Category Archives: Child care

Early years and screen time | Articles around the web

Think back to your early years, when you were about pre-school age. What did you do all day? Safe bet it involved playing in the yard, getting scraped knees and trekking mud through the house. In the past ten years, though, this has changed dramatically. Children have gone from making mud pies to taking selfies. How, as a parent, should you manage screen time? We’ve looked around the web to find some answers.

 

Healthy screen time and quality media choices: 2-5 years by Raising Children

Raising Children points out that screens play an important role in children’s education and it’s impossible to avoid them completely. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises no more than an hour of screen time per day but many children exceed this limit.

This page (and others for the appropriate age group) has advice on what apps and programs you should expose your child to, as well as time management.

 

The Right Dose of Screen Time for Kids by Psychology Today

Vanessa LoBue, PhD writes this short yet informative article that points out the pros and cons of the iPad. Screens have an effect on everyone around the child, not just the child themselves. It can nip an argument between siblings in the bud during the car ride home, but it can’t be a replacement for your son or daughter spending time with friends. Screen time is increasing, yet it can’t be a substitute for fulfilling, real-world interaction.

 

Digital Guidelines: Promoting Healthy Technology Use for Children by the American Psychology Association

The American Psychological Association aims to educate parents about technology and its effects on their children in this piece. It points out what type of screen use is appropriate for each age group (e.g. 1 ½ to 2 years old can watch ‘high-quality programs’ with their parents).

The Association uses the bulk of the page to help parents set out guidelines on using tech and watching screens at home. This is helpful if you’re trying to decide what ‘rules’ to set up around screen use for your own family.

 

20 Android and iOS apps for kids to keep them entertained (and quiet) by Digital Trends

Digital Trends has a range of free and paid apps that are age appropriate and easy to monitor. Genres include games, art, movies, and education. With 20 on the list, you’re bound to find one or five you like for the iPad.

The benefits of mixed-age play

Eskay kids services provide an environment in which children are able to play and learn alongside children of a variety of ages.  This approach not only nurtures and promotes the sibling relationship, but also the richness that comes from desegregating age groupings.  Some of that richness includes:

 

Children are more settled.  Whether they are arriving with their sibling, or arriving to a cousin or family friend who already attends the service, it is comforting to them to be able to spend the day with someone familiar.  Children in segregated services not only have to say goodbye to their parents, but also to their sibling as they head off to a different room for the day.  

 

Children are able spend time with family while away from the home environment.  There is no doubt that there is something special about the love that family members have for one another.  Throughout the day at our service we see siblings and cousins turn to each other for the kind of comfort that only family can provide.

 

Younger children have mentors and role models in older children.  These pictures are just one example of the many ways that younger children are exposed to the more complex ideas of older children.  They have role models and numerous teachers beyond the staff of the centre demonstrating complex ideas, language and social skills throughout their day.

Older children experience what it is to be a mentor and teacher to younger children.  Our kindergarten children are able to step up, to show leadership and to have their knowledge and experiences valued as expert knowledge when sharing with younger children.  This gives them a sense of pride in the expertise that they have developed.  Furthermore, research shows that we reinforce and consolidate our own knowledge when teaching it to others.

 

Mixed age grouping is inclusive of indigenous beliefs about teaching and learning.  In Aboriginal culture and across a wide range of cultures children traditionally learnt in family groupings.  Aboriginal people view family groupings as a more natural method of teaching and learning, believing that children will flourish if the learning environment could cater to the way that children learn naturally.  Certainly the benefits we of mixed age learning that we see on a daily basis here at Eskay Kids are a testament to the wisdom of this indigenous knowledge.

Written by Summa Brooks

Educator

Eskay Kids – Springfield

Life after childcare; the first day of school

After the childcare days are over, school begins. The lead-up to the first day of school is a mixed bag for both parents and kids alike. The actual day won’t be that bad if you’re prepared. We’ve helped dozens of parents and kids get ready for the big event and decided to spread our knowledge with these handy tips.

