Mini Maestros acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the lands on which our classes are held and on which our program was developed, including, the Wurundjeri people (the Traditional Owners of the land containing our home city Melbourne). We pay our pay our respects to them and to their Elders, past and present.
The Mini Maestros program includes a rich variety of songs, rhymes and instrumental tracks with influences from many cultures. As well as learning musical skills, our program aims to develop the whole child. This includes cultural awareness. The Early Learning Framework applicable to pre-school settings across Australia emphasises the need for children to have a strong sense of their identity and for children to be connected to and contribute to their world. Mini Maestros is very aware of these aims in presenting and refining our program. Identity and awareness require the experience of traditional as well as contemporary influences. Across all 5 years of the program Mini Maestros students will be exposed to many different songs, rhymes and musical activities, from traditional to contemporary, and from various cultures.
As well as cultural awareness, the Australian Early Childhood Framework encourages children to understand the reciprocal rights and responsibilities necessary for active community participation and respond to diversity with respect. Children are born belonging to a culture which is influenced not only by traditional practices, but also by values and beliefs of particular families and communities. Respecting diversity means valuing and respecting practices, values and beliefs within the curriculum. Mini Maestros has no affiliation to any religion or faith, but recognises that religious observances and practices are a part of life for many people and references to everyday events or things such as Easter eggs, for example, are part of Australian cultural life.
Old and New
In addition to the issues of cultural relevance, our songs and rhymes for young children are chosen, or specifically written by us, for their linguistic (English – as we are an English speaking program) and musical values. Many traditional (which some may describe as old-fashioned) rhymes are still used today in music programs, early learning centres and in children’s book collections for very good educational reasons. These songs and rhymes allow children to hear different sounds in words, build their vocabulary, assist with their speech development and teach them about rhyming words and metre. One of the lovely aspects of learning music is the preservation of the old along with the discovery of the new plus the realisation that music rises above cultural differences.
Mini Maestros teachers receive specific training on ensuring that all children are treated equally as well as accommodating individual needs. We are intent on ensuring that some of the gender stereotypes that can creep into the early childhood education context, do not. For example, in role-play activities.
Different Learning Styles and Needs
Valuing diversity also means valuing children’s different capabilities and acknowledging the complexity of children’s lives and their families’ lives. Mini Maestros provides children with opportunities to lean about similarities and differences and how we can live, learn and play together.
Our teachers come from a wide range of experiences, but may not necessarily have specialist training in the area of special needs. Our teachers all have a great love and care for all children and have the skills and capacity to work with children at varying levels of development and with different learning styles. Our teachers understand and take very seriously their role to create an inclusive environment.