit the skin or a little shriek and laughter that meant something exciting was to follow.
As time went by, the number of children in the mud pit kept varying with the little people wanting a little break from the wetness but what did not change was their approach to play. Each time, they would wander in casually, carefully step in, look around to check what toys they wished to use, sometimes use no toys and resort to using their hands and fingers to explore and try and catch water, plonk themselves in the mud pit and do their own thing.
There was something very calming and therapeutic about this sight, something that stopped me from joining in, I did not say a word, did not ask any questions, did not provide any directions to aid play, all I did was sit, watch and take it all in. It felt like time had come to a stand still and everything around me had dimmed down, I couldn’t hear the noise anymore or feel the mounting pressure of routines or feel bad about sitting and watching and doing pretty much nothing. I felt a twinge of envy and the urge to want to be able to do that and feel that zen like moment in my adult life.
Sometimes moments like these can be your best teacher, that moment taught me to learn from my little people and learn by merely watching them. The essence of being a child came to the fore and hit me in the face with a force that was quite amazing. As an educator, I feel like my biggest moments of satisfaction involve watching the children play as they show you what they truly are and what they are made of. We always talk about how learning is a two way street, that day I truly learnt, learnt to play, learnt to watch, learnt to be a part of my children’s day without influencing their choices and play, learnt to keep my eyes and mind wide open, learnt to let go, let them be and let them do what brings them inner joy. That day I learnt to set the child in me free, because we can never truly teach and never truly learn till we have the mind and heart of a child!
Recently Capalaba went through their 2nd A&R since opening in 2013. During the first A&R we received an Exceeding rating and also applied and successfully achieved the Excellent Rating, as icing on the cake, an achievement that the team should be very proud of. As notification came through for our 2nd round of A&R in August I wondered to myself; Who will be the assessor? What will they be looking for? Will they be nice? What little things will they pick us up on?
As the Nominated Supervisor, I know my team, I know the service, the families, the children and I knew that our service most definitely operated each and every day as Exceeding the National Quality Standards, but that was just my opinion, what if the assessors opinion was different?
Then it really hit me, it really is just one person’s opinion on what they see over a very small window of time. Yes, there are guidelines that need to be followed and minimum standards to be met, but what makes a centre meeting or exceeding? Who decides what exceeding looks like? How does the assessor know that what they see on those few short days are in fact a typical day and not something staged, something that educators took hours upon hours to ‘create’ because of A&R.
What if centres pretended to be something else, something that is not a fluid, and authentic process? How can assessors really know fake from authentic?
These were some of the questions going through my head in the lead up to the big week.
This was my first time as a Nominated Supervisor going through A&R so for me personally I felt a lot of pressure to support my team, keep them calm and relaxed through the whole process, whilst I quietly rocked back and forth on my office floor.
As part of the process each service needs to provide the Department of Education a Quality Improvement Plan (QIP), which outlines how a service operates, the policies, procedures, curriculum, relationships with families, relationships with children etc. The QIP is a living document that showcases everything that we do and why; updating our QIP just reinforced for me how amazing our service is. The information that was documented, the photos, the reflections we had as a team, with families, even with our children, were all recorded and as clear as day, it was evident that this service without a doubt is Exceeding regardless of one person’s opinion.
Once I had sent through our QIP I felt instant relief, why? Because I decided not to worry anymore, not to stress, that whatever the outcome I was proud of our team, proud of our practices and I knew that what we were doing was best for our children and families, and that really is all that matters.
A&R week came and went, with the team doing what they do each day, nothing really changed, expect perhaps for a few extra nerves. I thought to myself, surely there has to be a better way, something that is less invasive and more authentic?
As a service we focus on the process rather than the end result, we understand that the learning happening during is more relevant then seeing the results at the end. So shouldn’t we as a sector be looking at this for our own rating system?? Wouldn’t the assessors see more authentic practices if they conducted regular checks on services, unannounced, throughout the year and saw the progress of services over time, rather than quickly mashed together over a couple of days?
Overall, I really feel that there is too much emphasis put on the Assessment and Rating process, I still don’t feel that there is a national standard with many networking groups finding the same practices happening, yet different results. I know many services that are Meeting that I truly feel should be Exceeding, I also know services that are rating Exceeding and I scratch my head, perhaps I am missing something, who knows.
Here’s what I do know though, our families and children are happy with our service, the team, that I am extremely privileged to work alongside, give their all, and we are always advocating for the rights of the child, for children to have the best possible opportunities whilst in our care. If our families, children and educators are happy and supportive, what more could I ask for?
As a side note, we did receive an Exceeding rating, congratulations to everyone that is a part of our Eskay Kids Capalaba community.
Daycare does not operate through Christmas and New Year, so it’s a great opportunity to regroup as a family. The children are full of beans on a great day and keeping them entertained is difficult when you’re stumped for ideas. We come to the rescue with days out and at-home activities that are heaps of fun for the whole family!
Go to the library
Brisbane City Council libraries have a heap of child-friendly activities aimed at children who go to daycare/preschool. There’s singalongs, reading time, and events where children and adults can make new friends.
The State Library has a lovely children’s area that regularly hosts storytimes, singalongs, and craft corners on Fridays and Saturdays.
See the windows
Myer in the city has amazing Christmas windows every years that draw crowds all through December. It’s common to see families, couples, and singles stare into the windows and follow the story that plays out year after year. After having your fill of the scenery, you can take the kids to see Santa (or drop in a letter addressed to the North Pole)
Go look at lights
What’s Christmas without Christmas lights? Radio station 4KQ’s Christmas light competition draws hundreds of entrants every year and they certainly don’t spare any time or expense! Contestants make interactive displays, light shows, and even ‘plant’ light trees in their yard in a bid to take out the top prize.
The kids will have an opportunity to do this at daycare but why not use it to have some family bonding time! Pick up some cardboard/paper/cheap ceramic plain ornaments and some craft materials. Just make sure you have adequate protection for clothes and the floor. Glitter is tough to clean out of a carpet.
Bake up a storm
Gingerbread men, fruitcake, chocolate cupcakes, biscuits…the list goes on! While we have articles dedicated to healthy snacks, it’s fun to let loose and bake something sweet for the holidays. Taste, Donna Hay, and Women’s Day have amazing recipes fit for Christmas lunch. Sharing is optional!
Have the family over
Christmas is time best spent with the family. The adults have a chance to chat and the kids can play in the yard. As the good old saying goes, ‘your cousin is the best friend you make at Grandma’s house’.
