Jeff Chesters has been the President of Kulila Indigenous Kindergarten in Toowoomba for 10 years.
He said he got involved with early childhood to give more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children a voice in their education.
Jeff said it’s wonderful when families and Elders come to the kindy because it’s a great way for the children to learn about culture.
‘Having parents and grandparents involved brings back culture,’ he said.
‘The children get to mix with the grandparents and the kids just love to see Elders come in.
‘The kids just enjoy sitting and reading a story. Some Elders don’t read but can talk about a story and that just brings back the culture.
‘And families can learn what we do for our kids and then they can do it at home too.
‘We talk about their culture, their identity, being hands on with everything they do.
‘It all comes back to their identity.’
Jeff said he had a passion for kindy because children learn so much in their early years and it’s a great place to build confidence before they start school.
‘These kids can learn from each other, they join together as a group of kids and learn,’ he said.
‘Whether they’re learning how to make a didgeridoo, clapsticks, peeling bark off something, that’s their culture, but they’re also learning to write their name.
‘This is the grounding they need, and if we don’t give it to them, then they’re not set up for the rest of their life.
‘Kindy is a big year, there is a lot to learn for them, but they leave us and go on to primary school more confident than ever now.
‘We know those kids are ready to leave come November or December.
‘We send them on knowing we’ve done our job and that our staff have done their job really well.’
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