Recently I was lucky enough to visit Macquarie University and meet with the staff at Mia Mia. Mia Mia is a early childhood facility where passionate staff provide education and care to our littlest citizens. They refer strongly to The Reggio Emilia approach. This approach views children as capable learners who work in collaboration with their peers. The role of teachers is to encourage this collaboration while taking on the role of learners themselves.
While at the centre I was able to observe how practice informs and is informed by research in child development. I noticed how children thrive when placed in a rich environment in which they are free to be agents in their own learning and development. “We are a school and we are supposed to make children think”, says a Mia Mia staff member.
I was taken on a tour with a group of mostly childcare workers and early childhood teachers as Mia Mia receives many visitors throughout the year who hope to take inspiration and ideas back to their own centres. Notes were hurriedly scribbled and the questions flowed from the time we walked in the front door! Ghosts from my university days were dug up and I looked at them with fresh eyes as our tour guide (a Mia Mia educator) spoke of the theorists who have shaped the way we understand children and their play. Play is held in high regard as the essential ingredient for the growing child, for example, the sophisticated meta-cognition required for a child to turn a simple wooden block into a mobile phone with their imagination and for the children around them to understand what they are doing.
The children’s rooms felt like home and outdoors is an important and interesting environment that entices children to play and learn. Lunch time is a lot like the “real world” with a cafe style set up that lets the children see the kitchen staff at work and that separates this part of their routine from the rest. Even staff meetings are a part of the children’s world and begin at the end of the day while some children are still present so that they can contribute to problem solving and see adults at work. I was surprised to hear that children’s artwork is not displayed as I am so used to seeing walls filled with paintings and projects. When our guide asked us to imagine if she took a page from our note books right now and hung it on the wall for everyone to see, I suddenly understood! The children are taught care and consideration in exploring materials and there is a large focus on ongoing projects. The important thing in a child’s work is the process and not the product, an important attitude to foster if we want our children to be internally motivated and persistent.
Another surprise was the approach taken to introducing new children to the centre. In the world of Quirky Kid we spend a lot of time supporting parents in dealing with separation anxiety so I was keen to hear more. Parents are told when they bring their children to have a plan A, B and C. In other words, don’t expect to drop them off on their first day and rush back to work! Children are gradually exposed to separation from their parents at the pace that is right for them. The parent may play in the room for much of day one, work on their laptop in the room as the child plays more independently then stay on-site in the staff room until their child is relaxed and confident about being separated.
I left Mia Mia with a head full of ideas for Quirky Kid, some challenged perceptions and many more questions.
We are proud to announce that the Australian Publisher Association (APA) has just accepted our membership application. This is an important milestone for Quirky Kid.
Most of you already know that The Quirky Kid Clinic is also a niche publishing house. Our focus is on practical and creative social-emotional resources aimed at children, adolescent and families. Our portfolio includes 6 resources, like The Face It Cards and The How to be a Friend book and 1 program, The Power Up Program and many more are on the way (see our online shop for all resources)
We are committed to our publishing projects and have a lot of surprises for you during 2014.
About the APA
The Australian Publishers Association (APA) is the peak industry body for Australian book, journal and electronic publishers. Established in 1948, the association is an advocate for all Australian publishers: large or small; commercial or non-profit; academic or popular; locally or overseas owned. Over the years the APA has grown into an organisation of considerable influence. From modest beginnings and a membership of twenty, the Association now has over 216 members and represents 91% of the industry, based on turnover.
This year we joined the Australian Publishers Association collective stand to showcase the Quirky Kid Resources during the Frankfurt book fair (9 to 13th of October) It’s the second year we attend this fair and we really like it.
The Frankfurt Book Fair is a meeting place for the industry’s experts and the most important marketplace for books, media, rights and licences worldwide. 7307 Exhibitors from 97 countries make Frankfurt the international hub of the publishing world and we love learning a lot about publishing. It was estimated that 6.300 people visited the Australian Collective stand. Our resources are now distributed in Canada, USA and Singapore and we are really keen to expand their reach to more markets.
Dr. Kathryn Berry, clinical psychologist at The Quirky Kid Clinic recently presented at The Rotaract Club of USYD and the Psychology Society (Psyche) of USYD, forum event that focused on bringing awareness to the issues surrounding young people’s mental health. It aimed to address the overarching themes, ‘why should we care?’ and ‘how can we help?’
Below images from the Event
Dr Kathryn Berry
The event took the form of a Q&A panel consisting of five panellists from a variety of backgrounds and experiences in mental health. The forum kicked off with an introductory presentation from Terry Kirkpatrick, Deputy CEO of the Mental Health Association of NSW and concluded with a short presentation from representatives from USYD’s Counselling and Psychological Services (CAPS).
It was a great honour to be a part of the Youth Mental Health Forum organised by the Psychology Society and The Rotaract Club at the University of Sydney. The enthusiasm and interest from the students was fantastic and it was evident that the topic of mental health is very much a relevant, meaningful and current concern for our youth. The awareness and healthy debate raised through the forum was certainly a refreshing, insightful and valuable experience.
Kimberley O’Brien, the Principal Psychologist at The Quirky Kid Clinic, is honoured to be invited to participate in the event hosted by the Sydney High School Old Boy’s Union. Kimberley is the only female speaker at this event. The event will take place in The Great Hall at Sydney Boys High School and will start at 5:30 sharp.
Kimberley’s topic ‘How to be a High Achiever’, will cover interesting information about boys and their day to day lives as well as what makes a high achiever and how schools can best support them. Below are the slides of the presentation:
The event is a great opportunity for students to gain valuable insights from some of the school amazing old boys, like Tony Abrahams ( CEO, Access Innovation Media), Paul Almond (Special Counsel, DibbsBarker Lawyers & owner of the The Flying Pan restaurants, Hong Kong, Jack M Bancroft (CEO, Australian Indigenous Mentoring), Dominic Grimm (World Champion Rower), Tim Morris AM APM (Assistant Commissioner, Australian Federal Police), and many others.
300 participants will experience stimulating discussions involving 6 Panels involving professionals from Legal, Sports, Arts and Business sectors.