Harmony Newsletter
23 June 2003


Dear Parents

 

It’s been longer than usual between newsletters, but we hope the items we’ve included now will make up for the delay.

 

Staffing

Some new faces have been added to our Harmony team. Do have a look at the profiles in the front entry (photos should be developed soon).

 

Sandy is our full-time Assistant Manager helping Janet (our full-time Administrator) and Robin in the office, and has substantial experience operating four of her own businesses over many years. She is also working “on the floor” with the children when she covers our Trainees during their study leave each week and also while our Diploma-qualified Educators take non-contact time for writing up reports and programs. To help her better understand what is required of, and by, Harmony educators, Sandy is undertaking a 12-month Certificate III in Children’s Services traineeship.

 

In our Babies group is Rachelle, who has moved from Donnybrook to take up her Certificate III in Children’s Services traineeship in Harmony. She is already contributing 100 percent to the babies which is particularly crucial since the departure of Carissa (she moved to a child care centre closer to her new home). Taking over from Carissa is Ginette who has transferred from the 2 year olds as a special “E” Worker and settled in well with the able assistance of Alisha and Rachelle.

 

Teresa has begun her Certificate III traineeship in the 2 year olds group, with Simmone and Erin helping her along the way. Teresa is one of our valuable mature age staff members and is the mother of two and grandmother of one.

 

While on the subject of staffing, we are looking for enthusiastic and reliable casuals to relieve our permanents when they are on sick or annual leave. If parents know of a great worker who may be interested in joining the Harmony team, please talk with one of us in the office as soon as possible (especially now that winter seems to have finally arrived, along with colds and flu).

 

Staff education & training

Many staff are currently undertaking tertiary education or have recently completed short workshops. Simmone is studying a Bachelor of Social Science (Family & Children’s Services) at ECU, and Alisha and Brooke are studying their Diploma in Children’s Services at TAFE. Toni and Sandy attended a Healthy Food for Healthy Children workshop. Janet, Yvonne, Sandy, and Robin have attended several management workshops recently.

 

Rachelle, Teresa, Sandy, and Erin are all signed up for a 12-month traineeship to gain a Certificate III in Children’s Services, just as Brooke and Alisha did last year. By the way,


Brooke was presented with an award at Observation City ballroom by State Education Minister, Alan Carpenter, for being the top Certificate III student in the Perth TAFE system—congratulations to Brooke for a well-deserved honor. Brooke also continues to attend workshops as they occur, to extend her knowledge of children with special and additional needs and management of their behavior and learning potential.

 

Donations

We really appreciate everything given to Harmony, because we are great “pack rats” in that we use all types of bits and pieces that are no longer required by families.  We don’t mean to inadvertently miss anyone in our notes of gratitude, so please accept our sincere thanks for your donation if your name is not specifically mentioned.

 

Thanks to: Luke’s & Matthew’s parents for A3 semi-gloss paper; Aaron’s father for making a strong ply top for the children cubby house table, and also for pins for adjustable shelving; Imogen’s mother for baby monitor (in our babies’ cot room); Kali’s & Jamie’s mother for many toys; Joel’s mum for a huge bag of boxes for construction activities; Zoe’s mum for loan of nurse’s uniform and stethoscope for Occupations; and our TAFE student Peta for drafting paper for drawings and loan of chef’s uniform (for Occupations). We really also appreciate the visits by Pritpal and her daughter on India Day and by Mia’s dad who bathed his baby for the preschoolers.

 

Programming

In all groups the program of activities for the week is displayed on a noticeboard. Please ask carers to explain what is happening on the day/s your child attends, because you can then talk about the day at dinnertime and also try similar activities at home to further enhance your child’s development.

 

Babies (news from Ginette, Alisha, & Rachelle)

The babies are growing so big and so clever. For intellectual development they have been learning cause & effect through sorting items into categories, hide-and-seek, and many other problem solving activities. Their language is being developed through flash cards (asking babies to name the item), songs (their current favourites are Row, Row, Row the Boat, I Wonder What Your Name is, and of course Twinkle Twinkle Little Star with actions), and lots of stories (books, feltboard, and puppets).

 

Ginette, who has just recently moved to the Babies group is amazed at how quickly the babies learn and how independent they are becoming. For instance, they are encouraged to dress themselves (with dress-up clothes), to use a spoon and mug, and to cook (mayonnaise, cup cakes, pikelets, and fairy bread for afternoon snack). Soon they will be able to leave home!! Talking of home, we do hope that families enjoyed the Easter and Mother’s Day gifts that were so lovingly made.

