Harmony Newsletter
28 October 2002

Dear Parents                                                                           

The year is whizzing along at an alarming speed and we in Harmony need to organise enrolments for you families and confirm dates, so that you can plan your work and studies for next year.

Attached is an Enrolment Form for 2003 for you to complete (whether you are returning or not), including any additions or changes to days that you need and also for adding any new sibling. It is very important that the form is returned by Friday 8th November at the latest (even if your child is not attending next year). Any vacancies remaining after that date will be allocated to the many families on our waiting list.

Staffing

Our trainees are moving very well through their study for a TAFE Certificate III in Child Care and most of them will be finished early next year. Renee is currently doing her 4-week practicum at a school. Carissa and Simmone are continuing their university studies after hours and so will be absent for just a few days next month while they do exams. We congratulate all our learners in their career development and wish them great success in their exams.

Last week nearly all Harmony carers went out on the town for a Girls Big Night Out (well, to Scarborough!) for a leisurely dinner and wine. Then the brave ones (young ones?!) went on to continue revelry elsewhere. It’s very healthy for staff to have fun together after hours, and Harmony is no exception.

Accreditation

The first meeting for the current Accreditation round is 6.10 pm on Monday, 4th November, in Harmony (dinner included). We will watch a video which outlines the project and plan our strategy for next year.

We want to thank Sophie’s mum, Laura, and Alex’s mum, Jo, who have so kindly agreed to donate their time and represent parents on our Accreditation Committee – thank you in advance for your very valued contribution. We have a vacancy for one other parent on the Committee and very much welcome enquiries. Perhaps a father may be interested, or a parent from a different culture, which would provide insight from another point of view. Please see Robin if interested in participating.

Donations

Very much appreciated was the loan from our own Janet of her carpet shampoo machine and also free circus tickets from the Scarborough Police and Citizens Youth Club. Mother of twins Alessio and Antonio gave us puzzles for the children and yummy chocolates for staff, Liam R’s mum donated thick chalk for footpath drawings, and Mia’s mum donated recycled paper for drawings.

This month’s “Appreciation of Versatility” award goes to our own Yvonne who twice stepped into our kitchen, when we couldn’t get either one of our relief cooks, and made a hot lunch one day and sandwiches another day (remember, last month’s award went to Janet).

Thank you so very, very much every one of you for your help, which makes our day in Harmony go smoother and happier.

Requests

1. Our old bathtowels, which we use for many odd clean-up jobs around Harmony, are just about worn out. We would very much appreciate donations of towels and bedsheets, if families have old ones they no longer need.

2. Contact details (phone numbers, authorised people, etc.) must be kept up to date, for your child’s safety and to meet children’s services regulations. Please alter the print-out asap, if changes have occurred since initial enrolment.

Clothing labels

Orders for iron-on clothing labels are coming in very well. There are three advantages over any other labels (the quality is better, they are cheaper because Harmony subsidises them, and the turnaround is very quick). As a bonus, the local supplier has kindly included some stick-on labels as a free sample – Harmony will ask parents about their interest in these labels for bottles, sipper cups, school lunch boxes, etc. early next year.

Health

Staff strongly remind parents again about contagious conditions that jeopardise the health of all others in Harmony. Please keep your child home when he/she has thick, coloured discharge from the nose, so that the infection is kept to a minimum.

Maintenance

Parents will have noticed for the first time in our 13 years of existence, our lawns have almost disappeared.  This is terrible (especially since we upgraded them substantially just last Christmas) and we believe it’s due to using a different fertilizer (supposedly one especially for the winter) which killed nearly every bit of lawn. We are writing to the manufacturer and hope for an explanation soon. In the meantime we are evaluating our options for high wear and tear areas and will have these rectified during the end-of-year break. Any suggestions are welcome.

Programming

We really encourage parents to look at the Program of Activities on the bulletin board in each age group. This way you know about the huge variety of fabulous things that the children are exploring as they’re having fun and learning. It also gives you background about what you can talk with your children at dinner time, and you can discover some areas of interest that previously you may have been unaware of.

In the 2 year olds and kindy/preschool groups there is a lot of accumulated artwork which is getting crushed in the envelopes. Please find your child’s name and take the artwork home, because they are so proud of their achievements, and rightly so (please leave the envelope in Harmony).

You may notice small coloured dots on the program. These are the confidential code for the children who the qualified Educators are observing. Regular observations are planned to see that children’s skills are appropriate for their age, what skills need further development, what interests can be extended another time, and any changes that we should bear in mind for another time. Currently Educators are recording observations of all full-timers and all children attending one day, so that a Developmental Checklist is ready for parents in December.

Babies

The little ones have been very busy, especially with sensory and social play.  They’re currently painting a big fridge carton to make into a cubby, and really like their new birthday mural of Winnie the Pooh characters. Sensory play has included playdough with rice and glitter, painting and prints on the see-through easel, a Harmony zoo mural, and a group activity with their painted feet making footprints on a picture of a train. They made great shakers from blown-up balloons with a small amount of rice inside.