Make a playdate at the park
Kids will naturally miss the friends they’ve made at daycare. Make a date with other parents to meet at the local park for a barbecue. The children will have a rip-roaring time on the playground equipment, followed by a nap at home when they’ve used up all their energy.
Market shopping galore
Christmas is in the air all through November and December thanks to multiple Christmas Markets. Brisbane Kids has a list of markets, dates and locations on their website.
Decorate the tree
You can’t forget the most important! The tree should go up on the first weekend, if not the first day of December.
Environments for children in my eyes can create somewhere to transport. Transport as a means of transporting time, space as well as your thinking. Allowing children to create or explore in ways you may never have imagined. I must say it is one of my favourite things about walking into the Platypus room at Karana. Its as though you are placed a little bee hive. Little bees at work, exploring questions that they feel are need to be answered. More so play than work I must admit… The children decide the resources they research, how to use those resources, where they will be best explored and how much time they need to answer all those unanswered questions…
Environments are introduced by us with the intention of providing unhurried and valued learning by the children. We aim to create environments that provoke, using resources that inspire.
Recently we have been noticing a decrease in the amount of time children spend in our light area. A shift in interests, changes the aura or feeling towards the area. When I thought about the light area I wondered how it could be made more inviting. I thought about some NOW interests for the children. At the moment they are really excited to be hunting through the yard with baskets in hand to find all different kinds of things. Often bringing us creepy crawlers (sometimes unknowingly until the bugs wiggle or move- AH!). Some children chasing beauty in the patterns and structure of leaves and flowers. So off I went on a little search to see if we could purchase some pre made resin blocks that were filled with things that I thought would be of value. Possibly holding that beauty and wonder. Easy you may think… Its not.
So we DIY. Upon research I found that people make the same things I was looking for as jewellery. They were so beautiful and I was in awe of the process. As I watched videos and thought that they looked way too easy to achieve and I was most definitely going to stuff it up when I tried. Well I didn’t stuff it up, and they were super easy to make.
To make them I used a resin and hardener, Silicone moulds (I would suggest using a lighter coloured mould so you can see where things are placed), a jet lighter or little blow torch, a toothpick, tray and the items you want to use. To make the resin you need to gently mix equal amounts of the resin and hardener until the liquid is completely clear with no cloudiness. Depending on what you are putting in the moulds, you may need to do it in two stages. If the item you are putting in will sink you can do it in one go. However, if you have something like an insect that you think may float its best to pour a thin layer of the resin mixture on the bottom of the mould, place the item in and wait until its set before adding the rest of the resin mixture. I then, very carefully heated the top of the resin to bring the bubbles to the surface. Most of them do pop but there may be some you will need to pop with a toothpick or something similar to remove. Then leave overnight to set. EASY PEASY!
The kids and parents love them. They are used outside and the children hold them up to the sun. As the light shines through you can see cool little details. We also use them on our light area inside. We have had parents bring cicadas, spiders, a dragonfly, flowers from their family gardens that we pressed and dried.
The most special part of these creations to me is that each of the moulds holds an object that has meaning to someone or encapsulates a story. The children tell others stories about the encasings. Where they found it, how they felt, who was there to help them, why they thought it was awesome; These are just some of the different bits of information being passed from child to child. Kind of like a dreamtime story They are treated with the most care that I have seen for anything in our room. They understand these resin blocks are made with objects that are special to another person and hold an important story.
Eskay kids services provide an environment in which children are able to play and learn alongside children of a variety of ages. This approach not only nurtures and promotes the sibling relationship, but also the richness that comes from desegregating age groupings. Some of that richness includes:
Children are more settled. Whether they are arriving with their sibling, or arriving to a cousin or family friend who already attends the service, it is comforting to them to be able to spend the day with someone familiar. Children in segregated services not only have to say goodbye to their parents, but also to their sibling as they head off to a different room for the day.
Children are able spend time with family while away from the home environment. There is no doubt that there is something special about the love that family members have for one another. Throughout the day at our service we see siblings and cousins turn to each other for the kind of comfort that only family can provide.
Younger children have mentors and role models in older children. These pictures are just one example of the many ways that younger children are exposed to the more complex ideas of older children. They have role models and numerous teachers beyond the staff of the centre demonstrating complex ideas, language and social skills throughout their day.
Older children experience what it is to be a mentor and teacher to younger children. Our kindergarten children are able to step up, to show leadership and to have their knowledge and experiences valued as expert knowledge when sharing with younger children. This gives them a sense of pride in the expertise that they have developed. Furthermore, research shows that we reinforce and consolidate our own knowledge when teaching it to others.
Mixed age grouping is inclusive of indigenous beliefs about teaching and learning. In Aboriginal culture and across a wide range of cultures children traditionally learnt in family groupings. Aboriginal people view family groupings as a more natural method of teaching and learning, believing that children will flourish if the learning environment could cater to the way that children learn naturally. Certainly the benefits we of mixed age learning that we see on a daily basis here at Eskay Kids are a testament to the wisdom of this indigenous knowledge.
As a passionate early childhood teacher, walking into Reverse Garbage at Woolloongabba was exhilarating, as I know the endless amount of play opportunities the loose part items were going to provide our kindergarten children. Within our indoor and outdoor environments at Eskay Kids Capalaba we have a substantial amount of loose part items, both big and small, that allow our children to design, create and explore with.
Loose parts are open-ended materials with no specific purpose, and can be used in many different ways. They are natural or synthetic items, that children can easily carry, move, tinker with and redesign. They provide children with infinite opportunities to creatively express themselves and enhance their play opportunities.
Within our Kindergarten environment, these are some of the loose part items our children have access to each day:
Small recycled pieces of plastic
Different coloured small and large tiles
Natural items such as leaves, sticks, pine cones etc.
Mixture of small plastic lids
Material cut offs
And the list goes on…..
By providing children with loose part items, I believe it provides them with endless opportunities to be creative, engage and collaborate with other children, develop their problem solving skills, as well as early literacy and mathematical understandings. I believe children have richer play experiences when they have access to a wide variety of materials that have open-ended possibilities. Play is such a vital aspect of early education, and providing children with loose part items enhances their play opportunities.
Loose Parts in Action!
As you can see, our Kindergarten children thoroughly enjoy creating with loose parts, and each day they are able to utilise these resources in different ways. Whilst observing the process of Ethan, Hamish and Parker’s play, it was evident there was a great deal of learning and enjoyment occurring. They spent an extended period of time carefully and purposely placing each item in the position they wanted it, whilst discussing and negotiating with each other about their project design. They were able to work cooperatively and collaboratively to create what they had envisaged, whilst using their imaginations and creativity.
