Gowrie Victoria has a deep appreciation for the importance of families as a child’s first and most influential teachers. At each of our six early learning services, families are invited to participate in their children’s Gowrie journey through the sharing of knowledge, experiences, and culture. Fostering inclusion and valuing the diverse knowledge and cultures of our families helps develop a strong sense of identity and belonging in children. Here, we explore three ways in which these vital family bonds are nurtured.

1. Sharing skills and talent

Our diverse communities give us access to a vibrant range of skills and talents extending beyond the classroom, and families are invited to share their time and skills, where possible.

Children at Clare Court were recently treated to a special visit from one parent, Jacinda, who is the founder, CEO and artistic director of not-for-profit organisation L2R Dance – a program providing free dance programs, arts leadership opportunities, and employment pathways for children and young people who are traditionally under-represented in mainstream arts and culture.

Jacinda says she thought it would be a great opportunity to involve the children in one of her hip-hop dance classes. “Dance is such a great tool for creative development, and I wanted to create a fun experience for the children so they could also enjoy the health and wellbeing benefits,” she says. “It’s a good way to contribute something back to the community and really strengthens those relationships. Many of the children recognise me when I walk into the room and will stop to say hello, and it gives my own child a sense of pride.”

2. Sharing culture and traditions

Celebrating our diverse communities is an integral part of Gowrie life. We believe in honouring cultural traditions and actively learning about each other’s backgrounds.

At Gowrie at the Harbour, families are invited to share the different ways they celebrate important festivals, such as Eid, Holi, or Lunar New Year.

Educator Dimple Verma says celebrations are a fun and important way for children, families, and educators to actively learn about each other, and to honour the rich diversity of families within the service. “We always look forward to including different cultures and getting to know more about them by learning language and culture,” Dimple says. “On Harmony Day, families and children are invited to dress in traditional costume to help celebrate our cultural diversity and sense of belonging.”

Meanwhile, at Broadmeadows Valley, parents often join Early Childhood Educator Bassima Al Hadi in the kitchen to share recipes. “Part of our Adult English Program for beginners at GVBV is to involve parents in cooking a traditional meal for children,” Bassima says. “Cooking together with parents creates closer bonds and helps build a partnership with our families. We use this time to listen, share and talk with each other, helping us to recognise the cultural and social diversity of our families and communities.”

Bassima says the involvement of parents in Gowrie’s program offers the opportunity to support their children’s sense of achievement and wellbeing.

3. Sharing experiences

Events and experiences are another way to build a sense of belonging and community, with children often eager to include their families.

At Carlton Learning Precinct, the Honey Pot Market was such a success that children wanted to share the experience with their families. The market involved each of the different rooms creating their own wares to sell and buy with token money.

Educational Leader Kristie Dowell says the children crafted jewellery, dream catchers, bookmarks, vases and paper flowers to set up their own market experience. “They were so excited that we recently held another Honey Pot Market and invited the families to join in,” she says. “The market was a great way to bring us together as a whole service and to connect children’s families with us.”