 

For table activities they enjoy cotton reel, hand, & potato printing, painting (with whole hands, as well as toothbrushes, popsicle sticks, shaving brushes, and just water), collage with lots of glue, glitter, and all types of things to stick onto paper plates and boxes, and of course play dough.

 

For body awareness and self-esteem the babies move around in front of the wall mirror, and they love to see themselves after face painting. Simple balloons and bubble blowing are always popular and so is dancing with or without scarves (especially to the  Hi-5 video). Other movement and coordination games are Ring-a-Ring-a-Rosie, the Hokey Pokey, playing with musical instruments, and throwing bean bags into a bucket.

 

Now that winter has arrived, carers bring climbing equipment inside so that the babies still get their big muscle development, even when it is raining. Always the main criteria are to make activities fun, use the senses, and encourage exploration.

 

2 year olds (news from Simmone, Teresa, & Erin)

During our exploration of Farm Animals, Insects, The Ocean, and Jungle Animals our 2 year olds learned where we would see particular animals. The children made crepe paper collage chickens, listened to Old Macdonald as a feltboard story, collected insects outdoors, talked about the beach, and played with Harmony’s hermit crabs (some children were afraid but none so much as Erin and Ginette!!).

 

For Dinosaurs the children loved dinosaur stencils and trying to learn the long names of some of them. Transport interested the children (especially trucks and buses) but, quite appropriately they insisted on “cars are for driving” and “bikes for riding” rather than “cars and bikes are transport”!! Nursery Rhymes are a vital part of childhood because, even though most do not make much sense in our modern world, they are traditional in all cultures, have value for sing-song rhyming and listening skills (e.g. audio tapes), and children enjoy them.

 

Imaginative Play was programmed for several weeks to encourage children to visualise, to create something new using their mental processes, and to encourage interaction with their peers and form positive relationships. They did animal movements to music (e.g. lion, elephant), dressed up with scarves which they turned into saris, and set up a shop to make cups of tea, milkshakes, and even McDonald’s hamburgers. In our office set-up some children made phone calls and sent emails on our play keyboards. Art activities focussed on creativity using different tools such as leaves, string, cotton buds, sponges, and marbles to paint on paper, card, and boxes. A different and effective “paint” was food coloring in water.

 

Language development benefits greatly from role playing/imaginative/pretend play, as well as

love of books and songs. One of the best recent examples was the 2 year olds acting out the story of Goldilocks & the Three Bears. Favorite songs currently include Dingle Dangle Scarecrow, Wheels on the Bus, Down in the Meadow, Humpty Dumpty, Little Peter Rabbit, 5 Currant Buns, Incy Wincy Spider, 3 Jellyfish, Bob the Builder theme song, and Miss Polly had a Dolly (substituting the rhyme names for our children’s names).

 

This age child loves percussion music (some may call it noise!). In any case, the 2 year olds are developing good awareness of the rules for games such as musical bobs and guessing (through attentive listening) who is shaking the bell in the circle of children with their eyes shut.

 

Big muscle skills have been developed through peddling bikes, jazz aerobics, yoga (including stretching, bending, and relaxation), somersaults on mats (at which the 2 year olds were surprisingly skilled), throwing balls into hoops either over arm or under arm (also good for eye-hand coordination), obstacle courses and chaseys around the yard, skittles, totem tennis, and action dancing.

 

Fine manipulative skills are developed through threading, puzzles (also good for intellectual development), lego construction, pushing pegs in and out of boards, and even making presents for parents such as Easter cards and baskets and Mother’s Day cards and bookmarks.  Cutting is an excellent skill to encourage at home under close supervision, especially as some 2 year olds are better at it than others.

 

Intellectual activities have included matching picture cards in a dominoes type game, matching colors with blocks, matching shapes to everyday pictures (e.g. circles on the wheels of a bus), and stacking/sorting toys from large to small. Some of the children are grasping the concept of numbers and are extending their concentration span up to 10 minutes.

 

Like most children 2 year olds love sensory play, such as slime, shaving cream, water play, finger painting, playdough (complete with candles in playdough cupcakes and the happy birthday song), and feeling the glue before it goes into the gluing activity. Their self-help and self-confidence skills are improving, with most children putting away toys after play, taking off shoes and socks (some attempt to put them on too).

 

Kindy/Preschool (news from Caroline, Yvonne, & Brooke)

We continue to have busy days in the Preschool group, and especially welcome new children and children moving up from the 2 year olds group. Usually we plan activities around a focus that runs for two weeks, thus providing plenty of time and practice for children to learn new concepts, new vocabulary, and more about the world around them.

 

The Transport theme was quite exciting, particularly when Shakira’s dad visited in his police car and all children got a ride up and down our parking lot, with siren blaring (we don’t know what our neighbours thought!). Handcuffs were a hit too!

