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Reimagining how we live our everyday life and how we work with children and their families is not without challenge, but we have also found it to be full of opportunities and possibilities.

In the Early Learning Centre (ELC) at Ivanhoe Girls' we were well prepared for the possibility of moving to offsite learning and were in the fortunate position where we could introduce this technology to the girls well before they tried it at home. We had Zoom meetings with our friends in the other classroom and a dance with our Buddies. The girls even contributed to some of the pre-recorded Zooms that we created.

Our highest priority during this time is to support the children and their families' wellbeing, to help everyone feel connected and positive. Many of the learning experiences we planned for this week have that in mind.  

Our morning meetings now take a new format and we are meeting over Zoom instead of in person. Children often demonstrate huge capacity for adaptability and this has been evidenced through the way they are engaging with all of us in this new world. The children are sharing, sometimes on Zoom or with their parents later, that they miss their friends and teachers, so whilst this is strange and not ideal we are so grateful for this technology and the ability to continue to see and hear each other. 

It has been scientifically proven that gratitude has the potential to strengthen mental health, resilience, positivity and empathy. One of the tasks we asked all girls to complete with the support of their families was to draw three happy things from each day. 

The ELC staff have also been meeting daily and considering what we are grateful for.  There are many more but here are some of our "happy things":

  • The precious moments when the girls chat excitedly to each other before our Morning Meeting officially starts
  • How thrilled they are to show us something they have made and to see their friends
  • The willingness of parents to set their child up on Zoom, attempt some of the learning experiences and keep connected with us. We have had such positive feedback and are very grateful for this. 

Over the Easter break we invited families to contribute to a shared project to create an Easter egg. A simple, yet fun experience where we asked children to be as creative as possible and use whatever material appealed to them. As a Centre, we are inspired by the principles of the Reggio Emilia approach, and one of these is the 100 languages of expression. This metaphor represents all the many different ways children interpret the world and represent their ideas. We were thrilled with the way our community embraced this project. There were Easter eggs which were painted, made from favourite items, drawn with chalk on the footpath, included food, decorations, dough or paper mache. We put these photos onto our learning management system so children could participate in a virtual Easter egg hunt, seeing their friends and discovering all the clever creations.

We are encouraging and celebrating creativity, and at a time when we would all prefer to be together, working on a shared project has the potential to unite us.

Bernadette Gioia
Director of the Early Learning Centre