Over the past ten weeks of term one, we have built together with a shared solid connection and community sense in the Cocoon group. When we think about connection, we look at how a child engages with their world. The Victorian Early Years Learning and Developmental Framework (VEYLDF) focuses predominantly on social links: belonging to people, country, place, and communities; values, traditions and practices; relationships and shared experiences; holding empathy; respect, awareness, and engagement with the natural world (DET 2016). A connected child actively engages in their community, building on their connections with the people and world around them, and builds on these connections by participating. This enables children to feel confident and empowered to 'shape their world.' Participation in family and social life, the community, and the world around them allows children to develop a sense of purpose and agency, both of which are essential aspects of learning and development in the early years.
"Community in a school, inspired by relationships, respect, and participation, has the children, teachers, and parents at its centre. All participate in generating the educational design and the life of the school. Often the quality of space favours dialogue, reciprocity, and exchanges by providing a sense of belonging and enjoyment in being part of a learning experience." Gandini (2012).
Our PYP Unit of Inquiry into 'Who we are" invited us to think about the following components that we felt would help develop a safe, secure, and strong sense of community and belonging.
- A focus on me: Each child is a unique individual bringing their strengths, capabilities, and interests to their learning. The children explored their identity through the process of creating their self-portraits.
- A focus on my family: We looked closely at our families by sharing conversations inspired by our family photos. Each child could talk about their family in the group and invite a friend to ask a question about their family. A family photo wall encouraged further sharing and communicating about each family story. Thank you to all our families for sending in your family photo to make this rich learning happen.
- A focus on my community: Morning meeting is one of the most critical parts of our day. It brings us together as a group; it invites discussion, debate, questions, and responses. It challenges children to think about their thinking and to think about the thinking and learning of others. The children experience ownership through this process, they learn about respect and consideration for self and others, and they understand that listening is a vital tool for communication. To begin the morning meeting, we play a fun photo card game and helps us know who is here and not here today. If a child is not here, we can still recognise them and talk about why they are not here today. More recently, several families have been inspired to bring in produce from their veggie garden to share. JJ and CJ'S family brought in some delicious lemons and Harriett's family some beautiful cucumbers. Next term, we hope to keep this going, so if you have any produce to share, please bring it to school. This term, we have enjoyed numerous projects. Milly facilitated a small group to create a fish and chip shop, which integrated literacy, numeracy, and role play. Kellie worked closely with a small group of children interested in imagining and creating a fort made from repurposing boxes into something else.
- Rachelle worked alongside a small group to add their ideas to the fairy garden outside. Venturing further into our school, we have embraced our dance classes with Ms. Wong, our PMP classes with Mr. Roden. During art classes with Ms. Harris, our focus has been on clay nests from the children finding lots of feathers outside and thinking about bird habitats. Every child has created a clay nest that will be fired over the holidays. We joyfully celebrated Kerrie's birthday with the school community. During Harmony Week, we met with the Grade 5 class who shared the meaning of the Bunjil's Nest sculpture, created several years ago with the traditional landowners' permission. We aim to add our sticks to Bunjil's nest over Reconciliation Week.
- A focus on my world: Our incursion with Wildlife Xposure this term was a highlight and captivated the children's curiosity, awe, and wonder about Australian animals, reptiles, and birds. This led to an investigation into frogs and making connections with the creek's frog habitat and the life cycle of a frog back in the classroom. Our creek day on Boon Wurrung/Bunerong country brings many opportunities for connection to place and people. As we sit under the Whispering Willow tree, we share stories that bring us closer into a relationship with what is around us. "Everyone has a story. Everything has a memory. Come back to nature, to honour the trees, the land, the water, the creatures. Pictures, song, dance authentically tells a story. Share your story through storytelling." Aunty Carolyn Briggs-Boon Wurrung Elder.
Finally, as Sophie excitedly said while sliding down the muddy hill, "This is the best day ever because it is so fun."
We wish all our community a very happy Easter and school holiday break. See you all in term 2!
KELLIE, RACHELLE, MILLY & CATHY