Alison’s update

Alison Hill, COO

Chief Operating Officer

Welcome to our September newsletter for 2022. This month we reflect on children’s mental health and wellbeing with the opportunity for genuine conversations highlighted by national events. Although, many of us may see R U OK? Day as a chance for working adults to check in with each other, the event has a much broader appeal. It provides local learning communities involving children, families and educators with opportunities to reach out, listen and be heard. Mental health and wellness are essential aspects of early childhood education and care, and encouraging resilience in children is crucial for positive mental health.

Resilience is about giving a child the resources and self-help skills they need to adapt to change and adversity. You may see this at work in your centre through our educators’ warm, compassionate and respectful relationships with children and the partnerships they build with you. Celebrating diversity and promoting inclusion is another way our educators encourage resilience as it helps children develop a sense of self and belonging. Petit Early Learning Journey’s belief that “Every child is capable, resourceful and a constructor of their own knowledge” also creates opportunities and experiences for young children to participate in their world and become confident learners. Participation gives children choices, helps them to learn when making mistakes and supports them in expressing and listening to their views. These are just a few ways our educators help promote children’s resilience.

The start of September also heralded National Asthma Week with a theme of breaking the stigma. Asthma is a lifelong disease that presents differently for everyone and affects over 460,000 Australians. Some people get a cough, others a wheeze, breathlessness or chest tightness, or a combination of different symptoms. For some, it is constant, while for others, it comes and goes. For example, spring in Australia can trigger asthma attacks because of the increased pollen in the air. Asthma can present in children from a very young age, and like adults, asthma symptoms can vary and change rapidly. Many young children are treated for asthma using a symptom diary as they cannot take breath tests until they are around the age of five.

If your child uses a symptom diary or is receiving asthma treatment, please talk to your Centre Director about how we can support them. We’re also here if you or your children are struggling or you want to learn more about children’s mental health and wellbeing. If you need to talk, we’re here to listen.

Exceptional team member for September

Lindsey, Centre Director for Clifton Hill crouches next to a young child playing in a sandpit with a scoop.

Lindsey Desmons from Petit Early Learning Journey Clifton Hill

Congratulations to Lindsey Desmons for her exceptional efforts since starting as Centre Director at Petit ELJ Clifton Hill earlier this year. Lindsey’s commitment and work ethic in preparation for Assessment and Rating (A & R) over the last month has exceeded our expectations. With her Educational Leader on placement and Assistant Centre Director on leave, the centre has continued to show week-on-week improvements. Lindsey’s phenomenal effort displays a cheerful confidence, enlisting the support of those around her while still learning and adapting to her new environment and providing her peers with outstanding support.

What do you like most about being a Centre Director?

My role as Centre Director at Petit ELJ Clifton Hill allows me the opportunity to truly co-create a community of early learning here at the centre and contribute to my larger community. My favourite experiences are the small moments. For example, watching educators master a new practice, daily conversations with families and the greetings I receive from children when I am in the studios. However, the most important part of my Centre Director role is supporting others, and I am grateful to be a part of the Petit ELJ Clifton Hill community.

What made you decide to work in early childhood education and care?

My career journey began in 2015 in the United States. While I was still in university studying Education, I got an opportunity to take a position in the early years. I fell in love with the curiosity, joy and wonder of childhood and the role of facilitating young children’s learning. So I went on to complete a Master of Science in Inclusive Early Childhood Education. In my career, I have worn many “hats,” including kinder teacher, educational leader, trainer, and now, centre director, which has provided me with a holistic viewpoint on early childhood education. And I am still here so I must love it!

What do you like most about shaping the world of children?

I believe children can actively participate in “shaping” their own world, development and learning. Our responsibility is to create nurturing and engaging environments where children can explore, innovate and thrive. I believe strong, reciprocal partnerships between diverse educators, families, and the community support children’s wellbeing. Therefore, my leadership style is transparent, warm and communicative to foster collaboration and provide the best outcomes for the children in our care.

What was your most memorable experience with Petit ELJ Clifton Hill this year?

Assessment and rating! Although the process can be daunting, it was such an amazing process of teamwork and growth here at Clifton Hill. Each and every one of us came together and played a meaningful role in the quality improvement cycle. I am confident our progress and growth will extend far beyond A & R, and I look forward to more memorable experiences here at Petit ELJ Clifton Hill.

Featured educational program

Four young children standing in front of playground equipment each hold a letter that spells R U OK.

Petit Early Learning Journey Kew discusses children’s mental health and wellbeing

Report from Olivia Moloney, Educational Leader, Petit ELJ Kew.

Children’s social and emotional learning during their first five years involves gaining critical skills to manage emotions, relationships and decision-making. These skills are crucial for building young, healthy minds as they help children through the good and not-so-good times of everyday living.

