Friday, 29 January 2021 05:24

2021 - Starting off on the right foot!

Nathan Wallis presenting on our big screen for a Zoom session Nathan Wallis presenting on our big screen for a Zoom session

During our Summer closure the MICCC staff team came together on January 8, for a day of professional learning, team building and beautifying spaces.

After updating our first aid/CPR skills, we then logged in for a live presentation across the ditch with New Zealand’s leading neuroscience educator Nathan Wallis. As this was an exclusive Margaret Ives team event, I had asked Nathan to tailor his presentation to suit the specific needs of our birth to age five centre. Over the last year and a half we have been engaging in an environment inquiry across our whole centre. We started by viewing go pro footage from children’s perspectives (those who volunteered their heads) and then workshopped with Anthony Semaan about creating inspiring spaces of beauty, reflecting and making changes on our inquiry journey. I invited Nathan Wallis to be a part of this environment journey, to share his extensive neuroscience knowledge, research and experience in early childhood. He comes with so many influencing perspectives, from his experience as a school teacher, an early childhood educator, child counsellor, a human development lecturer, a parent, a foster parent and of course as a neuroscientific researcher. I wanted him to highlight the types of spaces children need for optimal brain development, spaces that support independence, self-regulation and growth, spaces where all children can thrive, especially those who have experienced life trauma, or are going through a change or transition.

What he delivered was so much more. Even though it took a little while for us to sort out our technical sound issues, our staff team were totally engaged, taking in everything that Nathan was sharing. His research reinforced the importance of a child’s primary relationships, the physical interactions and responsive language shared within that relationship. He spoke of the importance of a child’s first 1000 days (starting from conception) and the impact of trauma on a child’s brain. He discussed the four main components of the brain, how they develop one after the other and the statistics of brain development that consider gender differences, trauma exposure and potential differences between a first child and their siblings. Nathan shared interesting research to expose a misconception in our cultural society,  of paying money for a ‘better high school or tertiary education’... when in fact all a child needs is “one person who is crazy about them” from birth, to invest in responsive early childhood interactions (at home or in a care setting) to give their child the best opportunity to thrive in life.

After our session with Nathan we reflected on what we each took from the experience, that would inspire our own pedagogical practice. Every single staff member had an overwhelmingly positive response to Nathan’s presentation, from the validation of our primary care system, the reassurance that our BeYou reflections and wellbeing focus are vital and the powerful affirmation that developing dispositions to be a learner is far more important than academics. To say we were all inspired would be an understatement. We want all our Margaret Ives children to leave our centre believing in themselves, to have a can do attitude and the resilience and skills to problem solve and try different approaches.

As a centre we discussed the benefits of potentially flying Nathan out to speak with our families, especially those starting their journey with the centre from our Jacaranda Room. There was no question that investing in this type of experience would support partnerships between educators and families, contributing to an even greater MICCC community.

After a lunch break we got together in our room teams and competed in an adventure challenge in the Norwood community. This was a fabulous way to band together as newly formed teams, learning each other’s strengths and communication styles, listening to each other’s idea and praising people’s contributions to tasks. It wasn’t an academic challenge and it wasn’t a game that showcased anyone’s strength as more important. It was a game of varied problems to solve, requiring all the dispositions that we support our MICCC children to develop; creativity, cooperation, confidence, curiosity, commitment, enthusiasm, persistence and reflexivity. As diverse teams we were supporting everyone to be themselves and back their ideas and solutions. It really couldn’t have been a better lead in to setting up our rooms together, creating spaces and discussing practices that benefit the MICCC families of 2021.

We are so proud to have all our wonderful children and families on this journey with us.


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