This month we’re celebrating Mother’s Day, education week and family’s week. Traditionally, we look at Mother’s Day to celebrate our own mother or mother-figure directly, but this day of recognition is more than that. So, this month we wanted to look beyond the traditional thinking of mothers and wanted to look at other mother figures we engage with who have helped shape this day.
Did you know that Mother’s Day is celebrated in Australia thanks to Mrs Janet Heyden, who helped pioneer it after she started a campaign in Sydney to raise money to buy gifts for lonely or forgotten mothers? The original meaning of Mother’s Day was to acknowledge and support disadvantaged mothers with no current family to support them. Today, through Mrs Heyden’s efforts, Australia now celebrates Mother’s Day on the second Sunday of every May. Her actions have gone on to shape Father’s Day in Australia too.
The chrysanthemum flower is found in season during May, the start of our Autumn, and is also synonymous with the Australian Mother’s Day partly because it’s found in bloom during this time and also because it ends in ‘-mum’.
Understanding the reasons behind days like this help give it enhanced meaning – where Mother’s Day started out in Australia as a day to recognise the forgotten and bring the community together for a common cause. In the Early Years Learning Framework, its three main pillars are Being, Belonging, Becoming. Knowing more about how the world came to be today and the reasons behind why we celebrate what we do, help younger children ‘become’ active and engaged members of their community. As ‘Being’ recognises the significance of the here and now, it’s just as important to explain how things have come to be. Finally, ‘Belonging’ ask children to experience where they belong and with whom. In many ways, these three pillars may have been what drove Mrs Janet Heyden to remind those forgotten mothers of years past that they still had a place in society.
Instilling these lessons in early education today may be the reason why Australia continues to produce people like Mrs Janet Heyden in the world, to remind people that they belong, that what they choose to be matters, and that our actions help shape us into what we are to become.