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spring 2016

Cultural Competence

Throughout the year in Early Learning we have been

investigating ways of embedding cultural competency

into our curriculum. Cultural competency ensures our

children have opportunities to deepen their

understanding of how community, culture and family

impacts the lives of those around us. To respect and to

be open to different cultural perspectives promotes a

sense of harmony. Learning about and valuing Aboriginal

and Torres Strait Islander culture is central to recognising

our Australian identity. We acknowledge Country, skills

from the past and the achievements of our First

Australians. We observe Indigenous events such as

National Aborigines and Islanders’ Day Observance and

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s

Day. We use resources that have messages of

reconciliation and goodwill.

Peace is …

During National Reconciliation Week, the children in

Girls’ Pre Prep, looked at the idea of Peace. Peace is a

concept that not only relates to culture on a global

scale, but also connects at a personal level with each

child, as they learn the social skills of getting along

with others at home, at school and in the community.

After reading books on peace, the children

brainstormed their ideas. A community drawing sheet

was provided on the light box where the children

could draw their ideas about peace.

Some of the ideas of peace by the children:

Peace is …

a hand sign, and being quiet

lending a hand

reading a book

giving a cuddle

holding a hand

a smile

holding a hand, looking at them and smiling

a wave

sharing a meal

sharing toys

playing together

giving a wave



smiling faces

sharing bedrooms

talking different languages.

Learning about Country …

A weekly discussion and Acknowledgement of Country

is part of the Co-Ed Pre Prep programme. The children

sit in a circle and quietly reflect on the gratitude shared

as a community for our people, land and animals:

We at Ruyton Pre Prep

Would like to say thank you

To the Kulin Nation

We promise to

Look after the Land

Our animals and people

We acknowledge that this Land

Is, was and always will be

Wurundjeri Land

Cultural competency provides an opportunity to

strengthen our ability and willingness to explore the

cultural identities in our community. The children have

deepened their understanding of a variety of cultures

and have increased their empathy for people who may

be different from themselves. These are important

milestones along the way to reconciliation and harmony.

Appreciating Nature

There are many benefits for children when connecting

with nature. Being surrounded by nature and

natural items provides endless learning opportunities.

With the guidance of an adult, children are able to

make discoveries about animate and inanimate

objects. Having real life items allows the children to

delve more deeply with their investigations. At Ruyton

Early Learning we strive to develop an appreciation

of nature.

While we have always nurtured a child’s relationship

with nature, since the arrival of Ms Jodie Mitchell,

Co-Ed Pre Prep teacher, this year there has been a

particular focus on nature in our programmes. Jodie

attended an international study tour in England and

Scotland where she visited nature kindergartens,

exploring the environments and experiences provided

for their children as they transitioned to programmes

focused on nature. The tour included Boldon Nursery

School, which has been on a five-year journey to

provide a more nature-based curriculum and Auchlone

Nature Kindergarten a centre that backs on to a forest,

where the children spend much of their day exploring

and engaging with nature. They build cubby houses

and cook lunch over a campfire. Jodie believes that

children should be given opportunities to play with

the natural world as often as possible. Her

appreciation for nature has certainly inspired our

children and educators.

When planning the outdoor programme, we seek to

include as many elements as possible where there

is interaction with the natural environment.

Experiences such as gardening and the use of sand,

soil and water are everyday essentials. Traditional

indoor activities, such as listening to stories, or

participating in art and dramatic play activities,

acquire a fresh dimension when conducted outside.

In the autumn the children in the Co-Ed Pre Prep group

had Relaxation Time in the outdoor play area. As they

rested their bodies they listened to the numerous

outdoor sounds, such as the wind blowing the autumn

leaves from the trees and the call of birds overhead.

They saw their world through a different lens as they

looked up towards the sky filled with clouds, which

transformed into moving shapes.

On any given day in our classrooms natural resources

are provided in the programme.

Natural materials are intentionally selected to invite

children’s interest. Treasures such as sticks, shells, pods

or river pebbles are arranged in play areas for children

to investigate and manipulate. Children may use the

items in open-ended ways with no set outcome. They

can create patterns and build constructions as they

interact with the materials. Outdoor elements, such

as water and sand, can be brought in for pleasurable

sensory experiences. A real sense of satisfaction is

often observed when children engage with the

hands-on exploration of nature.

Learning through nature assists children to increase

their understanding of the world. It provides infinite

learning possibilities. There is a sense of peace when

taking time to ‘be’ in nature. Appreciating nature is

an important aspect of learning for young children.

Ms Teresa Wojcik,

Acting Director of Early Learning

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