 

 

  • Get the uniform ready

In childcare, the kids don’t have to worry about uniforms. But prep is a different story. You can make it an exciting event, saying ‘let’s go and get your big school clothes!’.

If your child has trouble with shoelaces, it’s fine to get slip-ons or buckled shoes. You don’t want them to trip. Teach them laces a few times and have them wear the ‘big kid shoes’ when they’re ready.

 

  • Go school shopping

And make it a fun day out! Let your child choose a new backpack, pencil-case, and lunchbox. They’re something the kids will look after because they’re proud of them, especially if it has their favourite TV character or movie hero on it.

You must stock up on other essentials like pencils, books, glue, and other materials found on the school supply list. There’s lots to buy, and that leads us to our next point.

 

 

  • Label everything

This way your son/daughter’s stuff doesn’t get ‘misplaced, and can easily be returned if left behind’. Get them involved, too. Something as simple as placing a label on a book is exciting to a child getting ready for ‘big school’. You might’ve even done this during their childcare days.

 

  • Teach them new skills

Teachers are there to help, but they can’t help every child all the time. Even during their time in childcare, teach your son or daughter how to do simple things. Little actions like how to wipe their face, wash their hands, or even taking off a jumper makes them anxious if they don’t know how to do it.

 

  • Get a routine going

Little ones need lots of rest. They’ll trot out the old line ‘but I’m not tired!’, then crash ten minutes later, guaranteed. Have a set dinner and bedtime and help your son or daughter with brushing their teeth. If you read in bed to get them to sleep, keep it up for as long as you can. It’ll improve their literacy immensely.

 

  • Go to orientation day

Going to orientation will ease the nervous jitters, plus it’s an opportunity to make friends. It’s something both you and your children can benefit from. You’ll meet the teachers and have a private word if you need to voice any concerns. Plus, your child can see their future classmates and make fast friends. Some parents may have difficulty with drop-off duties, and this can be your chance to make friends of your own.

 

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Teaching values and discipline

Fun things to do after daycare

Kindergarten and beyond; teaching values and discipline

It’s important during the early years, even before kindergarten and big school, to set a routine for your children and yourself. That way your days are structured and there’s little chaos. In theory, at least. In reality, there’s hundreds of little things that can send routines into a spin and you run out of time to do certain things. Teaching your children the value of routine, discipline and respect will benefit them for the rest of their lives.

 

  • Set up a ‘chore chart’

Children aren’t used to responsibility, and that’s why it’s essential to teach them this through their kindergarten years. Have a chart on the wall somewhere, decorated with colours or something cheery, that lists jobs that every member of the family must do. For the little ones, it doesn’t have to be too big. Something as simple as setting the table will do.

As they grow up, add jobs to the list, or other tasks they have to complete. This will eventually include homework, music/sports practice, and even taking out the rubbish. Having a points and rewards system is an incentive for good behaviour.

 

  • Make a set time for bed and eating

These routines are important after the children graduate kindergarten. While Eskay doesn’t have set eating times, ‘big school’ will and it’s important that kids understand it.

It’s also essential for children to get enough sleep. Young ones need 10-12 hours a night. They won’t get nap time in school, unlike kindergarten, so having a solid rest (combined with a good breakfast) stops any dozing off during class.

 

  • Enforce good manners

Children are very impressionable and copy what they see without understanding the context or consequences. This is especially mortifying if they’re copying bad manners.

Parents will take the initiative to teach their children the importance of ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ at home, and teachers certainly encourage it at kindergarten and big school.

 

  • Not everyone’s the same

Everyone has different values, speaks different languages, and has a different family dynamic. In Australia, this is especially true. During kindergarten, children learn to respect the opinions and backgrounds of others as part of the Early Years Learning Framework. It’s important to carry this on when kindy finishes to make sure your child understands how large the world is, and everyone in it is unique.

 

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Exploring music at Eskay

Exploring music.

