I was waiting for a colleague at Perth airport when a child sat down and started talking to me.
His mother rushed up, grabbed him by the arm and said "I have told you, don’t talk to strangers".
The child looked at me and said, "You don’t look like a stranger, what are you?"
"I am an Educator" I replied.
"It’s ok mum", he said, "she is one of the good guys".
The delightful conversation that came after this, with a chat about safety, but focusing on the communication skills her child was showing, went on through several ‘flight delayed’ announcements.
My new friend’s mum talked about her fears for her child, how she had been shy growing up, and what she wanted for her child, "We want our child to be strong and positive and to have the skills to communicate".
This statement resonated with me. We talked about it with the Outside School Hours Care staff and now the first question parents are asked when they enrol their child in our program is – ‘What do you want for your child?’ The second, ‘What is your child looking for?’
One dad recently said recently, ‘We want our child to have the skills to communicate with lots of other people, and to be able to make good choices when they are with their friends.’ His son put in ‘I want to play with my friends when I want to and to be on my own when I want to’.
Our response – One of the national standards that we apply here is:
Each child is supported to build and maintain sensitive and responsive relationships. Children are supported to collaborate, learn from and help each other. Each child is supported to regulate their own behaviour, respond appropriately to the behaviour of others and communicate effectively to resolve conflicts. (National Quality Standard 5.2)
It surprises many parents that the amazing programs at the Outside School Hours Care are a detailed offering based on the national quality standards, the children’s input, feedback from parents and the research and evidence of our profession.
The process of developing programs pushes us as Educators to explore where a child is at now, where they are headed, and what our research and evidence tell us about the journey the child is on.
There are a lot of players in the child’s space. The child themselves, family and community, culture and friends, teachers, the coaches and tutors, and the ever-present media that the child encounters. Each of these is a layered and a complex influencer in the child’s day.
Within this space, where is the growing person?
The Outside School Hours Care program at Guildford Grammar School is a space within which each child can stop and process what has been going on in their lives, and make choices about what they want to experience, learn and do. They can also make choices about what they don’t want to do, about what they want to leave behind as much as what they want to acquire. These choices promote positive attitudes and support a positive aspect.
Headmaster, Mr Stephen Webber, quoted Kevin Roberts recently saying that that ‘One of the downsides of the information age is we’re bombarded with bad news. We’re pre-occupied with staying safe. It’s invading every aspect of our lives. How we eat, how we play, how we raise the next generation. But we need risk. Without it, dreams would never make it into reality. Ideas are the currency of today and technology is the enabler. We don’t just need creative optimists, we need radical optimists.’
On reading the phrase, ‘radical optimist’, immediately an image of my young friend and his mum at the airport flashed into my mind.
The Guide to the National Quality Framework (ACECQA)
Early Childhood Resources Hub
The Early Years Learning Framework
The Framework for School Age Care
The National (Early Childhood Australia) Code of Ethics is an important part of this work.
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