Harmony Newsletter
11th December 2000

Dear Parents

We have finally hired all permanent staff, since first advertising on 5th August and continually advertising in 3 newspapers, 3 employment agencies and TAFE colleges. As you parents have gathered from meeting the stream of casual and temporary staff, there is a chronic shortage of qualified Early Childhood Educators in Western Australia, and especially in Perth.

By now you would have met the excellent members of the team for each age group, which we believe will continue the high quality of care and education you expect from Harmony:

Simmone Qualified Early Childhood Educator
Deb Child Care Assistant
Tanya Child Care Assistant
2 year olds
Lara Early Childhood Educator
Janet Senior Child Care Assistant
Carissa Qualified Early Childhood Educator
Nado Senior Child Care Assistant & French Specialist (part time)
Yvonne Senior Child Care Assistant (part time)
Hannah Junior Senior Child Care Assistant (part time) (& Casual Relief)
Lisa Part-time Cook
Robin Manager
Jackie Coordinator

Holly has finished her Edith Cowan Uni practicum with the Babies, Kate has finished her TAFE prac between all three age groups, and Jean has concluded her TAFE prac in the Kindy group. Even though having students means more new faces for you and your children , we believe it is imperative that high quality centres such as Harmony support the new generation of qualified educators, so that we help reduce the deficit that we have recently experienced.

Following our building extension in early September and the change in licensed numbers, we required 3 new staff, and our difficulty in finding the best possible staff was exacerbated by our need to also find some replacement staff because:

Our new staff include Deb in the Babies group, who has proved a very capable Assistant and valuable team member during her first two months with Simmone. Also assisting is Tanya who is settling in very quickly. Both Deb and Tanya have previous introductory qualifications in child care (see their profiles at the front entry) and both have signed up for a 12-month TAFE traineeship to gain their Certificate III in Child Care.

Lara has been working as a Senior Assistant in the 2 year olds group, and now is filling in as a temporary “qualified” Educator (Sarah from an employment agency worked as qualified Educator for 2 weeks before Lara). Ben is working his usual magic with the 2 year olds until the end of the year (in past years Ben has looked a lot like Harmony’s Santa!)-Ben is a fully qualified Early Childhood Educator, now back at uni, and has worked on and off at Harmony for the past 6 years.

Jackie was helping with the 2 year olds and the Kindy group but is now Coordinator for the whole centre, primarily acting as liaison between staff and management, between staff and staff, and between staff and parents. She is a very important person to talk things over with.

Carissa has a number of years experience in child care centres and now is doing wonders with Harmony’s Kindy group. Her Assistant, Nado, has worked 2 ½ years as Senior Assistant and French Specialist for Harmony, mostly at West Perth.

Many, many thanks to all the following wonderful people who have thought of Harmony when giving away items, some no longer needed: Alistair’s & Monica’s mum (poster 101 Ways to Praise a Child); Matthew J’s parents (2 wooden toolboxes & a venturi “tornado” in a bottle all of which Matthew made with his dad, badge-making machine for the holiday program, bucket lids, children’s CD, painting rollers, Bananas book); Simonne’s mum (bread & date cakes for staff treat); Jordan’s & Aaron’s mum (magnetic shapes); Georgia’s mum (storage boxes); Alexander Z’s mum (children’s costumes); Rebecca’s mum (rolls of paper); Mateo’s mum (muffins for staff treat); Lisa’s mum (shoes, cardboard & Ferrero Rocher for staff treat); Alanna’s mum (popsticks); Lily O’s dad (old telephones); Melanie’s mum (colored paper); Faith’s mum (children’s posters); Luka’s & Bojan’s mum (toys); and our own Yvonne (straw for rabbit & chicken coops).

Note from Jackie
Thank you to all parents for making me feel so welcome in my new role as Coordinator. I look forward to continued dialogue with you about your interests, concerns and suggestions. Remember, we the carers and educators at Harmony are here for you and your children, every day and in every way, and nothing is too small or big for us to address. Thank you so much for completing the Accreditation survey-we have had wonderful feedback from 34 families and following are some valued comments: End-of-year concert
Our annual concert is on our last day, Friday, 22nd December, commencing 2.30 pm: All children, whether or not they usually attend on Fridays, and their families are invited to the concert, and we would love all children (except babies) to participate in the concert items. Please provide a small Christmas present for approximate value of $5, gift-wrapped and labelled to your child “from Santa”, and give it to your child’s educators by 20th December.

