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Tips you need to know for raising confident kids

Encouragement makes everyone smile, kids and adults alike. As a parent you want your son or daughter to grow into a confident young person who can take on any challenge that comes their way. Eskay child care centres do their part by following the Early Years Learning Framework ‘Building Confident Learners’. At home and outside of child care, there’s some things you can do to build up your child for the better.

 

Compliment with care

Of course parents want to say ‘good job’ and shower their son or daughter with praise. Repeating the same thing over and over, however, does more harm than good because it loses meaning.

Be specific in the compliments you hand out to your child. If they give you a drawing, comment on how nice the colours are. When they’re at the playground and climb something to the top, tell them you’re impressed with their effort.

There’s a difference between compliments and gratitude. The latter is for when your child has done something you asked them and done it well (or without complaint). A simple ‘thank you’ after setting the table or making their bed is enough to make them feel good about completing a task.

 

Nurture their interests

Everyone has hobbies no matter their age. Your child might like sports, drama, or arts. One way of nurturing this interest is enrolling them in extra-curriculars. There’s plenty of clubs you can find on the internet, whether it be for jiu jitsu or violin lessons. When your child works towards a goal and achieves it at the end of the term (if the club has one) their confidence will skyrocket!

 

Be their example

Children look to their parents for guidance; you’re their number one role model. As a parent, you want to be strong all the time but it doesn’t always work out that way. It actually does your child good to show emotion. Sometimes you get frustrated and cry but don’t shy away from it. Emotions are a natural part of being human.

 

Involve them in decisions

This shows your son or daughter that you trust their opinion. Thumbs up from Mum or Dad equals confidence and head held high! Let them pick out what they want to wear to school. Ask them what cereal is better when you’re roaming the supermarket. Let them pick up the box and put it in the trolley. When that’s done you can ask them what they want in their lunchbox, so long as it’s healthy.

 

Perfection is overrated

Practice makes perfect and you should let your son or daughter know that when they feel as if they failed at something. Even if it’s just a cake that didn’t turn out ‘perfectly’ round, point out the good qualities. It might not be a circle, but it’s still delicious!

 

We have more advice here:

9 activities for active children after daycare

Kindergarten and beyond: teaching values and discipline

Duplicating Eskay daycare activities at home

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!

 

Loose parts play

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.

loose parts

Tea parties

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.

tea parties

Reading

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.

Daycare to big school: are you ready for it?

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

  • Learning environment

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.

 

  • Rules

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.

 

  • New relationships

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.

 

Supporting them

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.

The beginning of the new school year is a time for parents to make new friends

Our Garden Space

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.

 

Katherine

Eskay Kids Capalaba

Transitioning to school from Karana Early Education Centre

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.

 

Kisie Sharp

Early Childhood Teacher

 

Read the news from our other carers:

Messy play as the little people would do it!

“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!

Aparna Krishnan

Lead Educator, Springfield

The benefits of mixed-age play

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.

Written by Summa Brooks

Educator

Eskay Kids – Springfield

Loose Parts Play

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.   

 

loose parts

 

Within our Kindergarten environment, these are some of the loose part items our children have access to each day:

  • Cardboard tubes
  • Small recycled pieces of plastic
  • Wood cut-offs
  • Different coloured small and large tiles
  • PVC pipes
  • Milk crates
  • Rocks
  • Seed pods
  • Tiny stones
  • Natural items such as leaves, sticks, pine cones etc.
  • Wire racks
  • Bamboo
  • Mixture of small plastic lids
  • Carpet squares
  • Material cut offs
  • Tyres
  • Stumps

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

 

Written by Courtney Sandilands

Early Childhood Teacher

Eskay Kids Capalaba

9 activities for active children after day care

  • AFL

(Image via Auskick)

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.

 

  • Gymnastics

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.

(Image via Brisbane Kids)

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.

 

  • Jiujitsu/karate/taekwondo

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.

 

  • Music practice

Mozart wrote symphonies before he was ten! Not all children have this ability, but nurturing a genuine love of music will help your child’s development and confidence (read 10 ways how music enhances your child’s education by Kidspot).

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.

 

  • Drama/art classes

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.

 

Snack art, tag team drawing, and ‘the cabbage experiment’ are just some of the fun and quirky options available on this list.

 

day care

Even kids need to decompress and Inner Child Fun has a host of ideas. You can do parent/child reading, go for a walk or even make your own trail mix!

