Presenters: Melissa MacMaster, Manager Education and Curriculum, GEKA Debbie Roper, Early Childhood Teacher, Orrong Road Kindergarten, GEKA Natalie Cross, Early Childhood Teacher, Carnegie Kindergarten, GEKA • the balance of flexible yet predictable environments for children that inspire decision making, choice and independence how to utilise natural, recycled and open ended materials to promote a sense of responsibility, independence and agency within children supporting families to understand how flexible, play based programs support the development of skills for the transition to school and life how educators can confidently embrace, support and promote change - one day at a time! Traditional verses Contemporary Take a minute to consider your childhood kindergarten experience? How many of you, in your programs, Start or finish the whole group with mat time? Start or finish the program at the individual pace of each child? Have separate indoor and outdoor time as a whole group? Have a flexible indoor/outdoor program? Have mealtimes together as a whole group? Have flexible snack? What Why Access to high quality education programs for at least 15 hours in the year before school - longer sessions, which enable longer, more sustained learning opportunities • Honour children’s right to play, as both a process and context for learning (ECA Code of Ethics, 1.12) • Utilise knowledge and research to advocate for universal access to a range of high-quality early childhood programs for all children (ECA Code of Ethics, 4.5) • Each child’s current knowledge, ideas, culture, abilities and interests are the foundation of the program (NQS, 1.1.2) • The program, including routines, is organised in ways that maximise opportunities for each child’s learning. NQS, 1.1.3) Flexible timetables and routines • Acknowledge the rights of families to make decisions about their children (ECA code of Ethics, 2.5) • Respect the uniqueness of each family and strive to learn about their culture, structure, lifestyle, customs, language, beliefs and kinship systems (ECA Code of Ethics, 2. 6) • Physical activity is promoted through planned and spontaneous experiences and is appropriate for each child (NQS 2.2.2) • Children are adequately supervised at all times (NQS 2.3.1) • Facilities are designed or adapted to ensure access and participation by every child in the service and to allow flexible use, and interaction between indoor and outdoor space (NQS 3.1.3) Our view of children! • Acknowledge children as competent learners, and build active communities of engagement and inquiry (ECA Code of Ethics, 1.11). • Educators respond to children’s ideas and play and use intentional teaching to scaffold and extend each child’s learning (NQS, 1.2.2) • The dignity and rights of every child are maintained at all times (NQS, 5.2.3) What Partnership to learning – shared responsibility; shared power Why • • • • • • • Shift in focus – learning for life (not just for school)! School need to get ready for Kindergarten children! Recognise children as active citizens participating in different communities such as family, children’s services and schools (ECA Code of Ethics, 1.3) Listen to and learn from families, in order to acknowledge and build upon their strengths and competencies, and support them in their role of nurturing children (ECA Code of Ethics, 2.1) Develop partnerships with families and engage in shared decision making where appropriate (ECA Code of Ethics, 2.4) Develop shared planning, monitoring and assessment practices for children’s learning and communicate this in ways that families understand (ECA Code of Ethics, 2.7) Acknowledge the power dimensions within professional relationships (ECA Code of Ethics, 6.4) Each child’s agency is promoted, enabling them to make choices and decisions and influence events and their world (NQS QA 1.1.6) Children are confident and involved learners (Outcome 4 EYLF) • Share and build knowledge, experiences and resources with my colleagues (ECA Code of Ethics, 3.5) • Collaborate with my colleagues to generate a culture of continual reflection and renewal of high-quality practices in early childhood (ECA Code of Ethics, 3.6) • Children develop dispositions for learning such as curiosity, cooperation, confidence, creativity, commitment, enthusiasm, persistence, imagination and reflexivity (Outcome 4 EYLF) • Children are supported to become environmentally responsible and show respect for the environment (NQS, 3.3.2) What Why Individualised learning journey • Curriculum decision making contributes to each child’s learning and development outcomes in relation to their identity connection with community, wellbeing, confidence as learners and effectiveness as communicators.(NQS QA1.1.1) • Each child’s current knowledge, ideas, culture, abilities and interests are the foundation of the program (NQS QA 1.1.2) • Development of a strong Identity and sense of self (Outcome 1 EYLF) Creativity and imagination are valued • Acknowledge the uniqueness and potential of all children, in recognition that enjoying their childhood without undue pressure is important (ECA Code of Ethics, 1.8) • Children express ideas and make meaning using a range of media and begin to understand how symbols and pattern systems work (EYLF, Outcome 5) • Children use information and communication technologies to access information, investigate ideas and represent their thinking (EYLF, Outcome 5) Small group experiences • The program, including routines, is organised in ways that maximise opportunities for each child’s learning (NQS QA 1.1.3) • Children learn best in small groups where individual attention can be given (relationship between the child and the adult and the ability of the adult to respond to the child) (Colbert, 