Harmony Newsletter
7th December 2001

Dear Parents

Very important reminders
The end-of-year concert is on Friday, 14th December, commencing 2.30 p.m. All families and children are invited, including those who do not usually attend on a Friday, as well as grandparents. The program commences with refreshments (some made by the children) and socialising. Then comes the concert which is always special and memorable. By far the most exciting, however, will be Santa’s presence (or is it “presents”?!).

Would families please bring in a gift from Santa for their child/ren, wrapped and labelled “To [your child’s name] From Santa”, to be given it to your child’s carers before Wednesday, 12th December. Siblings of enrolled children are welcome—all children can get a gift from Santa if parents bring it in before Wednesday.

We have some good news and some sad news. Tanya, our Assistant in the Babies group, has a healthy baby girl, Tahlia Skye, and both are going to visit on our concert day. Another baby, due March, is Simmone’s, and we are very happy for her and partner Scott—they are building a new home, so now they can plan it for three! There must be something in the air of the Babies room—hope it’s not too contagious!

We bid a sad farewell to Deb who, although a wonderful carer and valuable team member, has decided to withdraw from her traineeship in child care—she is returning to vineyard work in Chittering, and we wish her happiness and success. 

Brooke has just signed for her traineeship. Everyone who knows Brooke believes she is a natural winner and will finish her 12-month Certificate III in Child Care with no trouble. Kate is doing another prac in Harmony (her last before graduating as a fully qualified Early Childhood Educator) and we are so pleased with her willing and fantastic efforts.

We were very fortunate to have had Astrid work with the 2 year olds for several weeks, and now we have Seersha who is a qualified Speech Therapist with extensive experience with young children. Seersha will be part of the 2 year olds team until the end of the year, and then Maryanne will work full time with the team for all of January. Many families already know Maryanne from her work experience in Harmony over the past two years. If parents know of a young person who is committed to assisting in young children’s development and is willing to do a traineeship this coming year through on-the-job learning, please let Robin know immediately.

We have two enthusiastic young people doing work experience with us—Amber in the babies group, and Eddie with the Kindy children. Both are students, Amber at St Mary’s High School, and Eddie doing an Arts degree at Edith Cowan University. As always, all students, relief and work experience people have an Australian Federal Police Clearance and Health Clearance.

Fees payments
To avoid overdue charges, families must pay all fees due to week ending 23/12/01 by Friday, 21st December 2001—overdue charges will apply on unpaid amounts.

It is important that all details are written on the Payment Envelope, as per the sample on the wall under the clock of the entry. Some parents are not filling out complete details on the envelope. Because fees are reconciled on the weekend by a worker who may not know your child, any envelopes that are incomplete are left for later recording. The disadvantage of this delay is that an Overdue Charge may be incurred, because the payment may not be credited straightaway.

Lost Property
Please look in the Lost Property box at the entry—there is a lot of unlabelled, good quality clothing etc. To help with labelling, Harmony will be asking parents to order iron-
on labels during January—see Fundraising in this newsletter. All lost property not claimed by Thursday, 6th December, will be donated to the Save the Children Op Shop.

Kinda Dance
The last session for this year is on Tuesday, 18th December. The first session for next year is on Tuesday, 22nd January 2002. The music and movement sessions are great fun (sometimes noisy too) and cover important areas of development such as confidence-building, healthy living (cleaning teeth etc.) and rhythm. The session is limited to 15 participants, and will be on a first-come, first-served basis—please see Carissa in the Kindy to get your child enrolled for 2002. Families will be able to see some of the children’s Kinda Dance items at the Harmony concert.

Child Minding Club
Following good feedback from our October newsletter, Harmony has decided to begin a baby/child minding club, using a points system, so that parents can have a night out without having to pay a babysitter. The system details and application form will be available in the new year. To begin with, there will be a limit of 15 participants.

Babies (news from Simmone)
Recently the babies have been demonstrating their budding creative talents in sponge painting, brush painting, gluing, and sticking. Parents may have noticed our brightly colored fish and Christmas artwork around the room.

Social skills have been encouraged using giant cardboard boxes as cubby houses indoors and outdoors—the babies have been using them to hide in and for their dolls to go to bed in (even patting the dolls and covering them with small blankets). This sparked an interest in the babies current favorite song “Miss Polly Had a Dolly”. They are learning about body parts and all types of faces (i.e. Asian, African, Aboriginal, European etc.) using Harmony’s multicultural poster. Parents may hear their growing assertiveness when they want to protect/hold onto their toys, as they say “stop” or, if they’re not yet talking, they hold up their hand.

