The Service is further supported through strong leadership, a diverse team of Educators, long-standing community relationships and new community partnerships designed to create engaging, fun, exciting and memorable experiences for all children and Families.
Located in Torquay, Busy Bees at Fraser Coast is situated on an acre of beautiful natural landscape. Surrounded by its outdoor Rainforest, Barnyard, Waterpark and Garden World spaces, the Service creates a perfect setting for children to be confident and capable learners, a quality that Service Manager, Melanie Gapes captures as part of her learning philosophy.
Melanie has been the Service Manager for the past 3 years and has over 20 years’ experience in the Early Childhood Education and Care Sector. Melanie believes, “Every child needs to feel safe, secure and important. With the right support and environment in place, children are capable of learning and achieving anything. The children learn so much in our outdoor settings, they develop empathy and care towards living things and love the responsibility of helping to care for the animals and environment”.
The Busy Bees at Fraser Coast outdoor environment includes a unique and inspiring Barnyard and Garden World which is situated at the Service and is managed by their very own Ranger, Miss Vikki who was specifically chosen to design an educational program that utilises these environments.
The Barnyard program welcomes the children to join Miss Vikki in the barnyard each day with the opportunity to work alongside her to care for, interact and engage with the goats, guinea pigs, birds and chickens in a way that is both enjoyable and respectful. As the children are viewed as confident and capable learners, they are welcomed to be involved in the maintenance of the barnyard, forming connections not only with Miss Vikki and the Educators but with the beautiful animals. Many of the children find the animals very calming and appreciate being able to responsibly look after them. The Barnyard also welcomes children’s families and is a popular area of the Service to visit during morning drop off as families leave for work.
The Garden World creates an environment where children are offered the opportunity to be hands on through interacting and learning about the natural environment, growing food from seeds or scraps, composting, worm farming and tending to the growing gardens. A variety of citrus trees, herbs and vegetables are grown and then taken to the kitchen to provide yet another opportunity to see what edible foods can be created by what has been grown at the Service. Miss Vikki focuses on the children’s interests to form ongoing projects. Green frogs, bee’s and insects have all been some great topics that our children have been involved in over long periods of time as they continue to research, learn about and create improved natural spaces that these living creatures will enjoy and flourish in.
Bush Kindy at Busy Bees at Fraser Coast
Busy Bees at Fraser Coast offers Bush Kindy for the Kindergarten children. The Bush Kindy program allows the Educators and children to leave all of their usual learning resources behind. This is replaced by rope, material, clip boards, drawing tools, insect catchers, magnifying glasses and other tools that help create an active learning process where children become directly involved in their surrounds. Nature inspires the children to become little explorers that are curious, engaged and independent, offering an opportunity to navigate new spaces, challenges, imagination and discover a whole new way of learning.
Service Manager, Melanie states, “What we find from Bush Kindy is that the children really absorb all of what is happening in their surroundings. They take notice of the trees, the bark and the tiny insects hidden away. They find treasures, collect sticks and other natural items. They work collaboratively together sharing ideas and making new discoveries”.
Focusing on the outdoor environment and Bush Kindy at the Service allows children to:
- Develop team work and social skills
- Develop self-awareness, confidence and resilience
- Explore the elements of nature (earth, wind, fire, air)
- Expand their knowledge across the curriculum
- Have freedom and time to explore using multiple senses
- Develop skills in child led play
Community relationships and involvement is very important to Busy Bees at Fraser Coast. The Service has a strong relationship with their local library and local state and high school and are continually finding ways to continue growing relationships across the community. Some of the community partnerships that the Service have throughout the year are:
- Working with the local library to promote early literacy to children and families. This includes visits to the library and visits from the local librarian.
- Actively participating in the Annual Illumination Parade (Whale Festival) each year. The Service creates a large float and children, families and educators are encouraged to participate and get involved.
- Strong relationships with the local primary school and high school. The Service is invited to transitional visits, library visits and bush tucker garden visits.
Establishing relationships with our local Butchulla community. The Service has started to create a bush tucker garden, the local dance group has attended the Service and there are some future experiences planned, including a traditional smoking ceremony.
Interview with Service Manager, Melanie Gapes
We caught up with Melanie to discuss in more detail what she values most being the Service Manager for Busy Bees at Fraser Coast.
What do you find most rewarding about working as Service Manager at Busy Bees at Fraser Coast?
Watching the positive impacts you can have via growth and continued improvements within the Service. Having the ability to coach other Educators and driving changes which over time you can see the true benefits of – improved practices, inspiring environments, happy children and families and the wonderful learnings that are taking place each and every day. I love encouraging growth amongst my team, often pushing them outside of their own comfort zones but the end result is not only have they benefited by developing new skills but our children benefit also from what they bring each day.
How do you know when you have had a positive impact on a child’s learning or development?
When I can view the wonderful documentation that our educators produce sharing with us the wonderful learning that has taken place, new developmental milestones achieved or a beautiful child’s voice that share’s with us what they have learnt. Listening to Families feedback is also a great indicator, when Families can see positive changes and they share with us then this is that something a little extra special.
What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned from the children you work with?
The most valuable thing is just how individual and unique every child is, each one beautiful in their own way. Their view on life is so simple, what they want from us is just our time to stop and see life from their point of view. The time to sit for a minute, to listen to their stories and to share their love. What they teach us is to slow down a little. Even on a crazy day where everything feels as though it is going wrong, nothing beats a beautiful cuddle from one of our children. They instinctively know when you need this I am sure. I have also learnt over the years that children are so capable. More capable than we often realise – give them the opportunities and they will show us that they can achieve the most amazing things.
What makes Busy Bees Fraser Coast so special?
Our philosophy and focus on our natural and living environment is that something extra special. We have such a wonderful space that allows us to embrace our outdoors and all that it has to offer. Projects focused on bees, frogs, lizards and other living things generate such enthusiasm and a love for lifelong learning. The opportunity for hands on learning within our barnyard, our garden world and also our Bush Kindy program is something that other services often need to go on excursions to experience. We have it all in our own backyard. Our families and community are also very important to us. Our educators go that extra mile always for each of our children and Families.
We hope this Service Spotlight has given you some wonderful insights into Busy Bees at Fraser Coast. We welcome you to find out more about Busy Bees at Fraser Coast by visiting our website or booking a tour where you can meet Melanie and the wonderful team of Educators in person and view the beautiful learning spaces, facilities and outdoor environments that Busy Bees at Fraser Coast is so loved for.
To find out more information about Busy Bees at Fraser Coast or to book a tour visit: https://www.busybees.edu.au/locations/torquay/