Design community together

Begin with the end in mind

Creating a great place requires developing an idea of what your service will be like. This creative, collaborative process works best when it includes everyone in your community―children, educators, families, and often others such as health and community professionals.

To hear everyone’s dreams and ideas takes time and investment but to create the place you are hoping for it is worth it. Dream big, be brave and you might be surprised with what is possible.

Finding your focus

At KidsMatter our focus is on children’s mental health. We sharpen our focus on four things that provide us with a framework to understand and promote young children’s mental health:

  1. sense of community built on belonging, inclusion, and relationships
  2. Social and emotional skill development
  3. Working closely with families
  4. Actively supporting children with mental health difficulties.

What is your community’s focus?

Be deliberate and purposeful―Make the choice to shape your place

All organisations have a culture that can occur by default or we can intentionally play a part in shaping it.

Culture is a kind of ‘social energy’ that builds up over time and  can motivate people to change or create barriers that slow, or stop action. When you make a choice to create a great place by focusing on children’s mental health wellbeing, you are choosing to be deliberate and purposeful in creating an organisational culture that supports this.

Five practical tips to help you create the place you want

  1. Reflect on your current situation.  Learn about your community – find its story. From everyone’s perspective. Use surveys to collect information and build a picture of your current situation.
  2. Look, Listen and Feel–from all angles. At the next staff meeting take a walk through your environment. Give each person a role to play. Ask them to imagine they are a new parent, child or staff member and ‘take a walk in their shoes’. Notice what you see, hear and feel and consider how welcome you feel in this space. Thinking about the service from another’s point of view can help you create a great place.
  3. Use the NQS & EYLF to guide your thinking and planning.
  4. Develop policies informed by your service’s philosophy statement,Early Childhood Australia’s Code of Ethics and current advice from recognised authorities to embed changes (NQS p 106).
  5. Culture matters. Learning environments are welcoming spaces when they reflect and enrich the lives and identities of children and families participating in the setting and respond to their interests and needs (EYLF p15).

This article was first published on Shared Thinking. Read the original article here.

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KidsMatter Early Childhood

KidsMatter is a mental health and wellbeing initiative for children. KidsMatter Early Childhood works with early childhood education and care services to support the mental health and wellbeing of young children, their families and early childhood educators using a promotion, prevention and early intervention framework. Visit the website by clicking here.

3 thoughts on “Design community together”

    Clare McHugh says:

    would add: Choose tools to support the process. It can help circulate the ideas and keep everyone in the loop. Free tools (e.g. Survey Monkey, Doodle etc) can take the headache out of surveys (for the surveyor and the surveyed). There are social media options too where information can be posted and people can visit, comment etc as needed. ECA is experimenting with a messaging app for teams (with the unsettling name slack.com)

    Jenny says:

    KidsMatter clearly knows what it’s doing when it comes to kids, with pragmatic advice that I can appreciate. Kids mental health is perhaps the most (or is the most!) important aspect of development, and having a welcoming community is critical here. I agree with Clare that the social media aspect is another element to brining safer communities to kids.

    Dario says:

    That takes us up to the next level. Great ponstig.

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