Sonya Nedovic receives Early Childhood Australia Award

SonyaHeraldSunOur Early Childhood Educator, Sonya Nedovic, has been selected as the recipient of the Early Childhood Australia (ECA) Barbara Creaser Young Advocate Award for 2014. The purpose of this award is to support the development of a young early childhood educator and to encourage them to engage in advocacy on behalf of young children and the early childhood sector.

As the inaugural early childhood educator working to provide educational support for inpatients of the hospital, Sonya has developed an understanding of the ways in which learning opportunities can be provided for children with a chronic illness in the early years. She has successfully designed and developed a daily kindergarten experience for inpatients of the Children’s Cancer Centre and every morning these children come together in the ward Activity Room for learning. Sonya has also been responsible for developing a program which offers learning opportunities for children who are unable to leave their beds.

Given the clinical nature of the hospital and the fact that many children are unable to go outside, Sonya has drawn on her passion for environmental education, using her skills to develop learning opportunities where children feel as though they are connecting with the natural world.

Sonya has had an impact on the teaching team at the hospital by enhancing pedagogical knowledge related to early learning. She has also had an impact within the hospital setting by providing education for clinical staff including nurses, doctors and allied health staff about the importance of early childhood education.

Sonya is keen to use her award to enhance the professional growth of other early childhood educators by supporting them to create flexible learning programs. The hospital does not have a traditional classroom and, as a result, learning sessions are held in a variety of shared spaces, and at the bedside. Sonya says “In a changing hospital environment, it has been essential to ensure that every opportunity for learning is a quality one which engages and meets each child’s needs. I have developed strong skills in discovering which forms of representation children use to express themselves. I am really keen to share this knowledge with others to highlight how providing quality learning opportunities in non traditional settings can help early learners.”

Congratulations Sonya, we are very proud of you!

Gee up for Charity Race Day this September!

A50W6200_resizeThe Education Institute is delighted to partner with Fight Cancer Foundation for the inaugural Bendigo Bank East Malvern Charity Race Day as part of the 2014 Caulfield Cup Racing Carnival. The race day will take place on Sunday 28 September and Melbourne Racing Club will donate proceeds from ticket sales to support fundraising and provide awareness for the 17 charitable organisations involved.

Join us for this family friendly event. Tickets are $25 for adults, $10 for concession card holders and children 14 years and under are free. Go to the Charity Race Day website and select Fight Cancer Foundation from the drop down menu of charitable organisations when purchasing your tickets.

The Education Institute will run children’s activities at the Fight Cancer Foundation Marquee on Race Day and money raised from Fight Cancer Foundation’s ticket sales will be used to support children’s learning projects at the RCH and other Fight Cancer Foundation initiatives.

Fight Cancer Foundation has a long term relationship with the Education Institute and funds two teaching positions on the Kookaburra (Children’s Cancer) ward at The Royal Children’s Hospital. This means that children and young people receiving treatment for cancer do not miss out on vital learning support when they miss school.

We look forward to seeing you at this very special event.



Rural Youth Ambassadors visit RCH

EducationjourneyA group of committed Year 11 students from rural and remote Victorian schools recently spent a day at The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) exploring a range of issues which they feel impact on the quality of teaching and learning within rural communities.

These young people were taking part in a two day Orientation Forum as part of the Country Education Project’s Rural Youth Ambassadors initiative. The Rural Youth Ambassadors program was initiated in 2011 and aims to provide the education sector, rural communities and government with the perspective of rural youth, especially in relation to the provision of learning in rural and remote Victoria. It is also focused on the development of leadership skills and knowledge of young people within these communities.

The 18 Youth Ambassadors all agreed that a highlight of gathering at the hospital was meeting the staff from the RCH Education Institute  and finding out how the teaching and learning program operates for children and young people here. For them, it generated a lot of great discussion related to what constitutes a challenge or disadvantage in relation to accessing quality teaching and learning. As one young participant noted, “It highlighted that sometimes what I would consider to be a disadvantage can actually be a positive for someone else. No one wants to be stuck in hospital, but knowing that there are teachers at RCH who help with learning and communicating with your school showed me that there are different ways to think about some of the issues we face.”

