Gan Qing Project
(Strong Feelings of Love and Affection)
The impetus for the Gan Qing Project came out of observations by Boroondara Kindergarten staff that an increasing number of the children at the kindergarten, particularly from refugee backgrounds, were requiring extensive support to manage their feelings and behaviour. This was impacting on their learning, growth, emotional and social development and integration into the kindergarten.
In 2005, Helen, who at that time was a member of the Committee of Management of Boroondara Kindergarten, had discussions with the staff about the children’s behaviour and past experiences of trauma. The kindergarten staff expressed a desire to increase their knowledge of trauma to enable them to assist the children more effectively and promote their resilience and healthy development.
At the time, Helen was developing a training program on loss, trauma and attachment for orphanage staff and mental health workers in China and offered to run some introductory training on these topics for the kindergarten staff. It was hoped that a combination of trauma informed practice and attachment theory would assist the staff in their work with the children. This introductory workshop became the basis of a further training program developed in collaboration with the Director of Boroondara Kindergarten and staff.
Stage One of the Gan Qing Project
In July 2006, Helen conducted some introductory training for the kindergarten staff on the theories of trauma and attachment and how this may present in children. The training focused on the practical application of these theories and the development of effective ways to support children. The training had an immediate impact, enabling the implementation of new intervention strategies by the staff and resulted in a number of the children becoming more settled.
In September 2006, as a follow up from the introductory training, Helen meet with the staff from Boroondara Kindergarten. This meeting allowed further discussion of the strategies developed from the training, revision and expansion of the theories of trauma and attachment and discussion of children and ways in which to assist their integration into the kindergarten.
Early in 2007, funding from the Myer Foundation and Sidney Myer Fund enabled the extension of the project and the delivery of training on trauma, attachment and brain development. Training was also provided on transitions and the impact this has on children with trauma backgrounds.
Over the course of 2007 to 2010 there were a series of steps that involved;
- accessing current experts beyond the kindergarten
- further training and ‘emotional safety’ audit processes
- exploring the impact of the training on policies at the kindergarten
- examining the relationship between culture, attachment and trauma
- completing an evaluation questionnaire on hopes, expectations and outcome of the training
- a group presentation of the Gan Qing Project at the Melbourne University International Centre for Equity and Innovation in Early Childhood Conference, 2008
Stage Two of the Gan Qing Project
Since 2009 Mirian Meade, an experienced educator and researcher, joined Helen to work on developing the Gan Qing Project.
In 2011 the project moved into the second phase and since then has been focusing on;
- The need to evaluate the progress of the project and the impact of the changes made by staff.
- The desire to document and analyse the steps taken by the team in order to share the successes and failures with other kindergartens.
- Discussions on documenting the practice that has been implemented at the kindergarten through an action research and professional knowledge model.
- Exploration and reflection of the impact of trauma on staff through team case presentations and how to implement self care strategies.
Through consultations with Foundation House and Boroondara Kindergarten, Helen and Mirian have been evaluating the Gan Qing Project with the aim of developing a practice model that may be used in other early childhood settings. To date the training has produced positive outcomes for both the staff and children.
Helen and Mirian are now actively sourcing government and philanthropic funding to be able to progress the evaluation, its application to other early childhood settings, and the development of a practice model in manual form.