Supporting Transitions by building connections

One of the most rewarding experiences of being a part of the St Luke’s learning community is to be actively involved in children’s positive transition to starting school at St Luke’s as they leave the CELC and move into Early Stage one (Kindergarten.)

School readiness as described by Kathryn Hopps in “Transition to school:Communication and relationships” (Early Childhood Australia, Research in Practice Vol 26, No.1, 2019) as an attribute which is measured at a point in time, however transition is change that happens over time.

“School readiness is one aspect of the broader concept of transition.” (Dockett and Perry, 2013.)

Children’s prior to school experiences shape their school experiences as they develop dispositions to learning and learn valuable social and communication skills. At St Luke’s CELC we are in the fortunate position to partner with St Luke’s school to support children’s continuity of experience in their transition to beginning Kindergarten.


Regular visits to the early stage one learning spaces, along with participation in school events such as Activities Days and liturgies, support children’s sense of belonging to the St Luke’s community.

When a whole of community approach is applied to the transition to school context, children and families benefit from the collective support and resources of many people and organisations.” (Hopps, 2019.)

St Luke’s CELC educators begin to link St Luke’s Pillars of learning to their planning of experiences for the children, further supporting the continuity of experience for the children and families. This is broadly outlined in the table below.

St Luke’s Pillar

Early Years Learning Framework Link

(EYLF, 2009)

Displayed by



“Children are connected with and contribute to their world.” (Outcome 2)

“Children learn to interact in relation to others with care, empathy and respect.”(Outcome 1.4)

The children develop empathy and advocate for social justice and equality.

The children learn to value themselves as unique, spirited individuals.

The children develop a wonder of creation.



Connected with “Belonging” which acknowledges children’s interdependence with others.

“Children become strong in their social and emotional well being.” (Outcome 3.1)

In their play with other children, children are encouraged to explore their emotions as well as different points of view.

The children are encouraged to become aware of connections, similarities and differences between people.

Think “Children are confident and involved learners.” (outcome 4.)

“Children transfer and adapt what they have learned from one context to another.” (Outcome 4.1)

In their play, the children investigate, imagine and explore their ideas.

For example in their role play, children gain an understanding of literacy practises through active involvement in activities that promote talking, listening and expressing themselves creatively (eg Hairdresser play, or making a shopping list.)

Manage “Children develop their emerging autonomy, interdependence, resilience and sense of agency.” (1.3)

“Children take increasing responsibility for their own health and physical well being.” (3.2)

Displayed when children persist with a task until it is complete (for example a puzzle, participating in a game with rules, cooking experiences.)

Is becoming aware of the rights and needs of others.

Initiates conversations to express their thoughts.

Inquire “Children are confident and involved learners” (4)

“Children develop a range of skills and processes such as problem solving, enquiry, experimentation, hypothesising, researching and investigating.” (4.2)

Children’s participation in project investigations facilitate the practising of skills and understandings which can be transferred across different contexts.

For example a gardening project encourages children to practise their scientific thinking of observing and predicting, as well as literacy awareness to record their findings, these scientific and literacy practises can be transferred to different contexts.


Create “Children develop dispositions for learning such as curiosity, cooperation, confidence, creativity, commitment, enthusiasm, persistence, imagination and reflexivity.”(4.1)

“Children resource their own learning though connecting with people, place, technologies and natural and processed materials.” (4.4)




Exploring a variety of mediums to express their thoughts and ideas. This includes the creative arts such as painting, drawing, dancing and drama.

Children express their emotions creatively in their artwork where they can use a variety of mediums to represent their emotions eg drawing, painting, sculpting, dancing, self portraits.

Child uses the hundred languages to imagine, investigate and explore their learning environment


Facilitating a sense of belonging for children supports their transition to school by providing them with positive experiences to foster their engagement in their learning.

A successful transition to school is marked by children’s positive approach to school and a sense of belonging and engagement.” (Hopps, 2019.)

At St Luke’s Catholic College, children’s learning journey can begin at the CELC and their continuity of experience and sense of belonging to the St Luke’s learning community is supported from this time, supporting them throughout their learning journey.


Is it in the QIP?

The  image above is an accurate description of what has been inside my head for the last fortnight. We have received notification for an upcoming Assessment and Rating visit to St Luke’s Catholic Early Learning Centre.  This is a self-assessment process which involves the submission of our QIP (Quality Improvement Plan) to our regulatory authority.  Following this submission, we will receive a 2 day visit for Assessment and Rating.

