Harmony Newsletter
17th July 2001

Dear Parents

Mid-year already! It seems that every year demands more of our 'disposable' time (that is, beyond the time for a paid job and housekeeping) and we don’t necessarily realise why this should be. A consoling point is that there are always people much worse off than we are, in many ways, and even here in Australia.

Staffing
A bit has been happening here. We thought we had a permanent Cook with Wendy but family problems in Canberra took her away from us. We have had several Relief Cooks (coping admirably in the circumstances) but as from this coming Monday we will have a new permanent Cook. She is Carissa (yes, another one!) who has some previous experience as a Cook and several years as a Child Care Assistant in child care centres. She is also mother of a four year old and did some casual child care work at Harmony earlier this year. Please welcome Carissa and look at her profile at the front entry.

Jackie, who was our part-time coordinator and very ably helped Robin with centre administration for six months, has left Harmony to devote more time to her family and to prepare for a Big Event (see below). However, we will see Jackie from time to time (such as for our recent Parent & Staff Night) because she has agreed to do casual admin work for us. Jackie was instrumental in gathering the masses of documentation necessary for national accreditation of our centre. Janet is now our Second-in-Charge for when Robin is absent.

We have two very important announcements. Tanya, our Child Care Trainee in the Babies group, is expecting a baby in November. We are all very excited for her and her partner, who are also about to buy their own home. Tanya is a wonderful carer and a great team member with Simmone and Janet. Another memorable occasion coming up, in September, is the marriage of Jackie, our centre coordinator, to her partner Glenn. The Harmony staff have been invited to her Hen’s Night which, knowing our fun-loving Jackie, should be a hoot of a celebration.

National Accreditation for Quality in Child Care
Before Jackie left Harmony, her fine efforts assured Harmony of the highest accreditation award (three years), and 51 highest possible ratings out of 52, which is absolutely fabulous. Several years ago our first accreditation process gained us a perfect score of 52 out of 52 (none of the 5000 centres in Australia could get higher), but our current 51 out of 52 is still very admirable. Every one of our staff is to be congratulated for such a high level of quality assurance, and of course we duly celebrated with dinner at the Tavern.

Mid-Year Parent & Staff Night
We had all (healthy) staff talking with parents and handing out Child Developmental Records on 2nd July. Thank you to Harmony’s qualified Educators (ECE’s) for taking such care and responsibility in writing out these Records, which summarise such valuable information about the important early childhood years. All our Child Care Assistants also provide valuable input to the Developmental Records. By reading each line and the summary carefully, parents will know where their child is developmentally in each of the critical areas--gross motor (big muscles), fine motor (finger manipulation and eye-hand coordination), social (inter-personal interactions), emotional (feelings, self-confidence, assertiveness, self-esteem), language (receptive, expressive, assertive) and intellectual (concepts, problem solving, adaptation, etc.).

The three Early Childhood Educators who are in charge of the age groups prepared notes to explain to parents at the meeting the reasons, and the methods used, for writing programs of activities for the children every day. The staff gave extremely enlightening rationale for why we do the specific daily activities with children. For those not present, we have summarised some of the points about the why’s and wherefore’s of Daily Programming.

We had two other speakers as well. Celia Buck, who is the well-known and well-respected Child Health Nurse from the Karrinyup Clinic, told us how newborns and older children develop immunity to illness. She mentioned that babies who are kept in a “sterile” environment usually take longer to develop their immune system because they are not being exposed to small amounts of bacteria and viruses gradually—they end up being exposed to a full-blown illness, often in winter, and cannot fight off the bugs naturally. A chemist from Newpark Pharmacy in Girrawheen, Richard Smirk, continued the talk with information about the differences between viruses, influenza, and infections, and how each of them is treated—e.g. viruses do not respond to antibiotics.

Unfortunately the parent participation was not up to the number we expected for such an important Parent & Staff Night, but those who did attend, had a lovely time one-on-one with the carers and educators who are closest to their children and who are making a significant difference in their lives.

Yoga by Candlelight
We are going to try again to have a yoga class at Harmony for parents, friends, and staff, on Wednesdays.

