Barcelona Reflections

Barcelona, a beautiful city in Spain, it was the home for innovative and creative artists including Antoni Gaudi (1852 – 1926 ) and Pablo Picasso (1881 – 1973.) It seems appropriate then for Barcelona schools to showcase innovation and creativity throughout their environments, nurturing the creative spirit of their students who perhaps may include future legendary artists from their beautiful city.

 

Earlier this year I had the professional development opportunity of a lifetime, visiting 3 schools in the magnificent city of Barcelona. I attended with colleagues from St Luke’s Catholic College which included teachers from the Early Learning Centre, the school of foundations (Primary School) and leaders from the school of leadership (High school) and our Principal leader Mr Greg Miller. The schools we visited included Collegi Montserrat; Collegi Mare de Déu dels Àngels and Our Dream School

It was truly inspirational visiting these schools which provide  creative and innovative practises for the educational journey for children from the early years through to post school.  I could write endlessly about the schools visionary practises that I saw (this is supported by the hundreds of photos taken.) For the purpose of this blog, I will focus on 2 key areas which truly impacted on me to support children’s creativity and continuity of experience in their journey of learning.

  1. Continuity of the learning journey and a shared vision for learning.

In each of the schools we visited, children’s learning and development is viewed holistically where knowledge, skills and learning dispositions are not taught in isolation, they are nurtured to develop across the continuum from preschool to post school.

From an early age, emotional development, social skills and creative expression is given the same value in the curriculum as  the development of literacy and numeracy skills.

This focus is maintained throughout the whole time at the school. Education is focussed on developing the “whole child” and is supported by the establishment of relationships and partnerships with families from the beginning of their time at the school.

This reaffirmed for me the growth of knowledge and skills over time, as described by Claxton and Lucas (Educating Ruby, 2015)

“Knowledge is not like a pile of bricks which, when it becomes big enough, magically turns into a house, it is like a tree that grows by day daring to put out shoots into the unknown.”

 

  1. The aesthetics and documentation of learning.

 

Walking through the schools was similar to exploring the  walls of an art gallery, showcasing and celebrating  the artists’ work. The student artwork was displayed respectfully alongside supporting quotes which described their educational vision.

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The environment supported the teachers and students use of the learning spaces, celebrating the learning and creative expression of the students. This pedagogical documentation welcomed visitors as well as helping to inform  the purpose of the displays, the learning that was taking place as well as showing the value placed on  children’s contributions, creativity and learning.

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Final musings

Seeing the Barcelona schools in action highlighted to me the importance and value of a continuous approach to learning for children from the early years through to the older years via a shared vision for children’s learning. As well, the role of the environment is crucial to nurture and shape creativity and innovation.

This does not mean a “push down” of “academic” skills into the preschool years as is sadly occurring in many preschools, instead it is the formation of partnerships between teachers across all the schools of learning including the early years, primary and secondary years, valuing the important role each has to play.  A shared vision is crucial with a holistic view of children’s learning and development.

Shared experiences at the schools in Barcelona with my fellow St Luke’s colleagues has strengthened a shared understanding of the innovative practises that we can personalise and implement in the St Luke’s setting to  build and cultivate transformative learning  practises which recognises the importance of children’s learning in the early years and the foundation this sets for children’s learning dispositions, social and emotional skills.

The sharing of pedagogical discussions amongst the St Luke’s teachers is helping to build continuity of experience for the children, supporting their continuity of experience across the CELC, school of foundations, school of leadership and entrepreneurs and beyond, building the St Luke’s community of learners.  It’s exciting to see this evolve.

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Continuity of experience supports positive outcomes

Last Friday 9th November,  forty of our CELC children visited Kindergarten for their orientation visit in preparation for their beginning Early Stage One next year and by all accounts, their orientation went very well!

These children have been in the fortunate position to have visited the Kindergarten learning spaces on a regular basis throughout the year (twice a week earlier in the year and now three times a week in term 4.)

Connections formed between St Luke’s Catholic Early Learning Centre (CELC) and Kindergarten (Early Stage One) have supported the continuity of experience for these children who will continue their learning into Early Stage one next year.

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The children have familiarised themselves with the learning space environment, they have met and played with children who are currently  in Early Stage One (Kindergarten) and are beginning to get to know the Kindergarten teachers and different parts of the school.