By the way, it is quite possible that the concert will also be featured on national TV, on A Current Affair, because of the involvement of the internet connection (see below).

Closedown The last day for Harmony this year is Friday, 22nd December, at 4.00 p.m. and the first day of opening in the new year is Monday, 8th January, at 7.30 a.m.

Internet concert, free of charge
Kindercam has offered to video Harmony’s end-of-year concert and permit parents and families who are not able to attend the concert to watch the performance at their office or at home, at no charge. An interested parent must make prior arrangements with Robin, Jackie or Janet who will allocate a password which only that person can use to access the internet site. This is a great opportunity to see your child/ren in the fabulous new medium of the internet and thus not miss out on an important day of your child’s life.

Simmone, Deb and Tanya have been developing trust and security amongst all babies, as this is the basis for caring relationships. Babies are developing physical strength and coordination, as well as appropriate expressive language, often by imitating when carers pick up babies’ cues and interests. Staff continue to encourage sensory feelings through messy painting and goop, and they all love playing with empty containers, especially large cardboard boxes to sit in and smaller boxes to put on their heads. Older babies throw and chase balls and balloons, and there are now six babies who eat at the table like the “big kids”.

Favorite songs include Row, Row Row Your Boat (while sitting on a plank outside), Galump Went the Frog, and 5 Little Speckled Frogs (using the frog puppet). They love the Wiggles tape for dancing, especially Thomas, Isaac and Devlin, and also the rhyming in Bananas in Pyjamas, and when they are finished they say “more, more”. You would be amused if you could see what some of the babies get up to-staff put the tarpaulin over the slide as a cubby house and a “gang” gets under it and then cackles with laughter with each other, providing great entertainment for us grown-ups.

Now that summer is here we like to wet the sandpit so that the babies can really dig in it and make cakes and castles that hold their shape. Please pack bathers each day, because it is great to cool off under the hose or in the wading pool.

Please read the activities program from time to time, so that you know about the babies’ wonderful accomplishments and you also may get ideas for play at home. Remember, a young child’s play is like adult’s work, and we all learn so very much as we go along. We love to talk with you about your precious baby, so please feel free to discuss anything at all with your team of carers.

2 year olds
The new activities room is working really well, and even the air conditioning is reaching the furthermost corner! Our clever 2 year olds have been matching shapes to items in familiar surroundings, e.g. bicycle wheels, rectangle door, square window, triangle climbing frame, and they also have been learning how to look after books.

We had an ongoing look at Animals as a focus because children adore them and they lend themselves to so much learning about the world around us-we hope you enjoyed the collage “barnyard” displayed on the wall. Next we looked at Families, another area of high interest.

The 2 year olds love dancing to the Wiggles and talking about what they are eating for lunch (their sitting at the tables and table manners are improving every day). Eye-hand coordination is practised with posting shapes and cutting magazine pictures, and creativity and imagination are very evident in the masterpieces that are displayed for a while before being sent home. Now is the time for Christmas as we wind down for the year. We do hope you like the presents and cards that are being made with loving care.

Following feedback from the recent Accreditation survey, a blue noticeboard has been posted on the wall near the entry to the new activities room-it provides information daily about amounts of food eaten, sleep and also nappy changes. Janet, Lara, and Ben make a great team and are available to talk with you about your child’s progress and any other issues, either at the end of the day or with an appointment for longer discussion.

We are nearly at another holiday period, when it seems that we just finished our October Holiday Program! During that time the kindy group visited Whiteman Park for Fun Fest Day when they got to ride on a full-size steam train. They went to Hillary’s Marina for a bush show, with a didgeridoo player and actions to songs about Aussie animals and the outback. They also made medals, talked about the Olympic Games and were very fortunate to have a visit from Melanie’s mother who wore her uniform and brought the Olympic torch that she carried during her participation in the local torch relay. The children made some drawings to give to the shops across the road in Sackville Terrace but, unfortunately, the only shopkeeper that wanted the children (who are always well behaved on excursions) was Colin at the Newspower newsagency-good on ya, Colin!

Even with the number of different educators that the kindy children have had recently, they have enjoyed a full program of learning activities. This age group is really into dramatic play, and the outside cubby house has often been used as a shop selling ice cream, pizzas and of course McDonalds. They celebrated USA Day making “quilts” by gluing squares of fabric side by side, eating hot dogs for lunch, playing pin the tail on the donkey and listening to a story read with an American/Canadian accent.

