28 Mar 2019 at 12:00AM
Top End | Early and Primary Years Learning
The return to Bininj families’ traditional homelands at Marlkawo in West Arnhem Land in 2018 was the next chapter in the journey of Children’s Ground supporting the right and determination of local leaders to change the future for their kids.
For many children, it meant that their learning, privileging their culture and led by families could continue. From the start of the dry season, Children’s Ground began offering Early Learning and Wellbeing at Marlkawo. Learning was happening on Country where people are now living on their traditional lands. The young men built a learning shelter from boughs, and at times long day learning was running six or even seven days a week. Dedicated Western learning occurs in the morning, through culturally relevant content. This was prioritised by the community who are keen that children have strong English numeracy and literacy. First language is used through the learning environment supported by first language teachers. In the afternoons regular creative arts, play based and cultural learning occurs. This continues often in the evenings and weekends at the outstation, on bush trips and at culturally important sites.
All the children regularly engaging with Children’s Ground have an individual Learning & Wellbeing plan, developed by Western and Bininj educators with each child’s family; and their attendance is officially recognized in the NT through an MoU with the Jabiru Area School (JAS) for primary school aged children living in Marlkawo.
Every morning we go for a walk through the bush and collect things that represent the two describing words that are our focus for the learning session. The things we collect are then used in our writing and numeracy literacy for the session. On this day (pictured above) many kids collected bones as their ‘natural’ objects. After counting and measuring the bones, the kids made up stories or wrote stories about the bones, and in the afternoon we also used them in our cultural learning. Bininj educators taught the kids to collect and make the paint for the bones and we turned them into masks used in dancing.
Above (L-R): Cecily Djanjdomerr and Roxanne Narborlhborlh