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Worry Dolls – a problem shared is a problem halved

Worry dolls have been all the rage in a most positive way at Cire’s Out of School Hours program at Yarra Junction.

With some help from the educators, the children have been making worry dolls partly as a way to vocalise and or offload any of their worries, as well as being a creative activity and one that exposes them to other cultures.

The children put a lot of creative thought and effort into how they wanted their worry dolls to look such how the facial expressions they drew and the hair colour and length, with some giving their dolls long locks so they could be trimmed.

The activity was quite timely, particularly for one child who has been afraid to go to school because of problems with other children. The activity gave the child the confidence to share her troubles and talk with educators about solutions. The child loves the worry dolls and plays with them daily.

The Yarra Junction group has extended the experience of making worry dolls by making beds for them and providing blankets.   They even asked the educators for more blankets as there weren’t enough to go around.  The educators have bought in their crochet hooks to make the additional blankets.  There are plans to make cosy pouch beds from felt for the dolls.

Worry dolls are tiny handmade dolls, traditional to Guatemala. According to Mayan legend, worry dolls ease our fears and anxieties. Before a person goes to sleep at night, they tell the doll all the problems that have been worrying them and then tucks the doll under their pillow. While the person sleeps, the doll takes all their worries away or gives them the gift of knowledge and wisdom so, upon waking, they know how to solve their worry!

They say a problem shared is a problem halved. Worry dolls provide a beautiful way to ease one’s worries.

It has been wonderful to hear from the parents that their children are going to be with the worry dolls and taking comfort in having them under their pillows.  One of the worry dolls even had an adventure, mysteriously finding its way under the child’s bed. There was a great hunt in the morning and big hugs from the child when the doll was found.

The children have taken a real interest in the dolls and are working cooperatively to help each other create their own individualised doll.  Some of the children are starting to make families of worry dolls

Pat Leembruggen

Cire OSHC coordinator, Yarra Junction

Free TAFE – How have you found it?

The Free TAFE for Priority Courses initiative was released by the Victorian Labor Government in May 2018, with its commencement in January 2019. Shortly after the Adult, Community and Further Education Board (ACFE) announced a support package to assist Learn Local Registered Training Organisations (RTOs). This support package was designed to assist RTOs such as Cire Services, Ringwood North Neighbourhood House, the Pines and others delivering the priority courses. This was designed to support Learn Locals to:

  • Change their focus and course offerings
  • Develop pathway programs
  • Support existing learners.

This was an interesting change in direction given that all Learn Local RTOs exist to support learners and their community to engage in the local area. Learn Local providers across Victoria offer a range of education and training programs designed to meet local learning needs. Whether you are returning to work after caring for children or a family member, following an injury or a period of unemployment your Learn Local is the place to start.

Learn Local tuition fees are affordable and often very similar to the TAFE charges with the ‘Free initiative’.

Cire Services has worked hard to change its scope of registration in order to develop pathway programs to TAFE. At this stage, there has been no interest from TAFEs to participate or work together offering a pathway for students.

So the question is ‘are Free TAFE Courses free’? No!

This initiative only covers tuition fees, other fees such as study materials, amenities and graduation must still be paid for. Eligible students can access one free TAFE Course in a lifetime. Since the beginning commencement over 19, 000 people have flocked to TAFE to enrol in such a course.

So what has your experience of free TAFE been like? Would you recommend it?

A recent article in the Age newspaper paints a picture of trainer shortage, ballooning class sizes, cancellations of classes and ‘multiple groups of students at different stages of the course being lumped together in one big class’. (Andrew Cowper, the Age, July 2, 2019) ‘Mr Cowper and his classmates have lodged a complaint with the Australian Community Services Association, a professional body which accredits community services courses’, read the full article here.

The issue with such an initiative is that it shifts students from small Learn Local RTOs, where the student support and learning occurs in small classes with a welcoming environment, compared to large public institutions that are often overwhelming. Cire Training offers courses that provide a pathway to employment in the Valley. Eighty-five per cent of our students have gained employment by the time they graduated. Our tuition fees are affordable and we provide support for all our learners, said Anna-Louise Allen, Executive Manager, Education and Training.

