“Children benefit from services engaging with local communities because these partnerships strengthen children’s interest and skills in being active contributors to their community.” - ACECQA, 2018

Each service will share a story of curriculum opportunities that illuminate concepts of participation and citizenship. Through a sociocultural lens children, families and educators recognise the potency of learning opportunities that can occur through connection and civic membership.

“Bring your own reusable cup” (Leo)
Children at Honey Bird Children’s Centre ‘rally’ for a cause

Story by Sarah Kim (ECT)

A growing concern for the environment and an interest in landfill prompted the children to discuss what action could be taken to reduce the rubbish that goes into landfill. A decision to recycle paper products led to a shocking discovery – paper cups could not be recycled because of the polyethylene lining in the cups.

“Well we don’t use cups, the grown ups do! We need to tell them to stop using them. We need to teach them to do the right thing,” Leo announced.

“We always bring our own water bottles. Grown ups should do the same for their coffee,” agreed Alfie, waving about his water bottle as evidence.

The educators responded immediately and posed questions to the group as a provocation for continued thinking toward launching a plan of action: “Who do we need to speak to and what do we want to tell them?"

The children suggested a trip to the cafe to talk with the grown-ups, to tell them to start using their own reusable cups. To convey this message the children began drawing recyclable cups and it was decided a poster would also work to spread the word. Dani, the barista, welcomed the children and applauded the initiative. Displaying the poster in the front window she congratulated the group - “Oh I’m sure lots of grown-ups will learn something new from you guys!”

A new ritual soon became evident as children and families’ arrivals and departures had to include a detour past the café which continued to generate discussion among families and, most importantly, customers. The children grew in confidence, sharing their expectation that adults should take their advice seriously.

However Charlie, who had been thinking critically about this strategy, volunteered some new ponderings. “This is only one café and I still see lots of people on the streets and at other cafes with paper cups! This is not good. We need to make more posters.” Charlie urged her friends to make more posters so they can tell more grown-ups.

Many creative solutions to reach more people were offered into the discussion – letters to strangers, calls to family and friends and grandparents and cousins, video calls. “We need to talk to the strangers on the street,” agreed the group and so the idea of a rally was launched.

The children excitedly came up with some phrases, and began to practise their chanting and marching. They enthusiastically crafted placards and banners, essential props for the task at hand. “Save the future, Save the planet!”, “No more waste”, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”, “Ice is melting” “Bring your own reusable cups!” were the catch phrases branded across placards.

On the first day of the rally, the children walked around Eveleigh and marched down the streets. “Save the future, Save the planet, Save the animals!” the children confidently and proudly chanted out loud. People at the cafes, restaurants, parks and streets stopped and applauded the children. Some grown-ups looked at the paper cups they were using and said “Oh… how embarrassing..!” and covered their cups, and others congratulated them on their commitment to the care of the planet.

Leo was so delighted at the adult responses; “Sarah, she said this is the most beautiful thing she’s seen today, and what we are doing is beautiful." His cheeks flushed and his voice became a little shaky as he jumped up and down, sharing his excitement, joy and what appeared to be a real sense of pride.

The rally was repeated the next day and some of the children’s parents soon joined the action. 22 voices joined in solidarity inviting the community to consider their choices to respectfully preserve the environment. The children also used this opportunity to offer the adults in the vicinity the flyers they had created to spread the message. They walked around the building talking to people, showing their signs, chanting and giving out flyers to many, many people who continued to respond warmly and positively to their message.

Keshav introduced himself as he was handing out the flyers. “Hi, my name is Keshav. I am from Honey Bird preschool room. This says please bring your own reusable cup."

Thinking and learning alongside children enables children to be participatory in co-constructing curriculum threads and to have a voice in the things that affect their lives. Respecting these rights is integral to an authentic and meaningful curriculum. The children and educators at Honey Bird reflected upon the experience…

How did you feel telling the adults about the importance of reusable cups?
“I felt good. I said what’s right, I made the poster and pamphlet by myself. People looked at me. They listened to me.” (Ayaash)
What made the grown-ups stop and listen?
The grown-ups stopped and looked at us, because we were loud. And they listened to us, because we were talking to them.” (Paloma)
How can we deal with our problems in the future? What if we want to say something else?
“We could do this again. We talk to them and tell them to do the right thing.” (Leo)
What does it mean by “having a voice”?
"Having a voice means, you can tell others what you think.” (Keshav)
How should we use our voice?

“We use our voice to say what we think. We can use them to tell others to be kind.” (Charlie)

The role of the educator in facilitating opportunities to connect children with their community contributes significantly to building social capital. Families work in partnership with the centre and continue to support children and networks in creating opportunities for meaningful change.

“We have started looking for the recycle symbol on the drinks and containers when we eat out so that they can be recycled." (Honey Bird Parent)
“I’ve ordered family reusable coffee cups so that we can use them on the weekend when we have our ‘cino’ outings together.” (Honey Bird Parent)
“A powerful experience for the children… thanks for teaching us to be more accountable also.” (Honey Bird Parent)

Connecting children with their community

Story by Jenny Liu and the team at KU Ultimo

The team at KU Ultimo has started to think about children’s agency and participation in and with community. Aspirations to introduce the concept of citizenship as part of their belonging to the centre community and cultural identity of the local community have informed many pedagogical discussions and experiences.

Being attuned and sensitive to the community recognises culture in context with family and community as integral to belonging. Staff share stories of their lives and invite children and families to do the same creating space for welcome, connection and a strong respect for diversity. Significant cultural events are discussed with families and the team plans events and experiences to showcase a variety of cultural festivals.

Individual staff in consultation with the teaching team and families elect to lead the learning that recognises specific community languages and cultural celebrations. An example of this is Diwali, known as the festival of light, which is shaped by meaningful engagement with families at KU Ultimo.

A comprehensive array of learning experiences relating to the festival, including cooking, dancing, visual arts and story sharing, are facilitated by educators in partnership with families. This is as an opportunity to introduce and consolidate the why and how of the celebration and to build an understanding of the traditions held sacred by members of the centre community and greater community.

These opportunities to celebrate Diwali and other traditional festivals help to foster a culture of inclusiveness and a sense of belonging for all. Culturally responsive pedagogy supports children and family’s identity as important contributors to a diverse and thriving centre community. Early childhood education and care centres function as a microcosm of their local communities and developing strong threads of understanding and appreciation of diversity in ways of being, also supports children’s capacities to participate in authentic ways in community life beyond the centre.

To learn more about children in their community, come to our online workshop:

NESA Accredited Children in their Community: Place-based Pedagogy
Thursday 30 March 2023

Completing 'Children in their Community: Place-based Pedagogy' will contribute 3 hours of NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) Accredited PD in the priority area of Delivery and Assessment of NSW Curriculum/EYLF addressing standard descriptor 2.1.2 from the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers towards maintaining Proficient Teacher Accreditation in NSW.