Cire hosts inspiring NAIDOC Week program

Cire hosted a rich program of events and activities to mark NAIDOC Week 2021, give voice to First Nations People and contribute to healing country by acknowledging how we can take care of the land, the seas, the people and the Country.

Our core services worked together to present the week-long offerings, commencing with an opening Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony at Chirnside Park Community Hub and concluding with a Didgeridoo performance at Mount Evelyn Children’s Centre. Yarra Junction Community hub showcased an exhibition of Indigenous art work and encouraged visitors to participate in creative activities while other sites incorporated NAIDOC Week and its 2021 theme of Heal Country into their learning programs. Some sites offered refreshments featuring Indigenous-inspired food further encouraging people to connect and reflect, share, learn and heal.

People of all ages and backgrounds participated and supported what was on offer supporting showing respect for the past, present and emerging First Nations People, the oldest continuous civilisation in the world dating back some 60,000 years.

NAIDOC Week 2021 was held from 4 to 7 July, during the school holidays and fortunately between lock downs in Victoria. Some of our activities were made possible by special NAIDOC Week funding through the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA)

At Chirnside Park,  Uncle Dave performed a traditional Welcome to Country and Smoking ceremony, Emmy from Warrack Yambo told dream time stories and helped create little echidnas out of sticks and clay, and local Indigenous woman Sandy Mayberry organised a display of beautiful hand-made artwork. Those present then worked together to create a map of Australia with their handprints in the colours of the aboriginal flag to signify unity. The children also played a traditional aboriginal game called Koolchi. Children from Cire’s Out of School Hours Care vacation program also joined in as they were fortunate to attend the Chirnside Park opening event as an excursion.

Yarra Junction Community Hub was transformed into a gallery for the week featuring informative, cultural posters and Indigenous First Nations artwork. Other activities included a display of living native plants that could be touched and researched to see how Indigenous people’s use/d them, colouring activities and worksheets, map and location scouting activities, translation sheets, and a published Indigenous book about our local area. More than 35 people enjoyed a morning tea of wattle seed damper, lemon myrtle biscuits, lemon shortbread, and dairy free/gluten free shortbread.

Mount Evelyn Children’s Centre hosted a special day on the Friday to conclude Cire’s official NAIDOC Week activities. The program included a Welcome to Country by Aunty Kim Wandin, a descendent of the Wurundjeri Tribe, born and raised nearby at Healesville, and with family links to the Corranderk Aboriginal Station in Healesville. Aunty Kim shared her story and pathways to heal her Country and also her history. It was a moving Welcome, in which she shared a gum leaf and by accepting the leaf those present promised to be positive advocates and allies for the First Nations Peoples and help care for their Country.

The Kookaburra children performed their Acknowledgement to Country which they do every day in the Kookaburra Room, but it was a particular honour to do so for Aunty Kim and visiting guests from other Traditional Lands around Australia.

Ganga Giri from Didgeridoo Australia entertained everyone with the Yidaki, (didgeridoo), had everyone up and dancing and creating animals and movements and guessing the sounds he was creating. The children were particularly excited to listen to the vibrations of the Yidaki.

To show Cire’s ongoing commitment to supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities, Children’s Services Executive Director, Diletta Lanciana, explained Cire’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) which will focus on inclusive and educational programs and practice and building capacity and understanding among educators.

Cire supports many events throughout the year, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram find out what’s on.


Children captivated by butterfly project

Young learners at Cire Children’s Services have been captivated by a wonderful butterfly project, welcoming some much anticipated and beautiful new arrivals at our Yarra Junction, Mount Evelyn and Chirnside Park sites.

As part of a Junior Landcare and Biodiversity initiative, the children have been learning about the life cycle of butterflies and monitoring special hatching kits to see chrysalis (pupa) turn into butterflies. The butterflies will be progressively released into specially created butterfly habitats at each centre.

Children captivated by butterfly projectThe project has captivated all visitors to the Children’s Services sites where educators have created wonderful foyer displays as well as engage children in focused sessions which have included research, butterfly stories and slide show presentations.

It has been thrilling for the children, and staff, to witness the butterflies hatch and soon release them into specially created habitats.

Cire Children’s Services was fortunate to receive Junior Landcare and Biodiversity grants of almost $5000 for the butterfly habitat projects at each of its three sites.

The awarding of the grants in 2020 was timely given the challenges of COVID, particularly Children captivated by butterfly projectlast year, and to help keep children engaged and give them something exciting to look forward to in the new school year, as well as help beautify the outdoor learning spaces.

The Junior Landcare and Biodiversity project involves the development of habitats featuring native plants that attract butterflies, and the purchase of chrysalis kits so the children can witness and learn about the life cycle of a butterfly. The kits are enabling the children to follow the growth of butterflies, releasing them into the habitats once they are hatched.  As part of the project, children have monitored and measured how long it takes for the chrysalides to hatch, measured their growth, explored the best plants for the habitat and will count how many butterflies visit the habitat.