Music can make us feel a whole range of emotions and can break through all kinds of barriers. It can make us laugh or cry, it can help us to sleep or wake us up. It can even help us to learn about all sorts of new things. Music is an amazing tool when used correctly.

In the Kookaburra room we have been exploring music and how it makes us feel. We started by using relaxation music at rest time to relax the children and help them sleep. Before long we were introducing music into more activities. We started with a lot of Moana and Frozen (‘Let It Go’ is still as popular as ever) as well as other dancing music and the children danced up a storm. For a few months they danced away, often requesting their favourite songs to sing and dance to. Since then we have introduced music from other cultures. We started with some traditional Irish music which was soon followed by Indian, German, Aboriginal and music from the Torres Strait Islands. But why stop there? The children love Waltzing Matilda, Elvis (don’t we all), TNT and the Trolls soundtrack just to name of a few of the genres we have begun to explore. 

music

I would like to take this moment to share a story with you about how music can break barriers. One afternoon the girls were all out dancing up a storm and some of the boys, who had never shown a interest in dancing before, started to look over at them, watching them dancing and slowly over a few weeks I noticed the boys coming closer and closer to where we were dancing and before I knew it they had started to join in. For the first few times the boys stayed amongst themselves, not joining the girls in dancing before one of the boys started dancing with one of the girls and before long I had all these children dancing together, not a care in the world who they were dancing with, just enjoying the fact they were dancing with their friends. It was amazing to watch music break down these barriers the boys had of dancing only being for girls to not only join in but now days they are normally the first up for a dance party.

Music is amazing and helps break so many barriers but it can also help start bonds, give a common ground and what more could you ask for then that? It has been amazing to watch the children grow, break through barriers and build bonds with other people using such a simple tool. I honestly can’t wait to see what more music has to teach us about ourselves and about the people around us.

Brooke Lovell

Karana Early Education Centre

Essentials your child needs for Eskay’s Karana Child Care Centre

Our Karana child care centre is a home away from home for all Eskay Kids, whether they come once or five days a week. We certainly do our best to give children a safe environment to play, learn, and grow, though we need some help from the parents.

Packed lunchbox

Our Karana Downs child care centre is open from 6.45am to 6.15pm. This allows busy parents to leave their children with us for the day, and having a packed lunchbox is essential. Healthy snacks like fruits, or vegetables and some dip will keep little ones satisfied and full of energy. Lunch options for busy parents can be  as simple as a Vegemite sandwich and some fruit.

For drinks, a water bottle is a must. Your child will need this through the day to stay hydrated. Drinks that are high in calcium, like milk (flavoured or not), are a popular treat.

Change of clothes

Eskay Kids’ day care centres emphasise getting back to nature, and this does involve having fun in the mud sometimes. Therefore, we recommend packing a change of clothes in your child’s backpack.

Long pants and a jumper are recommended, too. Queensland temperatures drop rapidly in the evenings, and it can get cold outside. Other essentials include nappies and a hat for all outdoor activities.

Sunscreen

We supply sunscreen at the Karana child care centre, though sometimes parents give us a helping hand by packing their own. This is common because parents know what suits their child best, or the family has a brand they trust.

Favourite toy

Child separation anxiety is difficult during the initial first few months. When coming to the Karana child care centre for the first time, bring something from home that will give your son or daughter comfort. Children make attachments with toys and books, turning them into a source of comfort. It can help with the transition from home to daycare.

Trust

Parents trust us to take care of their precious bundles, and we certainly work hard to live up to that standard. Our Karana child care centres, like the ones in Springfield and Capalaba, are licensed and have achieved an ‘Excellent’ standard from ACECQA. Another great factor is that Karana won Centre of the Year in the Australian Family Early Childhood Awards.

Awards and licensing are only part of the reason parents trust us. Our carers (all Blue Card certified) do their best to make families welcome and follow the children’s lead when it comes to choosing activities. This way the kids always do something they’ll enjoy.  

