TOUCHSTONES 

‘Communities for belonging’ instead of ‘groups for attending.’

Everything at Jabiru Kids starts with a feeling of belonging and fun.

Our TOUCHSTONES are things we can actually do and feel, by which we build ‘communities for belonging’, rather than just ‘groups for attending’.

Touchstones help us meet one of children’s most basic human needs, which is to experience an environment of trust and belonging where skills, values and attitudes they are learning inside the family and at school, can be reinforced and affirmed.

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Belonging

Every child is welcomed with genuine warmth, and what they have to contribute is celebrated in each Jabiru Kids school age care community.

Without the Touchstone of belonging, a child feels alienated and lost. Children know they belong when we know their names, care about them,  listen to their stories and opinions, and value the fact that they also listen to us. Belonging is the confident sense children have in who they are; both in relationship to other people like them, and to people different from them.

Being included and celebrated is not something that happens in a community despite children’s differences, but because of them.

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Peacefulness

Peacefulness is not just an absence of violence for children. It is a genuine feeling of being safe with each other and with themselves.

Feeling ‘at peace’ is a state of calm confidence even when things are not going well. Taking time and knowing skills to rest, relax, reflect and be calm are some of the  things children discover about peacefulness at Jabiru, that will be vital skills for feelings of wellbeing for the rest of their lives. In a Jabiru Kids community peacefulness also means that we are committed to children and adults knowing and practicing non-violent ways of being together, including at times of conflict. No violence, including bullying and abuse, is tolerated.

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Playfulness

Children need to be playful and have fun. There are some elements of a child’s development that happen best when they play, so a Jabiru Kids school age care community will always have time and space for playfulness and fun..

For example through play, children in the middle years of their development, around ages 8 – 12, learn skills like making independent choices, invention and creativity, courage bravery and resilience, capacity to respond to new challenges and circumstances, and how to make genuine  friendship attachments with other children.

Play helps children (and adults) who attend Jabiru Kids to overcome barriers of class, gender, culture, and ability by finding ways to include each other in the play activity. It also helps a child be a whole person in the here and now by reducing stress, increasing a sense of pleasure and happiness, and allowing the child to express feelings in a safe way.

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Safety

We look out for each other’s physical and emotional well-being, and help to protect each other from harm.

Taking risks is part of life and being together, but un-necessary risk is not part of community life. Jabiru Kids community life includes taking responsibility for the lives and safety of each other. Particularly where children are involved, community includes ensuring that responsible people exercise a duty of care for the safety of those children. But safety from harm is everyone’s business in a community, and we encourage each child to be aware of their responsibilities for their own safety and that of others around them.

This Touchstone also includes paying careful attention to the ways we handle and serve food, the ways we come into physical contact with children, the language we use, or the elements of their culture that we value.

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Fairness

Each child has the same rights and responsibilities, equal access to  resources, and is treated as an equal human being no matter what.

This Touchstone means that everyone has the same chance of taking on different roles in a community, and the same chance to learn and have opportunities.

To be fair, we use basic principles of community justice. When a child has done the wrong thing ‘punishment’ is not the first option. Children in Jabiru Kids communities will be helped to experience the consequences of their actions, take time for personal reflection. and listen to  feedback from others around them. This will always be offered in kindness, taking care to ensure that each child is part of the decisions and outcomes arising from their own actions.

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Dependability

Jabiru Kids communities are places that children can depend on.  Children know we are there for them in a familiar space. Familiar people who care, with familiar rules, food, toys, books and furniture. 

This Touchstone also means that at Jabiru we know what we stand for and why we exist.  Our staff are deeply committed to providing dependable routines and rules so that children feel a sense of comforting rhythm in their day. And it means that children will find being part of that community a comforting and safe experience.Dependability is the foundation of the architecture of any community. It’s what allows us to know where we stand and how we belong and that we can come back tomorrow and do it all again.

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Hopefulness

Jabiru Kids school age care communities help children take an optimistic view of their own future, the future of those around them, and of the world. Hopefulness is a positive quality even when times are dark and things go horribly wrong.

Even people who came out of times of horror through natural disaster, suffering personal sickness or loss, or disappointment when things turn out to be different from what they hoped, speak of the ways they found to live in hope; to find light in the darkness This is not to say that it’s easy. Jabiru Kids communities provide children with an environment that seeks a positive view of them and their future, and of the world and its future.