Diletta Lanciana, Executive Manager of Cire Children’s Services, said the project is a wonderfully engaging way to assist children with numeracy, literacy and STEM ie science, technology, engineering and mathematics.  It is also helping beautify outdoor spaces at the centres for children and their families to spend quiet time and enjoy the natural environment.

In the meantime, the children can proudly call themselves lepidopterologists and may even learn how to spell the tongue-twisting name of those who study and collect butterflies.

Click here for further information on Cire’s Children’s Services.

A note from Cire Children’s Service at Chirnside Park

Sessional Kindergarten

We are now taking enrolments for our three-year-old and four-year-old kindergarten programs for 2021. (We also still have limited vacancies for 2020)

Kindergarten is a significant step for young children, with research showing that two years is better than one, highlighting the importance of both three-year-old and four-year-old kindergarten in a child’s preparation for school. The Department of Education and Training states that “Children who go to a kindergarten program are more independent and confident and are more likely to make a smooth transition to primary school (prep).”

Our kindergarten programs offer the opportunity for excursions to our Yarra Junction bush block providing a bush kinder program where children are able to explore natural environments.  We also visit the local library, CFA and other places based on the program.  These experiences, along with a wide range of incursions including Dental Health, Pet Care, dancing, yoga and music, enhance our curriculum which is based on the Early Years Learning Framework.

Through play and intentional teaching, children learn to explore, discover, negotiate, take risks, problem solve and develop a broader understanding and curiosity of the world around them.

Both our three-year-old and four-year-old kinder programs also offer after kinder care in our Occasional Care room providing flexible options for families.

Occasional Care

Our Occasional Care program offers families flexible childcare opportunities with several different session times available.  You can make a permanent or casual booking – it is up to you.

This allows you the flexibility to attend appointments, work, study or just have some time for yourself while your child enjoys interacting with other children and learning through play.

In Occasional Care, we also follow the Early Years Framework and create learning environments that allow children to explore, create, imagine and discover.

We welcome you to come and take a tour of our children services at Chirnside Park Community Hub.

Diletta Lanciana – Executive Manager – Cire Children’s Services

Alpacas with Maracas

By Holly Williams – educator at Cire Children’s CentreYarra Junction

With the catchy theme of ‘Alpacas and Maracas’, toddlers from the Cire Children’s Centre at Yarra Junction were well and truly hooked for National Simultaneous Storytime on Wednesday 22 May.

Alpacas with MaracasOur Toddlers Room joined more than 1,085,587 participants across Australia and New Zealand for the nation-wide reading which is held annually by the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA).  It is the first time Cire has participated and we are already looking forward to future as part of our innovative learning program.

Gathering outside to enjoy our natural environment and sunshine, we started our Alpacas and Maracas session with an acknowledgement of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation. The children joined in with their own actions and appreciation before sitting on the mat, sharing their wonder and interest in the story time.

Using technology, we were able to view the video in Auslan with the story being signed to be inclusive of all our educators and children.

The children shared their joy as they laughed and giggled, joining in on the actions throughout the story and shaking their maracas as we engaged within the group.

As part of National Simultaneous Storytime, every year a picture book, written and illustrated by an Australian author and illustrator, is read simultaneously in libraries, schools, pre-schools, childcare centres, family homes, bookshops and many other places around the country.

Now in its 19th successful year, it is a colourful, vibrant, fun event that aims to promote the value of reading and literacy, using an Australian children’s book that explores age-appropriate themes, and addresses key learning areas of the National Curriculum.

The aim is to promote:

  • the value of reading and literacy
  • the value and fun of books
  • an Australian writer and publisher

promote story time activities in public libraries and communities around the country, and provide opportunities to involve parents, grandparents, the media and others to participate in and enjoy the occasion.

Cire Children’s Services is one of the four core operations of Cire Services Inc.

We proudly operate a range of quality children’s services at multiple sites across the Yarra Ranges in order to meet the needs of the diverse communities we serve.

We program include long day care incorporating a funded kindergarten program, occasional care, outside school hours care, vacation care and playgroups.

We provide opportunities, skills and support for both children and families.  We believe in the individuality of each child and promote a holistic approach to education and care which encompasses the overall health and wellbeing of every child who attends our services.

The day in the life of an Autistic child in Long Day Care

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental condition which affects how people make sense of the world and how they communicate and interact with others. People with ASD may experience behavioural and sensory issues, along with difficulties in social interactions, communication and repeated or restricted interests or behaviours.

Here at Cire Services, we support children, teenagers and families who may have ASD or are supporting a family member with ASD. We have students with autism at our school, Cire Community School, and in our pre-accredited courses at Cire Training; we provide relief to carers of children with autism through Cire In Home Care; and we have children who attend our long day care and after school care programs at Cire Children’s Services who have been diagnosed as on the Autism Spectrum.

Whilst understanding of ASD has come a long way, many people still have misconceptions regarding Autism. With understanding and greater awareness, we can break down social barriers and support those living with or affected by ASD. The following was written by Lysa Smart, the director of Cire Children’s Centre, Yarra Junction campus, from the viewpoint of a day in the life of an autistic child and how their view of the world can differ.

