Director of the Koori Curriculum, Jessica Staines has been operating the Sydney based Aboriginal Early Childhood consultancy for the past five years whilst also working casually with her Mum, Debbie Zappia teaching Early Childhood Studies at Petersham TAFE. This week the pair visited a local centre in their community, Concord West Rhodes preschool to have a play and review the services practices.
Concord West Rhodes Preschool has been celebrated within the Early Childhood profession for their sustainability and anti bias work. Marnie Omeragic the director of the community based preschool has been working at the service for 29 years and during this time has developed strong relationships with the local Aboriginal community which has enabled her to respectfully embed Aboriginal perspectives throughout the preschools curriculum.
Adjacent to the centre is the Kakoda Memorial Park situated along a beautiful river walk which the children enjoy exploring and connecting with weekly. Scattered along the river path is an abundance of native bush tucker plants and a beloved scar tree. The latest additional to this space is a community 5 senses garden which Marnie has been heavily involved with throughout the planning and creation.
The 5 senses garden has lush bush tucker plants which are also seasonal indicators according to the D’harawal Seasonal Calendar by Aunty Fran Bodkin. Additionally it has a community garden area, a nature playground and work spaces specifically designed for inclusion and creativity. During the Koori Curriculums visit the Pre-schoolers were invited to join the Inner West Neighbourhood Aid workshop in the 5 Senses Garden. Brendan from The Royal Botanic gardens played his didgeridoo and shared some bush tucker and medicine with the children, later sharing propagation techniques with participants. The Pre-schoolers shared their Acknowledgement of Country, connecting with the Wangal land.
Later in the week Jessica returned to Concord West Rhodes Preschool with the Koori Curriculum Educator Yarning Circle. Together the group participated in an Aboriginal meditation workshop delivered by Laurance and Fleur Magick Dennis who own an Aboriginal company called Milan Dhiiyaan.
Winhangadhurinya is the Wiradjuri word for meditation, deep listening, knowing and reflecting. The educators were guided into a state of peace and tranquillity where they felt connected and one with country. In the busy fast paced city of Sydney time can quickly fly by before educators, families and children stop to centre themselves through connecting with country. Mindfulness practices are something that lots of educators are unpacking, exploring and facilitating with children at their centres. The participants all felt that it was incredibly beneficial to learn and be exposed to Aboriginal practices and beliefs around mindfulness.
This week the Koori Curriculum was also invited to deliver a range of their different workshops across NSW and Queensland. Jessica was invited by Children First to deliver an Aboriginal Literacy and Numeracy Workshop to local educators from various services around Doonside. Participants had the opportunity to engage in a hands on contemporary string theory experience which Jessica often uses with children to facilitate collaborative story sharing.
Before flying out to Brisbane Jessica returned to St Stephens Preschool in Normanhurst to reconnect with educators to scaffold their understanding of how to best embed Aboriginal perspectives in their program.
At Old Petrie Town Jessica delivered her first public workshop in Queensland to 50 educators from early learning services in the surrounding area.
Jessica finished her week at Bright Beginnings in Chermside West again delivering the popular Koori Curriculum workshop “Embedding Aboriginal Perspectives in Early Childhood Curriculums”. Here are some inspiration photos from Jessica’s visit.
Here is what participants had to say about the Koori Curriculum workshops this week:
Jodie: “Absolutely blows me away. love her story and practical work.”
Tammy: “OMG I went to a professional development training ran by Jessica today..... what an amazing day I have had, one filled with learning, connection, inspiration and knowledge.... thank you Jessica you are an amazing presenter with a wealth of knowledge, wisdom, acceptance and understanding... anyone ever having to opportunity to be with or hear this woman speak.... take it. I am humbled and awed.”
Nicole: “It was a really valuable, informative and inspirational day. Thank you!”
Rebecca: “Was an absolutely amazing day. So informative and supportive. I can’t wait to share with my service and begin to implement what I’ve learnt. Thanks so much”