Category Archives: Early Childhood Education

Child care Capalaba: the Eskay difference

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.   

Nature Pedagogy Course by Sara Christie

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.

 

Written by Sara Christie

Lilly Pilly Room – Eskay Kids Springfield

Does play have to take a back seat, in order to prepare children for school?

At Eskay Kids, our beliefs, philosophies and values centre on children, play, nature and authentic childhood experiences.  We stand by play as the absolute best medium by which children learn about themselves, each other and the world around them.  At each of our services, children are respected and have a huge amount of autonomy.  They can choose whether to play indoors or outdoors.  They can choose whether to play with children older or younger than themselves.  They can choose to enter and play in any of the spaces in the service. They can choose to eat when they’re hungry, and to rest or sleep when they’re tired.  There is no formal “morning tea” time, no formal “lunch time” and no formal “sleep time” as is usually customary in traditional early childhood settings.  The programming and planning done within the services is all based around children’s interests.  There are no ”formal learning times” or “structured activity times” where it’s compulsory for every child to attend.  

Children can pretty much spend their days as they choose.  In saying that, there is a beautiful flow to the routines of the day.  Children know that morning tea, lunch and group gatherings will be on offer, so they know what to expect, however it is very fluid and flexible, and based around children’s individual needs and requirements.

 

Environments

The environments are created in such a way that children can have free and open access to materials they may need to assist in their play.  There is free access to paper, paint, pens, pencils, boxes, glue, sticky tape, cardboard etc.  There is free access to blocks, sticks, rocks, fabric, books, magnifying glasses etc.  There are hammers, saws, wood, nails, twine, tyres, crates, and lots of loose parts.  Children have everything at their fingertips they may need, and they are free to ask for anything that’s not there, and we will try to source it (on the spot if possible).  There are environments that are conducive to quieter, restful play, environments that are more suited to exploring, and environments for running and playing games.

 

How are you preparing children for school?

One of the biggest questions we get asked in running such a child-centred, play-driven program is “how will children be prepared for school if you just let them play all day?”  We often have questions about children needing more structure to prepare them for school.  We often hear questions about learning to read and write before they go to school.

 

Before thinking about “how do we prepare children for school”, we need to consider – what do parents actually mean by “preparing for school?”  Is it about learning to  “sit and listen to a teacher?”  Is it being able to write their name?  Being able to read? Knowing phonics? Counting to 5, 10, or even 100?  Knowing shapes?  Many of these things we don’t even need to teach children – they learn them through playing in their world, by talking to their peers, teachers and parents.  Much of this learning happen as if by osmosis, just by children being engaged and happy in their playful lives.  Before children turn 5, they learn more than at any other time in their lives.  They learn to roll over, sit, stand, walk, run, throw, kick, talk, question, tantrum and more.  

We don’t actually teach them any of this, they learn it on their own, because they are biologically designed to do so.  It’s as if children are pre-programmed to naturally learn all the things of their culture and community, just by virtue of them living, playing and interacting with the adults and children around them.

 

Developmental Milestones

When we look at the developmental progress of children, the charts, the ages and stages milestones – by the age of 5 in relation to cognitive development, children should be able to understand opposites, count 5-10 things may write some numbers and letters, count by rote and start to understand the relationships between numbers and objects.  To see the full list, click here: http://files.acecqa.gov.au/files/QualityInformationSheets/QualityArea1/DevelopmentalMilestonesEYLFandNQS.pdf Most of this development and these milestones “just happen”, because children are developmentally ready for those things to happen, and many of them don’t need to be “taught”.  

Children are naturally curious beings.  They play with their friends and they practice and emulate adult scenarios witnessed in their everyday lives.  They are learning, make no mistake about it.  Even though it looks like frivolous play, the children are learning.    

