Guardian Gungahlin Celebrate Success of 2019 Buddy Program

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Since their 2019 Buddy Program came to a close in mid November, the team at Guardian Early Learning Centre Gungahlin have been reflecting on the success of the program and what the children have learnt.

Acting Centre Manager, Shannon, shares details of the program and the benefits of childcare centres connecting with local schools.

“We were fortunate to be approached by a parent within our centre who also works at Gungahlin College. They proposed a meeting to start a buddy program,” shares Shannon.

“Together we developed a plan and proposed it to the college and families within our centre. Throughout our proposal we outlined the benefits for both students and children and decided that regular meetings would best support the program.”

“Prior to commencing, we exchanged All About Me letters that were prepared by both the college students and the children. The letters included photos or drawings of the person, along with their interests, hobbies, age and so on.”

The letters were then given to the families and children so that they could get to know their buddies before the program officially launched, and their weekly sessions began.

“During the program, we alternated between hosting sessions at our centre and at the college,” explains Shannon.

“Gungahlin College is only a short walk from the service, so the students were able to meet us at the centre, then we would all walk together to the college for activities that the students had planned.”

“The students organised activities that utilised college facilities such as outdoor fields, tennis courts and the indoor gymnasium. It was really exciting for the children to be a part of.”

Sporting equipment, such as hoops and balls, was used to initiate games and experiences that supported the development of coordination, fundamental motor skills, team work, communication and ball skills. 

“Familiarising ourselves with a school environment has been a great opportunity in preparing the children for upcoming transitions,” shares Shannon. 

“There’s been many discussions on what expectations the children have about moving onto ‘big school’ and what their experiences are like during their orientation days.” 

“We’ve reached out to one of our former Guardian children who will be assisting us in the lead up to ‘big school’. She’s going to visit the centre and discuss what she has learnt over the last year and what the children can expect.”

Shannon and the team have received overwhelming support from families in regards to the program. 

“Our centre is located in a multi level building, so having the opportunity to access the college’s outstanding facilities has been greatly beneficial and provided children with opportunities we otherwise would not have been able to,” says Shannon.

“Not to mention that the bonds and relationships that the children and their buddies have formed are truly special. It’s such a rewarding initiative for both parties and something we have valued so highly over the past few years.”

The Buddy Program explores many learning outcomes, including:

  • Children have a strong sense of identity.
  • Children are connected with and contribute to their world.
  • Children are confident and involved learners. 

Shannon and the team hope to continue the Buddy Program in the new year, and expand their offerings by connecting with other schools within their community.

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