Tag Archives: kindergarten

The gifts of a lifetime

In my previous post I mentioned Barbara, giver of the Happiness Kit.

Long before the Happiness Kit came into my household, Barbara (and her family ) gave us other gifts: the gift of thoughtful words, like these,

Barbara's Words, School Magazine 1944

Barbara’s  student words about our duty and responsibility to establish a saner world for our children: School Magazine 1944

and the gift of Angela, otherwise known as my sister-in-law. This coming week it will be Angela’s birthday. This post is my birthday  gift to Angela. ~

I write a lot about reading; reading books, in particular.

This is where my official reading life began;  Lautoka European School,

My brother; the advance party on the reading path.

My brother, first row, 4th from the left; the advance reading party; my mentor at L.E.S.

a small school, in a small colonial town, on a dot of an island, in the vast Pacific Ocean.  My reading ‘prowess’ was acquired, staid word upon staid word, with the assistance of the utterly dull, ‘what-have-these-people-got-to-do-with-my-life’  Janet and John readers, and a young teacher who, whilst relatively benign most of the time, once had the audacity to strap some of us on the back of our legs for failing to recognise the word of the day on the blackboard ~ “BARK”.  I was offended, and still am to this day! WOOF! 😀

Despite this unfortunate hiccup in my early reading days, my enthusiasm for reading did not falter. I attribute that enthusiasm to the pre-reading skills that were nurtured at home,

Playing with Mother aka reading readiness

Gallivanta playing with Mother aka reading readiness

and at  my mother’s kindergarten, through play and story-time. I don’t remember being read to, but I do remember the books that were read and that I later learned to read by myself. Many of those books remain on my bookshelves.  Here’s a sample:

As I was learning to understand, and love, the written word in Lautoka, about 200kms to  the East, another young girl was already well on the road to reading her way through the world of books.

In May, this year, that young girl, now all grown up as Angela Namoi, was awarded the  Pixie O’Harris Award for Distinguished and Dedicated Service to the Development and Reputation of Australian Children’s Books at the  Australian Book Industry Awards.  It was a fitting honour for Angela’s hard work and enormous contribution to children’s literature.  But more than that, it seems to me, the award acknowledges how from the smallest of beginnings, a few, simple written words, be they Janet and John or Pearl Pinkie and Sea Greenie, come riches far greater than any we can possibly  imagine when, in that magical nanosecond, we first decipher those squiggles on the page before us.

Angela puts it like this in these excerpts from her acceptance speech for the Pixie O’Harris award.

This is a huge honour and something I couldn’t have imagined in my wildest dreams.

Pearl Pinkie and Sea Greenie by Pixie O’Harris was a favourite children’s book of mine – who’d have thought that I would one day win an award bearing her name.

There are people to thank!……….

My parents are Australian, but I was born and raised in Fiji. My father was a missionary so we had very little money. Although our clothes might have been sewn from old curtains, it’s thanks to my mother’s excellent sense of priorities that our house was always full of books.

Growing up on a small island meant we were exposed to influences from absolutely everywhere. We read books from all over the world and I was always fascinated by the variations in language, and how connected that was to geography.

This has fed my passion for diversity of voice, so I have greatly enjoyed working to ensure the Australian voice is heard LOUD AND CLEAR in the wider world!

My early experiences confirmed the importance of books in a child’s life. The stats are there for everyone to see – broadly, a child who has books in their home is a child who will do better in life. I believe this passionately.

 

To that I would add: Congratulations and Happy Birthday Angela. You are much-loved.

Related but separate: two examples of Australian Children’s Literature

Possum Magic by Mem Fox

and  The Arrival by Shaun Tan

There are many more. Next time you read a children’s book, take a quick look and check its country of origin. You may find you are in the good company of an Australian. 😉

© silkannthreades

 

 

 

Backyard learnings

When I was very young, I went to kindergarten (pre-school) in my own back yard; my  very own backyard on the tropical island of Fiji. The kindergarten was owned by my mother who was also the sole teacher. It was a wonderful little school and the best part of it was that I didn’t have to leave it to go home. It was home, and I could play there all day and every day for as long as I wanted. It was a very pleasant introduction to education.

Backyard Kindy

Backyard Kindy

That’s me at the top of the slide! At least I think it is!

Sand and sun and stories

Sand and sun and stories

My father made most of the equipment including the much loved cars made from packing boxes.

As the only kindergarten in town, (and possibly the entire Colony of Fiji), there was always a waiting list for my mother’s school. She hated turning away children  but there was a limit to the number of little ones she could handle on her own. The fees charged were miniscule, token, in fact, because her training and background were in the old New Zealand  tradition of free education for kindergarten children. (Plus, I think the colonial authorities may have had some rules about  private enterprise on colonial property, which our house was! ) She took that tradition with her from New Zealand to Fiji, and stood by it, throughout her working life as a teacher/school owner/manager.

We had a great selection of books at my mother’s kindy. I still have many of them but here are two favourites of mine.

One of the Nine Stories has fallen out of favour but the remaining eight are still popular with today’s children, as far as I know.

So, in this simple setting, with these little books, and others like them, my interest in literature, in reading, took its first steps.

Today, I am reading on my laptop via  Project Gutenberg Australia “The Diary of a Provincial Lady” by E.M Delafield. I feel that this passage was written for me:

‘January 14th.–I have occasion to observe, not for the first time, how extraordinarily plain a cold can make one look, affecting hair, complexion, and features generally, besides nose and upper lip. Cook assures me that colds always run through the house and that she herself has been suffering from sore throat for weeks, but is never one to make a fuss. (Query: Is this meant to imply that similar fortitude should be, but is not, displayed by me?) Mademoiselle says she hopes children will not catch my cold, but that both sneezed this morning. I run short of handkerchiefs.

January 16th.–We all run short of handkerchiefs.’

By my bedside table, for evening reading, I have “Toujours Provence” by Peter Mayle.  For any time reading, I have “Poem for the Day’ edited by Nicholas Albery and “To Bless the Space Between Us” by John O’Donohue. For idle moments, I have the newspaper where I read that the Humane Society of the United States has endorsed the launch of DogTV, a round the clock digital cable channel, specifically programmed for your dog.  I have not passed on this news to my little friend, Jack, but, then, he is  content to soothe his ears with the voices from  Radio New Zealand (http://www.radionz.co.nz/). I do hope, however,  he closed his ears when the announcer said that our Parliament has just passed  legislation to regulate the sale of legal highs, (party pills and synthetic cannabis).  Sadly, this legislation which  requires manufacturers to prove their products are safe for human use, before they can be sold in New Zealand,  will certainly  mean a continuation of unnecessary animal testing . I can’t help thinking that many of us  would do well to return to our kindergarten roots. We would do well to  remember how much pleasure and fun and wonderful highs we got from our very first books, featuring members of the animal kingdom.

Here is another of my favourite books that I first met in the kindergarten in my very own backyard.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

© silkannthreades