FELC – Open Play Day April 2017

Greetings FELC Families,

As I am sure you all aware, on Sunday April 30th our centre hosted the Family Fun Market and Open Play Day. Local families came out in great numbers and lots of fun was had by all on the bouncy castle, in Farmer Damien’s animal enclosure, with Fairy Sandy, the nature craft lady and shopping around the market stalls.

The lovely ladies in the office worked tirelessly to bring together this memorable day. A special shout out to Kate who had many a sleepless night organising all these wonderful activities for us.

Our amazing and devoted educators came in on their day off to show families around the newly renovated centre and share their expertise on nurturing child development and learning in the early years.

Meanwhile in the kitchen, our talented cook Selam baked delicious banana and apple muffins to greet families as they arrived (our 2 year old daughter helped herself to three …. Yum!).

And as it turns out, it wasn’t just the kids having all the fun. Local MP’s and council representatives came out and joined us too ! Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt, Fremantle Deputy Mayor Ingrid Waltham, Beaconsfield Ward Councilor Hannah Fitzhardinge and Labor Minister Simone McGurk all came out to show their support for our community early learning centre.

Overall, what an awesome day ! We are reminded again how lucky we are have to such a wonderful team of people and families on board at FELC.

PS. We managed to capture a few moments on camera, make sure you check out these photos !

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Sensory Redesign

Dear FELC families and friends,

You have may have noticed we have gotten just a little more sparkly and new these past few weeks. We have undertaken a sensory redesign of our rooms. Kate, our star of a second in command, and I have worked tired(less)ly for the past couple of months organising and implementing the redesign with the help and support of staff, management and the committee. I am one of the parents of the parent committee, you may have noticed me staring confusedly at some IKEA instructions in the spare office. I am an Occupational Therapist, so I know my Kmart from my Ikea and we bought a little of both.

The main thing we wanted to do was promote engaged play experiences for the kids. Playing is their job at this age. It’s how they learn, grow and develop. Evidence tells us that if you put twenty two-year-olds in one big room they will run in circles screaming like a scene out of Braveheart. So what we looked to do was create some spaces to slow our little angels down and give them areas to play and meet their sensory needs. Supporting kids sensory systems allows them to have better attention and emotional regulation. Our sensory systems can overwhelm, excite and balance us. We looked to increase sensory input in some areas such as Vestibular (movement and balance), Proprioception (body awareness), Tactile (touch) and Auditory (hearing). We also looked at toning down the visual input the kids are experiencing in the rooms as this can be overwhelming and distracting for those who are sensitive to it. Below is some ways we looked to make these changes.

Using rugs and furniture we have created spaces in each room to separate areas and activities and to increase calm, meaningful play. Each room has a chill out space for the kids to go to rest, roll around on some pillows and get some proprioceptive input to calm them. This is a great space to sit with kids who are having a hard time at drop off and want a cuddle. Two of the rooms where kids have the most energy and the least capacity to manage that energy (ahem, toddlers and pre-kindy) have sensorimotor areas. These areas are designed to be active, to burn off some of that (relentless) energy our 1-3 years olds have. We have also created a new learning space in pre-kindy for mat sessions.

Walls and Colours
We repainted the walls white to reduce visual input and make it easier for the kids to focus on what is in the room and on the walls. Also. nothing like a fresh coat of paint to find out that someone superglued those shelves to the floor, ah, but we can laugh about it now though. We chose cool (blues, greens, charcoal, and grey) secondary colours for the furniture in the rooms.

Comfy Chairs
We have placed a rocking chair and foot rest in the babies’ room for mums who stop by to breastfeed or for families to have drop off/pick up cuddles. There’s also a new large armchair in pre-kindy for parents to sit and read to their kids and for educators to use during lesson mat times. We have added some seating options for the kids in each room with child armchairs and poufs.

Sensory Boxes
Babies and toddlers rooms will continue to have changing sensory boxes in their shelving unit for the kids to explore and experience. These are often guided by themes that are of interest to the kids at the time such as a favourite book or song.

Aladdin Mats
In Kindy the kids have 20 new small mats which they can use to create and define their own play space. This gives them a sense of pride and purpose when playing and develops their respect for each other’s play space and time.

We have a huge new collection of toys. Kate has researched and chosen toys which promote our children’s development and inspire their creativity. Many such as the wooden rain makers offer beautiful sensory experiences as well.
Play is often talked about as if it were relief from serious learning. But, for children, play is serious learning. Play really is really the work of childhood’ – Fred Rogers. Play is an essential part of the early years of a child’s life and it’s our job as a quality early childhood centre to provide children with the best resources to do this very important job of theirs.

Through play children develop socio-emotional, physical and cognitive skills.
With the purchasing of the Centre’s new toys we have gone with a more Montessori approach. We have tried to incorporate more wood and move away from too much plastic. Also tying in with the Montessori approach, we now have less toys on display. Children can be easily overwhelmed by a cluttered environment. A lot of the toys are open-ended and allow children to use them in a way that promotes their own interpretation and engages their imagination, curiosity and problem solving skills.
We have also made sure to mix things up and added in lots of (the ridiculously priced, yet amazing) Schleich animals, new sandpit toys, occupational people and an update our home corner materials.



Sensorimotor Toys

Tunnels   Climbing through tunnels is a great way for kids to improve their body awareness and core strength.
Hopper toys    They’re red and vaguely shaped like animals. Kids can bounce on them to increase their balance and gross motor strength. Also it’s cheaper than buying them a pony.