Getting through the first month with Eskay child care Karana

Our Eskay Kids child care Karana centre is home to children from pages fifteen months to five years. Often, our centre will be children’s first home-away-from-home, and the lead up, as well as the inevitable first day, can be an emotional time for both families and children.  The first month is an opportunity to set a routine that makes drop-offs easier as time goes on.

Eskay’s child care Karana centre won the Early Education and Care Service Award for best service in QLD in 2017.  The team were overjoyed to receive this award and for being recognised for the amazing work they do everyday with children.  After calling the centre, book a time to walk through to get a good feel for what we do.  It will give both you and your child a chance to explore our space, meet our Director and educators and see what happens each day.  There are multiple spaces to play, to read, to run, jump, skip, and even jump in puddles.   

Before the first day arrives, make sure that you have everything ready. Essentials include a hat, water bottle, change of clothes, and lunchbox. During drop-off time, if your child is anxious try to make some time to stay and have a little play, find a teacher to chat to and say goodbye. Sneaking away is not recommended and makes drop off the next day much harder.  

Another way to ‘survive’ the first month, or the first day, is to make friends with other parents and listen to their experiences. Children aren’t the only ones who form friendships in child care. The Karana Downs’ community is always welcoming to newcomers, and many of our families have formed close bonds outside the centre.

Over the next few weeks, make sure that you set a routine with your child so going to kindy gets easier. Talk about what they’ll do during the day while you’re in the car, arrive early so you’re not rushing, and arrange time outside child care to have playdates with other children. For parents having some separation blues or who just want an update, Eskay’s child care Karana staff are happy to talk over the phone at any time of the day.

If you want more tips about surviving your child’s first month in child care, the parent’s guide is available here. There’s advice, how our centres are different from other kindys, and links to educational articles about the benefits of play-based learning.

Slowing down our day with tea parties

Taking the time to slow down with children is of pretty high importance in my eyes…. time that allows for us to connect with each other on a deeper level. It is often something we can lose sight of in the rush of our day. Having a tea party allows for this time and can offer an insight into children’s thoughts and feelings. Discussions allow us to get to know children on a more intimate level. For me, this is far more important than setting up activity after activity, which can distract children from learning to regulate their emotions.

When I arrive I often walk in to musings from the children….. “Can we have a tea party?”, “Is it too wet for us to have a fire?”, “Did you bring marshmallows or food for the fire?”. This gives me an insight into how our day will unfold, and what I will be helping them prepare.

Children will often discuss amongst themselves the type of fruit or herbal tea they want.  They are gaining familiarity with the different types, and most of the time the tea has been selected before I even arrive. As well as picking the tea they are able to choose from our selection of tea cups and pots. Most of our tea sets have been donated by families of the centre. The different tea sets are known by the different families who have brought them in. All beautiful and unique and very special to us. Once we have got everything together, we move to gather as a community around our yarning circle. As soon as the tea sets come out the children follow. I feel a bit like the pied piper walking with our tea filled tea pots, and the children in tow.

It is not necessarily part of our everyday play, however most days we have been having bigger and bigger tea parties. Winter has also been a great opportunity to use our fire knowledge and sometimes boil the water over the fire….  again bringing children and adults together, yarning about their morning and plans for the remainder of the day.  Once we have gathered together and had our cup of tea and a bit of chit-chat, the children generally take off and resume play.  I find this experience can also be a wonderful opportunity for children who may struggle to enter group situations.  

Our tea parties have really helped to create an overall sense of calm throughout the centre and bring us together. I think they have also made a real difference to my own “at peace” feeling.

Holly Wells

Karana

Child care Capalaba: the Eskay difference

Type ‘child care Capalaba’ into Google and the results will list Eskay Kids on both the list and the map. You might wonder what makes us different from other child care centres listed on that page, so we’re breaking it down for you here.

