“Children are born once. Then it is as if they were born a second time, in the long and laborious work of giving themselves identity […] of recognise themselves and being recognised. But above all, and this is the purpose they aspire to most, of recognising themselves in others, and in others finding parts of their self.”

Loris Malaguzzi

By Pia Coates and Liz Chavez 

The Schools of Early Learning (SOEL) have a rich history in inquiry-based learning; deciding many years ago to bring the work of educators in Reggio Emilia to Western Australia and the children in their care. Each year teachers and educators from our six SOEL centres engage children in research to dig deep into an idea or concept. This yearly idea or concept is based on the findings from the previous year’s research and is encompassed in a BIG idea. This BIG idea frames the children’s and educator’s research.

For 2023, the 3-year-old Kindy Research Focus was: Community

This research was supported by the following EYLF Outcomes and SOEL values:

O 1.1, 1.3, 1.4, 2.1, 2.2, 2.4, 3.1, 4.4, 5.1, 5.2, 5.3 and 5.4

SOEL Values: Curiosity, Leadership, Mindfulness, Integrity.

To support the educator’s understanding and engagement in this research, the Pedagogy Team facilitated quarterly Network meetings and monthly Kindy, Studios, and Educational leaders’ meetings across all SOEL centres.

A range of methods were used to engage children, families, and educators in this research BIG Idea. Some examples of this were:

  • Observing children’s play in construction / loose parts spaces
  • Connecting to their SOEL Community by supporting mentoring in the kindy programmes
  • Using Mat times and Forums as an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the uniqueness of our families.
  • Travelling Journals that collected data about children and their communities and family stories.
  • Creating Jobs and meaningful tasks for children to contribute to their kindy communities.
  • Connecting to the local Community through excursions and inviting the community in.

The educators met for their final meeting in October 2023, to share their findings, and challenges and identify patterns and recurrent ideas across the six SOEL 3-year-old and 4-year-old Kindy programmes.

The findings from the 3-year-old Kindy 2023 research into Community are:

The power of informed and meaningful choices (voice and choice)

Educators reflected that:

  • For children to have a strong sense of autonomy and agency their choices need to be heard and met.
  • Children want to influence their time and the experiences they are involved in.
  • An understanding of the emotional needs of a 3-year-old is an essential factor to consider when offering choices to children.
  • Critical reflection about “choices” for their children and how these could look like during the day supported them to create and establish secure routines for children.

The educators Reflected that SOEL Network meetings and evaluating their Learning programmes as a team allowed them to engage in research to build a community of learners by sharing celebrations, challenges, and ideas throughout the year.

A focus on COMMUNITY offered a lens for teachers and educators to focus on “togetherness” and belonging.

  • Mat times became an opportunity for the educators and children in the 3-year-old Kindy room to embrace and unpack ideas of Community.
  • Educators intentionally supported the children’s ability to consider others, care for others, and reflect. These skills helped the children communicate ideas with each other and educators by developing and following agreements that benefited their Kindy community.
  • The educators reflected that Acknowledging Country each day as a Kindy Community supported the children in the beginning to explore the concept of gratitude. 
  • The Educators reflected that Visits to the local Community acted as catalysts for investigations and provided opportunities to extend children’s ideas further.  
  • Room and Family Travelling journals provided an open invitation for families to contribute ideas at their own pace and share mutual celebrations and insights about their communities.

We can create a sense of Community in our classrooms when members contribute and begin to explore jobs within routines.

  • The educators explored meaningful jobs for children around Room routines, especially around mealtimes and tidy-up moments.
  • Educators reflected that when children transition to new rooms at the beginning of the year, they benefit from their previous knowledge of routines and how they could contribute to them. 

We want to thank the children, families, and educators in our 3-year-old Kindy rooms: Poppy, Karella, Davinci, Bilbies, Kardan and Kui. 

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