On Wednesday the 6th of November, a group of children from Room 34 went on an excursion to Parliament House. This opportunity stemmed from an idea from Lucy who asked her educators if we could visit Parliament House as this is her mums place of work.
Early that morning the children set out into our community to catch the free city bus to Parliament House. They were all very excited and shared their personal experiences of being on buses before. As we arrived, we stopped outside the building and the children marvelled at the profoundness of the structure. The steps, the pillars and the size of the building were all noted. We entered the building through security and the internal ceiling immediately caught their attention. They began discussing how high the roof was before trying to calculate how many levels high building went. They used clues such as barriers and changes in the wall fixtures to support their ideas.
Soon our official tour guides arrived, the Hon. Emily Burke and Lucy. The children were all very excited and eagerly listened as Emily explained what they were searching for. As the children explored, they needed to find all the Australian flags that were hiding around the building. Emily showed the children through the different chambers and taught us how things have changed throughout time. We learnt about what happens in each room and even elected our own Speaker, President and Clerk!
One space that the children particularly enjoyed was visiting the Parliament library. Books of all shapes, colours and sizes covered the walls right up to the ceiling. The children were very impressed. Emily talked to us about why this was such a special place. They particularly loved learning about what happened when the Queen came to visit and she was served Mock Turtle Soup for lunch. Next we took some time to do some drawings in the library and were told this would be used for something special later on in our tour.
The children explored the hallways and learnt about the different paintings that hung from the walls. They noticed how big they were and how there were so many different books. We even knocked on our Premier’s office door – but sadly he wasn’t in.
As our visit came to a close, we visited the library one last time. They had a special surprise waiting for us. A gift bag with goodies about our amazing country as well as our very own badge that was made from our drawings earlier that day in the library. Soon it was time to leave and we thanked our amazing tour guides for inviting us to come and visit such an important place. Emily had one last surprise for us though – she showed us the small secret door of Parliament House which led us right back to North Terrace.
We finally said farewell to our friends and headed along King William Road to catch our bus back to Halifax Street. One the way the children talked eagerly about what they saw and their favourite parts of the excursion.
Democracy in the early years is all about teaching children that their opinions are important and that each child’s thoughts and feelings should be listened to and valued. Democracy is also about teaching children that sometimes we are given the power to choose and make decisions as individuals and as a group. This also links with Outcome Area 1 of the Early Years Learning Framework – ‘Children have a strong sense of Identity’. Providing children with the opportunity to share a space that they have strong family connections to with their Halifax Street family strengthens the connection between home life and the centre.