Another issue that has arisen from the explosion of enrolments in Free TAFE is access to work placement. This is a very important part of a student’s study in Vocational Education and Training (VET). There is a limit to the number of placement students an organisation can successfully accommodate, as this requires a supervisor’s time and exposure to the right sorts of programs. Students of free TAFE report difficulties in gaining a placement without any support. Anna-Louise stated that ‘Cire Services have experienced a significant increase in the requests for placement opportunities across our services’.  While the Free TAFE program may well have driven huge numbers to TAFE it has been at the expense of quality support and leads to the demise of many Learn Local RTOs. The VRQA reports an ongoing decline in the number of Learn Local RTOs registered within Victoria. ‘This is a cohort that would be a great loss to the community’ said Anna-Louise Allen, Executive Manager, Education and Training.

Cire Training is now taking enrolments in aged care, early childhood hood education and care and education support. Don’t delay getting your qualification when you can train with Cire in 2019 with the goal of gaining employment in 2020. The following courses are available at our Yarra Junction campus, making training accessible for people who live in the Upper Yarra region.

Further information on our courses:
CHC33015 Certificate III in Individual Support
CHC30113 Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care
CHC50113 Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care
CHC40213 Certificate IV in Education Support

If you have any questions call 1300 835 235 or email training@cire.org.au

Connecting Generations

Since July the kindergarten children from Cire have been lucky enough to visit the Estia Health Aged Care Facility. As part of their experience, the children got to complete different activities to engage with the residents. They have painted artwork for the art show, played games, completed puzzles, been hands-on making threaded necklaces, worked together on craft activities, they sang songs, played musical instruments and had a chat. The residents even got to show off their favourite songs and share their memories with the children. Guiding the children through their past times and experiences was a highlight for them with the children eager to learn more.

On one of the excursions to Estia some of the children had made cards for their newly found friends, it was on this day that one of them was having a very special birthday, Elsbeth was turning 94. The children were able to celebrate with her and her friends by singing happy birthday and joining in on the fun. It was a joy to see Elsbeth have so many little friends celebrate her big day.

It’s wonderful to observe the two groups of people becoming more comfortable and open with each other, learning to communicate in different ways. There was even an animal resident that was a big hit with the children, a fat cat called Elle. She meandered her way through the centre collecting hugs and pats as she went. The children learnt that Elle the cat’s role was to make the residents feel calm and make Estia feel like home.

The interactions that have occurred have been simple and easy going, there has been some small talk, discussions of how to play games and what each other enjoys doing; some even mentioning what they had liked when ‘they’ were in kindergarten. One of the residents told me,

“It was so lovely seeing the children when they visited, they bring life back into my heart and I smile so much when they are here”. Resident of Estia Health Aged Care Facility

Through this exchange, the children have had the opportunity to connect, develop and experience what it means to have respect and to care for people of all ages and abilities.

We look forward to further developing our relationships and are excited to be working towards a fun Christmas concert for our new friends, with the possibility for them to attend our end of year graduation ceremony.

Thank you so much to the Estia Health Aged Care Facility for the having our children come and visit.

If you would like to find out more about our Cire Children’s Services kindergarten program or would like to come to the centre for a tour contact 1300 835 235.

 

A fresh approach to learning

Cire Children’s Centre has had the pleasure of having the enthusiastic Jo Gaissl attend to assist educators in implementing the Linking Learning program. The Linking Learning program was developed to improve the learning outcomes for Victorian children from birth to 12 years, using song, stories, language and play. This program presented facts about how language can be impacted by a child’s environment.

Did you know that by the age of three, children born into low-income families heard roughly 3 million fewer words than their more affluent peers. With this knowledge knowing that our children could be missing out on vital learning experiences we can aim to improve their future by utilising the tools used in the Linking Learning Program. Check out the video below to see how this program has been of benefit to our community.

Jo Gaissl spent five weeks mentoring Cire educators across our children’s services. During this time Jo helped the educators gain skills in communication methods and refining teaching practices to include additional language development opportunities for the children.

As part of the Linking Learning Program educators were allocated one on one professional mentoring time to further explore language opportunities. These included stories, song, dance, movement and social opportunities.

