Excursions are a big part of our education process here at Choklits Child Care Centre, for both the wonderful fun and incredible learning opportunities they provide. We know how valuable it is for children to have experience with a wide array of different situations and people, particularly when it increases their connections within their community as it helps give them the confidence to explore that environment further.
Recently, Elena, our kindergarten teacher, facilitated an excursion to the post office. The idea to take the kindergarten children at Choklits to our local post office stemmed from the amazing relationship we have developed with the people in aged care at Estia Health Ringwood. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, we visited the aged care home once a month, which the educators and children loved. The children formed wonderful relationships with the residents, and they created such a great energy with the kids by teaching them new games and conversation skills.
Unfortunately, restrictions still do not permit us to visit at this stage, and the children are really missing those connections, so we decided to try becoming pen-pals and writing letters instead. Kindergarten aged children are so enthusiastic about going out and meeting people in the community, so we thought this was a great opportunity to explore further by going to the post office to send our letters.
Each of the children wrote a letter introducing themselves, with their name, what they like to do, their favourite colour and where they are from. This was a valuable opportunity to practice their writing skills, with help from their educators of course. They painted pictures to include as well. The children also wrote a big letter together with Elena, about why we are unable to visit and asking the Estia Health residents to send a post card.
Elena also used this as a learning opportunity to explore money and counting. The children helped Elena to count out money to pay for the postage, which sparked a great conversation about the different coins and notes. The kids observed the different numbers and values, and noticed the animals and the queen on the currency.
The post office is nearby Choklits Child Care Centre at Ringwood, so we were able to walk there. On the way, Elena took the time to answer the children’s questions they had about about the situations they encountered. For example, when we left the centre, we walked through a carpark to take a quieter route away from the main road, and we met a person at the gate who was walking their dog. The children we very excited to talk to her which was lovely, and they had great fun introducing themselves to her dog. As we continued on our walk, we saw a construction site, which the children were very interested in. They enjoyed waving and introducing themselves to the construction workers, who stopped to talk to them.
We also walked past lots of houses and looked at the numbers, which led to a conversation about their own homes; the types of houses they have, their gardens and fences, and their differences and similarities. This was a great chance to discuss a topic not frequently discussed at the centre, and one which the children love chatting about!
We could smell the eucalyptus trees and different flowers which brought about an excellent sensory discussion and a conversation about how different weather conditions, like the rain, can change the way things smell. The children also enjoyed observing the deciduous trees and their leaves changing colour with the seasons.
During our walk, we encountered traffic lights when we needed to cross the road and talked about road safety, and the indicators that it is safe to cross a road. We also passed roadwork signs which sparked another conversation about construction work, and furthered our discussion about safety. The children were particularly excited by the digger that was there and loved talking to the construction workers about their machines.
We had many interactions with community members on our short walk which was just fantastic as we had such a wonderful response from people in the community. Everyone stopped to smile and wave, which was a great chance for the children to connect. Our kinder kids are very inquisitive and curious about their world, and this was a great opportunity to build their confidence in communicating with others.
Our educator Sam spoke to the postmaster before our visit, and asked if he could speak to the children about his job. He was very excited to do so, because he actually worked as a teacher when he lived in India previously.
All of the children were very polite and well-mannered, and introduced themselves to him without being prompted to. Elena facilitated a conversation between him and the children, where he showed us the different types of envelopes and explained how to send letters. He also talked about the journey a letter takes from the post office to it’s recipient, which the kids found really interesting.
When we were ready to send our letters, we looked at the stamps and talked about writing the address to send it to. We handed it in at the post office and sent it off. Now the kids are eagerly awaiting the response of the Estia Health residents!
In everyday family life, we often only go into the post office momentarily on the way to and from other activities, which leaves little time for learning experiences or exploration of the environment. Taking the time to turn it into an excursion was a great opportunity for the children to learn more about post offices the people who work there and how mail works. This increases their general knowledge and understanding of the world around them, and they were very proud of the new things they learnt!