2014) • Smaller groups of children reduce the noise levels and increase concentration – optimal environment (Colbert, 2014) Valuing different interests and learning styles • Acknowledge the holistic nature of children’s learning and the significance of children’s cultural and linguistic identities (ECA Code of Ethics, 1.9) • Children resource their own learning through connecting with people, place, technologies and natural and processed materials (Outcome 4 EYLF) • Every child is supported to participate in the program (NQS, 1.1.5) (Auditory, visual, Kinaesthetic/tactile , logical or analytical learners) Dear Families, As educators we are constantly evaluating our program and practice to make sure that it is current and meeting the needs of our Kinder community. For a while now we have been discussing our program in terms of its flexibility. When we refer to a ‘flexible program’ we refer to a program that allows children and families to be included according to their circumstances and developmental needs. We still have structure during the day but a flexible program gives everyone the opportunity to work at his/her own level and pace. A main area of discussion has been how we end our day. We have flexibility in the morning as we open the door at 9am but you can enter any time after that. This gives the children a chance to enter and settle quietly, families the opportunity to drop off other children at school without rushing from one place to another, parents can have a quick chat with the educators if they feel the need and it also gives families the opportunity to be a part of the program if they have time to sit and play. We would like to see the same happen at the end of the day. We have had a rethink of the way we read a story and open the door at 3pm. This works for us inside the room but there are a couple of issues. What about those children whose parents are a little late? How does that make them feel to see all the other children being picked up at the same time except for him/her? What does that do for their developing sense of identity and emotional wellbeing? How does this practice value the family? We don’t want you to feel left out (literally) and even though we have said that you are welcome to come and join us on numerous occasions, someone pointed out that they would feel intimidated as a parent to do so. How can we be more inclusive and flexible while keeping the children safe within the classroom with people coming and going? How do we make sure that the children still take on the responsibility of looking after and packing away the room at the end of the day with a flexible end of day routine? We have decided that from next week we will begin a new routine. The children will begin to tidy the messy areas of the room at approximately 2pm. Certain areas will remain available for play and you are more than welcome to join us to play or pick up as you please until 3pm. This will give you time to join in with the program and also give us time to catch up without the end of day rush. We ask that you enter through the double door (that will be closed) as you do at present. This way we can monitor who is arriving. When leaving, we would like the children to say goodbye to either Vanessa or myself so that we know who is leaving. We also ask that if you bring in siblings that they be respectful of work that the children are doing and that you allow time for your child to pack up what he/she is doing before leaving. Your opinions and feedback would be most appreciated on this or any other part of our Kinder program. We look forward to a calmer and more inclusive end to our day. Provocations Professional Development Purpose Persistence Children are given the opportunity to explore their natural environment and learn essential safety skills in an environment that provides opportunity for assessed risk taking such as playing with sticks and using glass vases and jars rather than plastic for paint mixing, water, storing pens, textas, etc. Ceramic plates and glasses for the home corner as well as for eating. “Being recognises the significance of the here and now in children’s lives. It is about the present and them knowing themselves, building and maintaining relationships with others, engaging with life’s joys and complexities, and meeting challenges in everyday life.” Belonging, Being & Becoming – The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia, 2009, p.7 Challenging children’s thinking with open ended, non specific materials Eliminating the use of adhesives “Taking time for experimental building without the necessity for creating a product gives children a chance to get to know the various shapes and their potential for construction. It also gives children a chance to try out their ideas.” “Bringing materials into the classroom and discovering their potential for learning involves many of the same process skills used in maths and science and interpreting literature. It’s a way of thinking about things. It helps both teachers and children become more aware of how they think.” (Topal & Gandini, 1999, Beautiful Stuff: Learning with found materials) Beginning Now Set drop off and pick up Flexible drop off and pick up Mat time to finish Session still running at pick up time Adults as responsible for play space Children also Involved in play space Family engagement in kindergarten limited to being ‘helpers’. Kindergarten and Families working together in partnership for the care and education of all children Involvement with Children Shared responsibilities Including children in transitions/routines equals more time together in play Lifelong learning ‘Real life’ learning in everyday situations (i.e. washing up, sweeping paths, wiping tables, cleaning). Children are