Another new interest has been the demolition trucks across the road from the babies playground. The babies also love making popping noises by stomping on bubblewrap and crackling noises with plastic chocolate protectors. Their construction skills are steadily improving as they use magnetic blocks, soft blocks and connectable Primo Lego.

2 year olds (news from Dale)
The children have been very busy with lots of Christmas activities such as painting, collage, and
moulding, all helping to develop hand-eye coordination and small muscle strength and control. They’ve also been rehearsing songs for the concert.

Other gross motor/large muscle activities have included 10-pin bowling, throwing balls through hoops, dancing with scarves, and throwing bean bags. These help develop body & spatial awareness and projectile skills. The 2 year olds have been assisting with cooking, such as chocolate cake, fairy bread, and colored playdough, all of which encourage social interaction, taking turns, and sharing. Over the last few weeks we have been discussing and reinforcing “limits” for both indoors and outdoors, such as “we walk inside, we run outside”.

On Wednesday in late November we went on an excursion to the Osborne Park indoor playground called The Beach House (by mini bus, which was the “best” time for Benjamin!). The children were so well behaved and all had great fun, as did the staff (especially Robin, who said she came to take photos, but we think she really wanted to bounce around amongst the colored balls!). There are photos displayed in the 2 year olds room and at the front entry. Thank you to Jakob’s mum for helping out for the morning.

Kindergarten (news from Carissa)
We too have been busy. We went for a short walk around the nearby neighborhood to collect rubbish (with gloves) and talk about the importance of keeping our environment clean and free from garbage and pollution (see photo at entry). We also walked across Hancock Street where we watched the large machinery/digger demolish an old house (see photo). In the new year we will follow the building of the new house, from its concrete foundations, to its brickwork, windows, roof, etc., so listen for the children’s stories. 

As part of Harmony’s multicultural philosophy, Astrid and Gabriel visited our group to coordinate a special “Germany Day”. They showed us many traditional German games, read some Spot, the Dog stories in German, talked about where Germany is on the world globe, and also prepared some German cuisine for lunch.

We have been encouraging the children to learn about responsibility and positive self-esteem, by creating a job chart. This chart allocates fun jobs to children to be completed each day, and the system is working well. Different children, each with a special badge, will collect the chicken egg, feed the rabbit, hand out lunch and cups, and help staff to set up activities.

Kate, our TAFE student, is planning many fun experiences. The children have enjoyed playing in the Hospital corner and are looking forward to a visit from a policeman and a bus wash excursion, all as part of our Occupations theme. We have revamped the outdoors cubbyhouse with a paint job done by the children, complete with a door, carpet, and curtains!

In preparation for Christmas and our concert we have decorated our room and rehearsed our songs (we hope parents are helping their children learn the words—copies were put in all message pockets, and staff can help with the tunes). Children have painted wrapping paper, angels, Santas, stars, Christmas trees, and much more. We’ve erected our very own Christmas tree, complete with lights and handmade decorations (the only things missing are the presents, which parents bring before next Wednesday). 

Ginette has been taking the children for French sessions in the Quiet Room, and she is amazed at how really well they have responded to her teaching methods. She has focused on: human body parts, numbers 1 to10, colors, everyday phrases, songs.

Reggio Emilia
All Harmony educators and assistants visited the excellent exhibition of early childhood learning methods and philosophy, promoted by the Emilia region in northern Italy. This exhibition is free, is currently touring Australia, and is at the WA Museum in Perth until 9th December. The Reggio Emilia program is being studied by early childhood workers as “current best practice” in the world, but everyone will see advantages and disadvantages, depending on their viewpoint. Some aspects were very striking, and Robin has highlighted some of these, and some children’s amazing insights, at the end of this newsletter.

Janet has been coordinating our efforts to improve our main playground. If we can raise enough, including our past results over the past 18 months, we hope to replace the crushed bark under the swings with expensive impact-absorbing “tiles”. This would keep both your children and their playground much cleaner than at present. However, please talk with Janet or Robin if you have other ideas for the use of fundraising. Through your support we have raised over $130 from the Christmas foods sales, making a total of funds in hand of $626.

As mentioned previously, we want to help parents keep their children’s clothing from dis- appearing, by selling iron-on name labels. This will be our fundraising effort in January. 