From their experiences in both the CELC and in Early Stage one, the children are practising and developing the St Luke’s Pillars of Learning including relating with others, managing self, creative thinking and to communicate and collaborate. This will help to provide a positive transition via a continuity of experience in their learning.

 

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In term four, the children have participated in morning play sessions, Literacy and Numeracy groups in Early Stage One.  In their Numeracy visits, the children participated in small group experiences with concrete materials and were guided in their explorations of the concepts of estimation, counting and number. During these visits and in the days that followed, I observed peer modelling and scaffolding between the children in both the Early Stage One and CELC environments.  The older children modelled problem solving strategies to the CELC children which included arranging counters in rows of 4 to assist with counting.  At the CELC, the children practised their turn taking (manage self and relating with others) as they estimated how many counters they were holding. Practising communication and collaboration skills, the children assisted each other to count the objects, supporting each other’s learning by helping their friends to make sure they used one to one correspondence to count the number of objects. New mathematical concepts were introduced and explored, including counting objects in groups of two.

Critical reflection and discussions between CELC educators on the visits to Early Stage One has provided further extension of  learning experiences. This has facilitated further opportunity for the children to practise these skills and to transfer their learning from one context to another.

Continuity of experience, connections and collaboration is supporting a positive transition. I am looking forward to visiting the Early Stage one learning spaces next year where I am sure there will be eager volunteers to introduce their learning space to the new CELC children who will join us in 2019.

“Early childhood educators are the secret to a prosperity of society”

In his keynote address at the Early Childhood Australia (ECA) conference, Dr Stuart Shanker’s powerful words highlighted the important role and value that early childhood education has on children’s trajectory for learning.

Last Friday 21st September, I attended day two of the ECA Conference “Be the difference for children and families.”

The conference was attend by over 2000 early childhood delegates and had a full schedule of  keynote presentations and workshops.

Attending the conference was enlightening and prompted me to pause and reflect on our practices in early childhood which shape children’s learning, development and growth. It reaffirmed the important work we are doing at St Luke’s Catholic College through the play based pedagogy at St Luke’s Catholic Early Learning Centre (CELC) and St Luke’s Pillars of learning which are used to guide children’s journey in their learning, becoming global citizens for tomorrow.

Highlights of the day for me included

  • Dr Stuart Shanker’s keynote presentation as well as his follow up workshop “The paramount importance of early childhood educators” and “Self-regulation and externalising and internalising anxiety behaviours.”
  • Workshop discussions on “Growing dispositions for learning through play” presented by Mitchell Parker and Sharon Craft whose experiences in an ACT Early Childhood school linked dispositions for learning to play and the curriculum for children aged up to 8 years.
  • Anthony Semann’s presentation “ Learning to unlead: The power of love and hope as a revolutionary approach to leading.”
  • Stan Grant’s closing presentation “Talking to my Country” where he described his personal early years schooling experiences of feeling excluded growing up in Australia.

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Early Childhood Educators lay a pathway for children’s lifetime trajectory. The first years of life are critically important to lifelong outcomes.  No child should be lost.” Dr Stuart Shanker

Our role as  early childhood educators is paramount to help shape children’s self-regulatory behaviours. Developing a healthy mode of self-regulation supports children’s growth emotionally, cognitively and pro-socially. Early childhood experiences lay the foundation for children’s trajectory of learning by shaping how they respond to stressors and recover from these stressors.  Patterns of behaviour in children become entrenched by the age of 8 years old.

How can we assist children in developing self regulatory behaviours? Looking after and valuing the role of early childhood educators is key.  We help to shape the development of children’s trajectory of learning which impacts on the global citizens they will become. To do this well, looking after and valuing early childhood educators is paramount.

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Growing dispositions for learning through play

A play based pedagogy supports the development of children’s dispositions for learning and trajectory of learning. In their presentation, Mitchell Parker and Sharon Craft shared their experiences in their early childhood school in Lyons ACT (for children aged up to 8 years) which embraces a play based pedagogy linked to the dispositions of learning (as described by Lucas and Claxton, 2005) which include collaboration, confidence, curiosity, commitment, creativity, communication and craftsmanship.