 

What does learning look like while playing

When children are playing they are creating play scenarios, creating rules, using their minds, negotiating social situations, learning to communicate, to compromise.  They are problem solving, communicating, asking questions.  They are learning about words, feelings, and emotions.  They are consulting with books, YouTube or Google.  They are representing through building, creating, painting, and drawing.  They are using the sense of sight, touch, taste, smell, and sound.  They learn about weight, length, speed, colour, sound, cause/effect, rhythm etc.  They learn words, language, linguistics, and mathematical and scientific concepts.  In a nutshell, children are learning.  They may not have a teacher standing out the front dictating what they “need” to learn, or sitting them down at a desk forcing worksheets upon them, but they are learning.

Learning through play.  Why?  Because it’s fun, it’s interesting to them, and it’s playful, and lets keep in mind, these children are four and five year olds, and they are biologically designed to learn through play.

 

What skills do children need before school?

What are the skills that will set children up for the best possible experience for school?  As a teacher, the most important things you want children to bring to school with them are well developed social and emotional skills as well as confidence and independence.  You want children to be able to interact and get along with others, solve problems, take some risks and get back up again if they fail.  We want them to be adventurous and curious about the world in which we live.  All of these competencies are developed through long periods of uninterrupted play.  It’s not a requirement of school, for children to be reading and writing.  That will come in time, when the children are ready.

 

Dr Peter Gray – Sudbury Valley School

We are big fans of Dr Peter Gray who has written a book called “Free to Learn”.  In this book, he studied the graduates of the Sudbury Valley School.  The Sudbury Valley School is one where there is no curriculum, no classes, no subjects, no tests, no grading.  Children from the age of 4 through to the age of 18 are together and are not segregated by age in any way.  The younger children learn from the older children, and the older children learn how to nurture and how to teach and lead.  There are no “teachers”, just staff members who are the adults in the space.  All day, everyday, the children can do whatever they want.  If they want to read, play on the computer, play cards, climb trees they can.  The school is a democratic school and is run by the school meeting.  Each person has 1 vote and all the rules, and all the hiring and firing is done by a voting system, so the students (approximately 140) have a much larger vote than the staff (approximately 10).

The students basically run the school.  Dr Gray’s son went to the school from age 10, so he wanted to know what sort of opportunities might (or might not) be available at the end of such a free school?  Would he be restricted in any way?  What if he wanted to go to University – could that still happen when there had been no classes, no curriculum, no tests and no grades?  The results of the study were very pleasing to Dr Gray and he found it to be a great success.  Many students went on to university – one even became a maths professor.  There were doctors, teachers, lawyers, many were entrepreneurs and most were successful in whatever field they chose.  It would seem a big driver in their success, was the freedom to learn about what interested them, and the ability to be self-directed learners.

 

Children learn quickly

If your children are going to a traditional school, it won’t take them very long to learn how to sit and listen to the teacher.  They’ll learn that very quickly.  When they are developmentally ready, it won’t take them long to learn to read or write – they key is to take it at the child’s pace.  There is no rush.  Almost all children will eventually learn to read and write.  Some will learn it at age 4; some will learn it at age 10.  It will happen when the child is ready.  Most children learn everything when they’re ready and interested to do so.  In Finland, they don’t even start learning to read until they’re 7, as there is recognition that there are far more important things, such as play, to be doing before the age of 7, and at 7, children are more developmentally ready.  I guess it’s a little bit like saying I’ll need to use a walking stick one day.  Does that mean I need to practice today?  No, I’ll learn that pretty quickly when the time comes.  

 

What is age-appropriate pedagogy?

We often talk about “preparing children for school”, but in recent times there has been a recognition that “schools need to prepare for the children they are receiving”.  There has been realisation that some of the rigorous curriculum expectations are not developmentally appropriate for young children, so there has been a turn around and a recognition that play is still necessary, even when children are at school.  The word “play” is not being used, because people seem to be afraid of the word, instead the term “age appropriate pedagogy” is being used.  What does pedagogy mean?  Basically it means the method and practice or “the art” of teaching”.  So age appropriate pedagogy essentially means PLAY and child-led inquiry – because that is what is age-appropriate for children!