 

We looked at Food and set up a supermarket with lots of empty food packets adding to the realism, to discuss familiar and unusual foods. It’s amazing the differences that children already know about good and bad food, and they even got to prepare pizzas for their lunch.

 

During our Families fortnight one of our wonderful dads, who is the main child carer in his home, brought his youngest daughter (a 5 month old) into the Harmony Centre. He set up a bath and drying mat, so that all children could see the whole process, which to most was absolutely fascinating including the cuddles afterwards (see photos on front entry bulletin board). We spoke about members in our families and how people live in other countries. Pritpal, one of our casual employees, visited with her daughter in traditional Indian dress and spoke about her culture. She showed us photos, dolls, and jewellery, and then taught the preschoolers how to cook Butter Chicken & Rice for lunch.

 

Colors and Shapes produced some very bright rainbows and a striped caterpillar. Shapes were recognised all around our environment, which helped children see everyday objects as shapes, such as tables as rectangles, plates as circles, etc.

 

Another busy theme was Occupations which was really exciting when we visited the shops across the road from Harmony. Small groups walked through the supermarket, had gel and clips in their hair at the hairdresser, and were fascinated by the engine under the bonnet at the Caltex mechanical workshop. Preschoolers wrote a “letter”, posted it to themselves via the Sackville Terrace mailbox, and had an unexpected visit from the local postie on her motorbike. We also made our home corner into a hospital where we role played in our doctors and nurses uniforms.

 

The Virtues Project teaches young children how and why we have universal values. So far this year the following virtues have been discussed and practised with Harmony preschoolers:

confidence, respect, peacefulness, caring, gentleness, honesty, helpfulness, kindness, assertiveness. It is interesting that following September 11 and the Bali bombing, concerned organisations that exist to support and enhance quality of life for young children came out with ways to deal with trauma and generally “bad news” that impact on youngsters through TV etc. One organisation (see attachment) is attempting to encourage behaviours that lead to “peace” in young children’s lives and, not surprisingly, most of the virtues are common to The Virtues Project book that Harmony follows (e.g. respect, kindness, friendliness, helping others, caring, cooperation, love, sharing, appreciation). Other peace-friendly activities include protecting and enjoying our natural environment, growing plants, and encouraging acceptance of all people including those who are different (e.g. disabled, different color skin, disfigured). Peaceful parenting = peaceful environments + peaceful play = peaceful children = peaceful people = peaceful parenting = peaceful environments etc.

 

The Kindy/Preschool group is really where self-help skills shine. Children are beginning to put on their own shoes and socks, look after their property in their cubicle, pack away toys after playing, and scrape their lunch plates ready for washing. Our Letterland phonetic alphabet program is a lot of fun. Many children recognise the letters, and some are writing their name—well done! Number recognition and counting what we see around us are coming along well.

 

Other intellectual activities involve logical thinking, sequencing cards (beginning, middle, end or first, second, third, fourth etc.), and classifying objects according to size and color. Eye/hand coordination and finger manipulation skills (required for writing and general fine work throughout life) are enhanced by using scissors, thin brushes, threading, etc. and can easily be practised at home as well.

 

Being outdoors has been great this year (although not so good for water in our dams!). The children have enjoyed totem tennis (hitting a tennis ball on elastic attached to a pole), obstacle courses, jumping and hopping, balancing on the beams, and kicking and throwing balls in correct directions.

 

French

Ginette generally follows the theme and concepts covered in the weekly Kindy/Preschool program, as the new vocabulary makes more sense when linked with hands-on activities. She runs a half hour session every day and makes sure it is a fun time so that the children are willing and receptive. If you wish to know what your child is singing in the bath, just ask!

 

Kitchen

Toni continues to try new recipes, some very successful such as Lentil, Vegetable & Bacon Bone Soup, Chicken Stroganoff, Sausage Chasseur (without the red wine!), Zucchini Slice, and Spaghetti Carbonara. Sandwiches once a week are usually a hit, but we are always looking for new favorites such as Lasagne as suggested by a Kindy parent, and especially finger foods for afternoon snacks. If every parent jotted down just one snack recipe, we would have enough to try for months ahead!

 

Parent & Staff Night

Unfortunately we had to postpone our Parent & Staff Night because we couldn’t get either speaker we wanted, and during July some of our staff are taking annual leave. However, would the parents of full-timers who have recently received Developmental Records of their child’s skills please keep the record handy so that you can discuss it with your child’s Early Childhood Educator, as soon as we can reschedule an evening.