I linked this to our own experiences at St Luke’s with the  six pillars of learning which are  Witness; Manage; Communicate and Collaborate; Think Creatively and Critically; Be digitally literate.  In their play, children naturally display and develop dispositions for learning and this is scaffolded by teacher engagement and interactions with the children.

A play based pedagogy at St Luke’s Catholic Early Learning Centre (CELC) supports children in their continuity of experience when they move into the older years of the school. This is seen in Early stage one where each day the children participate in play in the learning spaces.  Early stage one children are joined by the CELC children in this play based learning, facilitating the sharing of experiences, as well as supporting a sense of belonging to the school community. I look forward to continuing to work alongside the Early Stage one teachers to facilitate this continuity of experience for the children.

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Learning to unlead: The power of love and hope as a revolutionary approach to leading

Leading is about relationships. A key factor of leadership is to understand the people you work with. It is a dialogue of listening and talking, advising and taking advice. These were all key factors discussed by Anthony Semann in his presentation.

What binds a team together is shared vision and purpose which I reflected upon in my previous blog post, Storming through. Everyone has an important role to play.

Having listened to Anthony Semann present numerous times, he has continued to prompt my own professional reflections and to inspire. In leadership, reflection of self is key, to listen and learn rather than command and control. “Aim not for perfection, but for attempt” (Anthony Semann.)

 

“We lived in Australia and Australia was for others.”

 This statement from Stan Grant reminded me of Stuart Shanker’s quote earlier in the day “No child should be lost.” Inclusivity is essential. For this to occur, children need to feel a sense of belonging. We can help by committing to healing and reconciliation and the building of communities where everyone feels they belong.

Early childhood educators play a pivotal role in shaping children’s sense of identity.  A child’s early education experiences provides the foundation in determining the pathway a child will have in their self regulatory behaviours, their learning and development from this it can indeed be said that they directly impact the prosperity of society.

 

 

 

 

Storming through

 

Almost 12 months at St Luke’s and my experiences continue to inspire and challenge me, pushing me outside my comfort zone.

I have a keen interest in Suncorp super netball and it’s been a great season for ‘my team’ the Giants, watching them progress through to the finals. Teams in the competition are currently announcing their new line ups for next year and this has coincided with the St Luke’s CELC team signing up ‘new recruits’, prompting me to reflect upon the key elements to building teams in Early Childhood settings.

When playing in a team sport like netball, not only is physical fitness a key element, but collaboration and communication are essential. Everyone plays an important role, from the defenders, to the centre court to the shooters. A shared purpose and love for the game unites the team.

I compare this to my experiences at St Luke’s. Everyone has a role to play with a shared vision and passion for our role in children’s lives uniting the team to achieve quality outcomes for children.

Our team began the year faced with the challenges of working together for the first time in a new environment. Having come from a variety of different backgrounds, it took time for the staff to get to know each other “forming and storming”, unpacking their roles and responsibilities.

A shared vision and common purpose has helped to unite the team. This is evident in:

  • their building of relationships with the children and families
  • supporting and scaffolding each child’s curiosity and knowledge building via their investigations and project participation
  • their advocacy for the rights of the child
  • listening to their voice to further support children’s investigative enquiries.

When building the CELC teaching team, a consideration was to try to gain an understanding of how individuals see children and how they learn.

 

“We know that children are born with amazing potential and capacities: curiosity, a drive to understand, the ability to wait, to wonder and to be amazed, the capacity to express themselves in many ways and the desire to form relationships with others and with the physical world.

What kind of schools and what kind of teachers do we need to foster these capacities?”

Reggio Emilia Australia Information Exchange

 

The National Quality Standards (NQS) which guides early childhood educators practises along with policies and procedures, highlights the importance of staff cohesion for quality outcomes for children’s development in Quality area 4.2. It states 

“ When adults communicate effectively and respectfully with each other they promote a positive and calm atmosphere at the service, supporting children to feel safe and secure and contributing to the development of positive relationships between children and educators.”

 

Next in our game plan then is to ‘norm.’ The team is established, our shared vision grows stronger and  relationships with families and children continue to develop as the children’s investigations flourish.  I look forward to the next 12 months. Here come the Giants!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Teaching is mostly listening. Learning is mostly talking”

” Teaching is mostly listening. Learning is mostly talking.”

I was introduced to this quote by Alise Shafer Ivey at a conference I recently attended “The changing face of education: Early learning in the 21st Century.”

