Centre Director of Treehouse in the Park, Mary O’Neill lead a wonderful team of Educators and Children to create a unique and meaningful celebration of the end of year. And no one missed Santa at all.

In the past at Treehouse, we have celebrated our end of year celebrations with the traditional Santa, gifts and songs that the children would be learning over the weeks leading up to the special event. On the day the children and educators (mostly educators) would all sit around and sing these songs to their family – most of the children shell-shocked by all the families that would be watching.  After these songs the children would welcome Santa and sit around in a large group and wait for their names to be called to receive a book from the man in the red suit.  This process would take quite a long time with children waiting very anxiously for their present.

TreehouseendofyearThis year during the lead up to our end of year celebration it was decided at an educators meeting that we would do things a little differently. Talking to the children about what it was that they wanted it was clear that even the children didn’t value all the important work and learning they do when they come to Treehouse.   Talk of Santa, jumping castles and presents was at the forefront of their minds.

We wanted to mark the end of the year by showcasing the great work that both children and educators do by calling it ‘What I like to do when I come to Treehouse”.

By using the skills of educators at Treehouse that had expertise in different areas of arts, media and sound we were able to put together a very wide range of visual and audio presentations.

There was representation of the children’s artwork, documentation of children’s learning journeys, sculpture, photography (from educators and children, including some from the very young nursery children), movies and audio of a small group of children playing in a rocket ship.

Families were welcomed and invited to enter from any door and spend time in all the classrooms looking and listening to what it is that we do every day at Treehouse.

The feedback from families has been extraordinary, including families using language like ‘more meaningful, respectful, amazing, relaxed, intentional and talented ‘ – making it very obvious that families were starting to have an understanding of the learning that happen when their children come to Treehouse.  This acknowledgment of the work that the educators had done in putting the exhibition together made it truly worthwhile.

To say that I’m incredibly proud of the team of educators working here is an understatement – they make my job easy.  This team of dedicated educators deserved to be taken seriously and I think we have achieved that this year in our exhibition.

And no-one missed Santa at all.

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Article 13 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states that “every child must be free to express their thoughts and opinions”. Supporting children’s developing self-expression skills is a daily part of our work with children, reflected in the fifth Learning Outcome of the Early Years Learning Framework: “Children are effective communicators”.

Learning to communicate is a crucial part of every child’s development, and in early childhood education we acknowledge that children communicate in a wide variety of ways.

childrens week 5Article 13 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states that “every child must be free to express their thoughts and opinions”. Supporting children’s developing self-expression skills is a daily part of our work with children, reflected in the fifth Learning Outcome of the Early Years Learning Framework: “Children are effective communicators”.

Learning to communicate is a crucial part of every child’s development, and in early childhood education we acknowledge that children communicate in a wide variety of ways. Loris Malliguzzi from Reggio Emilia in his poem “The Hundred Languages” talks about the endless ways that children can express themselves. We can support children with their expressions through providing rich and multi-purpose materials and resources.

For infants, even though they may not be speaking verbally, we can still acknowledge their right to express themselves. Reading and singing with children, carefully observing their reactions and speaking with respect demonstrates that we take them and their views seriously.

In our Toddler rooms we work to support children’s growing communication skills through small group interactions in games, activities and experiences. Children at this age are becoming more and more proficient in their language development, and rich conversations with peers and educators are crucial to continuing this growth. Art and movement experiences are also avenues for children to communicate, and make meaning of their world.

Pre-school age children are powerful communicators, and are able to use their language skills to involve their peers and educators in complex games and stories. Respecting the views of children in this age group involves a lot of listening, and following them down paths of exploration and adventure.

Often in our community it can be challenging to seriously listen to the views of young children. We’re committed to learning more and improving our relationships with children, and better advocating for their views.

 

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One of the most fundamental rights for children is the right to an education – and Article 29 makes clear that education systems “must develop every child’s personality, talents and abilities to the full.” Importantly, education is not just about preparing children for work or future study, but to enrich a chil...

childrens week 4One of the most fundamental rights for children is the right to an education – and Article 29 makes clear that education systems “must develop every child’s personality, talents and abilities to the full.” Importantly, education is not just about preparing children for work or future study, but to enrich a child’s life and wellbeing. The first five years are critical to a child’s brain development, and the Early Years Learning Framework addresses this specifically in Outcome 4: “Children are confident and involved learners”.

Children are more likely to succeed in the future when they are involved in their own learning, and are confident in their own skills and abilities. We work to support children’s confidence and involvement through providing a range of play-based experiences and intentional teaching.

We work closely with infants and their families to develop a strong knowledge of their cues and routines, which in turn helps children to feel more secure and engaged in the room. We make sure that lots of rich language is available to infants, through stories and song, as research has shown the importance of language development in the first two years of life.

With toddler-age children, we are very focused on supporting children on developing their social and emotional skills – opportunities to play together are active opportunities for children to learn how to share, negotiate with others and be part of a larger group. We also introduce more complex experiences that support children’s literacy and numeracy skills, such as matching, counting and sorting.

As children reach our Preschool rooms, we can build on our relationships with children and their continuing development to focus on supporting children’s critical and questioning skills. Experiences can become more complex, and asking children questions about their work and thinking help develop cognitive skills that will become vital lifelong skills.

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  In early childhood education, Article 31 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is regularly discussed and explored – “Children have the right to relax, play and to join in a wide range of leisure activities.” This right touches on all aspects of our work, but for us it is particula...

 

childrens week 3In early childhood education, Article 31 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is regularly discussed and explored – “Children have the right to relax, play and to join in a wide range of leisure activities.” This right touches on all aspects of our work, but for us it is particularly aligned with the third Outcome of the Early Years Learning Framework – “Children have a strong sense of wellbeing.”

We know that children learn and thrive best when they feel good about themselves and their world, and that children learn best through play. This can mean something different for every child that we work with, so we provide a wide range of experiences and provocations in our spaces.

For infants, we are particularly focused on providing spaces for exploration during that amazing time of learning to move, crawl and walk. Strong relationships with educators are also important, and are formed with every interaction such as singing, speaking, moving and laughing with children.

Toddlers are learning to master and control their physical, social and emotional skills – this is an important time for fun and exciting games with lots of movement in groups. Underneath all the fun and noise, children are learning important skills for later life such as resilience and self-regulation through turn-taking, and understanding game “rules”.

Building on skills learnt as infants and toddlers, Preschool-aged children are ready to engage with a diverse and endless range of play – limited only by their imaginations. With inviting and complicated centre environments, children are able to develop rich and complex worlds of play and social exploration that can last for hours, weeks or even months! As educators we work hard to support this play through engaging children in discussions about their play, offering possible avenues for further exploration or just supporting children with resources and space.

We can take play for granted – but as people that work with young children every day, it is always worth being reminded that it is actually a human right.

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