Venue: Harmony Day: Wednesday Time: 7-8.30 p.m. Cost: $70 for 8 weeks Minimum No: 10

Please tell Robin and pay fees by 27th July, if you would like to join us for a very pleasant time. Payment is in advance (payable to Jan Round) but a substitute person is welcome if you are unable to attend. When we have the minimum of ten participants, we will commence the class.

Donations
Janet has been our leading donor this time—she given the children a yellow teapot, puzzles, threading beads (always welcome), plastic pretend food, a red chimney pot & other toys. Another extremely generous person is father of twins Lili and Asha—he is a bricklayer who filled up the holes in our walls left when unused ventilators were removed. Many thanks also to Thomas R’s mum for money donated to purchase bouncy balls.

Red Nose Day
Thank you to those thoughtful people who bought red nose paraphernalia to support SIDS research. However, when we did a count, we found $11.50 missing—if you have not yet given us the SIDS money, please let Robin or Janet know, so that we can forward it on.

Family Portrait Photos
A number of families got a bargain when they received a large, framed family portrait photo for only $10. The $150 paid has been put into our Fundraising kitty, which we are hoping to spend on shadecloth over the big sandpit.

New Payment Conditions
As you all would know by now, unfortunately we have had to introduce an Overdue Charge for delayed fees. Our Accountant says this should lead to more timely family payments, so that Harmony’s wages and suppliers can be paid when due. Others face a similar problem, which is why organisations like Western Power and Water Corp charge a penalty.

Five percent will be levied on fees overdue by more than one week, will be charged on each week’s Monday balance, and will compound weekly. We sincerely hope that this will be seldom necessary.

We realise times are difficult these days for parents to meet all the demands placed on families. Please remember that we are open to payment arrangements if circumstances are particularly constrained at present.

Programming

Kindergarten (news from Carissa, Yvonne, and Christine)
The Dinosaur theme was extremely popular as you can imagine. The children learned the names of many varieties and enjoyed the accompanying art experiences and stories.

For several weeks we set up a Music Centre, so that children could choose and play instruments during any activities time during the week. New songs we have been learning are 'I’m Taking Home my Baby Bumble Bee', 'She’ll be Coming Round the Mountain', and 'Where is Thumbkin?' staff have the words if you would like them.

Our latest big theme was about Posting Letters. Some children made and painted a large mailbox as a group project, and then all children wrote and posted their own letters and creations throughout the week. At the end of the week we walked to the Sackville shops across the road and posted real letters to our families. We understand there was generally great excitement when these letters were received at home.

It’s now school holidays again and we are enjoying an exciting program of activities. We have marvelled at how chickens hatch from eggs and are carefully caring for our three healthy chicks. The Kindy children are realising how important it is to be very kind and gentle with animals. This was reinforced by Mick who brought his Farmyard on Wheels with its ducks, geese, cows, horses, rabbits, lambs, and many many more gorgeous animals (we even bottlefed the goats). Conny the Clown entertained us all morning with face painting, balloon animals, dancing, and magic tricks. Several kind parents gave their time to help on our excursion to Deanmore Primary playground where we also had a picnic lunch. The Bouncy Castle was great value all day, and even the Harmony babies had a go! Another excursion is to the Fun Factory.

Soon after the Holiday Program the Kindy children will be focussing on a new theme Nature. We will be look at the environment around us, such as weather, wind, grass, sky, trees, plants, etc. Christine has been working closely with the children to encourage and extend the children’s French. They have been learning colors, everyday phrases, and body parts.

For any questions about French or the Kindy group programs, please don’t hesitate to see Carissa, Yvonne, or Christine.

2 year olds (news from Dale & Deb)
During the last few weeks we have been focussing on Me, which has included discussions about our body, stretching our bodies, and making shapes with our bodies like stars and balls. We’ve talked about colors of our hair and eyes, have measured our height, and are learning our surnames. All these activities help develop healthy self-esteem and pride in their bodies.

To develop awareness of music and interest in musical instruments and how to use them, we set up a musical corner. Here the children could choose instruments freely, and at group time we sang in time with their playing. Language development is promoted by group singing and discussions, feltboard stories, and encouragement to gently assert themselves. Current favorite songs are 'Row, Row, Row Your Boat', 'Five Fat Sausages', and 'I Wonder What Your Name is?'.

