Saturday, October 19, 2013

Learning About Community Helpers

We are experiencing terrible fires here in NSW at the moment, at one stage late last week there were more than 100 blazes across our state. The fires are still burning now, some uncontained, while our fire services work tirelessly in awful weather conditions to save homes, wildlife and people.
Photos from the front lines of these fires are terrifying and yet there are hundreds and hundreds of fire crew right there, plenty of whom are volunteers, risking their lives to do what they can.
Community helpers are important.
Fire services, paramedics, police officers, SES - there are so many different types of people in our communities and teaching our girls about their role is something we have been focusing on for the last year.
There are many ways children can learn about the helpers in their community:
* role play - using dress ups, dolls, puppets and props to learn about what community helpers do.
* borrow library books from your local library, focus on one community service area a week and learn all you can about them.
* use photos from the net or take them yourself so that children can learn the different uniforms, workplaces and roles of people in their community.
* learning symbols and signs - ambulances, local Police, fire stations, postal services - they all have their own emblems and logos that children can learn.
The main tool we have been using to teach our girls about the role of community helpers has been to visit these work places and meet the people who do these jobs.
We taught the girls about Fire and Rescue services last year and they decided they wanted to make pictures to say thank you to the fire fighters. 

We took their thank you messages and a box of cupcakes down to our local fire station and not only did they get to tell the firemen on duty "thank you" in person, they were welcomed inside the station, got to sit inside a fire truck and even got to man a fire hose. 
They chatted to the fire men and got to see their uniforms, their workplace, their safety equipment, their truck and were given show bags full of information on how to stay safe.
It was a wonderful experience for our girls and also, I realised, for the firemen. We have decided to make it a yearly trip to visit some of our local service centers to say thank you and show our appreciation. 

Ideas for visiting a local community service provider:
* call ahead. Some work places are suitable for children and some aren't. Some places are open at all times, and some are open temporarily. And of course the last thing you want to do is be in the way, so phoning ahead is always a good idea.
* send thank you messages and pictures through the mail or by email.
* get the whole class/family/school involved in thanking and learning about different community helpers.
*get the kids to think about what they would like to know or find out during their visit.
* make a donation or ask how you can help/be involved.