During this process, where they were so deeply engaged and excited about their project, they didn’t need support or guidance from their educators, they just needed uninterrupted time and space. Once they were ready, they excitedly announced to their educators and peers that they had created a baby elephant house! They had even created an elephant costume with some material cut offs and sticky tape!
You tell me where you could buy resources that would allow your children to make a baby elephant house and costume?
Loose Parts + Long Uninterrupted Periods of Play = Learning
No matter the type of ball, getting the kids involved in team sport early will help them learn to cooperate with others and make valuable friends. Plus, if they’re full of beans after you pick them up from daycare, it’s a great way to burn off excess energy.
Local YMCAs and some gyms will have a gymnastics team or practice times. There’s floor, trampoline, and a variety of other exercises that’ll build strength, coordination, and self-esteem. Research if there’s a gym near your home or within a reasonable distance and if they’ve got a program for your young ones.
This is an essential skill to learn, and who knows? Maybe one day your son or daughter will be a gold medalist. Swim clinics are available before and after school/daycare and on weekends. There’s holiday clinics in some places, too.
Starting martial arts young teaches children the importance of discipline, respect, and self defence. Martial Arts Queensland has a list of locations in Brisbane where you can enrol your child after day care. There’s also options available at the Redlands PCYC.
There’s lots of music schools and private lesson options around Brisbane. Your child might not take up music seriously until they start school. Starting early doesn’t hurt, and some classes offer parent/child music and dance lessons.
Let their artistic side out! Children are naturally creative, even if they’re shy. Going to a drama class will build their confidence. If they enjoy art at daycare, set up some water colour paints at home or find an art program, like these ones on Brisbane Kids.
Help with baking/cooking
Want to make something healthy for dinner but the kids won’t eat it? Use the classic Jamie Oliver trick and get them to help out with cooking. After daycare, your child will be hungry and it’ll be easier to make them eat what’s served if they helped you make it. You can even make it an event by asking them to help you with the shopping and pick things off the shelf.
When kindergarten is over and home gets closer, the kids are suddenly hungry and will want food NOW. Luckily for you, we have a collection of healthy recipes that’ll result in something delicious and nutritious.
If your child doesn’t have a sweet-tooth and doesn’t eat the birthday cupcakes at kindergarten, try some of these. You won’t have to swing by the bakery on the way home if you have a savoury muffin or a scroll in the tupperware container.
Cheese, mushrooms, capsicum, and ham come together to make these tasty muffins that’ll last for a few days Pack them in the lunchbox for morning tea/lunch and freeze some for a handy snack when you run out of other stuff.
Who doesn’t have a soft spot for pizza! This is a portion-controlled, savoury indulgence the kids will love. Just some puff pastry, tomato paste, and cheese make the basic version, but you can add extras as you like. Try some classic ham or even zucchini.
When in doubt, get the toaster out! Australians love all-day breakfast, so of course it’s okay to have it for afternoon tea as well! Besides eggs and avo, there’s options like pureed pinto beans, and cheese and nacho toast. You can’t go wrong with cheese and Vegemite, either.
Of course, you can’t forget the sweet stuff. Lots of products on the supermarket shelf are full of refined sugar. You can cut this out, as well as the extra cost, when you make your own versions at home.
They’re sweet but healthy, and have a little extra crispy crunch. From the fruit face to the peanut butter bear (a Pinterest fave, apparently), there’s close to a dozen options to choose from after the kids get home from kindergarten.
If Donna Hay says it’s great for her kids, who are we to argue? Banana and blueberry muffins serve that sweet tooth nicely without overdoing it on the sugar. You can have one yourself with a cup of tea while the kids are at daycare.
Any of the below books are appropriate for kindergarten shelves, quiet reading time and even bed time stories. There’s so many amazing books to choose from, but you’ll agree that the below four will reappear in your child’s hands over and over again.
Enid’s books transport both adults and children alike to a land of magic, where amazing lands come and go at the top of a Magic Faraway Tree. Joe, Bessie, and Fanny’s adventures have taken them to the Land of Treats, the Land of Dreams, and even the Land of Tempers!
The Magic Faraway Tree trilogy was first published in 1943 and continues to captivate readers today, both in kindergarten and at home.
After publishing Possum Magic in 1983, Mem Fox hasn’t stopped writing despite her busy career as a literary professor. She’s an advocate for children’s literacy and encourages parent/child bonding through reading, even through something as simple as a bedtime story.
Her most recent book I’m Australian Too tackles the perception of what it means to be Australian, no matter your cultural background. Her other books, like Wombat Magic and Whoever You Are, also highlight that it’s fine to be different, but important to be included. Messages like this are vital during the kindergarten/preschool years.
Wonka Bars, Oompa Loompas, fantastic foxes, and a girl who can move things with her mind; Roald Dahl’s stories are good for children moving onto big school. They’re also great as stories for parents to read after the kids get home from kindergarten.
The tale of the Rainbow Serpent has endured from the Dreamtime, passed down over thousands of years. The Serpent was believed to have risen from under the ground and created some of the modern landscapes seen in the outback today. The legend endures today and the picture book by D Roughsey is a staple on kindergarten/preschool shelves.
Earlier in 2017, a Kmart hack turned a humble clip-close container and an ice cube tray into a bento box, sending the internet wild. Inspired by healthy and hipster eating, the internet was soon flooded with different varieties of food sectioned off into these neat little squares.
We don’t have cool Kmart lunchboxes like this, but we do have a list of the best healthy lunch options you can bring to daycare, gathered from around the web.
This lunchbox combo allows you to prep enough for two days. Classic Mexican meatballs, DIY tortilla chips and a side of guacamole are just some of the things your child can look forward to at lunchtime.
This one is great idea for the older daycare/kindy kids. This lunchbox is a tasty combination of colours, textures, and flavours that’ll never get boring. Vegetable sticks and beetroot dip for an entree, meatloaf sandwich for a main meal, polished off with yogurt for dessert.
Parents who worry about ready access to a microwave, this one’s for you. These 15 ideas include classics like boiled eggs and sandwiches to more creative options like taco salad and pesto pasta. There’s also ‘sandwich bread sushi’, combining jam and cream on wholewheat bread.
Why pay extra and get snacks full of refined sugar from the supermarket when you can make a healthier option for your child? Okay, and yourself. Kidspot Kitchen is chock-a-block full of recipes that will have the kids fighting over the last piece. The options include muesli bars, Vegemite scrolls, sweet and savoury muffins, and more. Make sure you save a bit for yourself!