“It’s a fantastic program! Having been involved in the pilot has demonstrated the need to focus on language development. At Cire we welcome opportunities to further enhance the child’s experience and learning outcomes because education is the key to every child’s future.” Lysa Smart – Centre director, Yarra Junction Childcare

“This program has really opened my eyes to a new understanding of the way we communicate with children and in the ways in which we can extend this in our every day lives. It has given me more confidence and the tools in which I can use to teach language to children.”Claire Savage – educator, Yarra Junction Childcare

This individual focus time was unique as it was tailored to suit each educator. During this time educators had a chance to show their own strengths, discover language learning processes and learn how to use many unknown day-to-day opportunities in a children’s education setting.

Educators were able to then use these professional mentoring times and reflect on their language and planning, celebrate their achievements and consider further exploration and direction in their professional learning, with the aim to implement these tools on a daily basis.

“I’m getting a lot out of the program; it’s really helped me to have a better understanding of linguistic development” Toula – educator, Yarra Junction Childcare

“Jo has helped me to utilise language in addressing and guiding behavior, she brings lots of fresh ideas!” Rebecca – 4 year old kinder teacher, Yarra Junction Childcare

Programs such as this are a wonderful opportunity to discover new language learning processes for the educators to use in their teaching practices.  We would like to thank Jo Gaissl for her hard work with the Linking Learning Program and for giving Cire the opportunity to participate.

If you would like further information on Cire Children’s Centre or our kindergarten program, click here to learn more, or you can contact us to arrange a tour on 1300 835 235

Shooting Hoops set in concrete – Part II

Cire Children’s Centre at Yarra Junction were recently given an opportunity to upgrade the playground area with the addition of a brand new basketball ring and concrete court. This upgrade has given our kids a fantastic space to practice their shooting, dribbling and bouncing skills and as an extra bonus; a fun place to play down ball, hop-scotch and to be creative with chalk drawings.

Cire Children's Services - shooting hoopsThe children were so excited to see this project completed and were quick to make use of the new space. There have been so many benefits in gaining this new court; from safety in the playground to creating new friendships through play, with the older children teaching the younger ones new skills. Providing a safe area for our children to play basketball more effectively and allowing the balls to bounce consistently without rolling off down the hill or becoming covered in mud and getting the kids covered in dirt, not that they minded too much.

Ball games are now played all the time on the flat hard surface free of obstacles such as bumps, rocks and mud. When the children are engaging in a safe game of basketball they are learning life skills such as sharing, perseverance, accepting victory and defeat graciously, becoming a team player and overcoming obstacles. Many of the children come from different schools and this area has encouraged them to play together with the opportunity to form new friendships. They have gained a space that helps them spend their time in the sun in a fun and exciting environment.

We asked the children what they thought of the new space and this is what they had to say…

“I like the concrete better than the mud, because it helps the ball bounce better.” (Sam aged 6)

“I like the new basketball area because it is now easier to bounce the ball. The ball didn’t bounce before and sometimes it would pop because of the rocks on the ground.” (Peter aged 9)

“The concrete is harder than the mud and you can play basketball better .” (Riley aged 8)

The children’s responses show us that they are pleased with the new area. The basketball court has provided a harder, more weather appropriate area that can be played on all year round.

Physical activity is large part of Cire’s outside school hours care program. We encourage children to be active in play and learning. Having this new facility will play a big part in the wellbeing of each child and we would like to thank the Upper Yarra Community Enterprise for their generous donation.

We now all look forward seeing the children engage together, having fun, gaining opportunities to play in their new space.

Shooting Hoops in concrete Part I blog article

For further information all our children’s services click here or you can contact us on 1300 835 235.

Upper Yarra Community Enterprise

Funded integrated kindergarten program – the benefits

We all have busy lives to live, whether it is work commitments, family obligations, or even that specialist appointment we often see ourselves as time poor. When it comes to kinder for our little ones, it’s hard to make time work for us. Not every family has the flexibility to attend an everyday sessional kinder program. This is where funded integrated kindergarten programs can help.

Funded integrated kindergarten have been introduced to long day care services to assist families who are unable to attend a sessional kindergarten program.

Some of the benefits include:

  • Flexibility to choose when you drop off and pick up your child
  • Convenient opening and closing times, giving you plenty of time to get through that busy traffic, morning or night. No need to organise drop-off or pick-up times with work, family or friends

Your children also get to experience a full day with a set kinder program. Most sessional kindergartens generally only offer a short day program; whereas children who attend an integrated kindergarten access the program all day long, assisting in better preparing your child for the longer days when they start school.

