It had been a few months since I had visited but knew that when I did, I would be stepping into a place that looked different from before. I never expected the changes to start from the main front door. There wasn’t an office front or an obvious table with a sign-in book. I was entering into an environment with classical music playing, a lounge style room on the left with soft carpet. In front of me was a lovely display of families and children in photo frames placed strategically on a unique rounded bookshelf with ambient lighting. I turned to the right looking down a long walkway with fairy lights above and the room I visited last year had a lounge chair or two and natural play materials on the carpet ready for play.
As I greeted new faces, I heard calm and happy children outdoors, playing beside each other, with each other and those very young ones looking on. They were children with enthusiasm, adventure, curiosity and a love of learning. They were young children thriving and thirsting for more experiences, facilitated by those ‘who know’ how to start shaping the child’s future by immersing them into play.
I spotted the young child I was there to visit (as a specialist teacher/early childhood and orientation & mobility Better Start provider). He was standing among the other children, appearing like they had just had a silent discussion ‘on the worksite’ in the new wooden ‘cubby’, ‘playhouse’, ‘fort’ – whatever they wanted to name it that day. Doorways and floors were pointed out to me as I greeted them and commented on the new surroundings and the new spaces and places.
Over that morning, the young children were invited to visit a particular pony known to them since the new owners transformed the centre. Their excursion entailed necessary gumboots, hats, enthusiasm, respect and consideration for others. Safety was emphasised when crossing a walkway, opening and closing a gate, and learning about the best place to stand when feeding and grooming a pony. I observed social interaction, communication, sharing of information, sharing of tasks, participation, all processes that for some children are naturally developing. For others, there may be more learning required from modelling or practising with alternate ways of doing things or with equipment in order to achieve success.
I was there observing a child who was learning these processes through modelling, interaction, enthusiasm, curiosity and familiarity with the children he was sharing the experiences with, a place they have been coming to regularly and developing their confidence in the familiar ‘new place’. And that day, he along with a couple of other young children extended their ‘peripheral field’ and independently discovered more within their place.
NDIS Registered Provider no. 4050011793
Kerri Weaver is a service provider for children with disabilities.