The two day conference provoked many discussions and reflections on children’s experiences in early childhood education today. The sharing of experiences and thoughts from the conference was a great opportunity for me to reflect on my own practises and experiences at St Luke’s.

At St Luke’s CELC we encourage children to be actively involved in their learning through hands on play based experiences. Small group experiences and open plan learning environments facilitate children’s active involvement in learning. But are we (the teachers) mostly listening (to the children) and are the children mostly talking?

This is a question I am seeking to explore further with my colleagues.

In her presentation, Alise highlighted the importance of nurturing children’s creative thoughts as they build their own theories about the world around them. Children build their theories in learning via their interactions with places, people and materials.

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The children are freely exploring the materials in the environment at St Luke’s and are  building their own learning theories, but are we always listening to these? Are we empowering the children to build these theories over time without telling them the answers?

When children are playing they are building their learning theories, we as teachers have a role to listen to children’s ideas and to scaffold their investigative learning. This can be quite the challenge at times not to tell children the correct answers when they are are building theories on the world around them, but yet this is how they learn best, exploring the qualities of materials they are exploring, investigating how they operate.

Creativity in their play supports the development of children’s divergent thinking for the later years in school and post school. Teachers play a vital role to scaffold children’s learning, facilitating children’s creative thoughts to shape their learning theories. In this way, the teacher’s role is to listen while the children explore and investigate, expressing their learning theories along the way.

This leads me to revisit Louis Malaguzzi’s poem “The hundred languages of children” (that I have previously quoted in my blogs). He eloquently describes children’s languages of learning about the world around them and this is expressed in hundreds of ways.

“A hundred ways of thinking, playing and speaking… A hundred ways of listening, of marvelling, of loving, a hundred joys for singing and understanding, a hundred worlds to discover, a hundred worlds to invent, a hundred worlds to dream.”

Through children’s play, we as teachers have a role to listen to children’s ideas. They are building theories in their learning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Early Stage One Visits, Self Regulation, Dispositions for Learning

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As part of their learning journey at St Luke’s the children at the Catholic Early Learning Centre (CELC) have begun to visit the Early Stage One Learning spaces. This has been a wonderful opportunity to support the children’s continuity of experience at St Luke’s Catholic College.

These visits have been during  Early Stage One’s “Developmental Play” which occurs  each day. The play based setting provides familiar experiences for the CELC children to explore the learning spaces.

After observing the Early Stage one children beginning their day (peer modelling) the children from the CELC selected areas to play and interacted with other children, teachers, the learning space and materials. In their explorations, the children displayed their  developing self regulation and capabilities towards  “Managing Self ” as they begin to recognise their emotions ( St Luke’s Pillars of Learning.)

Self-regulation is an essential skill for children to develop in their early years, providing a foundation for children to develop positive dispositions to learning as they continue along their learning journey.

Self -regulation is how we manage our reactions and behaviour.  It encompasses emotional regulation, attentional regulation (maintaining focus), thinking processes (which includes working memory, inhibition control, mental flexibility) and social behaviours.

In their play in Early Stage one, the children were able to practise these self regulatory behaviours. Developing self regulatory behaviours in the early years provides a foundation for children to develop positive dispositions to learning.

This is particularly important as children continue to develop their capabilities and self regulation in their continuity of learning in the school environment.

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Role play opportunities were set up including a grocery store and Doctors surgery in the learning space. In their role play, many of the children’s emerging self regulatory behaviours were observed during our first week of visits.

The children practised emotional regulation by remaining calm throughout their play in an unfamiliar environment. They used flexible thinking to solve the problems that emerged in their play (for example, negotiating who was customer and who was shopkeeper); attitudinal regulation was displayed by the children keeping to the storyline in their play (maintaining focus); working memory was employed as the children recalled who the other characters in the role play were and what their role entailed, sticking to the storyline of the play; and cooperative play behaviours were observed as the children practised their turn taking whilst sharing their thoughts and ideas in their play.

These self regulatory behaviours will support children’s transition to extended learning opportunities as they continue their learning journey at St Luke’s. A positive disposition to learning is emerging from these early play based learning experiences.

