Early Childhood Centre - The Carol White Family Centre

This Centre opened in 2004 as the Selwyn College Family Centre. It is an Incorporated Society and a registered Charity. It is now named the Carol White Family Centre, in recognition of the commitment of the former college principal to the provision of early childhood education in association with schools.

The Centre operates in a complex multicultural and social context, and focuses on responding to and providing for its largely refugee migrant community. Most of the children attending the Centre have parents attending the college’s REAF (Refugee Education for Adults and Families) programme, which operates in adjacent buildings. Bilingual support staff provide invaluable assistance for teachers as they work with children and their families.

The Centre dirctor and committee show high levels of commitment to supporting refugee families during the resettlement process. They aim to provide an optimum environment for children’s learning in a welcoming, inclusive and responsive community. Parents attending classes at the college can spend time at the Centre with their children. 

The centre helps families to establish a network of friendships, learn new languages and customs, support each other and develop a secure sense of belonging at the Centre. Teachers adopt a holistic approach and focus on developing trusting, generous and mutually respectful relationships. As a result, a community of learners that involves teaching and support staff, children and their extended families has been established.

Children are very well supported to settle into the Centre and form secure, positive relationships with adults and other children. Children often come from traumatic backgrounds and begin with very little experience of the resources and activities in an early childhood education centre. Many children now demonstrate a strong sense of themselves as capable, independent learners. They communicate confidently with adults and each other, make choices about their play and use resources flexibly, often in imaginative play. The experiences and social relationships formed in the centre equip children very well for continuing their education and participating in their new communities.

Legal name of the Charity. Carol White Family Centre trading as The Selwyn College Family and Children’s Centre Inc. Registration no. CC35529.

Centre Projects

Director  Robyn Gerrity provides her philosophy in this account of making olives. The parents in the ECC stripped the trees outside the Centre. That harvest filled two large jars and several smaller jars. They were ready at the beginning of this term. 

April 12th 2011. Autumn.

Our Autumn weather is beautiful. We are into the last week of a very long term. We will have a shared luncheon with all families on Friday. Farid will come with his music so I think it will be a happy friendly occasion. I want to take many photos for a project I am working on about family involvement in centres. Events such as luncheons, birthday parties, computers in homes, having visits from older siblings and community attending the high school and cultural events, including at this time Easter story and Burmese New Year water festival, are all very important rituals in centre life that support children families community and teachers as well.

Habiba(Aziza) has almost completed her olive pickling.

Children helped to harvest the olives, to wash them and to make a cut in them with the glass. Habiba shared her special knowledge this year, her method of pickling her washing technique, and her add-ons such as salt and lemons. Yesterday she gave a final wash and into the jars the olives went. We must wait now for a week or two to see what oil comes out from the olives and to see if we need to add more oil. I wonder if Mary and Andy would like a jar, as a big thankyou for hosting us in the library this term They have been wonderful teachers reading many stories and encouraging children to borrow books to listen, to read and to learn in an environment outside the centre.

The olive pickling is another way of encouraging family involvement in our centre.

I think we encourage family involvement in many ways we just need to think about how we do this, why we do this and the outcomes for children and their learning.

I think we are meeting and involving all the principles of Te Whariki in the Olive story:

Empowerment. Mother and child have taken ownership of the Olive activity, displaying confident leadership skills. Habiba has talked alot about the different pickling methods in Iraq and her childhood memories of families and their olives.

Holistic Development. Through this activity Yousif and his Mother have become more confident, fulfilled and relaxed in the centre.

Family and community. The wider world of this family is visible in centre life. This family talent probably would not have emerged if we had not presented this opportunity. This is often a process that Iraqi women are familiar with. It would be so great if in the future families with these skills could grow an Olive tree in their gardens.

Relationships. The relationships between teachers, other children, communities and families with Habiba and her son Yousuf, have been strengthened. Other families have already volunteered their recipes for next year.

It is a wonderful coincidence that the school planted the Olive trees alongside the Centre as a symbol of peace which is very fitting. However I don’t think it was envisaged that women and children would pickle the olives.

Robyn. ext 643.

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ERO Reports