The secret behind our child care centre in Capalaba

The Eskay Kids child care centre in Capalaba follows the Early Years Learning Framework and the Government Approved QLD Kindergarten Learning Guidelines. We take a unique approach in how we run our centres, but we follow the same rules and regulations as everyone else. So what does this mean for you and your child?

 

Queensland Kindergarten Learning Guidelines

Our child care centre in Capalaba, as well as those in Karana Downs and Springfield, follow the Queensland Kindergarten Learning Guidelines or QKLG (same as every child care centre in the state).  At the core is exploring decision-making practices, processes, and elements.

 

These elements are key for teachers working in early childhood education. Teachers carefully plan each day and provide enriching environments, so children can play, develop, and learn. Children have large periods of uninterrupted time to play, explore, learn, discover, question, enquire and engage in social learning experiences with children and adults alike.  Teachers regularly observe the interests, strengths and learning over time and provide a transition statement for families to share with the school which includes information about the child’s interests, their communication skills, active learning, identity, wellbeing, connectedness and other information that may be pertinent.   

 

Our Kindergarten teacher spends a lot of time reflecting on the children within the Kindy program.  The QKLG states that reflection is key for developing strategies, looking back on elements that worked well or were overlooked, and identifying what worked best.     

capalaba QKLG

(Queensland Kindergarten Learning Guidelines, 2017)

 

At Eskay Kids  child care centre in Capalaba, our educators have intimate knowledge about what children respond to best. They enjoy their time in the outdoors enormously, they enjoy time spent with their friends engaging in play that is interesting to them, and they also enjoy quieter times in quieter spaces either by themselves or with a small group of friends.  

 

Though we know what works best, the educators at Eskay Kids are always engaging in further learning and professional development to improve and refine their knowledge and understanding of contemporary early childhood development, and are always pushing themselves past “what has always been done”.  A teacher never stops learning; they network, attend seminars on early education, and meet with parents to discuss concerns.  

Why go to our kindergarten in Capalaba?

Kindergarten is a German word, which translates to ‘children’s garden’ in English. If you look around for a kindergarten in Capalaba, you’ll find Eskay Kids. We also have centres in Springfield and Karana Downs, and all of our kindergartens have the same mission: To give the children in our care the best possible childhood.

 

Kindergarten, or ‘kindy’, helps ease the transition from home to school for parents and children alike. Kindy originated in 19th century Bavaria as a place for working parents to leave their children. It was a safe environment where the children could learn, interact with different people (other children, teachers), and play.

 

Eskay Kids’ kindergarten in Capalaba is equipped with both indoor and outdoor classrooms.  It’s a common sight to see our children running barefoot through the playground, making figures in the sandpit, or making cubbies. The children are afforded agency which empowers them to make decisions about their day.  Children’s voices are respected and their choices are real.  Children become good problem solvers, by learning to solve problems.  Children become good decision makers, by learning to make decisions.  We partner with children, and work with them to support their interests, curiosities, enquiries and questions.  Programs across our service are documented using the Floorbook approach (by Claire Warden), and consultation with children is the cornerstone of our practice.   

 

Of course, there’s also excursions. Eskay Kids has begun exploring beyond the fence.  We’ve organised our first trips to Bunnings Warehouse, and are in the planning stages of taking our children to “the beyond”. Excursions gives children the opportunity to actively engage with the world and their community around them.

 

Our kindergartens in Capalaba, Springfield, and  Karana Downs don’t have stencils, ‘classroom time’ or anything else that is highly structured and developmentally inappropriate.  Eskay appreciates that children are curious and our centres provide a safe place for them to learn, grow, become confident,make friends, and have beautiful, authentic childhoods  before that inevitable first day of school.

Choosing the Right Early Childhood Service for your Child

Often when parents are looking for information about child care they are interested in fees, opening hours, food, vacancies, waiting lists and qualifications.

 

There are many checklists that parents can find to help them as they explore the options available to them, however sometimes there is so much information, it can be quite overwhelming.  I recently came across a checklist that had over 90 items to check either a yes, no or n/a answer.  

 

There are definitely some things families need to ask, but what are the most important things?  Is it about fees?  Is it about food?  Is it about cleanliness?  Is it about ratings?  Is it about quality?

