The Koori Curriculum Educators Yarning Circle consists of a dedicated group of early childhood educators who come together once per month to network, attend cultural excursions or meet with various niche speakers to extend their cultural confidence. This years group of educators come from the following early learning services; Explore & Develop Annandale, Kelly's Place Children's Centre, Kambala, Concord West Rhodes Preschool, Tiggers UNSW, Explore & Develop Narraweena and City of Sydney Early Learning in Alexandria.
Last week educators met at Stoney Range Botanical Gardens on Sydney's Northern Beaches. After sharing a picnic lunch they leisurely strolled through the gardens trails admiring, touching, feeling and smelling the divine native plants that encompassed them.
Stony Range was given its name because it sits on 3.3 hectares of Hawkesbury Sandstone escarpment.
In the 1950s, Stony Range was a disused stone quarry. Had it not been for a few visionary locals with a green thumb, the reserve may never have been established. In 2007 it became a Regional Botanic Garden of Native Bushland.
Since it was opened, Stony Range has been extensively weeded, regenerated and revegetated by a enthusiastic group of volunteers with the aid of public donations and funding from Warringah Council. Native plants from all over Australia have been planted in the garden alongside local native species.
On one of the many walks that yarning circle partook in they stumbled across a children's activity nook where the young were being encouraged to create plastic butterflies, write letters to fairies or make banksia people with natural materials googly eyes and pipe cleaners.
Whilst the group gathered that a local voluntary group or holiday program had probably created the space with every good intention they couldn't move past the use of plastic materials in a natural setting with so much bird and wildlife around.
The educators couldn't help but feel an opportunity had been lost. They found themselves discussing what open ended experiences could have been offered as an alternative that wouldn't create so much problematic plastic waste that was inevitably going to become problematic for the local ecosystem in which it was situated.
Marnie the Director of Concord West Rhodes Preschool jumped to action and wrote a letter on behalf of the group. She shared the groups reflection and reached out offering support to come up with new, sustainable and environmentally friendly ideas.
After our thought provoking bush walk the group made their way to the welcoming Explore & Develop Narraweena. Mel Ishk the centres Educational Leader lead the educators through the early learning service sharing documentation and discussing the practical ways in which her team are embedding Aboriginal perspectives in their program.
The yarning circle educators were blow away by the centres beautiful environments. They loved the warm, homey feeling the educators had created by repurposing home furnishings and textiles.
They also loved seeing the multitude of ways that educators were sprinkling Aboriginal art, provocations and resources across all learning environments and age groups.
Thanks Explore & Develop Narraweena for sharing your team and program with us!