9 November 2023

Community, Carey and Belonging

Early LearningJunior School
Community, Carey and Belonging
Community, Carey and Belonging
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I am often asked by prospective families and other professionals, 'What is special about Carey’s ELC?' When thinking about what sets us apart, there is so much to talk about and share about our place in the School – and those of you who know me will know I could talk about the wonders of Carey and early childhood education at length! However, when I have to distil it, one of the standouts (after excellence in teaching, educational opportunities and the forward-thinking and innovative approach) is the sense of community.

Community can mean many things to many people. In the past, community was local and often geographic, and religious/spiritual communities were important. However, these days, community has shifted, and we see people take part in global or digital communities. But I believe that Carey still provides that traditional sense of community for many families, children, staff and alumni. We are regularly surrounded by the same group of people with a shared interest and goal – the education and empowerment of Carey students – and with a range of shared values and beliefs. We come together both in times of need (like the pandemic) and times of celebration (like throughout this year for our centenary). We go out of our way to ensure every person experiences a strong sense of belonging, of ‘the village’ that helps ‘raise the child’ and shapes and supports individuals. It is consistent, safe and secure – there for the long haul, as evidenced by the saying, ‘Once a part of the Carey family, always a part of the Carey family’.

Specifically in the ELC, there are many instances small and big throughout the weeks, months and years that encourage the children to feel a part of and safe in this community. They get to know the maintenance team, Graham, Chris, Josh to name a few, and are taught by our celebrity specialist staff, Library Bec, Chaplain Bec, Music Tim and Art Mikl – this is our community. Every year, the Year 7s create a performance for the ELC children which we have the privilege of going to watch. They are all so engaged with the ELC children – we feel like royalty and it is always such a joy to be involved in, especially as we get to see many of the Year 7s who have come through the ELC.

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And there are smaller daily moments, like last week when a group of Year 9 students, as part of their C-change project to support another community, organised to connect with the ELC children. They focussed on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s literacy and developed an experience for the ELC children to take part in dot painting. The Year 9 students organised the whole experience, including advertising to families and setting up the event twice. Connections within our Carey community from older members of our school are so valuable, as it teaches the children that they are a part of something bigger.

The National Early Years Learning Framework (vol 2, 2022) speaks specifically about children feeling a part of their community and building a sense of community – ‘Children are connected with and contribute to their world’. It is one of the five outcome areas and an area we really value and privilege.

Recently, the 2023 Year 12 students came back to visit the ELC and Junior School, the students reminiscing as their time in the community was coming to an end and reflecting on their journey. This is the cycle of our community – they will be back as alumni and many return as parents of children who continue the cycle and strengthen our sense of community.

What are your reflections on your community? Who are the people that make up your community? What do you value about community? I’d love to hear your story.

Wendy Seidler
Director of ELC Kew

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