In early August, Aurora Early Education was proud to host Dr Joseph Agbenyega, an associate professor – Early Years – at Monash University as well as a delegation of early childhood researchers from Japan, South Korea and Singapore. The delegation had spent several weeks visiting early education settings in different countries and were visiting Aurora Early Education to understand best practice in the early education sector in Australia.
Our CEO, Sheela Edwards and COO Simone Edwards were joined by some of our educators to show the delegation around our centre. As the delegation explored the centre, Dr Agbenyega observer and highlighted aspects which provide the children and families for a high quality, leading early education centre.
On Nurturing Staff & Culture
For instance, he recognised our focus on staff wellbeing and growth, talking about how our leadership team effectively communicates the Aurora vision to staff and educators. This allows each Aurora team member to drive our vision forward and put it into practice with passion and enthusiasm every day.
Aurora also ensures that each staff member can avail of 20 hours of professional development a year. Sheela added nurturing mindfulness is an integral way to help staff grow; Aurora runs mindfulness and yoga sessions to help staff develop mindfulness.
“You’ve carved out new principles,” Dr Abeneyga said, “and it reflects in the staff’s attitude. They have a connection to the leaders and their vision.”
While talking with our staff, Dr Abenyega also reflected on other characteristics which make for a strong educator saying, “You have to have the ability to be creative. A teacher may encounter problems, but a creative teacher will find creative solutions.”
On Partnerships with Parents
Dr Abengya commented “In Australia, we place an emphasis on partnerships with parents. It’s important for parents to feel that they are part of the educational process. A good kindergarten ensures that there are strong partnerships.”
Sheela went on to explain how Aurora enhances our relationships with parents. “We focus on continuous and valuable feedback,” she said. Communication is through a variety of methods including the Aurora App which has daily reflections and observations about each child, parent and educator meetings, newsletters and communication books. We also have the Parent Advisory Group (PAG) and Grandparent Advisory Board (GAB) to give families a forum to talk about ideas and feedback.
On Being Innovators
Aurora Early Education makes continued efforts to being innovators in the field of early education, be it in our approach to pedagogy, our connection with families, the design of our spaces and in our processes. “Because I had no background and fixed ideas, I came in with fresh ideas,” said Sheela. “Every time I came across a new development in another industry, we think about whether we can bring it into early childhood.” As an example; Aurora has used the practice of biophilic design, which incorporates nature and natural elements into architecture and interiors to inform our building design as well as shape our pedagogy. In another instance, Aurora has created a Children’s Advisory Board, to allow children the opportunity to make decisions about their environments and programs.
Dr Abenyega encouraged the delegates to take inspiration from Aurora’s practices and innovative approaches saying “Your country needs you to transform. It is only through one person that there’ll be change. You could establish innovative practices in early childhood and your name will go into the books.”
We are so excited to see how Aurora’s innovations are put into practice in the global early education context.