Extensions to Harmony Centre & new age groupings

As some of you may know already, Harmony is converting the caretaker flat at the back of the Harmony building and its attached carport and courtyard for a new group of children, i.e. 1 ˝ to 2 ˝ year olds. This is an exciting stage in our development (and the third increase in licensed numbers due to increased demand over the past 13 ˝ years of Harmony’s history). The two advantages are that we can accommodate some of the 50+ families on our waiting list, and also the three youngest age groupings will cover a range of 12 months of age rather than the present 18 months range.

 

The renovations will include the latest in softfall outdoor surfaces, and we hope will prove the practicality of our ideas, which can then be incorporated in our other playground areas. The staff have been included in the extension too—they will have a new, and larger, staff room, another toilet, and a new outdoor sitting area.

 

As soon as the renovations are completed (about mid-July, depending on the builder) we will have the following four age groupings. These may necessitate a change of room and staff for some children, but we believe the smaller age range in each group (12 months for our three youngest age groups, and 30 months for our Kindy/Preschool) is better for children and staff.

 

˝ to 1 ˝ year olds                   Same playroom & 2 cot rooms as now

                                                Expanded outdoors, to include new area when convenient

 

1 ˝ to 2 ˝ year olds                New playroom & Quiet Room

                                                New toilet & nappy change room

                                                Outdoors to include new area & current grassed playground

 

2 ˝ to 3 ˝ year olds                Current playroom of 2 year olds

New Quiet Room (new doorway to connect with playroom)

                                                Outdoors to be shared with Kindy/Preschool, as currently

 

3 ˝ to 6 year olds                    Same playroom & playground as now

                                               

CCB (subsidy) & Fees

As from 7 July the Child Care Benefit (CCB) will change to reflect CPI, which fortunately means a higher subsidy for families. Harmony will advise parents what their new CCB rate will be, as soon as we receive the rates list from the Family Assistance Office.

 

However, at the same time Harmony needs to raise fees slightly due to an increase in all staff wages as from 21 July and to cover higher insurance premiums and much needed playground improvements. Visits by Robin and Sandy over the past two weeks to 7 other child care centres of good to high quality reveal current part-time fees are in the range of $48 to $60 a day for all age children but full-time fees are far above Harmony’s, in the range of $204 to $250 a week for all age children (i.e. no lower fee for older, preschool children). Thankfully Perth child care fees are still nowhere near those in Sydney and Melbourne, where they are $300 to $350 a week.

 

As from Monday, 7 July, fees will be as follows:

Over 3 ˝ years old                               $50 per day                  $175 per week (5 days)

Under 3 ˝ years old                             $55 per day                  $198 per week (5 days)                                              


Feedback

Input and suggestions from families (and anyone else, for that matter) is much valued. It gets us thinking about possible new ways of doing things, it helps us do what’s best for your child, and it keeps us operating at the highest standard. We have a Suggestion Box right next to the sign in/out files in the front entry, which is cleared regularly.

 

One suggestion was for roasts to be served now and then at lunchtime. Unfortunately, we don’t have facilities to cook roasts and for 55+ children the logistics of carving and serving hot would be quite difficult. Another suggestion asked for lasagne, which is definitely an easy and popular dish for Toni, our cook, to prepare.  A parent queried the serving of sandwiches once a week. Sandwiches have several valid points going for them. Children love finger food (good for their fine manipulative skills too, and babies love to pull them apart!), they will usually have sandwiches for lunch when they go to school, and sandwiches are full of fibre (only wholemeal bread in Harmony).

 

Accreditation

Our Accreditation Committee of parents and staff continues to meet bi-monthly and is proceding through the 35 principles at a good pace, in preparation for our accreditation in May 2004. We are short of one parent representative, so if you have 2 ˝ hours to spare one week night every two months, we would love to welcome you to our light-hearted sessions where we share a meal, and learn much about child development and what is involved in high quality best practice child care and education. Parents also find out a lot about their own child’s day and behavior in Harmony direct from the carers themselves.

 

Fundraising

Janet coordinates the fundraising activities and does a superb job as can be judged from the current Mars chocolate drive. Please ask for a mixed carton to sell at $4 a packet to your neighbors, friends, and work mates (not for yourselves, because they’re bad for your teeth! even though of course they do taste good!). Proceeds go towards purchase of impact-absorbing softfall under the older children’s swings, to be safer and to get rid of the messy pine bark.

Book Clubs

Usually there is at least one book club displaying some very good value books and other items on top of the preschoolers’ pine cubicles just inside the front entry doors. Anyone can purchase, as long as payment is made to Yvonne before delivery date.

 

Reminder

Please remember that all staff are here for you and your children. Feel free to talk with us for queries, input, and feedback, so that Harmony becomes a better place for all concerned.

 

 

Robin Garbutt, Manager…………………..     Sandy Boon, Assistant Manager……………….…..