We are very grateful to the following parents who thought of Harmony children when there were things at home no longer wanted—Bernadine’s mum for story books in Dutch; Sean’s dad for a whole tray of avocadoes for children & staff; Jack A’s mum for lemons for families & staff; Ethan’s dad for roll of drawing paper; and a huge thank-you to Heather’s mum who gave enough quality equipment for at least 6 Christmases!! Thank you so much for your valuable donations.

Precious Hannah
As some Harmony families know, one of the precious babies in Harmony died recently from inhaling some food. This is extremely unusual in a baby of breastfeeding age, because they have the “diver’s reflex” which allows them to suck and breathe at virtually the same time. Because our carers become so closely involved with young children in Harmony, this sudden and tragic loss has affected us greatly. First aiders worked on Hannah for some time and she was stable and reasonably well when picked up by ambulance officers. However, a relapse occurred soon afterwards, and her parents and hundreds of other people whose lives Hannah had touched, lost a beautiful and happy 13-month old. She will remain always in our memories as a precious little girl.

Parent & Staff Night report
This was a wonderfully relaxed opportunity to discuss your child’s Developmental Record with the qualified Early Childhood Educator. By closedown date this year Harmony educators will have given an up-to-date Developmental Record to all children—this is especially valuable for children going from Harmony into Year 1.

Parents who couldn’t get along for our get-together also missed a talk by occupational therapists, Toni and Kate (phone 9446 6270), who talked, and provided hands-on exercises, about the importance for brain development of the body experiencing touch with different types of objects and surfaces. This development relates directly to why some children are “wrigglers” and can’t seem to keep still—a real eye opener! 

Also of great interest and for saving money and time, was the talk by Bev about the special cleaning fibres/cloths invented by Enjo in Austria. Even one of the major health funds (HIF) is promoting Enjo because it cleans so much more thoroughly and without allergenic chemicals. Anyone wanting a free demonstration at home can phone Bev at 9377 3277.

All of us here in Harmony wish families a wonderful festive season
and safe & happy travelling during the holidays



Reggio Emilia system of early childhood education
· A grass roots project that began 30 years ago and has become an international role model. 
· The exhibition has been touring throughout Europe and North America for over 20 years.
· In 1991 an international panel recognised the Reggio Emilia centres as the most significant and avant-garde experience in the world in the Preschool category.

Quotes from Loris Malaguzzi (1920-1994), founder & director of the system
· “Reggio Emilia program is children and adults searching for the pleasure of playing, working, talking, thinking, and inventing together in friendship.”
· “Ideas fly, bounce around, accumulate, rise up, fall apart, and spread, until one of them takes a decisive hold, flies higher and conquers the entire group.”

4 rules for good discussion
· We must have our own personal feelings and words about things.
· Understanding things often means changing your words and thoughts.
· These changes often come about by communicating with your peers and with adults.
· When this happens, it often seems like a subtle shift that involves the body, as well as feelings, the mind, and the relationship with things and other people.

How children construct their knowledge & skills
Problems—decisions—words—moments of change, reorganisation, interference, discussion/argument, a “conceptual leap”—and agreement/togetherness.

Quotes of children aged 2 ½ to 5 years old
· “When it rains, the shadow doesn’t come because it doesn’t want to get wet.”
· “When you run, if your shadow’s in front, it always wins; if it’s behind me, I win. It flies! When I jump, my shadow flies. When you can’t see it anymore, it means it’s disappeared in the dark…Shadows are magic. You can’t catch it and you can’t feel it in your hand, and if you touch it, you don’t touch anything.”
· “A shadow seems like another kid copying you.”
· “The sun gets on you and then you light up and after that the shadow comes.”
· “Are the shadows of snakes dangerous?”
· “Can you see your shadow in the mirror?”
· “Can three kids together have just one shadow/”
· “Why does a tree that always stays still have a shadow that moves?”
· “Can the shadow of a rubber be longer than the shadow of a pencil?”

Mixing yellow & red 
· “It’s changing color…red’ll win because it makes the yellow disappear.”
· “So, the yellow was weak and the red is strong.”
· “No, look! You forgot about orange! It’s making orange!”
· “More red, come on! Because red’ll win!”
· “It’s winning, it’s winning! That’ll teach the white. The yellow destroyed the white and now the red’ll destroy the yellow.”

A picture
“A picture can be like a dream too, so we can make it like we want, right?”