C&K Weir Community Kindergarten is a double unit kindergarten located within the Weir State School grounds, alongside Townsville’s Riverway nature space.
Our centre prides itself on bringing nature into both the indoor and outdoor spaces which include an abundance of native flora and fauna. We have a strong focus on providing loose and recyclable parts within our learning spaces and places. Our flexible program provides opportunities for children to move between the indoor and outdoor environments throughout their day.
Our regular “Beyond the Fence” excursions strengthen our commitment to both conservation and sustainability with a focus on discovering, understanding and protecting our world. At C&K Weir we believe that “If we want children to flourish, to become truly empowered, then let us allow them to love the earth before we ask them to save it.” - David Sobel.
Address: 592 Ross River Road, Kirwan QLD 4817
Case Study: Reflections of Our Beyond the Fence Journey
As this is our second year of running regular “beyond the fence” excursions we have had the benefit of being able to compare what we did previously to what we have done this year following my forest leader training. We commenced our excursions in July, which is a beautiful time of year in Townsville. Cool and of course always sunny! I had hoped to have at least one wet excursion to get a feel for how it would work but coming out of a drought and the typical weather patterns meant this just didn’t happen.
What I did discover was that during our 10 weeks of visits, there was already a trodden path where the children explored in the gardens. This reinforced the need for us to have a number of sites that we can alternate between. We have identified two sites so far but are lucky to have plenty of spaces to venture into along the river. It is a very big river! The other discovery was the realisation that we can’t really erect and leave up structures so we decided that we could use the space for practising and create our stronger, more permanent back at kindy. We are fortunate to have a very natural kindy yard so we look at it as an extension to our excursions.
During the 10 weeks we didn’t really get time to utilise tools, but this is something that I will look at introducing again back at kindy and then offering during our excursions. We also found out that we are unable to do fire outside of our kindy space, due to C&K policy and procedure, so this too will have to be something that I do within the kindy yard. It made me revisit the purpose for our excursion and I think that we don’t necessarily need to do tools/fire at the river as the children are busy exploring, finding out what is in their local space and taking on a conservationist role.
We did have one eventful excursion where we were heading back to school and watched as a fire engine screeched to a halt at the gates. We waited on the track while an adult went to check with a teacher, only to discover that there was a small fire in the toilets and the school had gone into lockdown. This highlighted the need for us to notify the school that we are off site on Wednesdays and to ensure they have our contact number. This certainly was not something I had prepared for.
Having a well stocked, preplanned trolley was essential. We had a few hiccups where a mobile phone was forgotten, along with sunscreen but we soon rectified this by having a laminated checklist attached to the trolley for us to check before leaving each time. We may even look at getting a second trolley as our resources seem to be growing. There could be one for the resources for children to access and the other to carry “the essentials” like first aid kits etc.
When we recommence the excursions in 2019 we will look at starting them earlier in the year. Our aim is for the whole of term 2 and term 3, which is a 20 week block. We really noticed the changes in the children’s play as they revisited the same space over a period of weeks. They became very familiar with the space and the fact that it was predictable allowed the children to move further and investigate deeper. The first excursion was definitely a novelty and the children just wanted to see it all. By their last visit they were looking for things from before and noticing changes etc.
We also need to revisit our adult to child ratio. It was quite difficult to get parent volunteers and when we did they didn’t always engage well. I had hoped through getting them to read and sign our risk benefit assessment and providing a parent pamphlet would suffice but it was very hit and miss. I am thinking that next year we may try to involve the parents more in the planning before the excursions and they might have more of an invested interest. I will definitely be discussing the excursions during our orientation evening with new parents. It is now an embedded part of our program and new families need to know that this is what we do at C&K Weir Kindergarten.