Goodstart Early Learning Blue Haven is the winner in the Building Inclusion category in the 2019 HESTA Early Childhood Education & Care Awards
Awarded for developing a range of programs to foster an inclusive learning environment for vulnerable children attending the child care centre.
The early learning centre caters for children six weeks to school-aged. A proportion of the children attending the centre demonstrate behaviours that are typical of having experienced some form of trauma in their lives.
Recognising the need to promote inclusion so that all children, regardless of their individual circumstances, have the same opportunities to learn and reach their developmental milestones, the team of educators developed a process to support vulnerable children. This included developing an understanding of each child’s sensory profile and calming strategies to support positive behaviours.
The centre also introduced a ‘bush buddies’ program twice a week which provides consistency and reliability to children who come from challenging home environments. They also employed the expertise of an occupational therapist and built a sensory room.
“We recognised that some of the children at the centre had displayed challenging behaviours and so we developed range of programs to teach them fundamental life skills, while also promoting inclusion,” says Goodstart Blue Haven, Centre Director, Michelle Acreman.
A variety of small group activities were introduced including music, art, gardening, a bush-buddies program, cooking and working with an occupational therapist. These helped educators develop an understanding of each child’s sensory profile and calming strategies to support positive behaviours.
“We developed a fully inclusive program to assist children develop their self-regulation, control their behaviours and emotions and also learn social skills,” says Michelle.
“We wanted to promote inclusion so that all children had the best opportunities possible to learn regardless of their individual circumstances.”
Michelle says the prize money will be put towards designing further programs and initiatives to support positive behaviours and promote inclusion amongst the children.
“The prize money will be spent developing programs to make the transition to school more inclusive for all of our children and for more risky play for our preschool.”