5th Summit Report

5th EC-MENz Annual Summit 19th – 20th March 2011

After a series of Summits held in cities with overseas keynote speakers, we decided on a change of emphasis this year by holding the Summit in the bush at the settlement of Peel Forest. Participants camped either at the camping ground down the road, around the Peel Forest Hall, or inside the hall itself, where most of the sessions were held.

Catering for the Saturday and Sunday lunches was done by the local church ladies. We had a barbecue on the Saturday evening utilising the huge local barbecue at the hall.

Most sessions on Saturday were led by attendees at the Summit. People came prepared with ideas to share with the whole group.

On Saturday morning after an impressive Powhiri by David Baxendell, our President, Russell Ballantyne, gave a ‘State of the Nation’ address, generating much discussion.

Russell Balantyne and David Baxendell gave a workshop Risk Taking in ECE, they discussed and answered questions such as “Why is risk taking important for children’s development?” “They may get hurt but they won’t be injured!”

Most of the activities that people offered were to do with risk taking in ECE centres. While it is important not to over-emphasise gender differences, there is a tendency for men ECE teachers to allow children to take greater risks than their female counterparts, and this can cause friction between teaching staff in centres. So discussion and demonstration revolved around the importance of children being able to take risks as part of their learning and development, and how to define and create strategies within teaching teams to do this. We also discussed what equipment is helpful in this regard, and how we relate risk taking to safety issues, the EC Regulations, Te Whāriki, safety and supervision.

Adam Buckingham gave a workshop on Turning Waste into Toddler Treasures and Ideas for Valuing Fathers.It was a pictorial tour of creative ideas made from waste materials that have been added to the outdoor environment of early childhood centres. The workshop included essential information, tips and practical strategies to involve fathers (or the father figure).

The barbecue and party in the evening were very successful.

On Sunday morning were taken in two groups for guided bush walks by a husband and wife team from DOC called “Exploring the Natural World from a Child’s Perspective”. This involved a series of activities and observation which they often use with young children, utilising all the senses. It was especially useful for making us notice the small objects in the bush as well as the big trees etc.

While this new style of having the Summit was much appreciated, it was realised that such venues do need to be near an airport as otherwise transport becomes more difficult.