Getting out into your local community
We know as early childhood professionals that children learn in a range of environments and in different ways. Children should regularly experience opportunities to go ‘outside the gate’. Community engagement aligns nicely with the benefits of excursions for children also. As a team we have agreed upon the main benefits for children, those being:
- connections to the local community that surround the Service
- broadening their understanding of the world in which they live (EYLF, 2009, p. 26)
- small group interactions
- opportunities to teach the children about road safety
- opportunities to teach the children about shopping and mathematics.
As we mentioned in our previous article our families give permission for ongoing local excursions for a 12 month period. The information we give to families includes the location, the benefits, the ratios and group size, the experiences that will take place and the distance and transport.
Children are asked if they would like to go out, sometimes they prefer to stay and engage in play in the service, which is ok.
Spontaneity and Purpose
Most of the local excursions that take place in our service are short (15 minutes to 1 hour) and spontaneous. This means that families will find out about the excursion via a Kinderloop post, which can be done during or soon after the excursion and when they pick their child up. We sign the children out of the service using QK Kiosk, which asks parents to confirm this when they are picked up in the afternoon.
It is important for good communication within the team about excursions. Educators work together to plan which educators and children are going out.
Teams keep records of which children have gone out so that each child has the opportunity to go throughout a period. Children are asked if they would like to go out, sometimes they prefer to stay and engage in play in the service, which is ok.
Excursions for younger children are short and nearby, within 500 metres of the service so that children are able to build up to bigger excursions. The more regular the excursions the more confident children and educators become, this makes taking children on bigger excursions more successful.
Examples of our regular excursions include:
- walking to the post office to collect or post mail (pictured above)
- going to the supermarket to purchase supplies for an experience
- going to other shops – hardware, garden shop for supplies
- bird watching in the park
- visiting a local school to engage in school events
- visiting the park for some physical activity, utilise the large grassed area to play ball games and run
- to collect leaves for our stick insects
- visiting the local public library
- walking around the local community – just to observe what’s going on.
Examples of our outings
Letter hunting in Annandale
In mid 2016 the preschool children read the book Big Letter Hunt London (a book that uses photography to find shapes that represent letters in architecture around London).
The children decided they could take photos of the letters around Annandale and create their own book. The educators and children decided to venture out around the local streets across many weeks, the children engaged in many short walking excursions within a kilometre radius of the service.
While walking the streets of Annandale, so much learning was happening. The children were out and about and engaging with our local community. They were developing their ways of looking for shapes in buildings, architectural details and street-scapes. Conversations about letters became meaningful as an interest in decoding the symbols began to blossom.
The result of these excursions is a book called Letters around Annandale (pictured below).
It is an amazing example of the learning that can take place by getting out of the gate!
Orphan School Creek Playground, Annandale
When we head out to this nearby playground we:
- observe natural habitats and learn about bush regeneration of the local area
- are exposed to a range of environmental print, teaching children that signs communicate a message to the reader
- gain opportunities to teach the children about road safety
- play on the fixed equipment, challenging gross motor development and spatial awareness.
As children grow and develop, connections to the outside world help them to find their place in the world, to develop understandings of how society works, and to recognise and understand the shared values that underpin our society.” (NQS PLP e-Newsletter No.47, 2012).
Our guest writers
Su Garrett is the Approved Provider and Nominated Supervisor for Explore & Develop Annandale. She has been in this role for 4½ years and has worked in early childhood for 16 years.
“It is my goal to provide an environment where: the needs of the children at the priority a, they have time to play and interact with their peers.”
We provide an environment where educators are valued as key in the scaffolding of children’s learning. Ensuring that children and educators are connected with our community is vital to building meaningful partnerships.
Lauren Kenny is the Educational Leader at Explore & Develop Annandale. She has been in this role for 4½ years and has been working with children and families for the past 15 years.
“I am passionate about children being visible in the community and making connections to real life experiences that further support their learning”.
Community Early Learning Australia is a not for profit organisation with a focus on amplifying the value of early learning for every child across Australia - representing our members and uniting our sector as a force for quality education and care.