Children Services Teacher
Young children don’t just learn about new cultures through osmosis. Intentional teaching must be a part of the cultural awareness experience for young children. Here is an experience I have seen countless times in services. Reflect on your practice and consider, are you truly making the most of teaching children about the cultural significance of this activity or are you just creating a pretty black, yellow and red picture?
This activity involves painting the Aboriginal flag onto a child’s hand and creating a collage of hand printed Aboriginal flags. While you are painting the flag onto children’s hands make the most of this fantastic opportunity to have an intimate conversation with the child about the significance this particular flag represents. The act of gently painting onto the child’s hand can help to focus and relax the child as they feel the paint and brush, brushing onto their skin. Drop your voice and speak softly directing your voice to the child. Using a softer ‘story telling’ type of voice gives the silent message to the child to “Stop listen, I have something important to say, just to you!” These physical actions will hopefully also help the child to block out some of the other distractions in the room. You have now created a beautiful intimate moment where you can respectfully and carefully share with the child authentic and powerful information about a cultural group. You might say:
“Did you know I am painting the Aboriginal flag onto your hand. This red colour is the first colour we’re painting. This colour was chosen because it looks like the red ochre of the earth – did you know that in some parts of Australia the dirt is the colour red?
The black is the colour chosen to represents the Aboriginal people. Did you know the Aboriginal people were the first people to live here in Australia?
This yellow that I’m painting is for the sun. The sun is very important. We need the sun to help us live. It gives us strength and it helps things grow. Did you know that every country has their own flag and Australia has 3 flags? This flag is just one of them. It’s the Aboriginal flag…”
This intimate one on one learning opportunity with a child allows you to have a beautiful in-depth meaningful discussion about the flag and about its significance to the Aboriginal people, in a way where children can ask you questions and respond to your facial expressions. Make exploring flags intentional, interesting and exciting in a way that engages the child to think deeply and to understand the significance of this flag.