Tension or Nervous anticipation?

This is not an unfamiliar process for me. However going through Assessment and rating, I still feel a nervous tension in my stomach and my mind is preoccupied with random thoughts which cause me to become distracted during the day and a little forgetful.

Unfortunately, this did consequently lead me this week to wake my husband at 3.30am on Thursday because I had forgotten to take the garbage bins out.  I’m sure there was a clause in our marriage vows “In  sickness and in health and in times of Assessment and Rating.”

Are we ready? Is anyone ever ready?

Pause, Breathe, Reflect

Reflecting on our practices and undergoing the self assessment audit, my mindset moves forward. Our high quality, meaningful relationships, educational program and everyday practices at St Luke’s CELC always strive for exceeding themes.

There are quality practices occurring  every day – as there should be. These are included in our QIP.

“Exceeding” themes as defined by the National Quality Framework centres around the following:

  • Embedding quality Practice across all areas
  • Practice is informed by critical reflection
  • Engagement with families and/or the community shapes practice

In our self assessment process, I see how our everyday practices at St Luke’s CELC always pursue these exceeding elements and are embedded throughout the day and every day.

Critical reflection is ongoing individually and collectively as a team. Professional development opportunities and evaluations of practice continue to support critical reflection and shapes our practices.

Engagement with our families and our St Luke’s school community also continues to shape our practices as we continue to build our St Luke’s community.

Opportunity to celebrate 

In the process of reviewing our QIP for submission, it is rewarding to document our strengths and  achievements over the last 17 months since we opened. This an opportunity for us to celebrate and showcase  St Luke’s CELC!

Together as a team and as part of the St Luke’s community we are able to showcase how we display exceeding elements in the National Quality Standards (NQS) in the following areas:

  1. Educational Program and practice
  2. Children’s health and safety
  3. The Physical Environment
  4. Staffing Arrangements
  5. Relationships with Children
  6. Collaborative partnerships with families and communities
  7. Governance and Leadership

Our high quality , meaningful relationships and everyday practices at St Luke’s CELC always strive for exceeding elements and are embedded throughout the day and every day.






Critical reflection in practice

I have been challenged this term as we have sought to tweak and improve elements of the daily routine and our practises at St Luke’s Catholic Early Learning Centre (CELC). Although at times uncomfortable, the challenges and discomfort have been worthwhile. They have prompted me to explore the art of critical reflection and learn that going through the layers of the critical reflection process, growth and a culture of collaborative inquiry can be achieved.

Some of the challenges at the CELC that we have sought to improve from have included

  1. Setting up and implementing a positive mealtime environment for 59 children (which includes breakfast, morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea.)
  2. Communication challenges for team members throughout the day. There are variable factors which influence this such as, their being 12 staff and 7 different shift times and little opportunity for team members to formally meet during their shift time. As well, we use a collaborative staffing model where the children are not formally allocated in  room groups. These factors can be problematic for the planning and evaluation of the environment.

I saw these challenges in my own observations at the CELC as well as from discussions with other CELC teachers. To formulate a “plan of action” to manage these challenges, we engaged in a critical reflection process following  “layers of reflection” (as described in the diagram below. (Source: Miller, M. “Critical Reflection Reflections, Gowrie Australia, Summer 2011, Issue 45.)

Layers of reflection

Firstly, we gathered information from teachers at a CELC staff meeting. Everyone was able to contribute to this self-assessment and it was unanimous that these areas were challenging for all of us.

Given the wide scope, we delegated specific areas to teachers who had an interest in exploring it further. To facilitate the linking of theories and gathering of information from different forms of literature, we reframed the challenges into questions for our critical reflection. Our challenges were reframed to the following questions which we are in the process of exploring further:

  1. How can the mealtime environment shape children’s interactions with each other and educators, supporting positive eating habits, independence and social skills?
  2. How can educators be supported in their room groupings to facilitate their wellbeing, consistent practice, transitions and communication?

Linking reflection to literature and theories 

  1. How can the mealtime environment shape children’s interactions with each other and educators, supporting positive eating habits, independence and social skills?

Mealtimes provide the opportunity for social interactions between the children and with educators. As well as discussions about healthy eating and providing nutritional meals, the mealtime environment can support children’s developing self help skills. This aligns with the “Manage” pillar of learning (St Luke’s Pillars of learning) as children begin to “manage self.”

Our mealtimes at times were more process driven rather than an enjoyable part of the day. At times it was a counting experience, with the number of children at each mealtime being counted and “checked off” a list to make sure they had their meal.

