Exceeding service Nanima Preschool shares perspectives on meeting QA 2
Nanima Preschool is an early childhood education and care (ECEC) service in New South Wales, located on the oldest Aboriginal reserve in the state. Rated as Exceeding the National Quality Standard, Director Deanne Towney spoke with the Department of Education to share her perspective on how the service supports children’s health and safety, specific to Quality Area 2.
Situated on Wiradjuri land, Nanima Preschool is staffed by local Koori people and has a strong connection with culture, Wiradjuri people, the land and community.
“It is important for our preschool children to learn, connect and belong to our environment and community,” Ms Towney explained.
“Being situated on an Aboriginal reserve gives us a sense of peace and calmness from the time you step in the front gate. Being greeted by our Aunties/Uncle on the bus or at the front door is important to build those trusting relationships. Our culture is one of caring, sharing and supporting each other and we at Nanima Preschool do this well.”
Many children at Nanima Preschool are from low-income families or sole parent families in a small community with a high population of Indigenous people.
Promoting health and wellbeing
Aside from developing an understanding of the importance of healthy eating or physical activity, the service coordinates full health checks yearly for each child, recognising that accessing health services that larger communities take for granted can be quite hard with extensive waitlists.
Children also have access to professional health services who visit the preschool on a weekly basis, including Speech Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Early Intervention Specialists and the local Aboriginal Health service.
Two Nutritional Educators plan and cook a healthy menu according to the required nutritional daily intake and in consultation with the Munch and Move team from Dubbo.
Children and staff eat these healthy meals together every day – role modeling is not only by staff but by other children in the class, Ms Towney explained.
Children involved in nutrition and sustainability
The children at Nanima Preschool instigated the implementation of produce gardens through a children voices project and a self-assessment document.
“They love our garden area and growing their own food; from planting seeds, to watering and watching them grow through their life cycle. Children are learning how to care for our environment and how they can live off the land,” Ms Towney said.
“The children enjoy picking their fruit, veggies and herbs and taking them in to our Nutritional Educator to serve up that day. It’s connecting us back to our culture.”
Promoting physical activity
Nanima Preschool has a large outdoor area and gardens that have recently been updated. The children have the space to play games, run, explore the yarning circle, and interact with stepping stones and logs.
“Our bike track with its own roundabout assists in the development of gross motor skills along with learning the road rules, direction, language development and safety,” Ms Towney shared.
“The obstacle course in the centre of the school is always set up and our gardens are always buzzing with the children watering, weeding and picking. Our veranda area has quiet activities for children wanting time out or quiet time. We have our very own outside craft studio for those artistic children wishing to continue their craft during outdoor play times.”
Indoors children are offered dance, yoga, hopscotch, and a corner area with a hut for quiet time or reading.
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