NAIDOC Week (from 8 – 15 July) is a week where we celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. The theme this year is Because of her, we can! and celebrates the role of women both past and present as significant community role models.
At Elizabeth Street Early Learning Centre, Indigenous culture is embedded in the centre and can be seen and experienced in various ways. Encompassing the Early Years Learning Framework’s “being, belonging and becoming,” we educate children about history, tradition and culture which then influences and positively shapes the next generation.
Centre Manager Lauren Batger says, “We view children as capable and competent learners and provide many learning experiences and provocations for them. We embed learnings through items such as carefully selected imagery and natural resources such as clay and sand. However, to truly embed Indigenous culture, it is imperative to provide experience and engage in practices with children.”
An example of this is the centre’s daily yarning circle which provides the opportunity for children to speak in a respectful space. It reinforces their connectedness to each other and to the centre, which is very much a living example of being, belonging and becoming.
For NAIDOC Week, Elizabeth Street Learning Centre has focused on an artwork by Shannon Foster, a Sydney-based Indigenous artist and close friend of one of the centre’s educators. The educator provided a large scale picture of an artwork entitled Naba Gumal for the children as a provocation for their learning.
The toddlers identified that there were different sized handprints on the artwork which led them to the conclusion that they came from multiple people. They then spent time identifying the colours used throughout. After looking at and discussing the artwork, one of our two-year-old children said “I do my hand?” Our educators used this opportunity to provide the children with the materials to create their own artwork inspired by Shannon Foster.
The original artwork by Shannon Foster included the use of sand, sap and soil along with water from Sydney Harbour. The children were asked what materials they would like to use to create their artwork and paint was a unanimous response. In order to get the effect, the educators provided the children with paint, spray bottles and paper which enabled them to leave a hand impression on the paper. “We will be looking at exploring, soil, sap and ash with children as we delve into the deeper meaning and significance of Shannon’s beautiful artwork,” Lauren adds.
Naba Gumal means ‘friends and family’ is a celebration of the Gadigal people’s connection to country. “Similarly in the Early Years Learning Framework, we acknowledge that children belong and are connected to multiple aspects of the community,” says Lauren. “With this inspiration, the educators discussed with children how they are connected to one another, the centre, their families and friends as they completed their artworks. There were also children who placed their hands over one another’s which is a beautiful representation of connectedness.”
Lauren finishes off by saying, “We hope that Shannon will be able to come and visit us at the centre later in the month, which will be a wonderful opportunity for our preschool children to collate and ask questions and spend time with her.”
Learn more about Elizabeth Street Early Learning Centre
To find out more about this childcare centre in the CBD and to book yourself in for a private tour, head here.