Raising Children Australia has a wealth of information for parents, including on how best to pack lunch for your kids. You need to give them something delicious and nutritious that’ll keep them fuelled through the day. If you’re stuck on ideas, Raising Children has sandwich combos and a rundown on proper hygiene before you start preparing.
These kid-friendly recipes won’t take ages to prepare, and you’ll have leftovers to put in the lunchbox the next day. You can choose from the likes of falafels, frittatas, tacos, and vegetable sweet-chilli stir-fry! There’s also different sweetbreads and desserts to keep things interesting.
After the childcare days are over, school begins. The lead-up to the first day of school is a mixed bag for both parents and kids alike. The actual day won’t be that bad if you’re prepared. We’ve helped dozens of parents and kids get ready for the big event and decided to spread our knowledge with these handy tips.
Get the uniform ready
In childcare, the kids don’t have to worry about uniforms. But prep is a different story. You can make it an exciting event, saying ‘let’s go and get your big school clothes!’.
If your child has trouble with shoelaces, it’s fine to get slip-ons or buckled shoes. You don’t want them to trip. Teach them laces a few times and have them wear the ‘big kid shoes’ when they’re ready.
Go school shopping
And make it a fun day out! Let your child choose a new backpack, pencil-case, and lunchbox. They’re something the kids will look after because they’re proud of them, especially if it has their favourite TV character or movie hero on it.
You must stock up on other essentials like pencils, books, glue, and other materials found on the school supply list. There’s lots to buy, and that leads us to our next point.
This way your son/daughter’s stuff doesn’t get ‘misplaced, and can easily be returned if left behind’. Get them involved, too. Something as simple as placing a label on a book is exciting to a child getting ready for ‘big school’. You might’ve even done this during their childcare days.
Teach them new skills
Teachers are there to help, but they can’t help every child all the time. Even during their time in childcare, teach your son or daughter how to do simple things. Little actions like how to wipe their face, wash their hands, or even taking off a jumper makes them anxious if they don’t know how to do it.
Get a routine going
Little ones need lots of rest. They’ll trot out the old line ‘but I’m not tired!’, then crash ten minutes later, guaranteed. Have a set dinner and bedtime and help your son or daughter with brushing their teeth. If you read in bed to get them to sleep, keep it up for as long as you can. It’ll improve their literacy immensely.
Go to orientation day
Going to orientation will ease the nervous jitters, plus it’s an opportunity to make friends. It’s something both you and your children can benefit from. You’ll meet the teachers and have a private word if you need to voice any concerns. Plus, your child can see their future classmates and make fast friends. Some parents may have difficulty with drop-off duties, and this can be your chance to make friends of your own.
It’s important during the early years, even before kindergarten and big school, to set a routine for your children and yourself. That way your days are structured and there’s little chaos. In theory, at least. In reality, there’s hundreds of little things that can send routines into a spin and you run out of time to do certain things. Teaching your children the value of routine, discipline and respect will benefit them for the rest of their lives.
Set up a ‘chore chart’
Children aren’t used to responsibility, and that’s why it’s essential to teach them this through their kindergarten years. Have a chart on the wall somewhere, decorated with colours or something cheery, that lists jobs that every member of the family must do. For the little ones, it doesn’t have to be too big. Something as simple as setting the table will do.
As they grow up, add jobs to the list, or other tasks they have to complete. This will eventually include homework, music/sports practice, and even taking out the rubbish. Having a points and rewards system is an incentive for good behaviour.
Make a set time for bed and eating
These routines are important after the children graduate kindergarten. While Eskay doesn’t have set eating times, ‘big school’ will and it’s important that kids understand it.
It’s also essential for children to get enough sleep. Young ones need 10-12 hours a night. They won’t get nap time in school, unlike kindergarten, so having a solid rest (combined with a good breakfast) stops any dozing off during class.
Enforce good manners
Children are very impressionable and copy what they see without understanding the context or consequences. This is especially mortifying if they’re copying bad manners.
Parents will take the initiative to teach their children the importance of ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ at home, and teachers certainly encourage it at kindergarten and big school.
Not everyone’s the same
Everyone has different values, speaks different languages, and has a different family dynamic. In Australia, this is especially true. During kindergarten, children learn to respect the opinions and backgrounds of others as part of the Early Years Learning Framework. It’s important to carry this on when kindy finishes to make sure your child understands how large the world is, and everyone in it is unique.
Daycare is done, but the kids are still full of energy and you need something to entertain them. What do you do when you’re stuck for ideas? How about some of these?
Women’s Weekly has a whole range of cookbooks, including baking, aimed at little ones and big kids alike. Plus, your kids will have lots of fun getting involved in baking up their favourite treats.
You don’t need to bake something sweet for it to be ‘fun’. Make healthy lunchbox snacks like zucchini slice, savoury muffins, and homemade muesli bars. You can make it an afternoon event by doing the shopping first and having the kids get the ingredients off the shelves.
In an age where screens are dominating our lives, it’s good to shut them off every once in awhile. If your kids want to play on the computer, have a time limit.
Try to steer the kids towards the junior section and have them pick out a book, or choose one for them. Get some reading practice in or play a game. Libraries have many child-friendly activities available. There’s arts and crafts, book hunts, and even chess.
Finding a sport to enjoy will take some trial and error, but it’s going to help your children develop their fine motor skills and coordination. It’s also a chance for both of you to make friends. Popular sports include:
Martial arts (taekwondo, karate, jiu jitsu)
Daycare certainly keeps kids active, but after-school sports like these will give them another experience that can turn into a hobby. They might even keep up athletics all the way through school.
Lots of children want to be like their heroes, whether it’s a television personality or a Disney character. Playing dress-up after daycare is another way to unleash your child’s creativity.
Some parents take their kids to music practice after daycare, and this can be a hit-or-miss. If your child shows interest, certainly encourage it but don’t force it on them. Music helps improve coordination, literacy, boosts self esteem and discipline.
The fun doesn’t stop after daycare if you do any of these five activities after pick-up time. Take out the recipe book, dust off the costumes, and look at some local sports clubs to see what you can do for your child.
Music can make us feel a whole range of emotions and can break through all kinds of barriers. It can make us laugh or cry, it can help us to sleep or wake us up. It can even help us to learn about all sorts of new things. Music is an amazing tool when used correctly.
