Sharing of tea creates special moments
In Japan, sharing tea is an ancient practice which celebrates the care, precision and regard toward the well-being of others. In England, drinking tea dates back to the 17th
century. In China, tea was often used for its medicinal value.
But whatever reason people have for drinking tea, there’s no doubt that it’s a great way to slow down and reflect.
That’s why Goodstart Red Hill introduced their “culture of tea” more than a year ago. Each morning, the children and their educators gather around the teapot for a chat and a warm cup of tea.
It’s become such a popular ritual within the centre that it was been awarded a 2018 National Goodie Award in the Relationships with Children category.
The Goodies recognise excellence in Goodstart centres and support offices and showcase best practice and commitment to delivering high quality early learning for Australia’s children.
Red Hill centre director Renee Mitchell said in her nomination that the idea of the culture of tea grew from a commitment to focus on community, relationships and rituals.
“We hope that the simple idea of inviting people to come together for a cuppa and a chat would strengthen relationships – between children and educators, educators and families, educators and educators, and our service and the community.
“We hope the simple ritual of slowing down for a cuppa and focusing on engaging with others would support the wellbeing and happiness of our community,” Ms Mitchell said.
The team began planning for the culture of tea by introducing warm herbal tea as a welcome in the playground during the winter months, encouraging parents to slow down and enjoy a cuppa. This soon grew to celebrating children’s birthdays with tea parties complete with lace tablecloths, fancy teacups and a choice of tea and teapots.
“It became common practice to up the kettle on before a centre tour, to make a small pot of tea – which was an easy conversation starter about the culture of tea and how it fit into our service philosophy,” Ms Mitchell said.
“We extended the invitation to other guests too – one of our most memorable moments is sitting down with a crew of fire fighters.”
Tea was served during the centre’s assessment and rating visit and was offered during an art show in the nearby bush kinder forest.
“We now take tea to the forest each day, and the children sit amongst the trees, drinking tea and slowing down.”
It’s also offered at the office in the centre with an invitation for a cuppa and a chat.
“Some weeks we have multiple parents stop in, sit down and have a conversation about what’s on their mind, how their Goodstart experience is going, or what is ahead for them. Other weeks, no one stops but that’s okay because the offer is always there.”
In her nomination, Ms Mitchell said the ritual of tea offered a warm fuzzy and calm feeling of being welcome, valued and listened to. For children, it’s about social engagement and celebration, for families, it offers a chance to be involved in the direction and the decisions made at the centre.
“We will continue to think, chat and make decisions over cups of tea. We will celebrate our little community, making childhood memories over the most simple of rituals. The investment of time in the wellbeing of educators and families is so important to ensure the high quality of the service we offer.”