Children, and indeed most people, learn best through first hand experiences. When working with young children we try to give them as many real encounters as we can, in order for them to learn more about their world. The four year old Early Learning Centre children are currently exploring the different countries that their families have come from. With this in mind we began our inquiries by investigating the features of Australia, with which they were already familiar. Animals, a favourite interest for many of the children, was a focus that they wanted to discuss and research. Having learnt that there are some species of animals that are native to Australia, the children were enthusiastic to have the chance to meet a real baby wombat.
Clare, a school parent and wildlife carer, took the time to bring in baby Billy the wombat, who, at 8 months of age, was quite happy to drink a bottle of special milk whilst the children observed with fascination. Their curiosity evoked, they asked many insightful questions about why Clare was looking after Billy and when she would release Billy back into the Australian bush. Not only did they make the connections to Australian wild-life, they developed an understanding of how people must take responsibility for animals that may not be able to care for themselves. Many of the children thought they might like to care for animals like Clare does, until they discovered that they might have to wake up in the middle of the night to feed this hungry baby! We are now looking forward to many of the parents from our community sharing music, dance and other cultural elements with the children, so that they can build their knowledge and respect for the value of diversity.
Mrs Sue Eden
Director, Early Learning Centre