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Thomastown Community Kindergarten
Start date: Jun 1, 2015, End date: Sep 1, 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

We would like to carry out this project to provide an alternative and holistic form of early years education to our local community. The project – Thomastown Community Kindergarten – is a Steiner Waldorf based Kindergarten and its aim is to provide a warm, nurturing environment to children aged 2.5+ - like a home away from home. The aim of Steiner Waldorf education is to educate the whole child, head, heart and hands. The Steiner Waldorf early years curriculum is broad and balances the needs of children. It achieves its objectives by encouraging/facilitating learning through play, emphasis on nature-based play, the maintenance of daily and weekly rhythms and unhurried learning. We will have 2 volunteers at the project and the activity will last for one year - from 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016. The profile of the volunteers will be • Interested in working with young children • Interested in the Steiner method of education and interested in learning more about it • Interested in Childcare/teaching as a career • Have skills or interests that could be easily transferrable into learning experiences while in the Kindergarten e.g. volunteers with an interest in arts and craft, music, gardening, cooking, fundraising, blogging, • Have interests that match activities available in Thomastown e.g. choir, art, sport, environment • Show an interest in taking on projects and getting involved in groups. • Have shown some initiative in previous activities undertaken – some volunteering experience however short the time period. To facilitate language learning and cultural exchange we do not chose volunteers with the same mother tongue or from the same country. Description of activities The volunteer will work alongside members who are responsible for the overall well-being of the children. The volunteer is an extra person in the Kindergarten and his or her role will be to assist in the Kindergarten sessions in the mornings as well as to help the management committee (parents) with many other activities involved in running this project. The volunteer will attend a weekly meeting where the past week’s work will be reviewed and the coming week’s work will be planned. This is a central part of the reflective and planning process. The volunteer will be actively involved in the Kindergarten from 8.45 to 13.45 each day. In the afternoon/evening, he or she will work on a variety of tasks along with teacher / volunteer parent body who are responsible for the running of the Kindergarten or will meet with her mentor or spending time on her own project/journaling. The working methods for the volunteer will initially be job shadowing / hands on experience followed by daily reflection. Once the volunteers are settled into the project, the methods applied will be learning through on the job work, supervision, reflection and critical analysis of the day and mentoring. The volunteer's work tasks and learning will be managed by goal and target setting which will help all concerned to focus attention on the job in hand. Goals will be SMART - S (Specific) M (Measurable) A (Agreed) R (Realistic) T (Timed). This will include short, medium and long term goals/targets for the volunteer while they are in the Kindergarten. Work tasks will be reviewed weekly with the Supervisor and learning goals/targets will be reviewed fortnightly with the mentor. The results of the project will be that through play, children develop interactive skills such as co-operation, empathy, intuition and the ability to see things from the perspective of the other based on the three-fold image of the human being and it’s development. Physical, intellectual and spiritual development is therefore of utmost importance. A great sense of confidence and security is built up within the young child, preparing for the next stage of their development. We are hopeful that we will have a positive impact on all concerned - children, staff, volunteers, wider community of Thomastown and the volunteer's community when they return home. The impact on the volunteer would include language learning; independent living and management of finances; cultural exchange; community Involvement and greater experience of volunteering; work experience; and many practical skills of cookery, gardening, fundraising etc. The longer term benefit to the volunteer is that they will have broadened their experiences and achieved measurable learning outcomes and personal development that will benefit their career in the future and their future life as a European citizen.
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