The purpose of Harmony Day is to celebrate Australia’s cultural diversity. It’s about inclusiveness, respect and a sense of belonging for everyone. As you know, we don’t do things by half at TCCC. We decided that we had so much to celebrate that we needed a whole week to do it. For our Harmony Week educators planned an experience to share with everyone that draws on their own cultural heritage. When I sat down to write an evaluation of the many wonderful experiences that our educators planned for Harmony Week, I realised that these experiences fell into two broad groups – food and music. This makes sense because so much of our cultural identity is linked to the language we speak and how this is expressed through music, and by the food we eat. Cooking experiences provide children with opportunities to build fine motor skills (EYLF Outcome 3), develop understanding of processes (EYLF Outcome 4), and to learn through their senses (EYLF Outcome 4). Cooking and sharing food is such a good choice of activity for Harmony Week as it fosters a sense of community when we sit down to share a meal (EYLF Outcome 2). Lisa and Elaine did this the British way, by having a tea party. Zea celebrated Anglo-Australian culture by making damper. Mel showed the children how to make fry bread, which is a meal from her Maori heritage. Emmellynn made Dutch pancakes and Anna made pizza, because they are foods that both educators enjoy making with their family – and each family has a unique culture of its own!
Early Childhood Education in Australia has a rich tradition of singing children’s songs in a range of languages (EYLF Outcome 5). Awareness of differences in spoken languages teaches children about the differences between people (EYLF Outcome 2). Celebrating this difference through music teaches joy! (EYLF Outcome 3). Nat and Lisa showed us their musical talents by accompanying the children on the guitar and keyboard while they sang songs in Afrikaans, French, Japanese and indigenous language. Aki led a sing-along in Japanese, which is her first language. We are always happy when Jeannette picks up the bongo drums. Her amazing drumming draws on her heritage from the Bashi tribe of Congo DRC. The repetitive rhythm of the drumming exposes children to musical patterns. Educators can observe children’s understanding of ‘beat’ as they watch them dance and clap (EYLF Outcome 4). Jeannette also made banana leaf skirts for the children to wear.
Our respect for diversity during Harmony Week also extended to respect for our environment. April’s S.O.I.L (Sustainable Ideas and Opportunities for Learning) program fosters children’s understanding about natural environments and aims to develop children’s willingness to care for our planet (EYLF Outcome 2 and 3). Our Wattle Babies and Desert Peas used their senses to explore, including beach-themed sensory play, which was introduced by Claire as part of her family culture.
One of the highlights of the week was the performance by an indigenous dance group from the local community. Willy, Rebus and Malakai entertained and informed both children and adults as they danced and told stories (EYLF Outcome 2). Children were invited up to learn some of the traditional animal dances. Everybody had such a good time that Willy, Rebus and Malakai have agreed to visit us next Harmony Week. Many of our educators are grateful to extend Terranora Child Care Centre’s relationship with our local indigenous community.
We would also like to thank our special guests, Aunty Kath Lena and Jackson Ross for once again visiting us during Harmony Week. Educators were interested that none of the children seemed to notice Jackson’s wheelchair. Also a big thank you to the families who came in to visit throughout the week.
Our commitment to inclusion and social justice is a big part of who we are as a team at TCCC. We live the ideals of Harmony Day every day at our service. Our educators already give so much of themselves to create exceptional programs for children. This week I saw them give a little bit more – and that made me feel really proud to be a part of this team. Looking forward to next year! Renee Smyth Educational Leader