Early Life Foundations has had a wonderfully exciting, productive and adventurous 2012. We were all excited that the beginning of the year was marked with Kathy being nominated for Australian of the Year. Early Life International got underway with gusto this year with our work in two international schools in Beijing and Abu Dhabi supporting the teachers to implement personalised learning through the WLA.
The Early Life Team works in all states and territories in a variety of ways - this is one of the unique aspects of our organization. We specialise in teaching and learning, and in parent support but we also conduct sessions at conferences, functions, and presentations across the country on such a wide range of issues including emotional intelligence, leadership, and lots more.
We find ourselves one minute flying on a two-seater plane out to a remote indigenous island working with local communities in local schools, to speaking at independent schools in mainland cities and everything in between!
One of our special projects this year has been the work by Shona Bass with the Northern Territory and the mobile preschool program working with local indigenous women (Assistant Teachers) to run their local preschool programs with the support of visiting preschool teachers. The commitment and passion from the Assistant Teachers with the support of the preschool teaches has lead to outstanding results for indigenous children and preschool education. The stories about how the women have changed their environment to open-ended play-based learning and the engagement and enjoyment of the children has been absolutely wonderful for all involved.
We continue to provide an independent voice for parents and educators about children's rights, particularly in relation to education and wellbeing.
We are pleased (but not surprised) to read recent data highlighting the limitations of standardised testing such as Naplan. Early Life Foundations along with many others have been stating for many years that standardized testing is an unnecessary and misleading aspect of assessment for students and parents and places undue pressure on teachers and children. This year we have even produced a very popular fridge magnet that says; "Teach to the child, not to the test!!!
Our work in schools across Australia highlights that there are many thousands of teachers and leaders who so genuinely wish to personalise learning for children. In addition we are constantly impressed by these educators who are eager to continue their own journey of learning developing their understandings and strategies of how to teach all curriculum areas in ways that are truly engaging, real, relevant, meaningful and effective for individual children.
Our extensive work with parents (through presentations, consultations and phone support) demonstrate to us on a daily basis that the majority of parents are so sincere in their endeavor to parent well and are constantly reflecting and building upon their skills in parenting.
Early Life Foundations continues to advocate on behalf of children and childhood itself; that children need time, play and an unhurried unpressured lifestyle. We continue to share concerns about the overuse of technology at an early age and the overscheduling of young children that often leads to tiredness and patterning that life never has stillness.
Our major achievements this year, is the opening of our very own Early Life Foundations Centre. We commenced operations at the Centre in November and over 70 will attend our official launch on December 7th. The ELF-Centre was designed especially for us with training rooms, consulting rooms, and a demonstration room displaying learning areas for play-based learning and a Zart Art showroom displaying and demonstrating products that are specifically designed for play-based learning.
Our team has continued to grow this year and we are so delighted to have Rachel join us as a full time team member at the beginning of the year. Rachel works as a mentor to teachers in schools as well as being our Facebook manager and public relations guru. She also conducts presentations for parents and teachers. She is a wonderful member of the team with high levels of expertise in everything!!!
Our wonderful administration team members Natalie and Nicole also joined us this year. They work tirelessly to keep on top of all the hundreds of calls, emails, bookings, queries, study tours, and presentations - so that we can all just keep on keeping on!
Plans are bigger than ever for 2013. We hope to see you and catch up with you all during next year and thanks to all those who have contributed to our organization or have worked with us this year.
Remember to help us keep our motto alive and working: Promoting a Child Focussed World!!!
Have a safe and wonderful break.
With warmest regards,
Kathy and Shona