FDC United Educators Scheme
Find out how FDC United Educators Scheme, located in Sydney’s inner west, is working with families and communities to promote diversity and inclusion for all children.
26 November 2020
How do you ensure your educational programs and practices are child-centred, taking into account each child's diverse knowledge, strengths, culture, abilities and interests?
On enrolment we ask a range of questions to families about special events they celebrate, about their culture, languages spoken at home, favourite foods, and children’s interests.
This allows the educator to incorporate each child’s diverse culture into the program from the start of the enrolment, enabling the child and family to feel supported in the environment from the beginning of the relationship. During the year each educator is asked by the scheme to compile a developmental summary of each child. This helps the educator to document each child’s individualised developmental timeline identifying the child’s strengths, abilities and any barriers to learning that need to be focused on.
Families are encouraged to view the progress of their child, with some educators even discussing these learning summaries after hours with families in the form of 'parent teacher nights,' promoting collaboration between the educator and family, enabling them to work together in the best interest of the child.
What are some of the ways you try to foster children's understanding and respect for diverse cultures, languages, and identities in your service?
The educators themselves are all from diverse cultural backgrounds. Culture is embedded into the program via food exploration, reading, music, arts and crafts and by adding cultural provocations in the environment.
One of the educators explores a different culture each month. She kicks off the year in January with Australia Day celebrations in her service given that we all have Australia in common. She then extends the learning by asking the parents to share their country of origin and together with the children she will explore this culture in more depth by researching the language spoken, they will learn some of the common words of the language, look at recipes and even create them together, she will also add cultural specific items to the environment which encourage the learning to evolve in a natural way through play.
Could you tell us how promoting diversity and inclusion in your educational program has helped you enhance children's learning and built meaningful relationships with your families and community?
The educators create a family tree in their services to celebrate the different cultural backgrounds of the children. Throughout the year they add to the family tree the child’s home language, National Flag and any extended family members. This continuous collaboration helps children and families feel welcome in the family day care service.
Meaningful relationships with families allow the educators to invite families to night workshops in the local community for example damper making events and playgroup meetups at the local park.
Understandably however, not all educators have the opportunity to be able to get out into the community. One of our educators partook in a project with the children which came about during Spring. Each year during this time the children grow seedlings as an opportunity to learn about the environment and the basic needs of caring for plants. In this particular example the children had planted bean seeds in egg cartons. The beans grew in abundance and they found they had more than enough to eat and so decided to gift them out to families and the wider community.
The educator used social media to attract people in the community that were interested in being given a bean plant gifted in a little cardboard craft box that the children had decorated, in return for answering a questionnaire telling the children about their country of origin, their favourite foods and a family recipe. Responses were received from both the community, grandparents, aunts and neighbours of the children in care. This experience allowed for the children to engage with the information received. They spoke about the countries people were from and together made a world map, flags and some of the recipes in the family day care.
Do you draw on the expertise of your families and community when promoting diversity and inclusion?
Educators use the families’ cultures as a starting point when promoting diversity and inclusion. We find that the children and families are more inclined to participate in activities if they are expressing their own culture, this seems to be due to the ease of what they already know. This then opens up the opportunities for the children and families to experience and learn about other cultures that they may not otherwise engage with.
Creating meaningful relationships with families in the service allows the educator to be able to incorporate the different cultural celebrations of the families in the program.
Together they explore foods that are specific to the child’s culture, special events and then the educator incorporates activities in the program that promote diversity and acceptance. For children with limited vocabulary, the educators ask the families for key words from their mother tongue. This helps the educator to be able to communicate with the child and in turn for the child to feel supported in the environment.
How do you ensure local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge, culture, and histories are reflected in your program?
Indigenous culture is an element that is being constantly explored by the service as a whole. At the start of last year, we developed a travelling library in our service. The concept of this is to connect the educators, families and local community... The ultimate aim of starting this scheme was to build an authentic connection amongst family day care educators, the scheme, families and the community. The travelling library is delivered each month from one educator to another by the coordinator.
The educators are encouraged to share in the library information about themselves, their culture, a favourite recipe and an activity they have been doing in their own family day care service. The recipient educator and their children in care will then continue the journey doing the same for the next educator.
Last month one of the educators had been exploring the story of Tiddalick the Frog in preparation for NAIDOC week. The coordinator seized the opportunity to pass the library to an educator who had coincidentally been gifted tadpoles by one of her families, seeing the Tiddalick the Frog story as a lovely way of extending her program.
We also encourage Educators to get out in the community with the children. We believe that excursions allow children to explore, observe and engage with community members.
Living in the Inner West the educators have access to Aboriginal landmark commemorations which have started many conversations about the original owners of the land, which have then been extended into the program and as a result at the child’s home.
One of our educators had taken the children to a local Aboriginal Art Gallery where they viewed the different Aboriginal artworks. The children were intrigued by the colours, patterns and discussed what they could see in each picture. In order to extend on this experience, the educator set up a provocation by putting on display the book “Shapes of Australia” by Bronwyn Bancroft on the craft table with black play dough and different coloured beads. The children were inspired to make the same pattern designs that were illustrated in the book and continued to discuss the beautiful artworks they had seen at the gallery.
Lastly as not all of our educators have access to social media, each month the Educational Leader produces an email newsletter for the educators and families to see what has been evolving in each service, this helps all the educators to gain ideas and learn from each other and in turn implement these new concepts in their services.