Our learning environment is powerfully shaped by 2 important influences:
- the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education and
- our annual statement of intent/inquiry
both of which are underpinned by:
- the National Curriculum for Early Childhood Education and Care Belonging, Being and Becoming, The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia.
- Providing experiences that facilitate emergent Literacy and Numeracy
- Instilling in children the ability to be creative and critical thinkers
1. A brief introduction to the Reggio Emilia Approach to early childhood education----
- The child is a protagonist in his own learning.
- The child is a collaborator learning from and with others constructing knowledge and competencies.
- The child is a communicator, having 100 hundred languages ie believing there are many different ways to learn know and communicate.
- The environment is the third teacher with careful and considered thought to generate a sense of wellbeing, belonging and aesthetics, which will create a ‘safe’ learning environment
- The teacher is a partner, nurturer and guide.
- The teacher is a co-researcher alongside the children in a reciprocal learning relationship as they document their work with the children.
- Teachers work in teams maintaining strong collegial relationships as they engage in discussion and interpretation of their work and that of the child. This professional interaction provides ongoing training and enrichment.
- Listening is an ongoing process which makes us aware of others, our world and our responsibilities
- Educational documentation enables the learning and thinking of the community to be made visible where careful and respectful consideration is given to the presentation of the thinking of the children and the adults who work with them. It is an explanation not an assessment of the educative process.
- The parent as a partner in the exchange of ideas and a vital participant in creating a community of learners surrounding the child, which helps teachers to view the participation of families not as a threat but as an intrinsic element of collegiality and as the integration of different wisdom.
For further information www.reggioaustralia.org.au
2. What is a Statement of Intent?
Each year in January, at our annual planning days before the children commence for the new year, the staff teams collaborate about their intentions for the coming year whilst believing:-
- that the child is an active constructor of knowledge and is an equal partner in the learning process with others and that-
- investigation and interpretation are essential elements of the learning process that are recognised and valued for the way they shape understanding.
After 2 days of debate and discussion it was decided our Curriculum Question for 2016/17 would be:-
-- Connections - how do children develop a positive sense of identity?
Our 2017 Statement of Intent/question also has several links to the---
3. National Curriculum for Early Childhood Education and Care; -Belonging, Being & Becoming The Early Years Learning Framework.
Outcome 1:- “ Children have a strong sense of identity: Belonging, being and becoming are integral parts of identity…. When children have positive experiences they develop an understanding of themselves as significant and respected, and feel a sense of belonging Relationships are the foundations for the construction of identity – who I am, how I belong and what is my influence?” p19
Outcome 3 :- "Children have a strong sense of wellbeing. Without a strong sense of wellbeing it is difficult to have a sense of belonging, to trust others and feel confident in being, and to optimistcally engage in experiences that contribute to becoming". A strong sense of wellbeing provides children with confidence and opitmisim which maximise their learning potential.
Principle 1 states:- “Educators who give priority to nurturing relationships and providing children with consistent emotional support can assist children to develop the skills and understandings they need to interact positively with others. They also help children to learn about their responsibilities to others, to appreciate their connectedness and interdependence as learners, and to value collaboration and teamwork” p12.
Principle 4 states:- “Children are born belonging to a culture, which is not only influenced by traditional practices, heritage and ancestral knowledge but also by the experiences, values and beliefs of individual families and communiities. They (Educators) value children's different capacities and abilities and respect differences in families' home lives" p13.
Principle 5 states:- A lively culture of professional inquiry is established when early childhood educators and those with whom they work are all involved in an ongoing cycle of review....In such a climate, issues relating to curruculum quality, equity and childrens wellbeing can be raised and debated p13.
Principle 8 states:- Assessment for children's learning referes to the process of gathering and analysing information as evidence about what children know, can do and understand. It is part of an ongoing cycle that includes planning, documenting and evaluating children's learning.
Please note:- If you are interested in knowing more (we would be delighted to explain the process in greater detail at any time) the whole plan of action is clearly set out in the Centre.
That’s all well and good but what about :-
Emergent Literacy and Numeracy
A question that crosses the minds of many parents with young children: does literacy and numeracy matter in an early childhood space?
At The Kindergarten we believe it most certainly does. WHY?
- Research tells us that the first 2000 days of a child’s life (ie Birth to five) are the most transformational time in a human being’s life
- Immersion into intentionally planned emergent literacy and numeracy experiences empowers the transition for children entering their first year of school
- Literacy is vitally important as it allows numeracy to find its place within thinking and learning.
What does this look like in practice at The Kindergarten ?
All children engage in planned purposeful exploration of emergent literacy and numeracy as they come to realise its place in their daily activities of frequent neighbourhood walks, community engagement and the practical application of their shared thinking and the stretching out of ideas and theories as they collaborate about their experiences and discoveries.
Creative and critical thinking
Teaching children how to think is at the core of our teaching at The Kindergarten.
Discovering how to expand the mind to be imaginative and creative is a vital part of learning and brings curiosity into play as the child begins to question and wonder about possibilities.
As teachers of young children we aim to develop inquisitive and effective problem solvers as learning how to think creatively and critically, assists children in future learning as it identifies and develops the potential within them as their confidence grows to explore new concepts and ideas.
If we believe children are:-
- Competent explorers
- Imaginative thinkers
- Creative problem solvers
- Able to see the wonder and beauty within nature and the environment……….
Then we must give children opportunities to demonstrate that they are capable of:
- Making decisions, expressing themselves
- Making discoveries
- Posing questions
- Considering the views of others
- Testing their hypotheses
- Being curious
- Delighting in the unexpected
- Working collaboratively with others
As The Kindergarten is committed to teaching children to be critical and creative thinkers, we realise that developing an inquiring and curious mind with the ability to problem solve, is crucial for learning to occur.
We see one way of enhancing this in children, is to employ tools to inspire and support this exploration; portable computers, web cams and digital cameras etc.
These tools will be used to deepen and expand the children’s imaginations, story- telling (narratives) capabilities as well as scaffold intentional teaching and play.
Consequently any ‘screen’ time will empower learning and develop potential opportunities for advancement and not detract from it.