confident and involved learners (Outcome 4 EYLF, 2009) Parent Involvement Relationship building between educators and families Relationships between families and other children - puppet making - reading familiar stories in other languages - cooking Indian food and eating Mutual Respect and Understanding Framework, 2009, Principle 1) (Early Years Learning “I have so much respect for what you do now I have seen it for myself” (Parent) Engagement varies from the size of the table impacting the learning More space to spread out and work Not all furniture will be full size so these pieces become more ‘special’ Encourages parents/care givers to become involved if they are comfortable too ll. In relation to families I will: 2.Assist each family to develop a sense of belonging and inclusion. (Code of Ethics (Early Childhood Australia) Regular Outings (local community) Post Office- Writing and sending cards on Father’s Day Planned Excursions National Quality Standard (2011) QA6 Collaborative partnerships with families and communities; 6.3.4 The service builds relationships and engages with their local community. Cultural competence (Principle, EYLF 2009) Children are connected with and contribute to their world (Outcome 2, EYLF, 2009) Regular excursions to the school environment (familiar and empowered) Learning how to use the services (i.e. library) Supporting a smooth transition to school Bridging the gap between early childhood and primary school sectors to increase understandings National Quality Standard (2011) 6.3.2 Continuity of learning and transitions for each child are supported by sharing relevant information and clarifying responsibilities. Indoor/Outdoor Program The benefits: children learn in different ways and in different environments maximize the use of your space and create a calmer atmosphere children can be more fluid in their engagement moving from inside to outside and vice versa as their ideas develop “Facilities are designed or adapted to ensure access and participation by every child in the service and to allow flexible use, and interaction between indoor and outdoor space” National Quality Standard (2011) QA 3.1.4 Flexible Snack What is a flexible snack routine? What are the benefits? - children listening to their bodies - less interruption of play - more autonomy and independence for children - no time limit or rush to eat “Children take increasing responsibility for their own health and physical wellbeing e.g.. recognise and communicate their bodily needs” (Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework, 2009, p. 23) Art Project Working with a local community artist to build a wall mural at the family meeting point inside kinder. Stages of project Visiting between kinder and the gallery EYLF Outcome 5: Children are effective communicators. Outcome 4: “ In a supportive active learning environment, children who are confident and involved learners are increasingly able to take responsibility for their own learning, personal regulation and contribution to the social environment.” (EYLF, 2009, p. 33). “I’m pretty sure when they go to school next year they are expected to be there at set times not this wishy washy come and go as you please policy.” “Please reconsider this policy as you a running a kinder not a half-way house.” “How does this policy foster a sense of belonging or community when some kids stay and some kids don’t.” “I can’t understand why the children can’t be sitting on the mat at the normal collection time with their bags and already to go. When they have this structure, they then know it is Home-Time.” “I am trying to raise a useful member of society not another flake who has been brought up without learning values such as discipline, commitment, responsibility, consequences etc. Timely response Hearing and listening Face to face Preparing for change – clear messages of communication Transition of change – consider gradual change, utilising the ‘flow’ of the building Follow up “I originally thought it would not be of benefit (flexible play based learning) as it is already half way through the year but I was pleasantly surprised. GEKA and all staff were very informative, engaging and their passion for teaching our children shone through, so thank you”. Better use of time Building more meaningful relationships Respect for the work of educators as professionals Parental engagement in the program – partners in learning Learning is made visible Children respected as capable and competent Supports individual learning styles Building foundational skills for life Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (2011) National Quality Framework Resource Kit www.acecqa.gov.au Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (2009) The National Early Years Learning Framework www.deewr.gov.au/eylf Colbert, J (2014) Group Size: What does it mean for the children in your care? Early Childhood News http://www.earlychildhoodnews.com/earlychildhood/article_view.aspx?ArticleID=402 Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (D.E.E.C.D) (2009) Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework for children Birth to Eight Years, State Government of Victoria. http://www.eduweb.vic.gov.au/edulibrary/public/earlychildhood/learning/frameworkdraft.pdf Early Childhood Australia Code of Ethics GEKA Inc. (2013-2014) Glen Eira Kindergarten Educational Teams at Bentleigh, Brady Rd, Bentleigh East, Carnegie, Caulfield South, Glover St, McKinnon and Orrong Rd Kindergartens. Houghton, A (2013) Intentional Teaching: Promoting Purposeful Practice in Early Childhood Settings, Teaching Solutions, Melbourne. Topal & Gandini (1999) Beautiful Stuff: Learning with found materials, Davis Publications Inc.,U.S.
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