 

6 easy, yummy recipes for hungry kids after kindergarten

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.

 

Something savoury

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.

 

 

savoury muffins kindergarten

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.

 

 

pizza scrolls

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.

 

 

Savoury toast

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.

Sweet Stuff

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.

 

 

sweet toast

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.

 

donna hay muffins

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.

 

 

ants on a log

A bit sweet, a bit savoury, all interesting. These celery and cream cheese sticks are too easy to put together. Your children will get lots of different flavours and textures all in one snack!

 

4 amazing story collections for kindergarten and home

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.

kindergatren books

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.

 

kindergarten books

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.

 

kindergarten books

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.

 

kindergarten books

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.

6 of the best lunchbox ideas to bring to daycare

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.

 

 

daycare lunchbox

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.

 

aussie daycare lunchbox

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.

 

daycare meals reheat

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.

 

 

 kidspot kitchen daycare

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!

 

daycare lunch packing

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.

 

 

daycare recipes

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.

Life after childcare; the first day of school

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.

 

 

  • Label everything

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.

 

Liked this? Read more like it:

Teaching values and discipline

Fun things to do after daycare

5 fun things to do after daycare

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?

 

  1. Baking

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.

 

  1. Library time

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.

 

  1. Little athletics

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:

  • Swimming

  • Martial arts (taekwondo, karate, jiu jitsu)

  • Tennis

  • Football

  • Soccer

 

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.

 

  1. Dress-ups

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.

 

  1. Music

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.

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Our secrets to having fun at the Capalaba day care centre

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’.

 

Special guests

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.

 

Outdoor activities

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.

Essentials your child needs for Eskay’s Karana Child Care Centre

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.

Packed lunchbox

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.

Sunscreen

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.

Favourite toy

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.

Trust

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.  

Classic books you’ll find on child care centre shelves – or at home

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 and The 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 its Great 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 Rabbit follows 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 strategies backed by science

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.

 

STREAM

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.

 

Play-based learning

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 and Stones 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.

early childhood education

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.

 

Current research

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 on the Learning Sciences Institute Australia website.

School Ready



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.


Trisha Dean

Karana Early Education Centre

Questions we get at our day care in Capalaba

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.

Getting through the first month with Eskay child care Karana

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.

Slowing down our day with tea parties

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 the pied 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.

Holly Wells

Karana

How early childhood education in Capalaba helps kids grow

Early childhood education in Capalaba, Karana Downs, and other places around Australia helps children grow into confident young people. Formal education itself is a right for all. But at Eskay Kids, we are the ones who feel privileged when children not only learn, but take lessons home with them.

 

Eskay Kids early childhood education centres don’t have separate ‘play’ and ‘learning’ times. We don’t force children to do anything they don’t want to. Rather, we follow children’s lead and observe valuable learning in almost every situation.  Whether you’re looking at early childhood education in Capalaba, Karana Downs, or Springfield, all our centres follow the same ethos. The children play with each other regardless of age, and the staff provide a safe environment where children can explore the world around them.

 

At our early childhood education centre, the children develop relationships, find their voice, and learn how to listen to the opinions of others. This valuable learning stays with children throughout their lives. Our educators observe children throughout the year, and record the beautiful journey of learning for each child.  It’s an ongoing cycle of observation that happens throughout every day, during play, interactions, meal times, quiet times and many other opportunities that present themselves each day.  

 

As children grow, they become more adept at observing, analysing, explaining, and verifying information. These and other mathematical/scientific skills develop in the early years and are especially important to nurture, so children can grow to the best of their ability. Our Eskay Kids educators facilitate these skills further by carefully planning environments where children invited to explore, play, learn, create, enquire, question and problem solve.  

 

If you’re looking for early childhood education in Capalaba, give Eskay Kids Capalaba your consideration. We give your children the opportunity to grow through play. Children build their mathematical and scientific skills, make friends, and get back to nature in our centre, where joyful, authentic childhoods are at the top of our priority list . Early childhood education doesn’t stop when children leave us, many skills, dispositions and attitudes children learn in the early years will stay with them forever.

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!

Reflections on the transition to school

By this time of year many parents have already chosen the school their child will attend while others are still undecided whether or not their child will be ready for this next transition. Research has consistently shown that a smooth transition greatly helps the child to manage this change. Their experience of the early grades at school will colour the rest of their academic life. How can you as parents and we as an educational community support this transition?