For more physical activities the babies danced with scarves, went round and round an obstacle course with balancing, walking, jumping, and crawling, and bounced in the bouncy castle during the Kindy holiday program until they could bounce no more! Social skills have included sharing and taking turns and being nice to our friends (all pro-social behaviour). During the last week of October the babies will dress up for Halloween.

Babies carers are very grateful to Kalypso’s mother for providing a fabulous porta-cot at very low cost, so that the very youngest baby has a safe haven from time to time.

2 year olds

We would like to remind parents that on the blue sheet near the white cubicles is all the information regarding 2 year olds’ wellbeing (food eaten, sleeping, and toileting). This information tells parents what sort of day each child has had (it’s similar to the daily sheet for babies). Please feel free to talk with 2 year olds’ educators, if you would like explanation or more detail.

Since September’s newsletter the 2 year olds have spent a fortnight covering each of the topics of Nursery Rhymes, Imagination, Nature & Natural Resources, and Food. They used puppets to help say their names and played movement games like What’s the Time Mr Wolf, Ring-a-Ring-a-Rosie and Duck Duck Goose. Of course two of their favourites are definitely blowing bubbles and all the Rainbow Fish stories. New words like “ingredients”, “stirring”, and “mixing” were introduced when one day they made a very tasty carrot cake for afternoon snack.

A more physical game they like is Going on a Bear Hunt, which also includes spatial concepts such as under, through, around. Some of the 2 year olds are getting quite proficient on a scooter, and most of them can pedal a trike easily. Their packaway skills (indoors and outdoors) are improving (we always give them five minutes warning).

To explore nature the children had containers of wet sand, wood chips, leaves, and flowers to smell and touch. They created a wonderful group collage and made sand pictures, leaf rubbings, and paintings using gum leaves instead of paintbrushes. Our hermit crabs in their shells were a hit, although some children were unsure at first.

For the Food topic the children were introduced to vegetables and fruit such as grapes, cabbage, plums, green beans, celery, mushrooms, and sweet potato, (using plastic play food the first week and real fruit and vegies the second week). They baked slices of apple in alfoil, which they ate for afternoon snack, made a healthy food collage, and played a memory game using fruit felt pieces.

Kindy/Preschool

To help learn their numbers the children did some challenging physical activities like Totem Tennis (counting how many times they could bat a ball on a rope), relay races, and hopscotch (saying numbers out loud). They can paste the correct number of stickers next to numerals and can identify the amount of objects on numbercards. They practised their coordination skills by throwing frisbees and playing chasey games.

Children used their creativity and fine manipulative skills when they dripped wax onto paper and then painted over with edicol dye/food colouring. Fine motor skills are also enhanced through table activities like threading beads and painting with small tools such as cotton buds. With freehand design they have created beautiful golf ball prints and nature collage on brown paper.

They discussed Time (using a large clock face) and Measuring (using scales) and had great fun singing with a microphone in front of the group and dancing the Birdie dance and Agadoo. The children discussed Opposites (taken from our carton of Early World of Learning resources) and also sequencing (action cards in correct order). To learn about the topic Food the children sorted “fruit” and “other” foods into two categories, were blindfolded while they smelled and felt fruit to try and identify it, and matched where food comes from (e.g. orange – tree, egg – chicken). This week the preschoolers will be harvesting some of the silverbeet they have planted and watered, to make spinach dip for afternoon snack.

For the subject of Feelings & Emotions the children talked about “what makes me happy”, friends,  and “I love my family because…” The children have discussed and practised the Virtues of Courtesy, Orderliness (e.g. packing away), and Respect, and Letterland up to the letter “U”.

Of course the preschoolers had lots of fun during the holiday program, from the familiar bouncy castle, to making bread in the bread machine, the roller skating excursion (without learned fear, they are so confident and successful at skating), the Wandering in the Bush Show with didgeridoo and Australian songs and stories, their favourite soft equipment circuit at the Police & Citizens gym at Scarborough, and lots more. Jayden won the competition to name our new black Chinese chicken, which is now Gypsy.

French

The children really enjoy counting to ten and stepping on the correct colour square on the floor (probably because they are so good at it!). Songs at present include Sur le Pont d’Avignon and Enrouler le Fils (Wind the Bobbin Up). They watched the video Bonjour Mes Amis (their end-of-year concert song) and are creating lots of artwork that is then labelled in French and follows the different themes of each week, e.g. ombrelle (umbrella), weather, the seasons.

Cooking

Briony has been cooking up all sorts of new dishes, especially vegetarian (for Thursdays) using lentils, kidney beans, and chickpeas. Always popular are meat with rich tomato flavoured sauces, sausage rolls (usually made by the preschoolers), and apricot and sultana crumble. We would love to have suggestions from parents about fillings for sandwiches (which children have once a week) and for dips.

Robin Garbutt (Manager)………………..        Janet Johnston (Second-in-Charge)………………..

Gratitude & Peace of Mind

If the only prayer you say in your life is “thank you”, that would suffice. (Meister Eckhart)

Love - A life without love is like a year without summer. (A Swedish proverb) Destiny - Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved. (William Bryan)