It’s the Bilbo Baggins of toys!

Note: the Bilibo is in no way associated with hobbits.

Actually, a Bilibo is a great toy for creative play as they can play with it as their imagination sees fit. They can put two together as a capsule, line them up and use them as stepping stones, sit in them and rock or spin around in them, tie ropes through the holes so they can pull each other along, pop them on their back and play ninja turtles or use them to scoot down a hill like a toboggan.

Foam Log   The foam log in the babies room is a great way for the younger babies to practice tummy time and building their strength. It is also great for the older babies to practice rolling and sitting on to improve their balance and strength.
Ribbon Rings Great for spinning around, dancing and big arm movements. Helps our pre-kindy kids develop coordination, sequencing, strength and flexibility.

These are just a few of the new elements in each room. I hope you and your families enjoy the new room designs and if you have any questions please come and see Kate or myself to discuss them.


Libby Boulakdam & Kate Seery

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The Life Of A FELC Committee Member

6am: head shot (drank), Sit down (drank), stand up (drank)

No, not really…Sadly my life as a committee member resembles less a Kendrick Lamar song and more a kind of coffee fueled hunger games to find all the my son’s socks, Where socks?! Where do you go!

About Me
I’ve been a committee member for nearly a year. I went back to study Occupational Therapy full time last year and had to find somewhere to care for my son who was 7 months. While very cute he was fundamentally opposed to being forced to sit quietly in a lecture theatre and the library for 7 hours a day. Thus began our journey to finding the perfect childcare. I was very conscious of finding the right place for him to spend so much of his time. I wanted to find somewhere with a homey feel of a home daycare with the reliability, facilities and convenience of a bigger childcare centre. Oh and we needed to be able to actually afford the fees (small, tiny inconsequential detail).

Why I chose Fremantle Early Learning Centre
For me Fremantle Early Learning Centre had that perfect balance of being community and not for profit so all the funds go to the children and their care while still having highly qualified staff and achieving best practice (say by getting ‘Exceeding’ in the standards assessment). As a student of OT I was also looking for somewhere that had a good understanding of child development and promoting play. The daycare is run by the management team in conjunction with the parent committee who meet at least once a month to discuss the running of centre (marketing, staffing, events and new developments). A lot of our families including my own are bilingual. Multiculturalism is a strong facet of Fremantle Early Learning Centre (FELC), One which all of our staff support. Its an aspect that drew me to the centre initially. I love that I can bring in french books and cd’s and the staff will happily read them and incorporate french phrases we use at home in their care of our son.

How I Became a Committee Member
So yeah I was pretty pleased with finding FELC. Coincidentally so was my son, every morning he would launch himself into the waiting arms of Olga or Megan for a cuddle with a level of excitement usually reserved for playing with our dog or eating peanut butter. After a few months at the daycare, Natalie the manager asked if I wanted to join the parent committee. Naturally as someone very adept at overcommitting her time, I said yes. Indeed, while my life (and all of our lives) since having a child feels stuffed full of life. I nevertheless  do still want to be on the committee.

What do Committee Members Do?
As a committee member I have an opportunity to take ownership and contribute to my daycare community. I have contributed to grant applications for resources for FELC, my husband assisted with the construction of the animal enclosure for our Animal Friends project. In committee meetings I have the opportunity to advocate for things I value like using environmentally sustainable practices, sensory play and nature play.

As committee members we volunteer our time to help organise and run Christmas pageants, Easter picnics, Busy bees and the centre open day. We discuss in our meetings how to connect more to the fremantle community. We fundraise and decide we do to make the centre better for the kids and community. We write grant applications and talk to our contacts in the media to promote the centre. I’m saying that as in the royal “our”, I personally have no contacts in the media. One of our members designed our beautiful new logo design. We use all of our talents and our friends talents and now they don’t take our calls anymore, So do you have talents? or friends? as we need some more. Remember when the centre had lambs and your children got to feed and play with baby lambs everyday? Those lambs were brought there by a committee member. The committee also works with local groups and taskforces and have advocated for better security in the area. We are organising some events with the local community in conjunction with the council on the oval behind the centre. We’re basically angels in human form (what’s that you say? Angels don’t eat dessert for dinner, well this angel just did my friend).

That Seems Like A Lot Of Work
I will say this, there are all types of committee members who make all sorts of contributions of their time and skills. I consider myself the hi-lo milk version of a committee member, I’m help-lo. There are far worthier members than myself. Members who have busted their heavy cream guts for Fremantle Early Learning Centre devising huge marketing plans, budgets and websites. I know naught of business, that may be why I was allocated the task of writing this blog post.

So join us. You get to know the staff and how the centre runs and you will love it all the more when you do. You get to hear about all the things your child has to look forward to when they move up through the rooms. You can suggest a fantastic idea or new way of doing things. A staff member is always on hand to take care of people’s children during the meetings. Plus we get snacks at the meetings and there’s always bubbly water.

Or if you can’t or don’t wish to join the committee then hopefully you now have a bit of an understanding what the committee does (socks, community, beyonce, christmas, milk etc). I hope you feel comfortable coming and speaking to any of us about any thoughts or concerns you have about the centre. Then we can raise it with management or at a meeting.

Elizabeth Boulakdam

Lamar, Kendrick. Head shot (drank), Sit down (drank), stand up (drank) “Swimming Pools (Drank)”. Good kid, m.A.A.d city. CD.  Top Dawg, Aftermath and Interscope. 2012.

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