 

Any opportunity for your child to visit the school, meet the teachers and get to know the expectations of Prep will be helpful. Many schools have playgroups, information days or evenings, open days and other opportunities to take your child to the school and support their familiarity with the teachers, environment and other children. These opportunities are also an excellent way for you to start to meet teachers and other parents, helping you to create networks to support your child.

 

Depending on the school you choose for your child/ren you, as parents may have many opportunities to help familiarise your child with their next learning environment .Do they have a Fete coming up? Is there a fundraising event you could attend? What about swimming lessons or other sporting activities such as Little Athletics or Karate that may be held in the school grounds? The school’s website will have information and contacts for finding out what formal and informal transition processes are available.

 

For those children attending After School Hours Care it will be helpful to visit the premises with your child and meet the staff and other children. Will they have to catch a bus or be collected to get to OSHC? What school holiday activities are available?

 

All over Queensland schools are being encouraged to actively reach out to the community, especially the Early Childhood Community to form collaborative partnerships that will support smooth transition processes for children starting the Prep year. If you have concerns about your child’s readiness for school these collaborative relationships can help to support your decision making process.

Schools will listen to your concerns and may or may not support a delayed entry to Prep where appropriate. The sooner they hear your worries, the earlier they can act to support your child.

 

Here at Springfield Child Care and Early Education Centre we have been active partners collaborating with local schools to enhance the transition process. We have hosted visits from three schools and have attended Information Meetings with local schools. We have written reports and communicated by phone for individual children. An exciting development is being involved in the initiation of the Greater Springfield Early Childhood Network. Through this collaborative partnership we can network with local schools and service providers to enhance communication and understanding of how each educational facility works to support each other.

 

At the end of each year as an Approved Kindergarten Program we provide for each child a Transition Report based on the Queensland Kindergarten Learning Guideline. These are an invaluable resource for your child’s Prep teachers. We also provide the Portfolio of the learning journey of your child at our centre. At a recent Network meeting the schools were unanimous in their enthusiasm to read these documents as they are such helpful resources.

 

As I look back over the last two decades and reflect on the many changes I have witnessed in the Early Childhood Education and Care Sector I must conclude that the openness of schools to engage with parents and community to support the Transition to Prep is one of the most heartening.

 

Written by Kate Shapcott

Kindergarten Teacher

Eskay Kids Springfield

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

Building Positive Relationships in Child Care

When a child starts child care for the first time, moves to a new centre or if they suffer from separation anxiety, emotions can run high for all parties involved, the child, the parent and the educators. To help children transition into the new care environment we must implement strategies to help ease the stress of the situation.

positive relationships

Through observations and reflective conversations, the educators came to the understanding that the toddlers, especially new children, were becoming overwhelmed with big emotions when the room was busy and loud. In our Kookaburra Room (15 months-2 1/2years) an important strategy we now have in place is ensuring we provide a calm and quiet environment to help overcome this concern.

building

We realised that children will naturally connect with some educators better than others, so we have used this information as a tool in assisting children whenever they need comforting. This could be helping the child cope at drop off time, if they hurt themselves, or even just changing their nappy. We have found the consistency of care is really beneficial for the children, as they build a positive relationship with the educator. Through having a positive relationship, an educator is able to join the child’s Circle of Security.

As each child is individual, we try a variety of settling ideas, this may include:

  • Singing
  • Reading
  • Sensory activities
  • Getting their bed out so they have a safe place
  • Looking at our animals, Rosie the chicken and Squirtle the turtle
  • The sandpit
  • Getting their sibling(if applicable) to play with them
  • Sitting with an educator in a quiet place and talking about what the children are doing in other areas of  the environment or just having that physical closeness
  • Finding an interest based activity

Or it could be as simple as establishing a drop off routine such as sitting down at the table to have breakfast or morning tea.

To help children feel like they belong and that they are in a safe and secure environment we will try all of the previously mentioned techniques and more. However, if parents feel apprehensive about leaving their children, these strategies will rarely be successful. This is why it is vitally important to continually strive to build positive relationships with the families, so they too can have their own sense of belonging in our service. We have learnt children will respond positively toward us when parents do.

Written by Sallyanne Hill and Peta Doyle

Toddler Room

Karana Early Education Centre