Safety is a very important area that the kindy children learn about every year in November. They covered the “000” emergency number, water safety, the Stop, Drop & Roll for fire evacuation, the dangers of household chemicals and how to store them, the dangers of hot baths and hot kettles and hot stoves. They also discussed and watched the centre’s videos about bike and road safety, and personal safety which teaches how to say “no” and that only parents and doctor may touch/examine them. The whole centre had a successful fire drill in November--we all completed evacuation of the building within two minutes.

Yvonne, who has been with Harmony for nine years, has really helped Carissa settle quickly with the kindy group. Yvonne job shares with Nado who has done a fabulous job, taking over the French sessions with Nicole away. Nado will give every child a written report so that parents can see what their children have learned in a fun context and has been taping the French dialogue of fulltime children whose parents have provided an audio tape.

Carissa has been focussing on transitions, moving from one activity to another, and from one room to another. Transition experiences have included “walking a line of tape on the floor on the way to the toilets”, “saying what letter our names begin with”, and “recognising what colors we are wearing”. These simple activities keep children’s interest and develop social skills such as turntaking and sharing, as well as concepts such as colors and memory. Group games are fun and at times very exciting and teach fast/slow, beat/rhythm, voice recognition and listening/comprehension.

The authors of the weekly Virtues Project aim to teach children values/morals/virtues at a young age, and recently our children have discussed and practised assertiveness, tolerance and helpfulness. Carissa has written more about these sessions and it is well worth reading on her noticeboard. She has also been helping children with educational games on our computer, which has recently been upgraded with more memory.

The kindy children are again going to the Krystal Halliday Home for the Aged at Karrinyup to sing French songs and Christmas carols and talk with and have morning tea with the residents there. Would parents whose children will attend on Tuesday, 19th December, please sign the excursion permission sheet.

Now the children are busy getting ready for Christmas, making presents, practising songs and preparing food for the parents’ afternoon tea at the end-of-year concert. Even though the kindy children have not received many Development Reports this year due to change of staff, there is still time to talk with parents about your child’s development, and Carissa would be happy to discuss this with you.

Harmony has had a wonderful Accreditation Committee of parents and staff who met after hours regularly to discuss 52 principles one by one and in considerable depth. We are confident that again we will gain a three-year accreditation and this is due to every staff member’s dedication to top quality, even in the face of difficulty.

Sincere appreciation goes to parents Selwyn Jellie, Veronica Mayne, Cathy Wood and Ranka Joyce, whose personal time and valued efforts have contributed to improvements in the quality program delivered at Harmony with love and care.

Also warmly thanked are staff members, Janet Johnston, Chris McConchie, Sharon Goves, and Nicole Carre who attended most of the committee meetings and produced dynamic and worthwhile information for our self-study, the results of which we should know by February.

Thank you also to all current Harmony staff who attended recent meetings to tie up loose ends and commit themselves to excellence and “best practice” in child care.

Brain Development Seminar
Robin has attended four seminars this past year about the important realisation, following research documented in the Ontario Report 1999 (Canada), that the early years, and especially the first three years, are the most critical in life. The report confirms scientifically what early childhood researchers have felt intuitively-that the caregiving and learning environment that an infant and toddler experiences has “a decisive and longlasting impact on how people develop, their capacity to learn, their behavior, and ability to regulate their emotions and their risk of disease later in life”. “Genes provide the map for future brain development [but] it is the experiences an infant has after birth that shape the way the brain develops.” The web site for the whole report is www.childsec.gov.on.ca and a summary is on line at www.voices4children.org/earlyyears.htm. Books that can be purchased from Meerilinga bookshop, West Perth, are Start Smart by Pam Schiffer for $28; Brain Games for Babies by Jackie Silberg for $28; and Rethinking the Brain by Rima Shore for $70.

All of the seminars have been publicised to parents on our main noticeboard. The last free seminar, Reversing the Real Brain Drain by Dr Fraser Mustard from Canada, was absolutely brilliant. He went back to the industrial revolution, explaining the very strong link between Health, Behavior and Learning. He emphasised early investment in children’s personal developmental areas of education, health, socialisation and opportunities, as well as early intervention for problems such as speech, ill health and reading. The huge responsibility for parents and early childhood carers and educators lies in providing intellectual stimulation and the highest possible quality of nurturing (including physical and emotional health), in the first three years of life.

All Harmony staff wish you and your loved ones a healthy and memorable Christmas/New Year season and look forward to seeing most of you again in January. All the best for the future is desired for those families who are not returning to Harmony in the New Year.

Robin (Garbutt)