The Touchstone of Hope is not just about the distant future though. It is a daily strengths-based view about our relationships, about the things we are trying to achieve together and about reaching beyond even the smallest doubts and fears.

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Nurture

Nurture is the process of gentle care-giving within which children can learn and grow, so each Jabiru Kids school age care community is a place that practices and encourages nurture.

We are all on a journey of growth and learning that began with our birth, and there are some things that children (or any of us) can learn and practise best in a nurturing community. These are things like trust and cooperation, empathy and respect, confidence to share a thought or opinion, working or doing anything as part of a team, generosity and care-giving, or the ability to seek help from others in tough times. Children can test their interests and skills in different roles and behaviours and enjoy the experience of learning pretty much anything as a social experience. Looking for information together. Experimenting.  Discussing. Teaching and learning from each other.

The Touchstone of Nurture focusses on children’s growth and development. In particular, looking for their strengths and affirming those in each of them.

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Love

In a Jabiru Kids community each child knows that people around them see only the best in them and want only the best for them, in a deeply caring way. We do really love what we do and we love children. So we allow ourselves to show, through the careful safe ways that we communicate and work, our positive affirming emotional connections with children.

We know a community is loving by the ways that it takes care to create the space for the activity of love. Like taking the time to see and acknowledge the best in each other, taking delight in the happiness and wellbeing of others and seeing that our eyes light up with happiness we greet each other. It includes finding opportunities to surprise each other with unexpected acts of generosity and kindness. And it includes making and acting on hard decisions that are in the long term best interests of each other.

Of course it is also important to also say that we take enormous care with the professional boundary of this kind of loving community and relationship with children. No action by any adult crossing that boundary in any way that imposes on a child’s feelings of safety and privacy, or harms a child in any way, will be tolerated under any circumstance.

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Openheartedness

Confident communities to care about people BEYOND that community in other communities. In addition to the welcome of strangers who are at our doorstep, this is about the strangers we will never meet.

If a community only cares about itself, it will at best become stagnant and self-obsessed or at worst it might become so selfish that it actually restricts the rights of others or attacks them.

Knowing about and showing care for the needs of others including complete strangers, is a sign of a strong community. It is what allows us to care about communities in other countries at times of crisis, or because the opportunities they have are less than ours. It is also what allows us to enter the shoes of other people and exercise compassion for those who are doing it tough in our own country.

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Welcome

The Touchstone of Welcome is experienced in the daily process of meeting each other, and the strangers and visitors at our own doorway. It’s about embracing each other and them with a spirit of openness and warmth, and ensuring that for however long this visit takes, each person is treated as a friend.

We might be tempted to think of Welcoming only as something we do at the beginning of a relationship, or for visitors. On the contrary, it is its own endlessly renewing cycle of opening the arms of the community to each other. Later when we discuss the importance of food and eating together, it will be obvious how much of a role that plays in creating feelings of Welcome.

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Encouragement

The Touchstone of Encouragement is about the processes by which people become more confident and powerful, not just as individuals but and as a group. Sometimes this IS CALLED ‘em-POWER-ment’, but we prefer the idea of ‘en-COURAGE-ment’, but we mean the same thing.

Mostly when we think of ‘power’ we think of those who have and use power OVER us because of their position and status, because the law gives them the authority to do so, or just because they are bigger and stronger in some way.

This kind of power is important and good when it is used in ways that everyone has agreed on, such as the powers we give to Police or to a person who is chairing a meeting.

But there’s another kind of power. This is power that we hold WITH another person or other people. This kind of power allows us to encourage and empower each other, by adding our energies, confidence, knowledge, and skills to those of others either for a short time until they become confident on their own, or for a long time because the situation demands it.

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Adventure

The Touchstone of Adventure is about taking risks and going into the unknown. it is about testing the threshold of comfort for individuals and groups, and about knowing how we cope at the edge of our comfort, and what makes it possible to take risks.

Adventure invites us to the excitement and adrenalin of the new and the risky, the unfamiliar and the discomforting. There is a whole field of work called Adventure-Based Learning, in which the process of learning is about what takes place when we let others support us to go to the edges of our comfort zones.

