Tag Archives: child care

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

The secret behind our child care centre in Capalaba

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

 

Queensland Kindergarten Learning Guidelines

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

 

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

 

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

capalaba QKLG

(Queensland Kindergarten Learning Guidelines, 2017)

 

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

 

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

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

STREAM – FOR BABIES AND BEYOND …..

STREAM

Makes you think of a river right? You can think of it as one too, because it’s the learning journey your child will move through during their time with us. Every milestone and new discovery they make will flow into the next adventure. It continuously carries forward, creating new connections and allows children to further their development and knowledge. The STREAM doesn’t discriminate; it happens from the Lilly Pillies room through to the Willy Wag Tails room.

 

So, let’s break down the word STREAM;

 

S stands for Science

T stands for Technology

R stands for Reading and Research

E stands for Engineering

A stands for Arts

M stands for Mathematics

 

Over the last couple of months the Lilly Pillies children have explored science through water, mostly looking at the way water can change. When you add food dye or powder paint to water, it changes colour! It can be bright or dark. If you add cornflour, it makes slime. Adding dish washing liquid and stirring it makes bubbles! If you sit in the water tub and then hop out, it takes a while (with the help of the sun) for you to get dry. Science makes us think!

 

Technology will make you think instantly of computers, TVs and iPads. But what we actually mean is technology your children interact with and use as a medium in their learning. For example, the children have a deep interest for reading lately. This makes books a technology, because they are something getting used to connect with their world/learning/interest.  A few other areas of technology we explore are using utensils to feed ourselves, using glue to stick pictures and using the hose to water our plants.

 

Reading and researching for the babies is all about exploring their world and environment, this involves sights, sounds, texture, exploring how things work, risk taking, taste etc. They will learn to read behaviours, needs, feelings and cues as they get older and develop an understanding of what it all means. Children’s language will then progress forwards as they find stronger ways of communicating their needs and idea’s.

 

Your children use engineering daily and in all aspects of their play.  Engineering is wanting to know how and why things work. Engineering is learning to problem solve using a wide array of technologies! That word again! Your children are very engaged by this aspect when they are block building, constructing roads to drive their cars on, and possibly building bridges or ramps as their learning grows. Perhaps we could roll a ball down that ramp instead, or push our cars down it?

 

Next is Mathematics.  To incorporate mathematics into children’s learning we engage them with lots of “thinking questions”. We make comments on everything they are doing. As we are stacking blocks we can count each one or perhaps name the shape we see and colour. As the children have explored water , they used mathematics to fill, pour,  and empty and make things heavier or lighter. Another way we’ve done this is by fitting smaller objects into bigger ones and asking the children; which box or object can we fit in next?

 

It’s a lot to take in, but it will be an important tool to your child’s learning. It’s something we encourage you to keep as a reference to look back on when looking through day stories or your child’s portfolio.

Written by Ebony Anthony

Toddler Room

Eskay Kids Capalaba

Bringing child care strategies home

Child care centres are a place of laughter, learning, and play. Children learn from their surrounds and their carers at the centre through play-based programs. You can bring these elements into your own home to help your child’s development.  

 

Read

Children are curious and stories are great ‘brain food’ for their imaginations. Early learning experts encourage reading at home to improve literacy and communication.

Reading to children isn’t a complicated exercise. It’s ideal to regularly set aside a time when you can read together. Some parents like to read with their children before bed and the traditional ‘bedtime story’ is still going strong. Picture books are better for younger children so they can associate the words on the page with the illustrations. Older children can better handle books with longer blocks of text.  

 

Play

“Play has many valuable purposes.  It is a means by which children develop their physical, intellectual, emotional, social and moral capacities.  It is a means of creating and preserving friendships.  It also provides a state of mind that is uniquely suited for high-level reasoning, insightful problem solving and all sorts of creative endeavours.”

– Peter Gray.  

 

Child care centres implement play-centred learning programs under the guidance of the Early Years Learning Framework, and parents can just as easily implement a play centred ‘program’ of their own at home.

Inviting your child’s friends to your home for a playdate is one way to facilitate this. Hosting a playdate doesn’t mean children are avoiding doing something productive or ‘wasting time’. Rather, they have the opportunity to work in a team, recognise the importance working together, and understand that other opinions matter besides their own. Early Childhood Australia has a short list defining the different types of ‘play’.

 

Get outdoors

Following from the last point, play-based learning isn’t always done indoors. If you live in a home with a backyard area, spend time with your child outside or encourage them to play in the yard. Child care centres have outdoor areas where children are active, and an abundance of loose-part resources are available to them.


Loose parts allow children to move, manipulate, control, change, carry, combine, redesign, line up, take apart and put back together in endless ways.  They invite conversations, interactions and they encourage collaboration and cooperation. They promote social competence because they support creativity and innovation. Loose parts can be available in both indoor and outdoor environments and offer excellent opportunities for open-ended learning and higher levels of critical thinking and creativity.   

Understanding the Early Years Learning Framework

The Australian Government has developed this Framework to help childcare educators develop a foundation for children’s future success in learning. It’s not a bible or syllabus, but a guide for early childhood teachers to help their children become their best.

 

Identity

Children may play in a group but they still have a strong sense of self. They don’t turn into “another face in the crowd”. They develop a sense of identity first in a family setting, where they spend most of their time, and this is built up further in kindy.

The EYLF encourages a “safe” environment where children will discover themselves and understand what it means to belong in a group. Discovering identity also means knowing their background/cultural heritage and taking pride in it.

 

Connect, contribute

We build bonds constantly, but it starts in childhood. After discovering their sense of self and feeling like they belong, children start to form bonds with others. This happens at home and in childcare. It’s important to make connections and become a part of a group. A group dynamic helps children learn about the diversity of the world around them and to respect it.

Contributing is encouraged in group discussion and play. The teachers create settings where children are able to voice their opinions and feel comfortable doing so. This part of the Early Years Learning Framework encourages children to have a voice, respect those of others and have an awareness of their surroundings.

 

A sense of wellbeing

Nobody should ever feel isolated, excluded or feel mentally drained to the point of it affecting their physical health. This is especially true during the critical development years in childhood.

The third outcomes of EYLF aim to have children not only feel happy and healthy but also take responsibility for it. Children can’t develop strong bonds and a sense of belonging if their wellbeing is low mentally or physically. Signs of a sense of wellbeing in children include “owning” their feelings, taking risks and facing challenges, recognising what their body needs and having an awareness for the health of others.

 

Confident, involved learners

When children feel like they belong in a community, they feel more confident in their abilities. They’ll learn effectively, make mistakes and have more involvement in a group learning situation. They hypothesise, experiment, research and investigate like scientists with a curiosity only they can manage. Their teachers are the “guides”, encouraging open-ended discussion and helping them work towards a solution when problems arise.

 

Effective communicators

Communication is key in relationships, work and general everyday life. The Early Years Learning Framework guides educators on how to help children develop these skills. Their job is to help teach the children how to communicate politely with others and how to interpret nonverbal cues. This starts from infancy and doesn’t stop when the children leave go to prep; learning is lifelong, after all.

Communicating effectively applies to play situations. The childcare teachers create scenarios or supply materials to help the children verbalise what they learn. Popular outlets for self-expression are drama and music.