At the end of our visit, the children reflected on their experiences in the Early Stage one classroom, sharing their favourite parts. From this reflection, the children decided to extend their doctors role play further in the CELC environment where a Doctors surgery has now been set up.  We look forward to seeing where this investigation will take us.

From their experience, the children are eager to revisit soon. Thank you Early stage One teachers and children, we look forward to many more visits!

 

Supporting children’s continuity of learning

 

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It’s that time of year for Early learning centres when the topic of ‘school readiness’ is raised by families as they prepare to enrol their children into school for the following year.

Over time I have loved being involved in the formation  and implementation of programs for preschoolers to support children and families before they start school.  This year I am excited by the opportunity to be in a different setting where children and families have already joined the school community.

A successful transition from the early childhood setting to school involves providing children with a continuity of experience and the sharing of information about children between both settings ( as described in the Early Years Learning Framework, 2009.) The children at St Luke’s CELC who are moving into Early Stage 1 at St Luke’s school next year will not be leaving us far behind, we will still be a part of the same learning community next year and for many years after.

The sharing of information between the teachers at St Luke’s CELC and in Early Stage 1 at St Luke’s School has already begun through leadership meetings and professional learning meetings. A shared vision through the Pillars of Learning facilitates  a greater continuity of experience for children and families.

To support the continuity of experience between the CELC and school, connections can be seen between our play based curriculum, the Australian Curriculum, St Luke’s Pillars of Learning and the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF.)

I began this blog with the intention of unpacking each capability that is referred to in the Australian Curriculum and linking this to our experiences at the CELC. This was an error in judgement as I realised what a momentous task I had set for myself. (As well as a rather lengthy blog for the reader !) Instead, I will begin to link three of the capabilities to the children’s learning journey so far. Further ‘unpacking’ of the capabilities will occur over time throughout this year.

In reference to the General capabilities of the Australian Curriculum, it is anticipated that students will commence Kindergarten with, or develop by the end of Term 1, the ability to:

  • recognise and identify their own emotions
  • express a personal preference
  • identify people and situations with which they feel a sense of familiarity or belonging

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To recognise and identify their emotions

We have been open for eight weeks and the children are actively engaged with their learning environment. Already, there are noticeable changes in the children’s level of independence, as well as their social and emotional skills.

As the children learn to separate from Mum and Dad in the morning they are beginning to recognise and identify their emotions.”  For some children, this has been challenging to say goodbye in the morning. Educators have been supporting the children throughout their settling into the CELC environment, helping children become more aware of their emotions and how this can affect their behaviours. This can be linked to the EYLF Outcome One “Children have a strong sense of identity.”

Over time, the children will continue to be supported to recognise and identify their emotions. This may be through small group discussions to describe their emotions, connecting these to personal experiences.  The recognition and identification of emotions is also scaffolded by educators when disagreements occur in children’s peer interactions, the children are supported to solve these with guidance to label and express their emotions.

 

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To identify people and situations with which they feel a sense of familiarity or belonging

 

The children are beginning to demonstrate a sense of belonging to St Luke’s CELC. This can be seen in the friendship groups that are beginning to form. Connections with the school are being built for the children to support their sense of belonging to the wider St Luke’s community. This is further supported through weekly visits from Mr Constagna who shares musical based learning experiences with the children.

The sense of belonging to the St Luke’s community has been further facilitated through  visits to the CELC from students from Stage 4, engaging in small group experiences with the children which have included Portrait paintings, building with blocks, book sharing and sandpit explorations.

Throughout the year, the children will be working towards the capability of  identifying people and situations with which they feel a sense of familiarity or belonging. Strong links can be seen between this capability and the EYLF element of “Belonging” as well as the EYLF Outcome Children have a strong sense of well being.

We look forward to further connections and the building of a sense of belonging for the children and families by visiting the school and participating in events with the St Luke’s School Community.

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To express a personal preference

Throughout the day, the open plan environment supports the children working towards  expressing a personal preference. They are beginning to take responsibility for their own learning journey by selecting areas to investigate and explore.

