Louise Grigg has been a teaching director in preschools and long day care services for 23 years. A new guest writer, today she shares her story of achieving a learning goal for many early and middle years services: embedding authentic Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in the curriculum.
In 2016 I had the opportunity to attend the two day Aboriginal Symposium in Sydney. It was here that I was introduced to the Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). Following a second symposium on the Gold Coast I began forming a RAP with my educators at Uranquinty Preschool.
Documenting the actions
Using the Narragunnawali platform we began writing actions and deliverables to from our Reconciliation Action Plan. The task seemed daunting at first but, once we began we realised just how many actions we did have in place. The difference now was that we would be committing to our actions and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives would be embedded into our curriculum.
Our committee was very supportive and very happy to invite Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people into our services on a regular basis. These visits are now a regular part of our program and include stories, art, music and dance. With the support of the Charles Sturt Community Partnerships Program, we were able to build authentic resources including books, puzzles, puppets and dolls for small group and individual play. We also purchased woven sculptures from the Tjampi Desert Weavers. This beautiful art inspired the children to make their own woven sculptures using sticks and wool.
Bringing life to the art
To follow on, we invited artist Karen Podmore who is a traditional and modern weaver and has been taught the craft by an Aboriginal Elder. Karen worked with the children on group projects as well as helping them to create baskets that we use in our preschool room.
To acknowledge the Wiradjuri people who were the original custodians of our land, we collaboratively wrote a short song with the children. This song is a reflection of what reconciliation means to us and uses Wiradjuri language. The children sing this proudly as a transition from the morning session to the afternoon.
Our work this year led us to being nominated for a Narragunnawali Award. I am proud to announce that we were selected as one of three early learning national finalists that has been recognised for our commitment to driving reconciliation in the classroom, around the early learning service and with the community.
As part of this award Reconciliation Australia celebrated with an awards ceremony
and a short YouTube clip that features our service, educators, families and community members.
Embedded and evidenced
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives are embedded into our curriculum. We see evidence of this every day. Our families are now saying that they are learning a lot about the histories, culture and language of our first peoples from their children. We hear the Wiradjuri language being used and we know from our group discussions that children are building knowledge and respect. We believe reconciliation must start in early childhood so children will take what they learn into adulthood. We can then walk as one with respect for each other.
Meet the author
Louise Grigg has a Diploma of Teaching in Early Childhood (3 - 8 years) and a Bachelor of Education (0 - 5 years). She has been a teaching Director in both preschools and Long Day Services for 23 years. Presently, Louise is the Director of Uranquinty Preschool and a teacher at KU Kookaburra in Wagga Wagga.Uranquinty Preschool is a small rural community based service that opens three days per week. The preschool provides education for three to five year old children in Uranquinty and the surrounding areas.