The National Quality standards highlights the importance of positive environments (NQS 3), the value of providing opportunity for children to develop relationships with each other (NQS Area 5), as well as describing the importance of healthy eating for children (NQS Area 2.) This is described in detail by Rhonda Livingstone in “Creating positive mealtimes – We Hear You Blog.”

To support children’s agency and emerging self help skills, the mealtimes have been adjusted in the following ways:

  • Individual serving dishes are placed on each table for the children to serve themselves their own meal.
  • Educators sit with children at the tables, prompting conversations with the children and between small groups of children.
  • Mealtimes are in smaller groups to facilitate more conversations.
  • Families have been invited to share their favourite meals which are served at home with the CELC so we can include these in our menus.
  • Educators have created a “CELC Recipe book” for families with favourite recipes from the CELC.

The general consensus to date is that these changes have been positive. Mealtimes are more settled and the children are engaging in more positive interactions and conversations during these times. Mealtimes are still a “work in progress” and educators are discussing with each other ways to further improve mealtimes to facilitate children’s sense of agency. Last week, progressive morning teas were introduced to further support children’s emerging levels of managing self. By continuing to evaluate and discuss our processes, a culture of collaborative inquiry is maintained.

2. How can educators be supported in their room groupings to facilitate their wellbeing, consistent practice, transitions and communication?

At St Luke’s CELC, a collaborative model for teacher/educator grouping is used rather than a traditional “Room Coordinator and educators” model. This can be seen in the diagram below.


The children are not in traditional room groupings that is often used in long day care settings. At St Luke’s CELC, each educator is responsible for a group of focus children whom they observe, plan and implement experiences for throughout the year. The children have the opportunity to explore each of the learning environments throughout the day.

With the fluidity of the day and groupings of staff, challenges arose for staff as they were spending time in each of the learning spaces, but not in their room which they were responsible for planning the environment (eg Teal, Navy or Outdoor.) Further to this, staff within each room group did not spend periods of time together to evaluate and reflect upon the program. This had implications for the effectiveness of their programming and evaluation of practice.

When discussing the challenges, educators questioned the staffing model and its appropriateness in a large centre. Many were challenged by the fluid approach and movement of children. It was suggested that we change our whole model to the more traditional long day care model with children in set room groups with allocated teachers in each room and a less fluid routine across the learning spaces.

Before making a big change to the staffing and room model, I investigated the theories behind our practices, this included reading Working in the Reggio Way: A beginner’s guide for American teachers by J Wurm. Wurm compares Reggio Emilia schools daily routine to traditional routines and groupings in American Children’s services which are similar in structure to Australian long day care centres. She highlights the benefits of team teaching and its advantages including less disruptions to free play explorations and the sharing of responsibility amongst teachers for more formal parts of the day. This highlighted to me the advantages of our approach at St Luke’s CELC and reinforced to me the benefits our approach.

Our staffing model supports peer modelling and a team teaching approach. The fluidity of groupings supports the children’s developing sense of agency as they are able to freely explore each of the learning environments. The daily routine moves freely with large amounts of time devoted to exploratory based learning as well as more structured parts of the day. During these times teachers share the responsibility for the planning and implementation of the more formal based experiences in which children participate eg literacy based group experiences, fundamental movement skills, spirituality and music explorations.

To ease the challenge of communication amongst teachers within their room groupings, it was decided to trial for one and a half hours each morning, the designation of each room group of educators to their “room” (ie Teal, Navy, Outdoor Investigations.) Initially, there was some resistance from teachers to the designation of areas at certain times of the day. However, over time there has been more positive feedback with teachers describing improved channels of communication which has facilitated easier evaluation and planning for environments.

This reminded me of the cartoon depicted below – sometimes we experience discomfort however through change comes growth and improvement for the greater good. I discovered this cartoon in a blog when searching for information on “leaning into discomfort” as I quite often think of this phrase when reflecting on practise.  I discovered this blog in my Google search  The Healthy Uncomfortable – I love the title and thought the cartoon is an apt illustration of the process of critical reflection.

Moment of discomfort

Critical reflection is not easy. However, to sustain a shared vision of our purpose and to implement this effectively, critical reflection is required and needs to continue as a means to building a professional culture of collaboration and inquiry.

“It has been said that the environment should act as a kind of aquarium which reflects the ideas, ethics, attitudes and cultures of people who live in it. This is what we are working toward.”


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.

1 2

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.


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.





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.


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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



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


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.



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.


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.)