Leaders at three of our new Kindergartens describe why bringing a “wholehearted welcome” to practice is key to starting strong. 

Each new year brings fresh challenges to us as educators. Starting strong sets our teams, children and their families up for success across the year and into the future. 

So, what exactly is starting strong? Quarters Kindergarten Nominated Supervisor Simone Glenn-Ward says it can be as simple as starting the year with a good attitude. “There are going to be new things to learn, new people to meet and challenges. When you start fresh with a shared team vision and take the time to build connections that’s when the magic happens”. 

Louise Vuk Nominated Supervisor at Mt Atkinson Kindergarten in Melton agrees. “The key is to keep everyone on the same page and always go back to the values you develop together as a team with the input of families and children. Our overarching value is inclusion; no one is left behind”. 

Now in its second year, the kindergarten sits squarely in the middle of a new housing development that is home to a largely Indian immigrant community, and the centre of most community activities. 

“We host a lot of community events and have Hindi and Punjabi-speaking educators in each of our four kindergarten rooms. Having the ability to fully communicate means we can support and extend a wholehearted welcome to our families.” 

Louise explains this is particularly important for grandparents who in this community are often a child’s main caregiver and might not speak any English. 

“Culture shock is real; some of our families have never experienced a kindergarten setting and have very different ways of being so we need to assure our entire community and develop trust.” This kind of trust means always being respectful and for children with complex needs, coming up with support plans and clear goals together. 

Janice Reardon, Nominated Supervisor at West Maddingley and Arnolds Creek kindergartens says starting strong is all about “putting things in place with families to show how important relationships are to us. They feel comfortable and know they’re leaving their child in a safe space. In turn the children see the relationships we have with their families, and families see that their children are keen to come to kindergarten and enjoy everything that’s on offer”. 

And when it comes to a wholehearted welcome Janice says preparation is everything. “Information nights are a really important way to learn more about families and their hopes and expectations for their child’s year. We have an additional form that identifies any extra support they might need, and the child’s culture and interests. This information informs their individual learning plan”. 

The team also gives each family a pack with practical information about what to bring to kindergarten, dates and times and a social story with pictures of where they will leave their bag, toilets, spaces and their educators. “It connects them to the centre and sets everyone up for success”. 

Back at Quarters Kindergarten, Simone starts the year with optimism and a belief in every child’s potential. “Each child is a little puzzle, we don’t know their character strengths and how they will interact, but we do know that together all their different flavours will create something delicious!”