One question you may have is: Does my child have the same access to qualified teachers as a sessional kinder? And the answer is, yes.

A fully qualified kindergarten teacher is there supporting your child through their learning; and when it’s time for interactive play, your child will continue their journey with the aid of children’s services educators.

Another bonus is having a cook on premises who prepares all meals for the children. Meals are made according to dietary requirements, just in case your child has any food allergies. This means no packing of lunch boxes; which saves you time on those hectic mornings.

We all love receiving those special works of art from the creative minds of our children to keep for future memories. So at the end of each year, your child will receive an individual portfolio of all their learning experiences. This special portfolio gives you the opportunity to see the ins and outs of their daily kinder life. Group activities, incursions/excursions, photographs, and experiences learned are just a few events that are covered in on these keepsakes. Your child will love looking through their portfolios and reflect on what they have learnt and have shared with others in their community,

Opportunities to go on regular excursions happen throughout the year, some of the places include the local library and community garden. In Yarra Junction we have a Bush Kinders which offers a curriculum where children get to learn about the environment and experience the great outdoors on a bush block to encourage imaginative play.

Government endorsed transition statements are completed for your child’s new primary school prep teacher and a school readiness program is also run during term 4 in preparation for the transition into primary school.

The fees for funded kindergarten are incorporated in the service fees, so there is no additional cost to you. You can also claim Child Care Benefit (CCB) and Child Care Rebate (CCR) as the program is integrated into the long day care services.

The government stipulates that a child must attend fifteen hours a week to meet the criteria for funded kindergarten. Cire Children’s Services funded kindergarten programs run for 7.5 hours a day, 4 days a week, with the kindergarten teacher planning the curriculum on the 5th day. To meet the criteria, a child can attend from 2 days to 5 days.

If you would like further information on Cire kinder programs and childcare services, click here to learn more, or you can contact to organise a tour on 1300 835 235.

Journey into nature

Starting in early March, Rebecca and Claire, two Early Childhood Educators with Cire Children’s Services began a 6 session exploration of Nature Pedagogy.

Pedagogy is described as “the study and theory of the methods and principles of teaching” (Collins Dictionary) and Natural Pedagogy is described as “An understanding of our sense of belonging to land, our sense of working with nature. There is a pedagogical shift when you move outside into nature… it’s learning with nature, not just teaching about it.” Claire Warden, Educational Consultant.

The Nature Pedagogy course is run by the knowledgeable and passionate Claire Warden, an International Educational Consultant who has had many years of experience working with children, professionals and in the outdoors. Claire Warden is a recognised author of more than 20 books, has started her own nature kindergarten in Scotland and is involved in many community projects and organisations.

Rebecca, who is the pre-school teacher for the four year old kindergarten group at Yarra Junction campus and Claire the kindergarten assistant, are attending the course to further their ability to implement the natural environment into their curriculum and to learn how to engage children (and themselves) in the beauty, awe and wonder of nature and beyond.

“Nature is a powerful teacher” Claire Warden, Educational Consultant

The first two sessions held in March explored concepts like working with hand tools such as whittling tools, saws, files, sandpaper, hole punches and hammers. Rebecca and  Claire learnt how to make cordage, the art of weaving and how to bind materials together using rope/string. They examined a Risk Benefit Assessment and looked at the advantages of positive risk, and how to encourage children to be responsible for their own safety.

“We learnt that when children are provided with the right level of risk in a supervised environment they are encouraged to learn to assess their own skills and match them to demands of the environment. In turn, children are able to think for themselves and assess risks appropriately, subconsciously or consciously asking themselves “how high can I climb this tree?” “Will this log hold my weight?” “Can I jump that distance” etc. Risk is important in developing these skills and furthermore help children to develop resilience and confidence.” Claire Savage, kindergarten assistant.

Rebecca and Claire engaged in discussions about the need to explore the ‘great beyond’ and move past the indoor environment, in order to further children’s understandings of the natural and constructed world.