I have ASD and this is my day…

My day begins with routines and familiar guardians and family before I head off to long day care.

Upon arrival at long day care I quickly scan the room to check for my friends, familiar educators and experiences that I am familiar with.

I am very sensitive to changes in my environment and when I notice these changes it can make me feel like I’m not in control. When I don’t have control I become very upset and can become aggressive towards everyone in my environment.

Sometimes I don’t like loud noises so when the room gets busy this can be upsetting. I may make my own noises because I like to experiment with how my voice sounds.

My friend Cheryl in the kitchen knows that I like my food served in a special way and it must be the same way every day!

When I become engaged in experiences in my room my senses become heightened and if I feel uncomfortable with the texture I may not want to join in, especially if it feels funny or makes me messy.

I also like to hide in my environment because it’s how I cope if I have no one to help me and make me feel safe.

Sometimes you can redirect me to things I am interested in and this will help bring me back to the green zone, but I need your help to achieve this.

I normally have a very long day so please remember that I don’t do these things to make you angry, I do them because I don’t know how to stop, this is my way of asking for help.

All of these things may apply to me or some may apply to other friends with Autism, we are all different.

And the following is another viewpoint of a day in the life of an autistic child:

Lots of children with Autism have a special interest; I have had an interest in birds for a long time.

My bird lives in my Pocket

Wow what does he eat?
He doesn’t eat anything

Why doesn’t he eat anything?
Because he’s not real

Can I meet your bird?
No he’s tiny.

Ok maybe another time I can meet your bird.

(Ten minutes later)

Here is my bird

What is your bird’s name? I have forgotten.
He hasn’t got a name he is just bird.

(Sitting on the table is a small porcelain bird sitting next to the child)

Look my bird is missing his head.

What happened?
I didn’t like him anymore. He wasn’t doing what I wanted him to do.

Ok, does he need to go to the hospital?
Yes can we put him in a box?

What size box do you think we need?
Only a small one as he doesn’t have a head anymore.

I feel comforted by having my bird with me.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) affects children in many different ways and as educators we provide support based on those individual needs.

If you would like to join this rewarding industry Cire Training offers Certificate and Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care – now taking enrolments for semester 1 2017.

For further information on Cire Community School an alternative to secondary school call 1300 835 235.

For further information on Cire Children’s Services call 5967 2776 Yarra Junction or 9736 1918 Mt Evelyn.

My country, our country – we all belong

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day (Children’s Day) which is held on the 4th August every year, was celebrated at Cire Children’s Centre in Yarra Junction.

Children’s Day is a day to celebrate the strengths and culture of our indigenous children. It is a day to help these children stand tall and feel proud and connected to their heritage. It is also a day to help all children learn about the importance of community, culture and family.

The theme of this year’s Children’s Day was “My Country, Our Country- We All Belong.” With this in mind, the children, their parents and staff at the Centre were asked 3 questions

  1. What is belonging?
  2. What does belonging mean to you?
  3. What does it feel like to belong?

Some of the responses were:

“We live somewhere” Eleanor, K4
“Eating. I’m happy” Brachan, K3
“Being in a family friendly environment” Adam, indigenous parent
“With my mummy” Alannah, toddler
“Feeling a part of where I am” Michelle, parent
“The kids know me and talk to me” Leah, work placement student
“Staying with family” Aden, K4
“Feels good” Jenny, toddler
“LOVED” Ash, indigenous parent
“Have fun” Amelia, toddler
“Being accepted for who you are, not what you look like” Bec, parent
“Being part of the jigsaw” Demi, staff
“Identity and origins” Tony, staff

Children's Day creations

The Yarra Junction 4 year old kinder group (K4) had a visit from the Mount Evelyn K4 group and together they explored the Bush Kinder area. This is an area of bushland adjacent to the three and four year old kindergarten rooms and, through their time spent exploring, allows the children to engage in outdoor spaces with plants, trees, rocks, mud and water to invite open ended interactions, spontaneity, risk taking and a connection with nature and the land. The uninterrupted time spent engaging with natural materials helps the children explore and make use of the land they learn and play on.

Other activities that were held on Children’s Day included engaging with indigenous puzzles including those from indigenous Australian artists and photos of our native land and also sharing dream time stories together in bush kinder on the yarning mat. The children really enjoyed how the birds got their colours and when the snake bites the sun.

The children were inspired and enthused when they painted outdoors in the bush kinder using earth colours and tones. Educators discussed with the children how they thought people used paints long before there were paint brushes. The children were then encouraged to source their own materials for painting. Many choose bark, leaves and sticks to use in the paint.

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day was a fantastic experience for not only the children who attend Cire Children’s Centres, but also for their parents and educators.

“We would like to acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land in which we learn and play, and recognise their continuing connection to land, water and community. We pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging.”

Related blog article – Kindergarten a child’s garden

For further information about our early childhood education and care services click here.