Children’s connection to Dunghutti country is built through daily engagement and celebration of Dunghutti culture

At Kempsey Family Day Care, located on Dunghutti country, educators across the 20 services utilise a range of practices to celebrate the language, culture and history of the Dunghutti people and connect their children to the land.

Director of Kempsey Family Day Care Inc Nyree Simpson shared that making Dunghutti resources a part of the children’s day-to-day activities allows them to learn about their local First Nations peoples, preserving their culture for the future generations.

“These resources include dolls, musical instruments, native animals, books, card games, artworks, stories, bush food posters and Dunghutti language posters,” Nyree said.

Family Day Care educator Gayle usually runs a group time with the children but has recently changed this to ‘yarning time’.

Yarning time provides children with a safe and respectful space to collaborate and gain cultural knowledge of the Dunghutti land, which she found has enriched their learning in many ways. During yarning time, Gayle encourages the children to read and engage with the poster that says:

‘Here is the land, Here is the sky, Here are my friends and here am I. We thank our Dunghutti people for the land on which we learn and play. Hands up, Hands down, We’re on Dungutti ground’.

Similarly, Family Day Care educator Sue shared the children at her service engage with Dunghutti artworks and images to assist them to visualise and retain knowledge of the Dunghutti culture.

“I have picture cards with the cultural meanings that older children can remember and showcase images of significant objects on the wall such as the Aboriginal flag and the Didgeridoo,” Sue said.

Sue also emphasised that telling stories written by the Dunghutti people helps the children develop greater appreciation for the history and culture that existed on the land.

“I usually read Aboriginal stories alongside other stories during story time. I have stories written from the Dunghutti community about their beliefs and culture, for example about their Santa Claus and tooth fairy and how the river runs.”

Another Family Day Care educator Samara works with many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families at her service.

Activities for children are centred through Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art.

Samara provides the children with a range of different symbol cards which are a part of Dunghutti culture, as well as a sand tray for children to replicate and draw those symbols.

Samara says that these symbols assist the children to engage with the Dunghutti culture, learning the significance and meaning of these symbols and how First Nations peoples used them to communicate, pass information and tell stories in the past.

Similar to the rest of the educators, Samara also displays photos around her service including Dunghutti language phrases, in order to give her children a more well-rounded knowledge of their history, promote a sense of belonging and build strong relationships.

Educators at Kempsey Family Day Care also found that providing children with positive affirmations when they display good behaviour has been an effective way to maintain responsive relationships with them, in line with Quality Area 5.

“Educators regularly use positive affirmations including ‘great job,’ ‘good sharing’ and ‘thank you for helping us pack away’ when children engage in good play experiences, when they follow directions, or when they help pack away toys,” Nyree said.

Older children at the services have also been encouraged to role model positive behaviour to the younger children and support them to be involved in activities.

Nyree also shared that an educator’s tone of voice when communicating with children is an important factor to consider supporting their confidence and safety, as this creates the foundation of a trusting relationship.

“Our educators speak softly to our children by getting down to their level and respectfully engaging in the children’s play. They observe and listen to their interests to guide the activities and experiences of the day,” Nyree said.

The children of Kempsey Family Day Care services are also given the opportunity to be involved in activities outside of their service grounds. Nyree believes that by bringing their children together with their tight knit community, will allow them to accelerate their knowledge of their local communities.

“NAIDOC Family Fun Day is a community event held in a local park to acknowledge our First Nations people. Local community services stalls collaborate and share their information about the support services available with families,” Nyree said.

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