This year, we’ve been spending a lot of time on the 3Rs. No, not THOSE 3Rs…… A slightly different version – reading, researching, reflecting. We know that current research points to the importance of relationships – another R! In fact, according to Nathan Wallis, who is a leading brain research expert – there is literally nothing more important in the early years.
With this information in hand, we began the journey of discussing how we might ensure that children have stable primary relationships that don’t change in the course of their time with us. By mid-year, we had established how we would work with our two younger rooms, so when children started, they would remain in the same room until they entered the Kindergarten program. Siblings would be together, and that same core group of educators in the room would be the primary caregivers for the children in that room. Really, at the end of the day – because we already operate a completely open and multi-age environment, it really just looked like where children put their bags away, and who their primary carers were. No more transitioning between rooms!
In order to be more informed, we engaged Nathan Wallis to come to the centre to spend a day with us, along with staff from our other two Eskay services, and some amazing colleagues from other services that we network with. With our entire team being able to hear this information first hand – we then began the plunge into a deeper pool. Why should children moving into the Kindy program be shifted from their primary caregivers?
With this question in hand – I began to study the Queensland Kindergarten Funding Guidelines (QKLG), with a fine-tooth comb. Reading them through a lens of not separating the Kindy children into a separate group, keeping them with primary carers that they have known since the beginning of their journey with us, and having the ECTs that oversee our Kindy program, be able to work across the centre with the primary carers and the children who are part of this group. I found it surprisingly simple to sit a new model over the guidelines, and still meet all the requirements.
And this is where we are now headed. For the past couple of months, we have now been working on becoming one big family grouped service. We are making some big changes to our physical environment, that emulate our vision. And we are more than just a little excited to be forging through this way.
What we know is – that with this information in hand, we can’t sit on our laurels and keep doing what we’ve been doing. We have to do better for children, and we have to work out how we can do that. Is it hard? Yes. Is it too hard? No. We can’t take that view when our philosophy is to do the absolute best by children that we can. So this is what we are now doing. And I share this journey in the hopes that others will see what can be done when you put your mind to it. All we really need to do, is know our stuff – and be able to justify how practice meets requirements.
Over the coming weeks, I’ll share some of our progress with you – as we move into a whole new world (and yes – I seem to sing that in my head often these days) for children. Stay tuned!
Written by Karana Director – Trisha Dean