Building collaborative partnerships helps children thrive

At Marayong Preschool Kindergarten, located on Dharug country, engaging families early ensures children have the best start to their lifelong learning journey.

Building meaningful, mutually respectful relationships with families well before the first day of preschool is central to the philosophy of Marayong Preschool Kindergarten. In doing so, families are encouraged to join educators as active partners who work together to create a nurturing, dynamic and inclusive environment in which children can thrive.

Director of Marayong Preschool Kindergarten Julie Bawden has worked at the service for 36 years. Over this time, forming relationships with families prior to preschool starting has enabled Julie and other educators to be responsive and adaptive to children’s needs.

Marayong Preschool Kindergarten delivers early childhood education to 80 children each week, at least 16 of which are identified as having a disability or additional needs. The initial connection between families and educators at Marayong Preschool Kindergarten begins when children and their families visit the service for orientation days or pre-planned visits. These visits usually occur in the November prior to children starting preschool.

Julie said that, by sitting down with children and families at the beginning of the new year, the staff at Marayong are able to foster a collaborative and inclusive culture, supporting element 6.2.2.

“At the interview, I chat with parents about how they'd like us to help them with their child's goals, aims or whatever they’d like them to learn throughout the year,” Julie said.

“Through that conversation, we find out their interests, things they dislike and what they thrive at so we can aim to have play-based activities around those particular needs.”

These conversations set the foundation for a strong feedback loop between families and educators at Marayong Preschool Kindergarten. Both parties consistently keep each other informed of the child’s progress so they can adopt learning practices and strategies tailored for the child.

“We use communication books for parents and send home visuals so they can see what their child has done during the day or to prompt language from the child,” Julie said.

Educators also share resources with families to support children’s learning at home.

“At enrolment time, all of our preschoolers get a visual timetable and a visual book about what happens from when they walk in the door right through to the end of the day.

“They also get visual resources on how to tell us something's wrong if they can't verbalise it, which parents can use at home. And at least the children are familiar with them before they come to the centre.”

Families also contribute to this transition and programming by sharing information and tools with educators at the preschool.

“A couple of our children use communication devices like Proloquo2Go, so we've had to learn how to use those,” Julie said.

“Parents and carers walk us through that journey of how to use these devices on a weekly basis as they add more features to them.”

Julie considers this two-way support essential in helping children reach learning outcomes.

Therapists are also central to these collaborative partnerships at Marayong Preschool Kindergarten as they share advice on what families and educators can do to support the children’s ongoing development in the areas they are working on.

Julie recognises that the special connection between young learners and their families with educators at Marayong Preschool Kindergarten is key to creating an inclusive learning environment and achieving quality outcomes for children.

“My staff are just so in tune with these children – even just little achievements are magnificent achievements,” she says.

“One particular boy a couple of years ago was non-verbal for first, second and third term. Then suddenly in fourth term he just began to talk. And it was the most wonderful experience for all of us and with the family as well. It was just amazing.”

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