Article by Gabrielle Jonker.
Rudolf Steiner said: “you will not be good teachers if you focus only on what you do and not upon who you are”.
The Flower Valley Early Childhood Development Programme believes that the inner work of a teacher, teaching assistant and field worker is fundamental to good quality Early Childhood Development. As part of our work, we are constantly reflecting and growing in our understanding of how to support the growth of ECD professionals as individuals, in order to strengthen their work with young children.
At present, one of our methods to facilitate this, is through our Milkwood Nurture Teachers Retreats.
These retreats take place in a natural setting away from regular day to day life. Here, teachers are honoured, recognised, and given a safe place to explore their inner worlds in a peaceful environment through planned nurturing activities.
Some of the highlights from our June 2018 retreat:
The women arrived at Fynbos Retreat in the beautiful mountains between Stanford and Gansbaai. The retreat started with laughing yoga hosted by a local expert, Lindy Greyling. This type of yoga involved a lot of laughing, allowing the body to secrete feel-good hormones and provided a special time of bonding. It was ended with a morning meditation next to the dam.
Later that day the ladies each got a chance to make their own vision board – a tool used to help clarify, concentrate and maintain focus on a specific life goal. A vision board can help guide or represent whatever you wish to be, do or have in your life. The women found this activity very enriching and it was an excellent place to further grow in the understanding of oneself and each other.
Lindy also provided the group with one-on-one Somachord sessions. A Somachord is an instrument that looks like a wooden bed. Strings are attached to the underside that are all tuned to a specific frequency. Receiving the therapy, one lies on the bed while the instrument is played, allowing for healing sound vibrations to work in one’s heart, body and mind. The feedback from this was exceptional, all participants found this to be an enriching and transforming experience with one participant saying: “I cannot put it into words, so relaxing”.
During the retreat, there was exploration in building a deeper understanding of the power of stories. The women discussed how the stories we tell ourselves and our children regulate our souls, and transform, heal and educate the psyche.
“Stories as healing medicine” will continue to be a theme of our retreats.
The group shared wonderful moments of song sharing as everyone sang together in different mother tongues. Lastly, each person took time to do a personality test and a follow up discussion, which contributed to the team spirit and the on-going collaborative work.
Deepening connections, opening doors and letting go
The retreat gave participants time to be quiet and feel the wonder of nature. Both the venue and the activities allowed for quiet solitary and group time in the fynbos and forest ecosystems. As the retreat fell over the winter solstice, the group celebrated by making fires and each teacher writing one thing that they would like to let go of and one thing they would like to bring into their lives. Each teacher, with a deep breath, released their papers into the blazing flames.
These Milkwood Nurture retreats started in 2017. The feedback the ECD programme has received is excellent, we have seen individuals open up and grow in a powerful way. For anyone that is interested in finding out more about this area of our programme, please contact Gabrielle Jonker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
End plastic pollution – what a massive and daunting task. For years we have become used to grabbing plastic bags at the supermarket till and storing our food in colourful Tupperware.
But where has this led us? Where is the plastic going after we have used it?
Earth Day’s theme is #EndPlasticPollution and it’s very evident why. Our landscapes, our oceans and even our homes are being poisoned and polluted by plastic in a dangerous and rapid way. The human race’s way of living has become so detrimental to the natural world – one wonders if people can change the way they live?
So that’s where Early Childhood Development stepped in – and why Flower Valley has chosen to be part of children’s upbringing and growth.
Because the children attending our four supported ECD Kindergarten centres across the Overstrand are the future leaders, the future ambassadors who will help protect our natural world. And our impact today can have a ripple effect into their tomorrow, hopefully helping in the fight to beat plastic pollution.
What we got up to:
Dolfyntjies centre in Pearly Beach informal settlement, Eluxolweni, had a recycling arts and crafts day. They used materials such as bottle tops, old egg boxes and plastic bags to create posters of Dolphins. This gave Joemarie, the Dolfyntjies Principal, the chance to explain the importance of our marine ecosystems and why we should do our part to re-use and recycle our plastic.
The children each received plastic bottles which they enjoyed filling with soil and planted peas – now looking to the future and what they can do to help restore and protect our Earth.
But Earth Day should be celebrated each day:
Earth Day is vital for raising awareness and changing the way we as humans think – taking it forward into our everyday lives.
That is why our ECD team and practitioners have made a promise: a promise to make material shopping bags at the next Milkwood Workshop to give to the whole Flower Valley team. This in turn may not make the biggest difference today, but each small action can make a big difference for tomorrow.
Milkwood Learning Workshop
As 2017 draws to a close, the Early Childhood Development (ECD) programme hosted a Milkwood Learning Workshop for ECD practitioners, governing body members and field workers at Fynbos Retreat, a joint venture between Flower Valley and Grootbos. This workshop focused on nurturing and acknowledging the wonderful, selfless work that these women undertake with young children in the Overstrand region.
Activities such as painting and nature walks helped everyone to relax, trust and draw out their creativity. These activities also highlighted the importance of self-acceptance and team work.
When it comes to self-expression and unlocking creativity, it is about the process and trusting in oneself. The practitioners experienced this through free-painting, sculptural form, land art, creative thought and time for silence in the forest.
The first five years of a child’s life are extremely important and the experiences and environment of the child in this time will have far-reaching effects in years to come. Videos and presentations at the workshop showed the ECD practitioners just how valuable their work is and how their positive inputs are having life-changing impacts on the lives of young children.
The practitioners also shared some of the barriers that they experience in their teaching practice and the team discussed ways to address these obstacles.
Flower Valley’s Kieran Whitley – who is also a reflexologist – treated all the practitioners to a rejuvenating foot massage.
The weather was chilly, but a fire, pizza and great companionship at the beautiful Fynbos Retreat made for a rewarding and insightful workshop for the women.
Early Childhood Development Programme
Flower Valley Conservation Trust (FVCT) is a registered Public Benefit Organisation, based on Flower Valley Farm, outside Gansbaai in the Overstrand. The Trust runs an Early Childhood Development (ECD) Programme – working in the Gansbaai area of the Overstrand region with five ECD centres and a home-based programme.
ECD registration support field worker
To support the ECD Programme in coordinating and supporting the registration of ECD partial care facilities in the Gansbaai and Stanford area.
- To support registered and unregistered ECD sites on the road to registration and re-registration;
- Support and monitoring of implementation plans;
- Management and organisation of logistics for training and capacity building;
- Site visits and monitoring;
- Auditing, reporting and filing;
- Registration project documents and schedule management
Minimum qualifications & experience:
- Excellent administration and management skills
- Problem solving, creative thinking and team work skills
- Efficiency and co-ordination skills
- Good communication and people skills (minimum of English and Afrikaans, Xhosa a benefit)
- Understanding of community development dynamics and processes
- Experience in project management or supervision
- Experience in the Early Childhood Development, Education or Community development sectors
- MS word computer skills including excel
- Drivers licence and own transport
- Own lap top or computer (not essential but preferable)
- Must be based in or around Gansbaai
A market-related salary will be negotiated, dependent on qualifications and experience, for each position.
Deadline: Friday 1 September 2017
Please send your CV, a cover letter, and two contactable references to email@example.com or fax 028 388 0442. For more information, contact 028 388 0713 during office hours.