Posted October 2022

On Friday 21 October, KU Bradfield Park Children’s Centre celebrated Early Learning Matters Week with their community with a visit from Paul Fletcher MP, Member for Bradfield and Shadow Minister for Government Services and the Digital Economy & Shadow Minister for Science and the Arts.

Guided by this year’s theme of ‘Learning through play’, Early Learning Matters Week aimed to raise awareness and understanding of the importance of early learning and the difference the profession makes to the lives of young children.

After a tour of the early learning service located in West Lindfield, Mr Fletcher was able to interact with the children. This included learning all about their inquiry-based project ‘The Black Tiger’ and testing the children’s cage. He also engaged with parents and educators on the benefits of early learning for children, families and the wider community.

Mr Fletcher was grateful to have the opportunity saying, “It was a pleasure to join the KU team in West Lindfield, and see how they are nurturing the next generation of Australians.”

KU Children’s Services has been providing high-quality educational programs to young children since its establishment in 1895.

Ms Christine Legg, CEO of KU Children’s Services, was delighted Mr Fletcher could see play-based learning in action at KU Bradfield Park.

“KU was delighted to be part of Early Learning Matters Week. The first five years of life are crucial to children’s cognitive, social and emotional development,” said Ms Legg. “And a skilled, professional workforce is critical to ensure the delivery of high-quality early education and care.”

“As we strengthen our commitment to ensuring that every child experiences high-quality early education, KU will continue to be an advocate and leader in the sector.”

Early Learning Matters Week is an annual national celebration of the importance of high-quality, play-based early learning, and the difference the profession makes, as Early Childhood Australia (ECA) CEO, Ms Samantha Page explained.

“Early Learning Matters Week celebrates and showcases high-quality, play-based early childhood education and care that provides young children with the foundations for lifelong learning and wellbeing,” said Ms Page.

KU Bradfield Park's 'The Black Tiger' Project

The children at KU Bradfield Park have been embarking on an inquiry-based project, ‘The Black Tiger’.

It all started with the children’s observations of some black marks on the tree. They tried hard to listen to the tree, “Tell me Mr Tree, who scratched you?”

A child hypothesised that there was a black tiger roaming around the neighbourhood at night, leaving these black marks on the tree. Another child suggested that it must be a tiger, because the marks were rough, and the tiger did it to mark its territory.

A curiosity of what the tiger would look like, or if it was even a tiger who left the scratch marks, has continued to evolve over the past few months.

The stakeholders of the project worked together to create a big cage with a mission to catch the elusive black tiger. A design was agreed and ideas of what to put inside the cage to lure the tiger were shared. Some oranges and vegemite sandwiches – that’s what the black tiger loves to eat!

With the teachers’ facilitation, the children measured the materials to build the cage using – some bamboo sticks, a bunch of metal wires, and a lot of masking tape. The first attempt resulted in a very wonky cage. They needed to get back to the drawing board.

There was experimentation with straw connectors, transforming the 2D plan into a 3D construction. This was a space for children to negotiate with each other, begin to plan, and be more purposeful in their play. There was frustration when the straws kept falling, but there was also a sense of joining together, problem solving, enthusiastic anticipation, curiosity, and pure joy in their learning.

Next, it was time to put the plan into practice. The stakeholders worked in collaboration to wrap the bamboo stakes with some garden trellis, using strings and cable ties to reinforce the frame. One child went for a nature walk over the weekend and came back with dried leaves to help camouflage the cage.

Once it was covered with leaves, the cage was ready to be hung up high. The children proudly showed the cage to Paul Fletcher MP – Member for Bradfield.

The children were thrilled when Mr Fletcher took the opportunity to test the effectiveness of the cage by letting them lower it to capture him!

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