The children’s investigative play is further extended by the teachers who thoughtfully plan and implement experiences to scaffold their learning and development. Links can be seen with this capability and the EYLF outcome 3.1  “Children become strong in their social and emotional well being.” As well, links can be made to St Luke’s Pillars to Manage Self and to think creatively and critically

From their experiences at St Luke’s CELC, the children are becoming actively involved in their learning to be involved in decision making and take responsibility for their actions, the surrounding environment and their learning . From here, they are supported in their learning journey as part of the St Luke’s community and becoming “faith filled curious children to become creative contributors and innovative problem solvers for a changing world” (extract taken from St Luke’s Catholic College vision and mission.)

 

Playing a role in play….

Explorations, investigations, discoveries, collaboration and more! St Luke’s Catholic Early Learning Centre has been open for one month and the days have been filled with play based learning opportunities. The children are supported in investigative play inquiries, becoming more familiar with their new environment, making new friends, forming relationships with their teachers, and practicing their self- help skills as they settle into their new surroundings. Our role in play is essential to support children’s investigations and learning.

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Children are motivated to become involved in play, making it an ideal means to creatively express their thoughts, knowledge and ideas, as well as offering a means for the extension of children’s knowledge.

Imaginatively expressing their ideas and knowledge in their play, children are forming the foundation for the development of learning dispositions as they begin to see themselves positively as an active learner. Children practice behaviours which support their learning across all areas including risk taking, working with others (sharing play space and materials,) expressing their thoughts and ideas and becoming more familiar with the use of technology to support their inquiries.

“What children learn does not follow as an automatic result from what is taught, rather, it is in large part due to the children’s own doing, as a consequence of their activities and our resources.”
Loris Malaguzzi (1993) The Hundred Languages of Children

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A teacher’s role in play varies over time and needs to be carefully considered. From their observations of children’s play, teachers reflect on the children’s interests, their current knowledge and strengths and the possibilities for further extension. This requires careful consideration, balancing the guiding of a child’s inquiries whilst supporting their sense of agency and independence. A flexible and adaptive approach supports this intentional teaching as described by the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF, 2009)

Educators move flexibly in and out of different roles and draw on different strategies as the context changes. They plan opportunities for intentional teaching and knowledge-building.

This involves educators being deliberate, purposeful and thoughtful in their decisions and action. Intentional teaching is the opposite of teaching by rote or continuing with traditions simply because things have ‘always’ been done that way.

 

 

 

Parallel play facilitates communication and collaboration between children as they  negotiate the sharing of the space, materials, their thoughts and ideas. Over time, parallel play can develop into cooperative play where the children are more interactive as they collaborate and communicate guiding the direction of the story in their play.

Parallel play transitioning to cooperative play was observed in the sandpit at St Luke’s CELC last Friday when we had some visitors from the older children from St Luke’s College. Initially, the younger children were hesitant and unsure of how to interact with the older children. It was interesting to watch the play behaviours develop over a short time period.

The interactions between the two groups of children began in the sandpit. The younger children sat beside me, watching the older children  and playing on their own, filling tip trucks with sand. One of the older children observed this interest and brought over a tip truck which he proceeded to fill with sand, another of the older boys came to assist. I prompted one of the younger children ” Where would you like the trucks to go?” Alex (*) responded ” On the track. It (the truck) needs to be empty over there!” (Alex lifted his hand and pointed towards the outer edge of the sandpit)

Alex’s suggestion inspired the older boys to create a track across the sandpit using spades. This action prompted more of the CELC children to join in the play. After watching the older boys build the track and filling his truck with sand, Alex left my side and went to assist the older boys. Keen to further extend the play, Alex showed his CELC peers how the tip trucks needed to be filled so the older boys could transport them across the track.  This play continued for another 15-20 minutes as the older and younger children cooperated together to fill the tip trucks, transport them across the sandpit track, then empty the trucks. More intricacies were added to the play as more children became involved, this included use of the water pump for truck washing purposes.

It could be said that the mathematical concepts of volume and mass were explored as the tip trucks were filled with sand and then water.  Scientific concepts of trial and error, hypothesising and the concepts of force and motion were also investigated through the use of the tip trucks and water pump.  What was most evident for me in this cooperative play in the sandpit, was communication and collaboration between all of the children (young and old.)

My role in the play in the sandpit began as a supportive role to reassure and  prompt the interactions between the younger and older children. The final role for me was onlooker and photographer, watching with a keen interest the inspiring interactions between the children.

