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.”
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.