 

Our centre is open 51 weeks of the year (just closing over the Christmas/New Year period).  We are licensed for children aged 6 weeks to 5 years, and have a strong focus on using a Nature Pedagogy approach, which values a strong connection to nature in the inside, outside and beyond.

 

When you’re searching for child care in Capalaba you want a place where you’re confident your little ones will thrive. Children are curious, and we let them explore in a safe, play-based, learning environment, where their childhood is respected. This method is more clearly explained in the Early Years Learning Framework. The Framework outlines the qualities child care centres aim to develop by the time children reach school.

 

Play-based learning doesn’t mean children run off and go rowdy. But they also aren’t confined to a classroom with only an hour of constructive play per day either. Eskay Kids uses the outdoors as a classroom instead. Households, like the world in general, are dominated by technology and screens. Eskay Kids encourages children to choose whether they would like to play in the indoor classrooms or the outdoor classrooms for the majority of the day.  Both spaces have a strong nature pedagogy approach, with the indoor play usually focused on smaller, quieter engagement, and the outdoors is usually where children are moving their big muscles, playing co-operatively, exploring, connecting with nature, making friends and ultimately learning all the time.

 

Some of the outcomes of the Early Years Learning Framework include that children develop into involved learners, effective and confident communicators, and have a strong sense of self (or identity). Play-based learning in the outdoors gives children the opportunity to engage in activities, sometimes on their own, and sometimes in small or larger groups. Through this engagement, children come to understand that even though their own opinions are important, they must learn to respect those of others, even if they’re a bit different.

 

Next time you search ‘child care Capalaba’ on the web, give Eskay Kids a good once-over. We’re available almost all year, follow government guidelines, and give children a beautiful connection to nature in both our indoor and outdoor environments.  Parents know in their hearts what they value for their children, so we would encourage you to have a visit, and choose a centre that feels right in your heart.   

Nature Pedagogy Course by Sara Christie

This is my first blog.  I was very nervous writing this up as I’m not much of a writer, and I know how many people could potentially read this. However, I just had to share my wonderful experience in nature at our wonderful Mayfield that we are so very lucky to have.

 

The amazing owners of Eskay Kids paid for me to do Claire Warden’s Nature Pedagogy course, with Carly Garner.

 

So far I have only done the first 3 days, there are another 3 to come, and I am so excited for the next round.  Before I had started, I was so nervous.  Yes I love getting dirty and playing in mud and exploring, however I’m rather scared (to say the least) of spiders, snakes and fire etc., so I usually tend to avoid nature in its truest and beautiful form.

 

But in nature time, I almost forgot about my fears and it hardly felt like learning at all.  After all, I got to play in the wild and I took the time to notice the wonderful things in the bushland that in my busy everyday life, I would never see, or I’d be afraid to explore. 

 

I foraged so many wonderful plants and flowers of all different shapes and colours, I learnt about what different plants meant regarding the condition of the land. I looked at rocks and feathers for all their beauty, the different patterns in each feather and shapes, tones and lines in the rocks… I really felt like a child.   I was excited to reach the river, and I just had to touch the water.  It was so cold, but I felt like a child, without a care in the world.

 

After our nature walk we came back and made light cubbies out of natural resources we had foraged from our walk. Flowers, sticks, feathers, grass for weaving etc., it was so much fun.  It held a candle, which lit our path on our night walk.  The light cubby looked even more amazing at night!  We followed the walk with a huge bonfire.  It was very relaxing sitting by the fire on a cold dark night, just watching the embers drift off into the sky and then disappear, they looked like silent fireworks.

