Outside School Hours Research Hub

Vignette 2 – The Gecko

Jess works at a pack up and set up service. Part of the daily routine includes educators and children working together to erect all the folding tables they need for indoor play. Whilst setting up, one of the children found a dead gecko caught up in the legs of one of the tables. Many of the children became fascinated by the gecko., which they placed in a plastic bag so that they could examine it.

Some of the children engaged in shared wondering about the gecko, about how it might have died and how its body became preserved, which led to some members of the group starting research into mummification. One child particularly involved in the exploration was 8-year-old Arun. Arun was already interested in mummies and ancient Egypt, and many books, posters and toys at home. He enjoyed taking up the role expert for the group, sharing his knowledge with others, including the older children. Interest in the gecko spread to other parts of the program.

The educators and children displayed the gecko near the sign in and out sheet, triggering the interests of parents when they came to collect their children. Jess took advantage of parents’ interest, using it as an opportunity to engage them in discussion about OSHC and what they and their child thought about OSHC.

Jess was also excited when some parents began sharing their own experiences of gecko and other wildlife encounters. One parent even shared photographs and stories of pet lizards and snakes that they had at home, something that fascinated many children and educators. 

Outcome 1: Children and young people have a strong sense of identity

Arun’s story is a good example of how a spontaneous activity can contribute to one child having a strong sense of identity. Although quite young, Arun already had an interest in mummies and ancient Egyptian culture. This experience gave Arun the opportunity to share his extensive knowledge with other children and educators. The educators were amazed at how much Arun knew and acknowledged his expertise by telling him about the new knowledge they had gained from their conversations. As a result of the multiple opportunities resulting from the dead gecko, Arun felt recognised and respected for his knowledge about mummification. This contributed to Arun experiencing a sense of belonging throughout the service, including     with older children, same-age peers, educators and parents.  

Educators supported Outcome 1 in a range of ways. They recognised children’s interest in the gecko, and motivated and encouraged them to pursue their interests. Jess and the other staff communicated respectfully with Arun by asking him if he was happy to share his knowledge with others. They were present during his initial interactions with other children so that he felt safe and supported when building these new relationships. The educators were alert to parents’ interest in the experience, encouraging them to share their stories and photographs with children, and providing a way for children to experience pride and confidence in their achievements.

Outcome 2: Children and young people are connected with and contribute to their world

In this vignette, Outcome 2 is supported in a variety of ways. Jess and the educators supported children to experience a sense of belonging to their OSHC community. They gave children the space to negotiate their own roles and relationships. They supported children to take up a variety of roles including expert, investigator and helper. They sometimes modelled respectful ways of interacting with other to scaffold these emerging relationships. The educators tried to be present in children’s discussions so that they could encourage children to communicate respectfully with each other.   

Jess recognised the opportunities present in this experience to build connections between the service and parents. She asked children if she could display the gecko by the sign out sheet, hoping that parents would also find it interesting. She, and the other educators encouraged parents and children to share their experiences and knowledge so that they could learn about their diverse knowledges and ways of being in their community.   

This activity also helped children to develop an awareness of the environment and the interdependence of living things. Their explorations of mummification and death helped them to learn about the life cycle of geckos and other creatures, and how they contribute to environmental processes.

Outcome 3: Children and young people are confident and involved learners

The experience described in this vignette contributes to children and young people becoming confident and involved learners. The educators responded to children’s emerging interests by sharing their fascination with the gecko. They encouraged the children to conduct their own investigations by providing them with access to resources like the plastic bag they used to store the gecko. One educator helped children look for information about mummification on the internet. The educators were conscious of how they participated in discussions. Whilst they enthusiastically involved themselves in children’s conversations, they were careful not to take over, allowing children to become confident in directing their own activities and investigations. The educators were careful to allow children to experiment with their own solutions and ideas, as opposed to providing them or telling them if they thought they might be wrong.   

Jess and the educators actively supported Arun to feel like a confident and involved learner by encouraging him to share his extensive knowledge with others. This provided Arun with important opportunities to communicate his own research and ideas. As a result of the multiple opportunities resulting from the dead gecko, Arun felt recognised and respected for his knowledge about mummification. This experience encouraged Arun to do further research into mummification, building on his existing knowledge and allowing him to experience even greater confidence as a successful learner. 

Research project being conducted by Professor Kylie Smith and Dr Bruce Hurst from The University of Melbourne and Associate Professor Jennifer Cartmel from Griffith University

This research project aims to find out about how Outside School Hours services plan and program for gender equity. Outside School Hours services are unique and we want to understand what these changes mean and look like in practice. The research will do this by asking you to share your perspectives on the practices you employ in your service. It will also ask you about your knowledge and attitudes towards gender equity work with primary age children.