Toogoolawah Kindergarten in south east Queensland has been working to imbed cultural awareness practices into their everyday lessons and play for several years. Journalist Sara El Sayed speaks with teacher Melissa Spence to get an insight into how the centre makes this a central part of its program.
Incorporating cultural learning into early childhood programs is vital as it can promote understanding of and mutual respect for diversity – as well as creating an inclusive environment for all children and families.
Staff at the kindergarten are taking a committed and informed approach to cultural learning, and the children and their families are responding with enthusiasm.
IEUA-QNT member and teacher at the kindergarten Melissa Spence said the practices all started with engagement with families.
“All our activities have been developed through observations and collaborations with children’s families.
“For example, last term we wanted to make cultural awareness relevant to the children and families that we have enrolled, so we gathered information from families through the creation of family trees, which the children enjoyed sharing with the class.
“We, along with the children, identified all the different places our families have originated from, and located these places on a map.
“We then extended this activity by going on a ‘world tour’ – which involved collaboratively creating passports, and ‘visiting’ a different country, as identified in the family trees, each week.
“We provided experiences that helped the children learn about these countries and the different cultures.
“We cooked and tasted traditional foods, explored art techniques, gave Highland and Irish Dancing a go and learnt about different musical instruments and animals.
“On the last day of term we had a drama class from a local high school visit to teach us some cultural games.”
Melissa said the tours had children exploring places such as New Zealand, England, Scotland, Malta, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Holland – as well as taking a closer look at what there is to learn from the Australian context.