For children at Gowrie at The Harbour, the community is an extension of the classroom.
The path from Gowrie at The Harbour to the local supermarket is a well-trodden one. Gowrie Victoria children of all ages make the short walk several times a week to shop for baking ingredients or afternoon-tea fruit. Along the way, they wave to familiar vendors, point out favourite landmarks, and notice any changes in the environment.
It might be a trip to the supermarket, primary school or library, it might be an excursion to the Museum or Federation Square, or it might simply be a walk down to Birrarung to enjoy a story. Whatever the outing, children from Gowrie at The Harbour are recognised as active and visible members of the community.
An extensive Out & About program is an integral aspect of life at Gowrie Victoria. Gowrie at The Harbour education leader Sam Fernandez said it played a key role in helping nurture children’s sense of belonging, curiosity and self-empowerment.
Sam said the program allowed children to explore the world around them and make meaningful connections, while learning to work as a team, follow instructions and build new social skills – all integral to becoming global citizens with a voice.
Many of the excursions involve catching public transport, which Sam said was a great opportunity for children to learn about public transport etiquette, crossing streets and being aware of people around them.
The children relish opportunities to show their skills and engage in more hands-on development, and never shy away from the chance to spread their wings and share their knowledge with the outside community.
“The Out & About program is also intertwined with other aspects of the pedagogical framework and curriculum,” Sam said. “Docklands has many sites of First Nations significance so it’s only natural that we explore our local area as a means for further connection and learning in relation to reconciliation. There’s so much opportunity here for amazing learning and child-led engagement.”
Early Childhood teacher Carla Beslagic said recent excursions to the Koorie Heritage Trust, Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre at Melbourne Museum and Big Esso’s Mabu Mabu restaurant were an extension of the First Nations Knowings program.
Carla said the multi-age (babies and kindergarten-level) excursion to Bunjilaka gave children the opportunity to discover more about Bunjil’s story and the role of possum skin cloaks in First Nations culture.
At Mabu Mabu, (which was also attended by infants, toddler and kinder children) they sampled saltbush and wattle seed damper and yams with pickled karkalla (pigface), and shared stories and knowledge with each other and the Mabu Mabu staff and owner.
“We began earlier this year by exploring Birrarung, as Docklands is where Birrarung opens to the ocean,” Carla said. “These experiences support children in exploring the truth about the history of this country and in supporting Reconciliation.”
“It’s a chance to understand that different cultures or peoples have different beliefs and different creation knowings, and we learn to respond to these with respect, by listening to them, learning with them, and encountering them.”
Carla said these outings were followed up with a visit to Gowrie Carlton North where the children cooked their own damper on the campfire.
“These excursions bring us closer together as a community and support different ways of thinking, being and knowing,” she said.
Gowrie at The Harbour and Gowrie Docklands Kinder are currently enrolling for places in 2023.