 

The next day we got to explore fire ourselves, but first we discussed the benefits and risks of children exploring fire… and of course the benefits outweighed the risks. Then for the fun part! We used vaseline and cotton balls, along with flint and steel, dry leaves, sticks and bark etc., in a colander to have a go at making a fire.  This was my first ever fire as I usually stay away.  I was so proud of myself – I actually did it! I made a spark with my flint without getting scared and then bam, my fire had begun.  I looked after it by slowly feeding it different dry leaves and sticks until it was big enough to stay alight on its own.  It was such an accomplishment for me! Then we tried using the flints without the vaseline and using hay and other natural fire starters.  I again got mine to start using some shredded rope, and slowly feeding it oxygen by blowing it, however admittedly my fear did get the better of me and I wasn’t able to do it in my cupped hands, I still had loads of fun! We then made charcoal pencils, which were surprisingly easy.  We made and ate damper, melted chocolate for our strawberries and marshmallows!!

 

Throughout the time of the course we also learnt to whittle sticks, making pencil shaped sticks, which could potentially be a weapon in the bush if needed, however we made homemade ink using flowers, water and a mortar and pestle. We also made crochet needles, from a stick with a whittling knife. 

 

We explored with the very delicate felt, making felt art and balls from scratch.  We also had a go at using the same process with wool from sheep and horse hair.  The horsehair didn’t go as well, it was too fine.

 

It was sad to say goodbye to Carly, but knowing we will be back in November is truly amazing, and of course, we have the access to Mayfield … I’ll definitely be begging to come out with the children next time!

 

The very next day after the nature pedagogy course, I was so in love with nature, and so inspired, that I took my own children out to some local bush land along with my husband.  It was quite funny as I was so excited to explore and so were the children.  I had to keep reminding my husband to stand back and trust them to explore without boundaries. We crossed a fallen tree that made a bridge over a creek.  Facing another fear of mine – heights, but this time with the kids watching I couldn’t show my fear as I might pass my fear on.  They did so well crossing the tree, I was so proud of all of us.

 

I totally understand nature time now, though as we were there a couple hours, it only felt like such a short time. The kids and myself are so very excited to get back out there and see what else we can explore, and I can’t wait to show them all the things I learnt, as well as bringing it into Eskay Kids Springfield for my children there to explore, as I know they will love it.  I also want to extend it into our walks in the beyond.

 

Nature is such a wonderful thing that we are so lucky to be surrounded by.  We just need to remember to slow down and enjoy what is right in front of us.

 

Written by Sara Christie

Lilly Pilly Room – Eskay Kids Springfield

Does play have to take a back seat, in order to prepare children for school?

At Eskay Kids, our beliefs, philosophies and values centre on children, play, nature and authentic childhood experiences.  We stand by play as the absolute best medium by which children learn about themselves, each other and the world around them.  At each of our services, children are respected and have a huge amount of autonomy.  They can choose whether to play indoors or outdoors.  They can choose whether to play with children older or younger than themselves.  They can choose to enter and play in any of the spaces in the service. They can choose to eat when they’re hungry, and to rest or sleep when they’re tired.  There is no formal “morning tea” time, no formal “lunch time” and no formal “sleep time” as is usually customary in traditional early childhood settings.  The programming and planning done within the services is all based around children’s interests.  There are no ”formal learning times” or “structured activity times” where it’s compulsory for every child to attend.  

Children can pretty much spend their days as they choose.  In saying that, there is a beautiful flow to the routines of the day.  Children know that morning tea, lunch and group gatherings will be on offer, so they know what to expect, however it is very fluid and flexible, and based around children’s individual needs and requirements.

 

Environments

The environments are created in such a way that children can have free and open access to materials they may need to assist in their play.  There is free access to paper, paint, pens, pencils, boxes, glue, sticky tape, cardboard etc.  There is free access to blocks, sticks, rocks, fabric, books, magnifying glasses etc.  There are hammers, saws, wood, nails, twine, tyres, crates, and lots of loose parts.  Children have everything at their fingertips they may need, and they are free to ask for anything that’s not there, and we will try to source it (on the spot if possible).  There are environments that are conducive to quieter, restful play, environments that are more suited to exploring, and environments for running and playing games.

 

How are you preparing children for school?

