Reaching for the moon 

Jack Hayes

Gowrie Victoria has a strong belief that children should be active citizens in the community, to help broaden their sense of belonging and self-empowerment. After two years of COVID lockdowns in Melbourne, children from The Harbour and Docklands Kinder are starting to explore the city once more.

The sight of children from Gowrie Victoria exploring the Docklands community is a familiar one. An extensive Out & About program has always been an integral part of Gowrie’s practice, especially at The Harbour and Docklands Kinder, where there are daily trips to the park, library, primary school and even the supermarket.

Educational leader Sam Fernandez said there had been some hesitancy to venture beyond Docklands as the city slowly re-opened after extensive lockdowns, but the staff and children were taking small steps to expand their horizons once more.

“We had a lot of discussions though and the focus was to get us back out there, to rediscover the city,” Sam said.

“It was simply a matter of regaining confidence, because the educators know they can do it. And once they got their feet out the door, knowing they were not just going to the park, they were fine, because they know what to do and they have the trust of the children.”

For the first major excursion, Gowrie at The Harbour set its sights on the moon, with a trip to the Museum of the Moon exhibit at Federation Square.

“The children had been exploring space and all its wonders for a few weeks, with each child intrigued and connecting in their own individual way,” Sam said. “There had been discussions about astronauts and the children worked together as a team to create a cardboard rocket.”

The children were in awe when they saw the giant replica of the moon at the Museum of the Moon, describing it as “humongous”. The replica is made from detailed NASA imagery of the lunar surface, printed at a scale of 1:500,000.

“Together the children learnt about the phases of the moon and were able to view it from underneath, at a distance and up above,” Sam said.

 

The many perspectives prompted more and more questions and the building of knowledge and collaboration opportunities with each other. The educators planned the whole thing and took a different group each day. It was phenomenal.

 

The visit to Federation Square was quickly followed up with an excursion to the Carlton Gardens, where kinder children from The Harbour enjoyed their first picnic with children from Gowrie Carlton North.

The Out & About program is an integral part of the Gowrie Victoria ethos. It strengthens community connections and helps develop a sense of belonging, identity and independence. Children learn to work as a team, follow instructions, problem solve and build leadership skills.

Sam said these community connections were also heavily intertwined with other Gowrie programs, such as Indigenous Perspectives. She said Docklands was an important cultural hub of Melbourne with many sites of First Nations significance.

“This is where Birrarung opens to the ocean so it’s only natural that we explore our local area,” Sam said. “There’s so much opportunity here for some amazing learning. Getting out and about in the community has become so natural, because we’re already so much a part of the Docklands.”

Gowrie at The Harbour is currently enrolling for places in 2022 and 2023. For more information, call 8624 1000 or visit: •

gowrievictoria.org.au/childrens-programs/docklands

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