G8 early learning centre introduces woodworking programs for children to encourage “risky play”

22 June

As Western Australia grapples with a skills shortage, a local early learning centre is doing their part to start training our future tradespeople early, introducing woodworking concepts to young children.

Great Beginnings Southern River has adopted a unique program of ‘risky play’ since opening its doors in March this year.

In an early learning setting, risky play is defined as learning experiences which provide opportunities to challenge limits, explore boundaries and learn about injury risk.Kindergarten children working on their woodworking projects

According to centre manager Shani Galappaththi, the centre’s woodworking program is one of their most unique ‘risky play’ offerings.

“We introduce the concept of woodworking right from the start in our nursery room, with children using plastic hammers to push balls through a hole,” she said.

“Children work on developing those skills and understanding the concepts right through to kindergarten where they start to use actual hammers, blocks of wood and nails to create objects during supervised play sessions with educators.

“The level of engagement and focus they show during these sessions is well above any other activity.

“The children show incredible restraint and consideration when using these tools which I think highlights their capabilities as engaged learners.”

Great Beginnings is part of the G8 Education network, one of Australia’s largest early learning providers dedicated to its purpose of creating the foundations for learning for life.

G8 Education Head of Early Learning and Education Ali Evans said the benefits of risky play are unparalleled.

“Lessons about safety and understanding risk can be beautifully integrated with early childhood teaching experiences like woodwork,” she said.

“Woodwork and exploring natural materials are critical to children as curious and creative thinkers.

“The risks need to be managed and active supervision is important however these aspects should support not hinder valuable learning experiences for young children.”

The centre is now working to expand their woodworking program to incorporate materials collected through their recycling practices.

“I want to start introducing CDs, bottle caps and other objects we collect to the learning so children can start to create more complex designs while woodworking,” Ms Galappaththi said.

“This will assist in the children feeling a sense of accomplishment and build resilience as they problem solve during the creative and construction process.”

To learn more about Great Beginnings Southern Rivers you can visit the website, book a tour online or call on 1800 517 086.

Major milestone in Far North Queensland child protection education

G8 Education’s early learning centres in Far North Queensland have reached a major milestone this week – educating 1000 local children in important personal safety lessons through a partnership with Bravehearts.

The milestone was reached at Pelican’s in the City One Centre, as the team and children welcomed Bravehearts’ Ditto’s Keep Safe Adventure Show.

The interactive show helps to empower children to identify uncomfortable feelings like anxiety, to know what to do if they feel unsafe and the difference in small and big secrets and which ones are okay to keep.

Bravehearts’ National Education Operations Manager, Emma Petherick, said the ongoing work in G8 Education centres is vital to improve the safety of Australian children.

“Approximately 1 in 5 children will experience child sexual abuse,” said Ms Petherick.

“Due to confidentiality reasons it is difficult to say exactly how many disclosures are made as a direct result of children seeing this show, however it’s safe to say that we have current or future survivors in every audience we see.”

It is estimated that 1000 children in G8 Education early learning centres in Cairns have participated in Bravehearts’ Ditto’s Keep Safe Adventure show since it first took to Australian stages.

G8 Education’s partnership with Bravehearts also extends beyond children’s education, with the two organisations collaborating in 2019 to deliver and develop a sector leading training program for all employees to ensure all children are protected.

“Bravehearts continues to provide consultation to support educators to have only positive interactions with our children and the knowledge to pick up on any signs of abuse or neglect which may be occurring,” said Ms Petherick.

G8 Education Chief Operating Officer, Malcolm Ashcroft, said child safety is the company’s highest priority.

“We prioritise creating child friendly environments where all children are respected, valued and encouraged to reach their potential,” he said.

“Our purpose is to create the foundations for learning for life and that extends to the classroom and daily life.”

Every G8 Education centre also has a Child Protection Champion who works to embed practices into centres by supporting and educating team members and promoting a child safe culture.

The Pelicans in the City One Child Protection Champion, Mayara Rocha, said she leads her team’s participation in ongoing training and monthly focused discussions to ensure everyone is aware of their obligations.

“It is important for us as educators to take the time to reflect and recognise what we are being asked to do in relation to reporting and supporting,” she said.

“I also like to make sure everyone understands why the training is so essential, and how it impacts not just children’s safety but also benefits families and the whole community.

“Our educators must be educated and empowered before we can educate our children.”

All G8 Education educators also complete and sign an ‘I Will Statement’ which is a commitment to child protection and safety that is displayed in centre for families to view.

For more information on Pelicans in the City One or book a personalised tour, visit the website here.