One of the biggest questions we get asked in running such a child-centred, play-driven program is “how will children be prepared for school if you just let them play all day?”  We often have questions about children needing more structure to prepare them for school.  We often hear questions about learning to read and write before they go to school.

 

Before thinking about “how do we prepare children for school”, we need to consider – what do parents actually mean by “preparing for school?”  Is it about learning to  “sit and listen to a teacher?”  Is it being able to write their name?  Being able to read? Knowing phonics? Counting to 5, 10, or even 100?  Knowing shapes?  Many of these things we don’t even need to teach children – they learn them through playing in their world, by talking to their peers, teachers and parents.  Much of this learning happen as if by osmosis, just by children being engaged and happy in their playful lives.  Before children turn 5, they learn more than at any other time in their lives.  They learn to roll over, sit, stand, walk, run, throw, kick, talk, question, tantrum and more.  

We don’t actually teach them any of this, they learn it on their own, because they are biologically designed to do so.  It’s as if children are pre-programmed to naturally learn all the things of their culture and community, just by virtue of them living, playing and interacting with the adults and children around them.

 

Developmental Milestones

When we look at the developmental progress of children, the charts, the ages and stages milestones – by the age of 5 in relation to cognitive development, children should be able to understand opposites, count 5-10 things may write some numbers and letters, count by rote and start to understand the relationships between numbers and objects.  To see the full list, click here: http://files.acecqa.gov.au/files/QualityInformationSheets/QualityArea1/DevelopmentalMilestonesEYLFandNQS.pdf Most of this development and these milestones “just happen”, because children are developmentally ready for those things to happen, and many of them don’t need to be “taught”.  

Children are naturally curious beings.  They play with their friends and they practice and emulate adult scenarios witnessed in their everyday lives.  They are learning, make no mistake about it.  Even though it looks like frivolous play, the children are learning.    

 

What does learning look like while playing

When children are playing they are creating play scenarios, creating rules, using their minds, negotiating social situations, learning to communicate, to compromise.  They are problem solving, communicating, asking questions.  They are learning about words, feelings, and emotions.  They are consulting with books, YouTube or Google.  They are representing through building, creating, painting, and drawing.  They are using the sense of sight, touch, taste, smell, and sound.  They learn about weight, length, speed, colour, sound, cause/effect, rhythm etc.  They learn words, language, linguistics, and mathematical and scientific concepts.  In a nutshell, children are learning.  They may not have a teacher standing out the front dictating what they “need” to learn, or sitting them down at a desk forcing worksheets upon them, but they are learning.

Learning through play.  Why?  Because it’s fun, it’s interesting to them, and it’s playful, and lets keep in mind, these children are four and five year olds, and they are biologically designed to learn through play.

 

What skills do children need before school?

What are the skills that will set children up for the best possible experience for school?  As a teacher, the most important things you want children to bring to school with them are well developed social and emotional skills as well as confidence and independence.  You want children to be able to interact and get along with others, solve problems, take some risks and get back up again if they fail.  We want them to be adventurous and curious about the world in which we live.  All of these competencies are developed through long periods of uninterrupted play.  It’s not a requirement of school, for children to be reading and writing.  That will come in time, when the children are ready.

 

Dr Peter Gray – Sudbury Valley School

We are big fans of Dr Peter Gray who has written a book called “Free to Learn”.  In this book, he studied the graduates of the Sudbury Valley School.  The Sudbury Valley School is one where there is no curriculum, no classes, no subjects, no tests, no grading.  Children from the age of 4 through to the age of 18 are together and are not segregated by age in any way.  The younger children learn from the older children, and the older children learn how to nurture and how to teach and lead.  There are no “teachers”, just staff members who are the adults in the space.  All day, everyday, the children can do whatever they want.  If they want to read, play on the computer, play cards, climb trees they can.  The school is a democratic school and is run by the school meeting.  Each person has 1 vote and all the rules, and all the hiring and firing is done by a voting system, so the students (approximately 140) have a much larger vote than the staff (approximately 10).

The students basically run the school.  Dr Gray’s son went to the school from age 10, so he wanted to know what sort of opportunities might (or might not) be available at the end of such a free school?  Would he be restricted in any way?  What if he wanted to go to University – could that still happen when there had been no classes, no curriculum, no tests and no grades?  The results of the study were very pleasing to Dr Gray and he found it to be a great success.  Many students went on to university – one even became a maths professor.  There were doctors, teachers, lawyers, many were entrepreneurs and most were successful in whatever field they chose.  It would seem a big driver in their success, was the freedom to learn about what interested them, and the ability to be self-directed learners.

 

Children learn quickly

If your children are going to a traditional school, it won’t take them very long to learn how to sit and listen to the teacher.  They’ll learn that very quickly.  When they are developmentally ready, it won’t take them long to learn to read or write – they key is to take it at the child’s pace.  There is no rush.  Almost all children will eventually learn to read and write.  Some will learn it at age 4; some will learn it at age 10.  It will happen when the child is ready.  Most children learn everything when they’re ready and interested to do so.  In Finland, they don’t even start learning to read until they’re 7, as there is recognition that there are far more important things, such as play, to be doing before the age of 7, and at 7, children are more developmentally ready.  I guess it’s a little bit like saying I’ll need to use a walking stick one day.  Does that mean I need to practice today?  No, I’ll learn that pretty quickly when the time comes.  

 

What is age-appropriate pedagogy?

We often talk about “preparing children for school”, but in recent times there has been a recognition that “schools need to prepare for the children they are receiving”.  There has been realisation that some of the rigorous curriculum expectations are not developmentally appropriate for young children, so there has been a turn around and a recognition that play is still necessary, even when children are at school.  The word “play” is not being used, because people seem to be afraid of the word, instead the term “age appropriate pedagogy” is being used.  What does pedagogy mean?  Basically it means the method and practice or “the art” of teaching”.  So age appropriate pedagogy essentially means PLAY and child-led inquiry – because that is what is age-appropriate for children!

The secret behind our child care centre in Capalaba

The Eskay Kids child care centre in Capalaba follows the Early Years Learning Framework and the Government Approved QLD Kindergarten Learning Guidelines. We take a unique approach in how we run our centres, but we follow the same rules and regulations as everyone else. So what does this mean for you and your child?

 

Queensland Kindergarten Learning Guidelines

Our child care centre in Capalaba, as well as those in Karana Downs and Springfield, follow the Queensland Kindergarten Learning Guidelines or QKLG (same as every child care centre in the state).  At the core is exploring decision-making practices, processes, and elements.

 

These elements are key for teachers working in early childhood education. Teachers carefully plan each day and provide enriching environments, so children can play, develop, and learn. Children have large periods of uninterrupted time to play, explore, learn, discover, question, enquire and engage in social learning experiences with children and adults alike.  Teachers regularly observe the interests, strengths and learning over time and provide a transition statement for families to share with the school which includes information about the child’s interests, their communication skills, active learning, identity, wellbeing, connectedness and other information that may be pertinent.   

 

Our Kindergarten teacher spends a lot of time reflecting on the children within the Kindy program.  The QKLG states that reflection is key for developing strategies, looking back on elements that worked well or were overlooked, and identifying what worked best.     

capalaba QKLG

(Queensland Kindergarten Learning Guidelines, 2017)

 

At Eskay Kids  child care centre in Capalaba, our educators have intimate knowledge about what children respond to best. They enjoy their time in the outdoors enormously, they enjoy time spent with their friends engaging in play that is interesting to them, and they also enjoy quieter times in quieter spaces either by themselves or with a small group of friends.  

 

Though we know what works best, the educators at Eskay Kids are always engaging in further learning and professional development to improve and refine their knowledge and understanding of contemporary early childhood development, and are always pushing themselves past “what has always been done”.  A teacher never stops learning; they network, attend seminars on early education, and meet with parents to discuss concerns.