Many activities have been programmed to develop eye-hand coordination, through collage gluing, cutting up magazine pictures, and threading pasta. We have also been gaining projectile skills, strength, coordination, and balance, by jumping into shapes, running games, throwing balls, somersaulting, dancing, and musical bobs.

Children’s self-help and increasing independence are showing, as children are insisting on (and we are actively encouraging) putting on and taking off their own shoes and socks, wiping down tables, and sweeping floors. You should be able to see a lot of this for yourself by logging into the Kindercams.

Babies (news from Simmone, Janet, Tanya, & Rachael)
Over the past few weeks we have been looking at a lot of one-on-one and small group (2-3 children) experiences. By doing this we are supporting the younger infants and new children in developing trust and feeling secure in their new environment (which is the basis for learning in all other areas of development). The babies become familiar with each other and interact in valuable social situations such as dancing together, being gentle with each other, and maybe even sharing.

Babies love to learn through exploring their surroundings and using their senses. Especially interesting are musical experiences (singing, dancing, musical instruments), nature (leaves, sand, Ziggy our rabbit), creativity (finger and sponge paintings), cause and effect toys (pull-alongs, weighted bobbing toys, musical response toys). We’ve introduced simple action songs to relate developing physical skills to social and language experiences. The older children have enjoyed learning new words while moving to rhymes, while the infants try to imitate them (imitation is another valuable way of learning).

Beata, a worker from the Ethnic Child Care Resource Unit that Harmony belongs to, joined babies for a few weeks recently and brought in some interesting props. She helped settle a new child in his home language and for everyone introduced some Cantonese/Chinese words and traditions and some unusual cultural masks.

With winter upon us again, we need to ensure the babies keep warm, so please remember to bring socks/booties and even a beanie.

Kindercams
The parents who have security passwords to log on to Kindercams at Harmony are giving us fantastic feedback. They regularly watch their children at play, at lunchtime, and generally having a good time, and for only $2 per day (or even lower if 3 months full-time is paid in advance).

Many of you would have seen the Today Tonight show on Channel 7 on 5th July, when the Harmony story was televised all over Australia. Some of your children were absolute stars.

Kindercams was also featured nationally on A Current Affair on the same night but without Harmony included. It all followed a large photo and article on page 3 of the national newspaper The Australian (see front entry noticeboard). Harmony interviews were also on Sydney’s Radio 2SM with Howard Sattler and 2GB, Melbourne’s Radio 3AK, and Perth’s Aboriginal Radio 11.7. Articles were also broadcast on Perth’s Radio 92.9 and 96.1, and an article and photo in Adelaide’s Sunday Mail newspaper. All in all, there was quite a commotion at Harmony on 5th July.

The Rationale behind Activity Programming
All groups have similar procedures and reasons for their written programs. Babies programs are very flexible and sensory-based (using the 5 senses). Two year olds are also very sensory-based but include routines which they love and need, to make sense of their world. Preschool/Kindy children need some structure to their day and the introduction of abstract concepts in readiness for Year 1 at school.

Three strong benefits of a written program are: (a) Plan for the day, (b) Developmentally appropriate activites, and (c) Source of communication.

Children of the three groups are observed by our qualified Early Childhood Educators (ECE), using several different methods, during the children’s play and their interactions in order to discover, in groups and individually, where their current development stands, what their special interests are, and areas where further encouragement is advisable. The ECE’s can then program later on to meet any specific interests and to implement activities that will provide practice for children with delayed development (such as using scissors). “Observations” also provide the basis for Development Reports back to parents, either written or verbal.

Following are notes written for parents by Harmony’s ECE’s:

Simmone
The Basic Process of Programming and how/why we plan particular activities: Dale
Methods for Observing and Recording: Goals for the individual child: Planning: Carissa
The following sessions are additional to all of the above, in order to prepare preschoolers for Year 1 in the formal education system: Child care in W.A.
Another heavy increase in operating costs was advised yesterday, which unfortunately will force a small increase in everyone’s child care fees. All child care workers in W.A. will receive an hourly wage increase from 20th July, which will necessitate a $1 per day increase in fees as from Monday, 30th July.

Reminders and Requests
Robin Garbutt, Manager

Poem from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and the daughters of life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love, but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
Which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness.