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3rd Infants and Toddlers Conference

Date: August 22, 2019 Author: hpelc Categories: Advocacy Blogs, Centre Philosophy Blogs, Educators Blogs, Teamwork Blogs

By Alex Crosby

On Friday 19th and Saturday 20th July, Julia, Nikki, Alicia, Cass and Myself attended the Macquarie University Infants and Toddlers conference. This year, we had 3 presentations across the 2-day schedule to present based on elements of our program that promoted 0-3-year-old children as competent, capable and able to make meaningful decisions within their school environment.

The first presentation was conducted by Alicia based on her project in the Junior Preschool class with the mealtime routines. This explained our intentions when encouraging children to set the table for themselves and others, sitting in a calm environment with relaxing music, mood lighting and scented candles, extended conversations that occurred during these relaxed mealtimes, as well as their ability to clean up after themselves.

Alicia’s presentation was listened to intently by up to 30 educators from across Sydney, NSW, and Australia with many questions arising from the content. This included “Did this encourage children to come to the lunch table and eat more?” and “How was the family response to this ritual, including use the of lit candles within reach of children?”. Over all, it was a presentation that intrigued many teachers and prompted them to think about how we view children and their abilities. 

Next up was Julia and Nikki with their presentation about the company wide Kindness Project. This introduced the notion that children should be encouraged to understand the needs and wants of others, and how they can help others to achieve this without wanting something in return. The idea of selfless acts and how these acts in turn create an environment where everyone is valued for being themselves. This was presented in the main theatre to about 70 teachers, and made them think further about how children need to be taught and learn how to be kind to others.

Final presentation was conducted by Cass on the Nursery Class environment. This discussed how many different factors of the environment could be changed to make the overall environment much more calming, engaging and inviting for children. This includes calming and purposeful background music or sounds, natural light, open-ended resources, access to natural elements such as branches, leaves, flowers and natural materials like jute and timber.

These elements allow a child to come into the environment and feel the sense of calm. Questions arose about “How did the families respond to the minimal amount of plastic?” and “Did we take into consideration about scents in the class?”. This provided us the opportunity to collaborate together to answer, as Alicia was present and was able to bring in information from her presentation. 

Following this presentation, Cass was approached by numerous teachers, including one that is currently doing nanny work due to her disheartened view of the Early Childhood Education sector saying how she felt that there was hope for the future with centres following a similar style of teaching. We were also approached by a couple of teachers from a service in Bondi that wanted us to provide an in-service to them of our philosophy, ways of thinking, and ideas. We are currently in discussion with them about how we can arrange for this to occur, and thinking further about being able to present topics of interest to more services. We were so pleased with the overall responses to all of our presentations, and are currently planning for the next conference we are attending which will be hosted in Hobart, TAS in October!