How families and the community can get involved!
When children, families and educators feel connected to the community, they uphold the values of that community and promote the wellbeing of its members. Collaborative partnerships empower its members to be advocates for children and families. We believe that relationships are central to wellbeing.
We strive to enrich our programs by becoming involved in our wider community and being inclusive to all. We value our growing GEKA community and appreciate all opportunities to partner with various organisations to enrich each child’s experience in our kindergartens.
Traditionally, families on ‘duty’ have viewed the role as coming in and doing cleaning, cutting fruit etc…BUT times have changed and it really is so much more! When families come into the Kindergarten, they are provided with a wonderful opportunity for us to build a strong and reciprocal partnership. It has long been recognised that learning and developmental outcomes for young children are greatly enhanced when strong and effective partnerships are developed between professionals and families and where the development of common goals and shared decision making are valued and accepted. The National Early Years Learning Framework for Australia (2009) embeds this value as central to assisting all children to make progress in relation to the Learning Outcomes that support growth and development.
When families participate in the program, not only can they see how the wonderful programs are run and how their child interacts within it, families are encouraged and supported to share their interests, hobbies and special skills with the children. As a community, we all learn so many things from families such as cooking a meal, sharing a passion for lots of different types of music, how to care for the garden, developing a love of literacy and so much more! What we love seeing is families getting involved in PLAY and enjoying imaginative and dramatic games!
We support families in the program to stay at the children’s level and to actively engage with children by using lots of open ended questions such as:
- What would happen if…? What do you suppose…? How did that happen…?
- What do you think…? Tell me about… How do you think we can…?
Collaborating with children in this way helps them to think for themselves and it shows them that we are really interested in what their ideas.We can help children to take their level of understanding from one from one level of understanding to the next. Working with children at their level helps to establish confidence and assists children to settle into the program and focus their attention on an activity. It also supports the development of literacy and language.
When children actively contribute to the program, they are more likely to be engaged in play that responds to their interests, abilities and strengths. “Open learning relationships are strengthened as educators and children learn together and share decisions, respect and trust. Consulting with children, sharing information and listening to each other’s cues and perspectives has a strong and long lasting influence on children’s sense of belonging and sense of self” (EYLF, 2009, p. 15).