Play was a conduit to facilitate the children’s interactions as they worked together to guide the direction of the play in the sandpit. The children respected and valued each other’s contributions, they engaged in turn taking in conversations, while exploring mathematical  and scientific concepts. The visit was a great success!

A big thank you to the children from St Luke’s who visited last week. We look forward to seeing you at St Luke’s CELC again soon.

 

 

 

 

*Name changed for privacy purposes

A Sense of Purpose

Navigating the journey continues as the finishing touches to St Luke’s Catholic Early Learning Centre (CELC) are made and we prepare for the teaching team to begin in January. The opening of St Luke’s Catholic Early Learning Centre (CELC) is fast approaching.  Christmas is only a week away but I still feel energised with a sense of purpose in planning the environment.

Setting up the learning galleries has prompted my reflection on the critical role of the environment for children’s learning and development. The set-up is still a work in progress, it will change many times (I’m sure) before families join us in February. Once again, I am drawn to the descriptions by educators of the Reggio Emilia approach whom refer to environment as the “third teacher.”

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In reflecting on the planning of the environment at St Luke’s CELC, my sense of purpose is to support children’s voices in their learning, as well as to provide a sense of belonging to the teachers, children and families. The learning galleries will need to be fluid and responsive to their voices. It is important that children and teachers have a sense of ownership of their shared space and the experiences and learning that follows.

Underpinning the environment of St Luke’s CELC is play based learning. As described in the Early Years Learning Framework, play based learning is ‘a context for learning through which children organise and make sense of their social worlds, as they actively engage with people, objects and representations’ (EYLF, 2009, p. 46).

The children’s learning through play based experiences is supported via open ended materials where they can express their thoughts and ideas.

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My next point of reflection will involve the teaching team of St Luke’s CELC. Together we will reflect upon how to embed St Luke’s Pillars of Learning and St Luke’s CELC Philosophy into the environment and learning galleries. “Watch this space” as we inch closer to the opening of St Luke’s CELC

I have thoroughly enjoyed the final term of the school year at St Luke’s Catholic College which has continued to fulfil my sense of purpose in my professional journey.  It is inspiring to work alongside a supportive team who are professionally engaged, constantly striving to develop and grow alongside the students they teach.

 

 

 

Navigating the Journey

November for me is the traditional “wind down” period, with the end of the year in sight. My experience this year is different, I feel invigorated and renewed,  focused not on the “finish line” but on the journey ahead, filled with possibilities and potential.

I am in the privileged position to set up St Luke’s Catholic Early Learning Centre which will introduce families to the St Luke’s community and St Luke’s Pillars of learning, greatly influenced by Reggio Emilia – with a St Luke’s flavour.

In my professional journey in early childhood education, I have constantly strived to facilitate children’s active engagement in their own learning, to instil a love of learning. The pedagogy of schools in Reggio Emilia has always inspired me.  The child is seen with one hundred voices and is an active participant in their own learning.  Eloquently described here in an excerpt from the poem  ” The Hundred Languages: No way the hundred is there” by Loris Malaguzzi (founder of the Reggio Emilia approach.)

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The hundred languages of children and Reggio Emilia approach, guides me in my own professional journey, to facilitate a love of learning in children from an early age so they are actively involved throughout their learning journeys. Giving children a voice in their learning journeys.

The St Luke’s setting has many similarities with the schools of Reggio Emilia. The children are given a voice in their educational journey which is reflected in St Luke’s Pillars of learning.  Children are viewed holistically and the environments support collaborative learning through the furniture, design of learning galleries and open ended resources.  The children’s voice is reflected in the learning experiences and student led conferences.

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Over time, there has been a focus in early childhood settings and in the media on children’s transition to school and/or “school readiness.” Trudie Hill introduced me to the term “continuity of learning” for children’s preschool to school experience. I was drawn to this phrase as it reinforced my beliefs that rather than being taught “school readiness” skills in isolation, children’s skills, knowledge and learning dispositions develop continually from an early age and should continue throughout their school experience.

Children should be given a voice in their journey of learning, the teacher’s role is to facilitate children’s learning how to learn. This supports a child’s continuity of experience of learning. The pedagogy underlining the curriculum encompasses a supportive environment, learning experiences, scaffolded by experienced educators to develop a set of learning dispositions – a curiosity and wonder in the world around them to evoke a want to learn from St Luke’s Preschool through to post school and beyond.