The educational team at GEKA Centre Rd Kindergarten formed a partnership with the staff at the Bunnings South Oakleigh store, in term four of 2018. Building a partnership with experts in landscaping and sustainability, means the team could embed these concepts into the program with children in an authentic way. Supporting children to “become socially responsible and show respect for the environment” (Early Years Learning Framework, 2009, p. 29), is an investment in the future of our world.
In the lead up to the event, the partnership with the Bunnings team, involved weekly visits, where the children were involved in gardening projects, such as:
- Learning how to germinate sunflowers from a seed, in a green house.
- Learning the importance of looking after and watering plants around the kindergarten environment.
- Rejuvenating our vegetable patch, to observe, notice and respond to change.
- Planting a variety of herbs and helping them grow over time. The herbs were then taken home as part of the end of year culmination of the children’s work. This supported an extension of learning in the home, as children were encouraged to plant the seedlings with their family.
- Learning about the interdependence between land, people, plants and animals (Outcome 2 of the National Early Years Learning Framework, 2009).
In the last year, the children and educators at GEKA Centre Road Kindergarten have forged a beautiful friendship with Rose, the Activities Coordinator at Bunnings. The children have benefited immensely from working alongside Rose, by building on their knowledge of places and people in their community. The connection with Bunnings and specifically, with Rose, has opened new opportunities in the program for the children to learn how to care and nurture their environment with appreciation and respect.
This year, the team at Bunnings offered to provide further support to the kindergarten by selecting them as the community group that will receive a major outdoor upgrade, including refurbishment of the cubby house, pergola, fairy garden, pathways, railing around the existing deck as well as the instillation of a ‘bush native garden’. A team of approximately 30 professionals from painters (Taubman’s), builders, landscapers and designers engaged in works completed on Wednesday 27 March. The upgrade has been costed in excess of $20,000 – all of which was donated to the kindergarten as part of the Bunnings vision to engage in meaningful and active participation in the communities in which they operate. This community project will be showcased on a billboard at the new store located at the Links Shopping Complex.
The Facilities and Compliance Coordinator and GM, Operations have strengthened the partnership with the trade specialist and management at Bunnings South Oakleigh, to secure ongoing financial support and donations of resources for a range of GEKA programs (such as GEKA’s Holiday Care Program and the Party in the Park event). This will result in long-term benefits and cost savings for GEKA, which will be passed onto children via a reinvestment into educational programs.
The educators and children at GEKA Centre Road Kindergarten are extremely excited with the major redevelopment of the outdoor garden space. This project will mean children can engage in quality experiences, exploring the smells and textures of the large variety of new plants; will be able to investigate bug life, as well as what plants need to survive and thrive.
Children will be able to extend their play-based learning with the added elements in the yard. This will create many new areas for children to investigate and explore, attract conversations and scaffold the developing concepts of sustainable living.
“When educators create environments in which children experience mutually enjoyable, caring and respectful relationships with people and the environment, children respond accordingly. When children participate collaboratively in everyday routines, events and experiences and have opportunities to contribute to decisions, they learn to live interdependently.” (EYLF, 2009, p. 25). We are incredibly thankful to be working in partnership with Bunnings to enhance the outdoor experience children will have in our educational settings.
A huge thanks to Rose and the team at Bunnings South Oakleigh for their support and generosity.
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