“It is important for children to engage in the natural environment as it instils a sense of awe and wonder which cannot be found in the material environment. Sensory elements in the natural environment encourage children to use all of their senses when investigating the world and the benefits of physical play it is well known – which is also stimulated by natural outdoor play. The natural environment helps us to connect to the environment and concepts such as sustainability, environmental awareness and action.” Claire Savage, kindergarten assistant.

Rebecca and Claire also explored concepts such as territories, and looked into the art of cubby building and encouraging children to become hands on and advocates in their learning journeys.

Rebecca and Claire have absorbed and learnt an immense amount from the Nature Pedagogy course in the first two sessions and are very much looking forward to the remaining sessions to be held later in the year. These sessions will cover natural elements including sand, mud, clay, puddles, wind, light and shadow, feathers and flight and demonstrate how these elements can be used in an experiential basis in the kinder room or classroom to encourage and inspire learning.

For further information about Claire Warden, Educational Consultant click here

Cire Children’s Services Yarra Junction 4 year old funded bush kindergarten is now taking enrolments. For further information visit our Children’s Services page and also keep your eye our for the Yarra Ranges Kids magazine (due out end of this month) for a featured article on the benefits of the program.

Cire Children’s Services toy and equipment drive – we need your help

Over the coming weeks Cire Children’s Services  will be reaching out to the community for donations and support for new educational toys and equipment.

Young children learn by imagining and doing. Their education and learning development is imperative to their early years’ learning; it helps to build social skills, problem solving skills and language skills. Our children’s services want to provide the best possible learning space for the children ensuring they are provided with the specific learning outcomes as outlined in the early years’ framework, which is why it is so important to offer them a variety of educational toys, equipment and experiences.

Our childcare centres, and out of school hours care programs, always need to replace or upgrade educational toys and equipment the children use due to their extensive everyday use.

We are seeking assistance from the general public and local businesses who are able to help with donations with any of the following items:

Dress ups: junior hi-vis jackets, hard hats, overalls, play costumes;

Sports: basketballs, soccer balls, tennis balls, footballs, skipping ropes, hula hoops, mini trampoline;

Vehicles: matchbox cars, little boats, trucks, aeroplanes, trains, motorbikes, wooden trains and trains set, tractors;

Animals and wildlife: Replica Australian animals, plastic bugs, butterflies, spiders, dinosaurs, horses, sea animals, farm animals, bug catchers, magnifying glasses;

Kitchen: Plastic/wooden shop/kitchen equipment, pretend food, cooking utensils;

Construction: Wooden blocks, Duplo, Lego;

Dolls: Doll prams, doll cradles, dolls house, dolls furniture, Barbies;

Puzzles: peg puzzles, floor puzzles, large 1000 piece puzzles;

Puppets; hand puppets, marionettes;

Garden tools: mini shovels, spades, rakes, straw brooms, watering cans, plastic wheelbarrows;

Hardware equipment: PVC and bamboo piping, fake grass, water trough.

If you are able to assist in any way please feel free to drop off any of these items to our office locations below.

Cire Children’s Services appreciates in advance all support and donations received and know that our children will value receiving new toys and equipment to play, learn and discover.

Yarra Junction: 2463 Warburton Hwy, Yarra Junction.
Mt Evelyn: 20 Old Hereford Rd, Mt Evelyn.
Please contact 1300 835 235 if you have any queries.
Local collection is also available. Please contact us to discuss.

If you would like to know more about Cire Children’s Services please call 5967 2776 (Yarra Junction) or 9736 1918 (Mt Evelyn).

Age has no barriers when it comes to education

At the young age of 16 Sara Jessett (above right) completed her Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care with Cire Training and was on her way to following her dream of a career working with children.

“My journey started simply with an interest in being around children. I began studying my certificate III in ECEC after doing a short work experience at a local preschool. From that work experience I thought I’d like to try studying it. I started with a 6 month certificate III course which was a great way to do it. I enjoyed studying the subject, so I decided to take the next step and do the diploma.” Sara

Discussions with one of her trainers, Anja Laukart at Cire Training, led Sara to consider a different learning delivery mode for her diploma – a traineeship.

In an early childhood setting, a trainee has opportunities to put into practice what they are learning through hands-on experience with the children. This leads to building their confidence, self-esteem and independence with other educators at the workplace and with the families using the facility.