In the Kookaburra room we have been exploring music and how it makes us feel. We started by using relaxation music at rest time to relax the children and help them sleep. Before long we were introducing music into more activities. We started with a lot of Moana and Frozen (‘Let It Go’ is still as popular as ever) as well as other dancing music and the children danced up a storm. For a few months they danced away, often requesting their favourite songs to sing and dance to. Since then we have introduced music from other cultures. We started with some traditional Irish music which was soon followed by Indian, German, Aboriginal and music from the Torres Strait Islands. But why stop there? The children love Waltzing Matilda, Elvis (don’t we all), TNT and the Trolls soundtrack just to name of a few of the genres we have begun to explore.
I would like to take this moment to share a story with you about how music can break barriers. One afternoon the girls were all out dancing up a storm and some of the boys, who had never shown a interest in dancing before, started to look over at them, watching them dancing and slowly over a few weeks I noticed the boys coming closer and closer to where we were dancing and before I knew it they had started to join in. For the first few times the boys stayed amongst themselves, not joining the girls in dancing before one of the boys started dancing with one of the girls and before long I had all these children dancing together, not a care in the world who they were dancing with, just enjoying the fact they were dancing with their friends. It was amazing to watch music break down these barriers the boys had of dancing only being for girls to not only join in but now days they are normally the first up for a dance party.
Music is amazing and helps break so many barriers but it can also help start bonds, give a common ground and what more could you ask for then that? It has been amazing to watch the children grow, break through barriers and build bonds with other people using such a simple tool. I honestly can’t wait to see what more music has to teach us about ourselves and about the people around us.
At our Capalaba day care centre, two days are rarely the same We do, though, have some activities that the children enjoy time and time again. Parents usually hear stories about the fun day their kids had at daycare, and the children themselves say ‘I can’t wait for tomorrow’.
The Capalaba day care and other Eskay Kids centres respect the First Peoples and their role as traditional landowners. The Capalaba/Redlands area is rich in Aboriginal history. It’s not unusual for Aboriginal descendants to visit, bringing with them stories of their culture and history, and items to show.
The children and carers listen intently when the visitors tell stories and dance along to musical shows. Other special guests include the likes of magicians and the occasional critters found in the grounds that also call nature home.
There’s no better feeling than the sun on your face, and the children get their daily dose at the Capalaba day care. All the Eskay child care centres have large outdoor areas with sand pits, play equipment and more for the children to use.
Outdoor activities get the kids active and satisfies their urge to explore. Our centres have fire pits that get used often during the cooler months. The older kids guide the younger ones about how to be safe around the flames. When winter and autumn are in full swing, time for roasting marshmallows and tea parties is commonly requested.
Loose parts and STREAM
One person’s rubbish is our play equipment! PVC pipes, old kitchen tools, and the ever-faithful building blocks get used every day. We encourage STREAM principles at the Capalaba day care (in part) through loose parts play. Play-based learning keeps developing minds active and the children use critical thinking to complete tasks. They’ll organise, build, and use the parts in role play. There’s endless possibilities.
Two days are rarely the same at any Eskay child care centre, but the children always have fun. They get to play in the great outdoors, listen to stories from special guests, and play with their favourite objects.
Our Karana child care centre is a home away from home for all Eskay Kids, whether they come once or five days a week. We certainly do our best to give children a safe environment to play, learn, and grow, though we need some help from the parents.
Our Karana Downs child care centre is open from 6.45am to 6.15pm. This allows busy parents to leave their children with us for the day, and having a packed lunchbox is essential. Healthy snacks like fruits, or vegetables and some dip will keep little ones satisfied and full of energy. Lunch options for busy parents can be as simple as a Vegemite sandwich and some fruit.
For drinks, a water bottle is a must. Your child will need this through the day to stay hydrated. Drinks that are high in calcium, like milk (flavoured or not), are a popular treat.
Change of clothes
Eskay Kids’ day care centres emphasise getting back to nature, and this does involve having fun in the mud sometimes. Therefore, we recommend packing a change of clothes in your child’s backpack.
Long pants and a jumper are recommended, too. Queensland temperatures drop rapidly in the evenings, and it can get cold outside. Other essentials include nappies and a hat for all outdoor activities.
We supply sunscreen at the Karana child care centre, though sometimes parents give us a helping hand by packing their own. This is common because parents know what suits their child best, or the family has a brand they trust.
Child separation anxiety is difficult during the initial first few months. When coming to the Karana child care centre for the first time, bring something from home that will give your son or daughter comfort. Children make attachments with toys and books, turning them into a source of comfort. It can help with the transition from home to daycare.
Parents trust us to take care of their precious bundles, and we certainly work hard to live up to that standard. Our Karana child care centres, like the ones in Springfield and Capalaba, are licensed and have achieved an ‘Excellent’ standard from ACECQA. Another great factor is that Karana won Centre of the Year in the Australian Family Early Childhood Awards.
Awards and licensing are only part of the reason parents trust us. Our carers (all Blue Card certified) do their best to make families welcome and follow the children’s lead when it comes to choosing activities. This way the kids always do something they’ll enjoy.
Every child care centre, including ours in Karana, Springfield, and Capalaba, has a small reading area stocked with books. Children wanting to have some quiet time will pick up their favourite and read, no matter how many times they have done so before. Some of these books have been around for years and won’t go out of publication any time soon.
Books written by Enid Blyton
The Magic Faraway Tree andThe Magic Wishing Chair count among classic tales that parents can read to their children. Though it’s ‘advanced’ reading for kids themselves, anyone listening will be transported into a land of magic. Enid’s stories certainly give children the opportunity to imagine the impossible. The lands atop the Faraway Tree include the Land of Goodies. It’s a sweet tooth’s dream with its edible houses and plants! There’s also the Land of Tea Parties, complete with rabbits as waiters.
When parents read either of these books to their children, the playground at any of our child care centres become the kids’ own Enchanted Wood!
Books written by Mem Fox
Boo to a Goose,Possum Magic, and Wombat Divine count among some of the timeless stories this author has written. Mem herself is a literature professor in South Australia. In July 2017, News Corp began itsGreat Australian Storybook Collection campaign, with five of Mem’s books counting among the fifteen giveaways.
“It’s magical, what reading does for a child’s imagination…(they) think about amazing characters and places … This collection is a lovely mix of beauty and history as well as a bit of silly and fun with titles every child and parent will enjoy.” (Campaign Brief 2017)
Mem strongly encourages reading as a parent-child bonding activity and continues to write books today. Possum Magic has been a staple book shelf choice since it was published in 1983.
Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
This book was published in 1892 but remains a popular children’s story today.The Tale of Peter Rabbitfollows a young bunny, Peter, and the mischief he gets up to in Mr MacGregor’s garden. All after his mother explicitly tells him not to go in there!
After children listen to this story, you might see them hunting around outside for rabbits. Books are supposed to stoke the imagination, after all.
