Our Community Programs
At UPCCC we take pride in the progressive nature of our Centre and our dedication for developing educational, authentic and open-ended programs whilst maintaining a welcoming and nurturing environment. We are always looking at how we can incorporate innovative programs that will enhance our everyday practice and community focus. Many of these programs involve collaborating with the wider community either by having them visit us or by us taking the children out to them. These include:
For several years we were lucky enough to be involved with the ANU Music Engagement Program (MEP) Susan and her team visited us weekly and sang with our children and any of the parents who wanted to join in. The MEP was based on a social philosophy of shared, active music making, known as the Music Outreach Principle. It promoted, but did not demand, high-level skills, and did not require expensive instruments or equipment to be effective. It offered an on-going musical pathway for all, regardless of perceived talent or previous experience. Skill development occured as a natural by-product of joyful engagement, where performance is a stress-free part of the outreach approach. Unfortunately the program has ceased due as they no longer receive the funding needed to continue. However we are lucky enough to be able to continue this approach to music by independently sponsoring one of Susan’s team to come and sing with the children weekly on a Tuesday.
UPCCC has commenced a program of visits to our centre from residents of the Goodwin Age Care Ainslie. The residents visit monthly, usually joining us for morning tea, a sing-a-long of all the old time favourites and then join in some of the children’s activities. It has been wonderful to observe some of the children and residents looking through the children’s journals together and participating in craft activities – you can see by the smile on the faces of our visitors that these visits are special.
These inter-generational visits have benefits for both the children and their older visitors. Socialising across generations has been shown to increase the amount of smiling and conversation among older adults, and children who have early contact with older people are less likely to view them as incompetent—and simply exposing children to positive depictions of elders makes them less likely to exhibit ageism. These inter-generational interactions also enhance children’s social and personal development. We are excited about these planned visits and recognise our senior citizens have a wealth of knowledge and experience that is relevant to our lives today.
Research shows older adults with dementia and other cognitive impairments experience more positive effects during interactions with children than they did during non-generational activities. This has been observed by the Goodwin staff who have commented on interactions previously not observed from several residents. For a moment in time the residents feel like they are purposeful again and that somebody needs them.
UPCCC has established a connection with Deakin King Swim to provide a swimming program that is available to our Preschool children. We feel that teaching the children water confidence skills is very important not only for the fact that drowning is a common cause of death in young children each year in Australia, but also because research has shown that children who attend swimming lessons reach key milestones in their development much earlier than their peers. Professor Robyn Jorgensen from Griffith Institute for Educational Research conducted research over a three- year period and surveyed 7000 children from Australia, New Zealand and America. This research concluded that children actively engaged in swimming achieved significantly better results in the areas of social, physical, emotional and intellectual development. As well as achieving physical milestones faster, children also scored significantly better in visual-motor skills such as cutting paper, colouring-in and drawing lines and shapes, many mathematics-related tasks and oral expression. For further information about the study visit the Griffith University site.
UPCCC has also established a connection with the Woden Valley Gymnastic Centre in Holder and provides a gymnastics program also for our Preschool children. The program is designed to develop the whole child – socially, emotionally, cognitively and physically, in a safe, structured, multi-sensory environment. Every fortnight there is a fun new theme with props and music to keep the children excited for their next adventure in the gym. We access all apparatus areas within the club throughout the term and children are encouraged to learn at a pace that is unique to them. The program allows the children to experience the ability to take instruction, improve gross and fine motor skills, improve spatial awareness, trust, cooperation and communication, freedom to explore and discipline in the way of taking turns and sharing.
This program aims to offer our children a positive movement experience:
- that can influence a child’s outlook on physical activity,
- assist in the development of the child’s social, emotional, cognitive, and physical abilities through a structured multi sensory environment,
- provides an environment where they can explore and practice skills safely, whilst developing confidence and self esteem.
The children learn through observing others and the challenges laid out in the gym environment. The program is tailored to emphasise:
- developing a child’s self esteem and self confidence
- a safe but challenging environment
- appropriate equipment set up with variety and change
- a non-competitive, relaxed and friendly approach
- consideration in the development of each child and making provisions within the program.
Involvement in a Research Project – Exploring climate change pedagogies with children
We are fortunate enough to be a part of The Climate Action Network (CAN) which is an international collaboration with several sites across Canada, Australia and the UK.
Using collaborative methods and a feminist environmental framework, we will create ‘collaboratories’, a hybrid concept of collaboration and laboratory, as sites of learning where children, educators, and researchers will learn together to explore and articulate children’s interactions with animals, trees, food, energy and weather.
The Australian research site (UPCCC) will focus on children’s interactions with the weather to create the weather collaboratory. The project runs from 2018 – 2020 (reviewed each year).
The overall goal is to establish the first phase of an enduring partnership among universities, community organisations, early childhood centres and professional associations. The objectives are to:
- establish a Canadian-led international network of scholars and practitioners with shared interests in issues around children and climate change
- generate insights about how children, early childhood educators, and researchers learn together to engage with a complex array of issues related to climate change; and
- promote cross-sector relationship building and resource development that will support educators, policy makers, and government officials to help children respond to climate change.
By bringing together an international network of researchers, practitioners, community organizations, we intend to identify and promote new models of collaboration for addressing issues related to children and climate change.
We envision a vibrant array of art exhibitions, public forums, special issues of journals, and workshops to disseminate research findings and engage scholars, graduate students, educators, children and their families, and the public. Our artful and interactive activities will expose the general public to understandings of environmental early childhood education that acknowledge the potential of children to transform life and the planet.
Who’s involved in the Australian site:
Professor Veronica Pacini-Ketchabaw, Western University (Canada) – Principal Investigator, CAN project
Professor Mindy Blaise, Victoria University (Melbourne) – Collaborator and mentor for the Weathering Collaboratory (and potentially working with a Melbourne-based Centre)
Tonya Rooney, ACU (Canberra) – Project Lead, Weathering Collaboratory
Research Assistant (5 hours/week) – TBC (working at ACU, supervised by Tonya)
University Preschool Child Care Centre (ANU) – Community partner
Educators at UPCCC – Potential to be involved in research, writing, new practices etc
Children and families of UPCCC community
(Note: Affrica Taylor, Veronica and Mindy are the three co-founders of the Common Worlds Childhoods Collective)
KidsMatter – Early Childhood
From January 2010 to December 2011 our centre was involved in a two year pilot for ”KidsMatter Early Childhood” which is a Mental Health and Wellbeing initiative for young children. This involvement provided us with valuable insights into children’s mental health and wellbeing.
These insights continue to be incorporated into our everyday programs