To undertake a diploma through a traineeship, a student needs to be employed for a minimum 13 hours a week, in a permanent part time or full time position; the workplace and trainee need to sign up with an apprenticeships centre as the workplace is eligible for financial incentives; plus they need to select a training organisation to train (teach) and assess the trainee.

Keeping all this in mind, Sara had to find a workplace willing to invest all the above and also one that was not discouraged by her young age. Would a childcare facility employ a person so young to fulfil their dream?

Cuddly Bear Childcare and Kinder in Heathmont were keen to employ Sara, as she showed a lot of potential while doing her placement at the service during her studies in Certificate III Early Childhood Education and Care.

“It doesn’t matter what age you are. If you show interest and a passion for what you do and have a willingness to learn, then you’ll be remembered.” Sara

Age is not a barrier to work in the industry, as long as the worker has the qualifications or is working towards them. The definition in regards to age in Children’s services regulation 2009 states:

In the case of a person who is aged under 18 years, (a staff member) means a person who—

  1. is employed or has been appointed or engaged to be responsible for the care or education of children at the children’s service; and
  2. is under the direct supervision of a qualified staff member who is aged 18 years or over.

It is essential for all trainees to be provided with a mentor at the workplace who can support the trainee through the learning journey. Sara had a wonderful mentor, Lorraine Clement (above left), who supported her throughout the whole traineeship. Lorraine took Sara on the journey and showed here all the things she could achieve.

Sara was also well supported by her trainer and assessor, Anja.

“Anja came out to visit me once a month at the centre. She was so supportive and encouraged me to work towards the best practice and helped me manage my study and work by setting goals.” Sara

Sara successfully completed her diploma with a high distinction in early 2016, allowing her to continue further studies into the future. She is still employed at Cuddly Bear Childcare and Kinder as a room leader considering the next step in her career.

 “As I have been taking on more responsibility at the centre it has been challenging, but it’s because I’ve felt supported and valued that I have continued. Every day I work with the skills and knowledge I learnt in my courses. When I step back, I realise how far I’ve come after just two years of studying and then working, it’s awesome.” Sara

Students like Sara have gone on to achieve great things in this rewarding sector. If you think a traineeship would work for you click here to find out more.

If a traineeship isn’t an option then check out our class room delivery courses in Early Childhood Education and Care or call 1300 835 235 to speak to one of our team members.

The best way to get the job is to get the qualification

Choosing a career and getting an education is the first step to finding that perfect job. Georgia Brown a former Cire student in Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care (above centre) made a decision to postpone her teaching degree in order to take some time and reevaluate her career choice. Having aspirations to become a teacher Georgia looked into other educational career options.

“I have always had an interest in educating others and the thought of being there in the beginning, when a child starts their learning journey really appealed to me.” Georgia

Making the decision to make the change came easy after that. Enrolling at Cire Training was the first step to achieving her career goal. The advice and support given by her trainer Anja Laukart (above left) provided her with the skills and confidence required to go out and successfully gain employment in the industry. A valuable part of the qualification is the work placement. A Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care requires 180 hours of work placement. This component of the course gave Georgia real life hands on experience which ultimately led to her successfully gaining a permanent position at Community Kids Early Education Centre in Chirnside Park.

“I have been lucky enough to have been offered permanent work through practical placement, which has been incredibly rewarding. I was able to walk into my placement with the appropriate knowledge and skills needed for the job with the added bonus of already knowing my manager and peers. This made the process much easier.” Georgia

Georgia’s career goal is to obtain her Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care and maybe even go further and someday be a centre manager, who knows? But for now she is working in an industry she loves and by the sounds of it she is doing really well.

“Georgia is naturally at ease in this role. She works really well with the children, her peers and the families. Overall she is a great addition to the team and is very passionate when it comes to working with children.” Sarah (above right) – Centre Manager and Bec (not photographed) – Educational Leader

We thought it would be appropriate to complete this good news story with a final comment from Georgia.

“As a whole I thoroughly enjoyed my course and the result of getting a job I love has made the experience absolutely wonderful.”

If you have enjoyed this article and would like to know more about the industry, courses and career options click here or call 1300 835 235.

Cire would like to thank Sarah and Bec for allowing us to visit Georgia’s workplace to conduct this interview.