Classic Disney stories
Although they come from different authors around the world, Disney re-publishes picture book versions of their stories regularly. Children and adults alike love stories under the company’s umbrella. Timeless tales include Peter Pan, The Little Mermaid, and Tarzan, though the next generation is exposed to new stories like Moana and Brave.
At the child care centre and at home, there’s plenty of classics that children will read again and again. And one day they’ll read them to children of their own.
Early childhood education is vital for children to grow into well-functioning adults. You might think ‘it’s a bit too soon to think about that, isn’t it?’ But there’s never too early a time to help children get the best start in life. Scientists, scholars, and researchers have looked over and debated for years about the best type of early childhood education.
Science, technology, research, engineering, arts and mathematics. STREAM and its variations are core principles in school curriculums around Australia. In a recent blog article, Ebony from the Capalaba centre wrote about how the staff and children incorporate these principles in everyday activities.
The human brain is a supercomputer, one of the most complicated on Earth. STREAM moulds little minds through imparting vital knowledge. Thanks to these programs, children learn literacy and numeracy, and refine their motor skills.
But how do the kids learn? They do so actively, not passively. Play-based learning is key in early childhood education and facilitates STREAM principles.
Look at the group of pictures below. Diane Kashin Ed.D, read a book called Sticks andStones to the members in her workshops and then directed them to a table. It was piled with natural materials like pinecones, rocks and sticks. The participants were asked to build or organise them with STREAM in mind, leading to the formations you see in the pictures.
Children at the Eskay Kids day care centres do similar activities. We paint pieces of bark, organise flower petals, and children often do their own role-play scenarios. They use critical thinking to stack building blocks so they won’t fall (engineering). They use books to develop their literacy and create imaginary characters (technology and arts, respectively).
In early childhood education, play isn’t just done for enjoyment. It’s used by the carers to check the children’s development.Progress is closely tracked and reported regularly so the kids can meet, and exceed, the outcomes of the Early Years Learning Framework.
Research into trends, improvement, and current performance is never finished. In fact, the constant presence of technology has opened a new niche. It includes cyber safety and how technology impacts play, sustainability, and a child’s awareness of their well being. Lists of current projects are available onthe Learning Sciences Institute Australia website.
We are powering towards the end of the year. The parents of children who are eligible for school start next year are starting to get anxious.
Some concerns of parents are:
Which school? Am I getting it right?
Is my child prepared for school?
Can they do all the things they need to be able to do?
Will they be with friends and/or make new friends?
What should I do?
This is such a big transition in a child’s life. One of the biggest in fact. And yes – all those concerns are so valid. Because really – we have one chance to get it right. What happens from here, can be the catalyst and shaper of the next 13 years of a child’s schooling career.
There is a lot of information floating around the inter-webs these days, pointing to the many flaws of our education system. And different words of advice. Many of them citing research from around the world about what is the best solution for education.
What I want to do – is to acknowledge all that research – which points towards children being advantaged in many ways, by delaying the beginning of formalised learning until a child is seven years old. Yes, you heard right – SEVEN.
I’m currently watching our group of Kindergarten children, some of whom are turning five……. some of whom are not long past four! In six months, the majority of this group of children will be in a primary school setting. Facing a life of desks, and passive learning. They will be between four and a half, and five and a half years old. Their little bodies with still so much developing to do. Their brains with room to grow. So many of them not even physically developed enough to successfully execute what school expects. Their bodies still needing to move. Neural pathways still being developed. Emotional regulation still being established. But they will be expected to have it all together – all their ducks in a row, so to speak.
So what am I getting at here? What do I advocate? Well, aside of all those very good developmental reasons – there is one more that we rarely hear about. What about joy? The joy of an extra year of childhood. An extra year to get it all together. Imagine that! The gift of a whole year. 365 days more to play and discover the world around you with no academic agenda. All that time for little bodies and brains to further develop. At four or five years old – a year is a lifetime.
I’ve watched closely, children whose parents have opted to give them this gift. And I’ve been delighted to observe little humans just that little bit more ready for what school has in store for them. Actually – a LOT more ready. Their executive function is firing on all cylinders. They are far more ready and resilient. The are bigger and stronger in every way. AND, they’ve had a whole extra year of childhood to make wonderful memories.
What if our whole world opted to delay that school entry? What if every child received the gift of another year of childhood? I can’t begin to describe the difference this would make. Instead of being bombarded with figures of record numbers of children being expelled from school, and concerning NAPLAN test results, we might see figures of children excelling in ways we haven’t seen before.
Of course, I will continue to advocate for changes to our schooling system. Because I believe this too has much to be held accountable for. I’ve heard that it takes 40 years for changes to a system like this to take place. Far too long for our children right here, right now. And many to come.
So, while we are taking the next 40 years to make the changes that will serve our race – let’s think about the small steps we can take. And one of those, is to stop pushdown of formal academic learning on our little people. To give them another year. To let them be children………. for just a little bit longer.
Sitting with some children and really observing what they are doing, listening to their conversations with themselves and other children is like opening a portal to another place. How they see the world, their understandings of the way things work is intriguing.
The collection of loose parts nearby provided an amazing endless exploration of possibilities and invited creativity. The children used the materials and equipment in manner I had not thought of myself. There are boundless possibilities of how the children engage with the materials and learn, exploring their own thoughts and ideas. The children were driven to discover the answers to their own questions, not mine, they were not interested in what shape the bucket was, but more driven to discover how they can stack 4 colanders without them falling and then run sand through the lot, upon reflection a much better question.
Dale and Beloglovsky (2015) note that children’s play with loose parts provides opportunities for divergent and creative problem-solving skills. The use of loose parts in the play environment provides a plethora of opportunities for children to develop problems solving skills, explore imagination and creativity, engineering, and sound.
Providing opportunities for children to use materials in any manner they choose can be a little challenging at times for example, watching a small child drag a branch that is twice as big as them across the yard, but it is also exciting to watch their thinking, it’s a rare to chance to actually see what’s going on in their little brains, a very special gift.
Needless to say I am a loose parts fan and when I am providing provocations they certainly include an array of loose parts that can be combined, redesigned, taken apart and rearranged in multiple ways.
Mathematics and numeracy are often seen as interchangeable, however, they each have many different characteristics that define them. Siemon (2015, p. 183) states ‘the essence of numeracy is being prepared to use mathematics to understand a particular situation or issue better’. Whereas, mathematics can be described as ‘the science of space, number, quantity, and arrangement, whose methods involve logical reasoning and usually the use of symbolic notation and which includes geometry, arithmetic, algebra and analysis; mathematical operations or calculations’ (Siemon, 2015, p. 185).