All children encounter ups and downs. Poor mental health, though, is more than an occasional bad day. Some children face multiple negative experiences contributing to a higher risk of poor mental health.

No matter how young a child is, their emotional experiences, such as feeling anxious, being exposed to conflict or feeling negative emotions like loss and rejection, can affect their wellbeing.

The Centre for Community Child Health suggests three steps to promote children’s mental wellbeing:

1. Maintain routines. These can help young children and babies to feel secure.

2. Listen to children’s concerns. Having a trusted adult to talk to when they’re worried, one who won’t judge and who will listen carefully, is an important factor in children’s mental health.

3. Build a network with other adults. Your relationships with the other adults in each child’s life – relevant health professionals, other teachers and early childhood educators, and the child’s family – are an important factor in their mental health.

– Grow and Thrive (2016), The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne’s Centre for Community Child Health

Events like R U OK? Day (September) and World Mental Health Day (October) create meaningful opportunities for talking about children’s mental health and wellbeing.

You can also start a conversation anytime with your child with books like The Feeling Series by Tracey Moroney. These books explore practical strategies for children to recognise and regulate emotions. It is a popular series at Petit ELJ Kew.

Learning communities such as Petit ELJ are crucial in building children’s resilience and supporting wellness. The strong attachments and supportive relationships children form with adults in their early years help develop their emotional self-regulation.

Community connections

Fire truck person holds a fire hose as young children line up to take turns outside of an early childhood education and care service.

Petit Early Learning Journey Coffs Harbour connect with emergency services

Report from Kylie Thomson, Educational Leader.

At Petit ELJ Coffs Harbour, our educators are highly interested in community involvement and educating children on how this reflects in our daily lives.

In our community, we are overwhelmed with our families’ connections within various health care, emergency services and family organisations. We are always curious to learn more and interested in sharing these relationships with the children.

Across the four studios, especially in our Treasure Cove studio, educators observed how children’s interest in the variety of truck vehicles passing by has grown.

Shani, the Lead Educator from our Treasure Cove studio, provoked a conversation with the children about her husband and his role in the NSW community as a firefighter. This prompt sparked the children’s biggest question: Can we see our local firefighters and a fire truck?

We invited our local firefighters and fire truck to our service for an incursion where the children learnt about fire safety and the purpose of fire truck equipment. This visit extended their current interest and enhanced the children’s trust and community bond with the firefighters.

This community project has encouraged educators, children and families to recognise our local emergency community and show our support for their work. We are in awe of all that they do, especially during the most challenging times.

Our children across the centre have demonstrated how much they enjoyed the occasion. They continue to use the experience in their imaginative play and learning, engaging with the attitudes and responsibilities of these essential community roles.

Our educators have also observed how well this experience reflected on the children and questioned themselves: What can I do for our community? 

After the incursion, the feedback from families has been incredible. The children often reflect on their experience, using it to facilitate their future play and frequently ask educators: Can we do it again?

We are keen to provide this experience on different days and organise other emergency service incursions (such as paramedics and police) so every child can experience these inspiring community connections.

The Great Debate: Cloth Nappies vs Disposables

Five young children stand on a plank of wood supported by two metal horses in a sandpit. They wear green hats and summer clothes. Behind them is a black board with colourful children's drawings.

Cloth nappies in Australia are not like they used to be. Once, you needed special folding skills for nappies. Now modern cloth and disposable nappies are made in different styles, layers, sizes, folds and fabrics. And there is a growing trend for more cloth in our lives.

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Latest parent review

Family member holds a young baby while standing on a bridge and looking out to sea.

Petit Early Learning Journey Caloundra

“We have been taking our 2 girls here 4 days a week for just over two months. The teachers are so lovely and super easy to communicate with. On pick up they can tell me all about the girls days and things they were interested in or activities they were doing. I can’t thank the teachers at Petit enough for making this transition to not only a new school but for us a new state so seamless and showing the girls love and attention every day. It is evident through their excitement and eagerness to go to school just how much they enjoy it, which makes our lives 100x easier. The teachers here truly care about the kids and the relationships they have is so nice to see even in the short few months we have been here.”

– Hayley Warburton

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Our culture: Reflections of an early childhood Educational Leader: A sacred space

Educational Leader sits cross legged in front of a young child with shelving in the background filled with colourful and natural resources..

A Sacred Space shares the reflections of Karin Hill, Educational Leader at Petit Early Learning Journey Murwillumbah. Karin reflects on her experience in the educational leadership role, beginning several years ago and how it has evolved today.

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Experiences from around our services

Child with hat and bright yellow safety vest holds onto blue rope climbing net. Behind and below are children coming out of a building.

Petit Early Learning Journey Burdell 1 & 2 sample school life

School preparations are in full swing for all our senior preschool and kindergarten children who are transitioning to their new learning environment next year. Burdell 1 & 2 visited Townsville Grammar School in September to enjoy its many educational experiences.

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