As Graham the gardener at Carey walks in the gate, his arrival is met with cheers and greetings from the children. This time, he has come to show a group of children a long flexible stick that he found which reminded him of a fishing rod. He shows the children the stick and demonstrates how to use it as a rod. The children gather around him, listening, looking and asking questions. They all get a chance to ‘fish’ under Graham’s watchful and encouraging eye.
Graham is one of the many important grown-ups in our Carey community who engage with the children and brings joy to their days.
The old adage of, ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ has never been more important. Community has many forms and in the Carey ELC, we are enormously privileged to be supported by a wonderful school community made up of many different elements. For the children and staff this community provides so many rich and wonderful interactions and opportunities: opportunities to build relationships, a strong sense of belonging and a feeling of security.
‘Children learn about themselves and construct their own identity within the context of their families and communities.’ (DEEWR, 2009, p. 20 – Belonging, Being and Becoming)
As children grow, they develop connection to the outside world beyond their immediate family. This is valuable for enabling them to find their place in the world, developing an understanding of how society works and recognising shared values. The Carey community is a safe place for children to do this. As such a large community with so many different elements, we are well placed to support children’s foray into the big, wide world.
There are many stories like the one about Graham, with Chris, Leo and Cess from the Carey Maintenance Team. Recently, during this COVID–19 period, we have come to know Stanley and Jocelyn in the cleaning team, wiping down high-touch surfaces and extra cleaning throughout the day. These people have become part of the fabric of our daily lives and are important to the children as they acknowledge the part they play in our Carey community.
We are also very fortunate to have the expertise of other educators from the Junior School who are able to extend and enrich the children’s lives both through their expert teaching and the relationship they build with the children. It is not uncommon to hear children calling to Art Mikl, Music Tim, Library Anna and Music Lesley as they see them crossing the playground.
These connections are real and important for the children, and they help build their sense of the wider community of Carey and the values that we share. This is particularly crucial at this time when children and families are not venturing out and some family connections and wider community connections have been minimised or put on hold. These relationships take time and effort to build, and we are grateful to every member of the Carey community who contributes to these children’s lives, often in a more profound way than they might recognise.
Director of ELC Kew