Numeracy is hard to assess, as it is more about the selection and use of maths in the real world as opposed to using it in an artificial environment (Grimmley, 2016). Numeracy or being numerate, is about having the confidence, capacity and disposition to use maths in everyday life. Mathematics is more about abstract ideas, a body of knowledge we learn.
Siemon ( 2015, p. 185) states, ‘mathematics does not need to consider the real world as it can focus purely on abstract constructs and ideas regardless of their potential application’, numeracy, on the other hand, ‘is the application of mathematics in authentic contexts’.
Numeracy in the real world consists of understanding and being able to apply mathematical skills, such as reading a recipe and being able to apply the maths of halving or doubling ingredients. Making connections with the mathematical concepts of fractions and addition and then being able to apply those skills in a real life situation is being numerate.
Mathematics is about gaining knowledge of concepts such as addition, subtraction, fractions, measurement and time. Mathematics has more of a focus on the formal learning of calculations rather than its application in the real world. One may argue mathematics is knowing how to count, add, subtract and multiple, all of which are mathematical concepts that have a factual right or wrong answer, 4 + 4 = 8, this statement is true, whereas numeracy on the other hand is being able to identify the need to use such mathematical concepts. For example, having a dinner party and knowing how many knives and forks are needed for 8 people, is the ability to use mathematical skills in a real life situation.
Mathematics and Numeracy is fundamental in the development and enhancement of a child’s learning journey. Providing children with an array of quality mathematical and numeric experiences will assist in their journey of becoming confident, capable and lifelong learns.
At Eskay Kids’ day care in Capalaba, we get lots of questions from parents and children alike. It’s natural during the initial stages of visiting day cares, for parents to be thorough in their questions so they know the centre is right for their child. We’ve compiled some of the most common questions here for you to get some easy answers.
What are your qualifications?
A timeless and always relevant question. Carers at our day care in Capalaba, as well as our Springfield and Karana Downs locations, have a minimum Certificate III in Early Childhood, Diploma in Children’s Services or a Bachelor’s degrees in Early Childhood. Qualifications are good on paper, but the people themselves are warm, nurturing, and have the children’s best interests’ at heart.
Our Eskay Kids centres are licensed by the Queensland State Government and all staff carry Blue Cards. We’ve also been rated as Exceeding the National Quality Standards, and were awarded the Excellent rating by ACECQA back in 2015.
What do the fees include?
The fees at our day care in Capalaba include lunch, afternoon tea, nappies, sunscreen and access to the educational program.
What’s your philosophy?
Eskay Kids believes in providing an ‘authentic childhood experience’. We have a strong connection to the natural world, and want children to experience joyful childhoods.
The Eskay day care in Capalaba caters to children between 6 weeks and five years. Our multi-age community is a beautiful one, that enriches each child’s life. Older children become surrogate siblings for younger children, and there is a real sense of community togetherness, support and learning.
Why play-based learning? Isn’t there structure?
Learning is innate, and play is the education of children. The Eskay Kids staff guide them along the way with some pre-organised environments, but there’s no rigid scheduling. We follow the children’s individual rhythms and flows.
Play-based learning allows children to play in groups, understand the opinions and beliefs of others, and use analytical skills in role-play situations. When they ask questions, we help them wonder how they might find the answer to their questions. A child’s brain is amazingly elastic and they are naturally curious, creative and inventive in their thinking.
Will I get updates about how my child is doing?
Absolutely. Eskay Kids day care centres are also places of learning, and our trained staff observe children’s progress throughout the year. This is compiled in children’s individual portfolios and our collaborative floorbook which is created with the children. Parents can call any time to check on their child or schedule a meeting to catch up.
Our Eskay Kids child care Karana centre is home to children from pages fifteen months to five years. Often, our centre will be children’s first home-away-from-home, and the lead up, as well as the inevitable first day, can be an emotional time for both families and children. The first month is an opportunity to set a routine that makes drop-offs easier as time goes on.
Eskay’s child care Karana centre won the Early Education and Care Service Award for best service in QLD in 2017. The team were overjoyed to receive this award and for being recognised for the amazing work they do everyday with children. After calling the centre, book a time to walk through to get a good feel for what we do. It will give both you and your child a chance to explore our space, meet our Director and educators and see what happens each day. There are multiple spaces to play, to read, to run, jump, skip, and even jump in puddles.
Before the first day arrives, make sure that you have everything ready. Essentials include a hat, water bottle, change of clothes, and lunchbox. During drop-off time, if your child is anxious try to make some time to stay and have a little play, find a teacher to chat to and say goodbye. Sneaking away is not recommended and makes drop off the next day much harder.
Another way to ‘survive’ the first month, or the first day, is to make friends with other parents and listen to their experiences. Children aren’t the only ones who form friendships in child care. The Karana Downs’ community is always welcoming to newcomers, and many of our families have formed close bonds outside the centre.
Over the next few weeks, make sure that you set a routine with your child so going to kindy gets easier. Talk about what they’ll do during the day while you’re in the car, arrive early so you’re not rushing, and arrange time outside child care to have playdates with other children. For parents having some separation blues or who just want an update, Eskay’s child care Karana staff are happy to talk over the phone at any time of the day.
If you want more tips about surviving your child’s first month in child care, the parent’s guide is available here. There’s advice, how our centres are different from other kindys, and links to educational articles about the benefits of play-based learning.
Taking the time to slow down with children is of pretty high importance in my eyes…. time that allows for us to connect with each other on a deeper level. It is often something we can lose sight of in the rush of our day. Having a tea party allows for this time and can offer an insight into children’s thoughts and feelings. Discussions allow us to get to know children on a more intimate level. For me, this is far more important than setting up activity after activity, which can distract children from learning to regulate their emotions.
When I arrive I often walk in to musings from the children….. “Can we have a tea party?”, “Is it too wet for us to have a fire?”, “Did you bring marshmallows or food for the fire?”. This gives me an insight into how our day will unfold, and what I will be helping them prepare.
Children will often discuss amongst themselves the type of fruit or herbal tea they want. They are gaining familiarity with the different types, and most of the time the tea has been selected before I even arrive. As well as picking the tea they are able to choose from our selection of tea cups and pots. Most of our tea sets have been donated by families of the centre. The different tea sets are known by the different families who have brought them in. All beautiful and unique and very special to us. Once we have got everything together, we move to gather as a community around our yarning circle. As soon as the tea sets come out the children follow. I feel a bit like thepied piper walking with our tea filled tea pots, and the children in tow.