For our teachers too, it was a very productive exchange of ideas. Lauren Sayer, Head of Teaching and Learning, commented that many of the issues raised by these young people during the forum are consistent with the issues faced by children and young people with a chronic illness. “As well as managing a chronic health condition, many of the children and young people we support are from rural areas. It was great to see these young people thinking about education in a very broad context and searching for solutions to ensure that all young people have access to quality learning opportunities,” Lauren said.

Alison Lester is a great ambassador for learning

AlisonLesterOur good friend Alison Lester, who was recently named the Literacy Ambassador for National Literacy and Numeracy Week, has been back in to The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) this week to facilitate a workshop with children and young people.

Alison, who frequently volunteers her time to work with children and young people at the hospital, demonstrated to students some of the techniques involved in using clay to create traditional tiles and reliefs using gargoyles as inspiration. Alison really enjoys helping children express their ideas and create representations of their own lives using a variety of mediums. It was lovely to watch her inspire the imagination of the children and young people involved and to hear how her conversations helped the children articulate some of the learning that was happening.

AlisonLester2Alison was the Australian Children’s Laureate in 2012 and 2013 and has published over 25 children’s books and young adult novels. She has won many awards including the 2005 Children’s Book Council of Australia Picture Book (CBCA) of the Year Award, the 2011 ABIA award and the 2012 CBCA Eve Pownall Book of the Year Award.

Her latest book, Kissed by the Moon, has been shortlisted for the 2014 CBCA Book of the Year in the Early Childhood category.

To find out more about Alison Lester visit her website at


New funding for RCH kinder kids

minister-1-400x266The Hon Wendy Lovell, Minister for Children and Early Childhood Development, visited The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) this week to announce further funding for our RCH Education Institute kindergarten program.

In a public address on Main Street on Tuesday, Minister Lovell announced a $44,145 state government contribution to the program — which will allow more of our young learners to access early education support.

Ms Lovell said the Napthine Government was proud to help the hospital deliver vital early years education to preschool-age children who are patients at RCH. “We want to make sure that those children who have extended stays in hospital, or even repeat stays, don’t have an interruption to their education,” Minister Lovell said.

Following the announcement, Minister Lovell attended a kindergarten session on the Surgical Care ward and observed an individual student learning session.

The RCH Education Institute has been operating a kindergarten learning program since the beginning of 2013. The program was established after RCH admissions data showed that many children were missing out on a kindergarten program for a significant period of time during their hospital stay. More than 300 children have benefited from the hospital’s kindergarten program since its inception.

Under the program, our early childhood teacher works in collaboration with families, schools and health professionals to develop individualised learning and development plans, which take into account the impact of a diagnosis on a child’s learning capabilities and needs.

Want to hear a good story?

jsimageTeaching our children the art of storytelling has lots of educational and developmental benefits. Children have an innate love of stories. Stories allow our children to create magic, teach them about life, about themselves and about others. So our teachers at the RCH Education Institute have enjoyed exploring a new storytelling app, Junior Storytellers, which allows children to explore some of the key elements of storytelling, animate their own stories and share their creations with friends and family.

Junior Storytellers aims to teach children the art of storytelling through interactive game play and non-intrusive video guidance. Designed to complement both kindergarten and primary school curriculums, Junior Storytellers aims to entertain and improve language skills.

Children can set up a particular scene, tap the record button, and create and narrate new stories on their iPads. Some of the noteworthy features of this app include the ability to record animated stories and then share these stories with others, the capacity for children to create their own avatars and change the emotions of the characters in their stories. Junior Storytellers also allows young people to experiment with creating both traditional narratives and free form stories.

Our teachers noted that many of the children and young people that we work with have engaged with the game-based elements of this app. Modifying situations and characters to suit the purposes of their individual stories and being able to create their own content which they can then share easily with a wider audience, has certainly fired the imagination of some of our young storytellers.

To find out more visit or download it for free from the App Store