 

For us, we believe strongly that it’s about having a shared vision of childhood, and what you value for your child’s childhood.  There are many services to choose from, and many different ideas, philosophies and “marketing gimiks” around.  Some advertise “structured programs”, others say they have “specialised school readiness programs” and others say they are “Reggio or Montessori inspired”.  Here at Eskay Kids, our mission is to ensure children have the best possible childhood experience, in a very natural environment, where their choices and voices are respected – we value childhood, and authentic childhood experiences.      

 

When you visit , you will find some centres are completely artificial, while others are completely natural.  You will have a good idea in your mind of what sort of childhood and childhood experiences you want for your child.  Some prefer a very plastic, clean, sterile and sanitised environment with lots of bright primary colours, so those families should seek out a centre that meets that particular need.  Other families want a very natural environment for their child with trees, mud, timber, boulders, sand etc, so families who want their child to have a childhood in a natural setting should seek out a service that has a strong affinity with the natural world and a nature pedagogy approach.

 

Some families want their child to have formalised, structured early academic programs where there is a strong focus on the ABC’s and 123’s, so they should see out a service that delivers early academic instruction.  Some families want their children to develop their independence, problem solving, decision making, confidence and agency skills, so families should search for a service that designs it’s programs with the ability for children to be able to make many of the decisions about their day including whether they play inside or outside, which environment they would like to choose to play in, deciding when they eat, and if/when/where they might rest.  In our experience, children learn to make good decisions by being allowed to make decisions, and children learn to become good problem solvers by being allowed to solve some of their own problems.   

 

Choosing an early childhood service for your child, is more than ticking boxes, it’s about finding a really close alignment with your beliefs and visions for your child’s childhood.  At Eskay Kids, our vision for children is one of beautiful and authentic childhoods, of nature, of natural environments, and of children having a strong voice and agency over their day.  It’s not a complete “free for all”.  There are still rules, boundaries and routines, however our routines are based around the natural interests, rhythms, and flow of each child, and instead of having one room routine for a whole group of children, we have individualised routines for each individual child.

 

There is lots of research available to help families decide what is truly important to them.  We’ve posted some articles below that support our visions and values for children.

 

Written by Sharon Kneen

 

Give childhood back to children: if we want our offspring to have happy, productive and moral lives, we must allow more time for play, not less

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/give-childhood-back-to-children-if-we-want-our-offspring-to-have-happy-productive-and-moral-lives-we-must-allow-more-time-for-play-not-less-are-you-listening-gove-9054433.html

The Vital Role of Play in Childhood

http://www.iaswece.org/waldorf_education/articles/education_toward_freedom.aspx

Should we just let them play?

http://theconversation.com/should-we-just-let-them-play-24670

Let the children play:  Nature’s Answer to Early Learning

http://www.ccl-cca.ca/pdfs/ECLKC/lessons/Originalversion_LessonsinLearning.pdf

Why Play Equals Learning

http://www.learnnow.org/topics/play/why-play-equals-learning

Benefits of Connecting Children with Nature

https://naturalearning.org/sites/default/files/Benefits%20of%20Connecting%20Children%20with%20Nature_InfoSheet.pdf

The Outdoor Classroom Project

http://outdoorclassroomproject.org/about/the-outdoor-classroom/

The Crisis in Early Education A Research-Based Case for More Play and Less Pressure

http://www.shankerinstitute.org/images/Dec-11-crisis_in_early_ed.pdf

Schools now turning to nature-based playgrounds

http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/western-australia/schools-now-turning-to-naturebased-playgrounds/story-fnhocxo3-1226828146116?nk=a7a1004fd96d694f383efd8cc944d5a2

Play Based Vs. Academic Preschools: What the Research Says

http://www.mhpcns.com/resources/play_vs_academic.pdf

Stop Stealing Childhood in the Name of Education

http://www.maggiedent.com/sites/default/files/articles/StopStealingChildhoodintheNameofEducation_BY_MAGGIE_DENT_1.pdf