It is not necessarily part of our everyday play, however most days we have been having bigger and bigger tea parties. Winter has also been a great opportunity to use our fire knowledge and sometimes boil the water over the fire…. again bringing children and adults together, yarning about their morning and plans for the remainder of the day. Once we have gathered together and had our cup of tea and a bit of chit-chat, the children generally take off and resume play. I find this experience can also be a wonderful opportunity for children who may struggle to enter group situations.
Our tea parties have really helped to create an overall sense of calm throughout the centre and bring us together. I think they have also made a real difference to my own “at peace” feeling.
Type ‘child care Capalaba’ into Google and the results will list Eskay Kids on both the list and the map. You might wonder what makes us different from other child care centres listed on that page, so we’re breaking it down for you here.
Our centre is open 51 weeks of the year (just closing over the Christmas/New Year period). We are licensed for children aged 6 weeks to 5 years, and have a strong focus on using a Nature Pedagogy approach, which values a strong connection to nature in the inside, outside and beyond.
When you’re searching for child care in Capalaba you want a place where you’re confident your little ones will thrive. Children are curious, and we let them explore in a safe, play-based, learning environment, where their childhood is respected. This method is more clearly explained in the Early Years Learning Framework. The Framework outlines the qualities child care centres aim to develop by the time children reach school.
Play-based learning doesn’t mean children run off and go rowdy. But they also aren’t confined to a classroom with only an hour of constructive play per day either. Eskay Kids uses the outdoors as a classroom instead. Households, like the world in general, are dominated by technology and screens. Eskay Kids encourages children to choose whether they would like to play in the indoor classrooms or the outdoor classrooms for the majority of the day. Both spaces have a strong nature pedagogy approach, with the indoor play usually focused on smaller, quieter engagement, and the outdoors is usually where children are moving their big muscles, playing co-operatively, exploring, connecting with nature, making friends and ultimately learning all the time.
Some of the outcomes of the Early Years Learning Framework include that children develop into involved learners, effective and confident communicators, and have a strong sense of self (or identity). Play-based learning in the outdoors gives children the opportunity to engage in activities, sometimes on their own, and sometimes in small or larger groups. Through this engagement, children come to understand that even though their own opinions are important, they must learn to respect those of others, even if they’re a bit different.
Next time you search ‘child care Capalaba’ on the web, give Eskay Kids a good once-over. We’re available almost all year, follow government guidelines, and give children a beautiful connection to nature in both our indoor and outdoor environments. Parents know in their hearts what they value for their children, so we would encourage you to have a visit, and choose a centre that feels right in your heart.
This is my first blog. I was very nervous writing this up as I’m not much of a writer, and I know how many people could potentially read this. However, I just had to share my wonderful experience in nature at our wonderful Mayfield that we are so very lucky to have.
The amazing owners of Eskay Kids paid for me to do Claire Warden’s Nature Pedagogy course, with Carly Garner.
So far I have only done the first 3 days, there are another 3 to come, and I am so excited for the next round. Before I had started, I was so nervous. Yes I love getting dirty and playing in mud and exploring, however I’m rather scared (to say the least) of spiders, snakes and fire etc., so I usually tend to avoid nature in its truest and beautiful form.
But in nature time, I almost forgot about my fears and it hardly felt like learning at all. After all, I got to play in the wild and I took the time to notice the wonderful things in the bushland that in my busy everyday life, I would never see, or I’d be afraid to explore.
I foraged so many wonderful plants and flowers of all different shapes and colours, I learnt about what different plants meant regarding the condition of the land. I looked at rocks and feathers for all their beauty, the different patterns in each feather and shapes, tones and lines in the rocks… I really felt like a child. I was excited to reach the river, and I just had to touch the water. It was so cold, but I felt like a child, without a care in the world.
After our nature walk we came back and made light cubbies out of natural resources we had foraged from our walk. Flowers, sticks, feathers, grass for weaving etc., it was so much fun. It held a candle, which lit our path on our night walk. The light cubby looked even more amazing at night! We followed the walk with a huge bonfire. It was very relaxing sitting by the fire on a cold dark night, just watching the embers drift off into the sky and then disappear, they looked like silent fireworks.
The next day we got to explore fire ourselves, but first we discussed the benefits and risks of children exploring fire… and of course the benefits outweighed the risks. Then for the fun part! We used vaseline and cotton balls, along with flint and steel, dry leaves, sticks and bark etc., in a colander to have a go at making a fire. This was my first ever fire as I usually stay away. I was so proud of myself – I actually did it! I made a spark with my flint without getting scared and then bam, my fire had begun. I looked after it by slowly feeding it different dry leaves and sticks until it was big enough to stay alight on its own. It was such an accomplishment for me! Then we tried using the flints without the vaseline and using hay and other natural fire starters. I again got mine to start using some shredded rope, and slowly feeding it oxygen by blowing it, however admittedly my fear did get the better of me and I wasn’t able to do it in my cupped hands, I still had loads of fun! We then made charcoal pencils, which were surprisingly easy. We made and ate damper, melted chocolate for our strawberries and marshmallows!!
Throughout the time of the course we also learnt to whittle sticks, making pencil shaped sticks, which could potentially be a weapon in the bush if needed, however we made homemade ink using flowers, water and a mortar and pestle. We also made crochet needles, from a stick with a whittling knife.
We explored with the very delicate felt, making felt art and balls from scratch. We also had a go at using the same process with wool from sheep and horse hair. The horsehair didn’t go as well, it was too fine.
It was sad to say goodbye to Carly, but knowing we will be back in November is truly amazing, and of course, we have the access to Mayfield … I’ll definitely be begging to come out with the children next time!
The very next day after the nature pedagogy course, I was so in love with nature, and so inspired, that I took my own children out to some local bush land along with my husband. It was quite funny as I was so excited to explore and so were the children. I had to keep reminding my husband to stand back and trust them to explore without boundaries. We crossed a fallen tree that made a bridge over a creek. Facing another fear of mine – heights, but this time with the kids watching I couldn’t show my fear as I might pass my fear on. They did so well crossing the tree, I was so proud of all of us.
I totally understand nature time now, though as we were there a couple hours, it only felt like such a short time. The kids and myself are so very excited to get back out there and see what else we can explore, and I can’t wait to show them all the things I learnt, as well as bringing it into Eskay Kids Springfield for my children there to explore, as I know they will love it. I also want to extend it into our walks in the beyond.
Nature is such a wonderful thing that we are so lucky to be surrounded by. We just need to remember to slow down and enjoy what is right in front of us.