Community is not about endless predictability and certainty. Often it is about not knowing exactly what is just around the corners or over the hill of our journey together, but about the surprise and challenge of the unexpected and the new

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Sharing

This Touchstone is about children experiencing life without some of the unhelpful boundaries and limitations they might have imagined around themselves. These boundaries can be about who a child thinks they are, or about how they behave with ideas or things they have. Sharing is about children having the chance to re-imagine their lives and potential, supported by others. And it includes children practicing the skills of cooperation with resources and ideas.

In a Jabiru Kids community we not only share places or buildings and the things in them, we also share our stories, the things we know and the skills we have, and our time to listen to each other.  Sharing is also about the experiences we have together.  For example, we share joyful times as well as sad ones. Sometimes problems and conflicts that affect the group, and imagining ways to resolve those conflicts, are also shared.

Many of the ‘co-‘, ‘con-‘ or ‘com-‘ words we use in work with children, are about them sharing or doing things ‘with’ others, including adults: words like collaborating, cooperating, coordinating, consulting, conversing, connecting, committing, and communicating.

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Organisation

The Touchstone of Organisation reminds us that communities don’t just happen by accident. They happen because of the care community members take to have meetings, keep records, make plans and decide what to do.

Sometimes the processes of belonging to a community include formal structures and processes of joining, membership, role assignment, or agreements about rights and responsibilities. They also include processes for what happens when people are not living up to their responsibilities or respecting the rights of others. These organised ‘getting along’ processes are just as vital to healthy communities as the fun things we do together.

When communities are organising they also do many of the things other groups do by way of making plans, setting goals, identifying programs of work, and evaluating how things are going. It can all sound terribly unenchanting, but it is the opposite. Community organisation is a beautiful and rich experience.

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Creativity

This Touchstone invites us to ensure that children express and give freedom to, their instinct for imagination and creativity. Not just in artistic ways, but also in things like the ways we solve problems, or the ways we express our innermost feelings.

A child’s most creative thoughts might be about a new way to apply colour to fabric or form clay into new shapes. But they might also be about imagining ways we have never tried before, to make sure everyone has a say in decision making, or about the kind of food we share.

In a Jabiru Kids community, the ways we are creative don’t just include the space for each individual to be creative, but also the kinds of creativity we can do together. A choir, making a garden, inventing a group game, painting a mural,  or taking part in a brainstorming session.

The ability to wonder and dream, and to create new ideas and expressions of those ideas, is a precious part of childhood that we want to encourage.

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Healing

This Touchstone is about what we do when people’s feelings, relationships, even ideas, get hurt or broken in a Jabiru Kids community. Healing happens when each of us brings the best of ourselves to bringing out the best of each other, no matter how difficult that might be.

Sometimes children come from complex personal stories that have led them to behaviours we find difficult. If a child has experienced abuse, violence, insecurity, lack of praise, mistrust and negativity, they may bring those things to a Jabiru Kids community with them. Children who are sad, anxious or angry might have difficulty relating in warm positive ways.

Healing is possible whenever we comfort and reassure a sad child, walk quietly beside an anxious child, or encourage an angry child to find appropriate ways to express that anger. It happens every time we trust a child, praise them, calm them or provide them with secure boundaries. Healing also happens when children learn to apologise or make compensation for actions that have hurt others and when others show that child forgiveness.

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Involvement

This Touchstone invites each child’s participation in all the elements of community life, thought, work, play and rest. Jabiru Kids communities make space for every child, irrespective of age, physical strength, ability, interests, or anything else that might make them unique,  to be involved.

We try not to make the ways children get involved too prescriptive. Inviting different people to engage in different ways is part of the strength of community. Not everyone can do the heavy lifting. Some are good at encouragement, hospitality, strategising, or even coming up with new ideas. During a community’s play times, some children make a great audience, or commentator, or might be good at refereeing or keeping score. Some children are good at inventing games and activities.

Jabiru Kids communities don’t discriminate  negatively based on criteria that have nothing to do with the task. For example things like cooking, taking care of other children, dressing up or playing house, showing affection, being strong in a crisis, being a leader, different types of sports, arts and creative expression are things any girl or boy can love and be involved in. But sometimes we practice positive discrimination by encouraging children to try things outside some of the boundaries they might imagine.