We believe that hands-on, experiential learning is the best educational approach for children and we do this through a strong connection to nature and the outdoors, interest-lead learning, emergent curriculum, a play-based focus, enquiry-based teaching style and authentic play. When children’s natural curiosity is encouraged, learning flows organically.
Why is play so important?
Play is very important for children. Through play young children explore and learn to understand the world around them as they come to communicate, discover, imagine and create. When children play they are showing what they have learned and what they are trying to understand. This is why play is one of the foundations of the Early Years Learning Framework. A play-based program does not mean that children just do what they like all day. In a play-based program there will be times when children come together as a group, listen when others are talking, follow the rules of group living and begin to take responsibility for their actions and their environment. Children are offered choices that reflect their developmental stage. The choices are determined by the educators and are provided within limits of safety and within the group setting. The educators continually evaluate children’s play to discover what it is children are learning and to then help shape and extend this learning.
Play is a crucial part of children’s development, the opportunity to learn through involvement, through trial and error is critical to how we cope with life and interact with other. Our day is filled with opportunities to test our skills, build on our ability to communicate and interact with others, gain new knowledge and retest learned skills. It’s about the process of learning and never about a produced product, its about fun, its about being safe, nurtured and trusted.
Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF)
All early childhood services across Australia are obligated to follow the national Early Years Learning Framework, a curriculum framework that outlines the key learning outcomes for children prior to school. The framework outlines the key practices that support the best outcomes for young children. The outcomes are:
- Children have a strong sense of identity
- Children are connected with and contribute to their world
- Children have a strong sense of wellbeing
- Children are confident and involved learners
- Children are effective communicators
Within the framework, children will learn science and maths concepts as they observe, investigate, discover, compare, classify, create, predict, explain, verify and analyse. Children will develop language and literacy skills, not just through the spoken word, but also through painting, drawing, sculpture, writing, music, songs, movement, stories, role play, posters, puppets and many open ended questions. Art and music provide many opportunities for creative expression with a focus on the process discovery, interpretation, exploration and imagination.
The curriculum is built around a play-based program, focused on the interests of young children and also the intentional planning undertaken by educators. Play provides opportunities for children to learn as they discover, create, improvise and imagine. Play and learning are entwined in such a way that it is difficult to separate. What we know is that when children play with other children they create social groups, test out ideas, challenge each other’s thinking and build new understandings.
Government Approved Kindergarten Program
Parents often ask us what’s the difference between a sessional Kindy (such as a C&K) and long day care Kindy, and would my four year old benefit from a sessional experience rather than a long day care experience? The answer is as simple as it is complex. Both early childhood programs operate under the same National Regulations, National Quality Standard and Queensland Kindergarten Learning Guidelines.
This means that both settings have to employ University Qualified Early Childhood Teachers (just the same as schools), and all staff have to hold a current early childhood qualification – Cert III in Children’s Services or Diploma of Children’s Services. Children in all early childhood settings will have access to the program lead by and early childhood teacher in the year prior to school, so both settings are very similar, the difference is in the approach.
The big differences are length of the day and the age mix of the children. We are open from 6.45am through till 6.15pm, so if you are working you have the flexibility of start and finish of your day without having to sort out other care arrangements for your child. You also have the flexibility of more days. Sessional Kindys can sometimes be limited in the number of days and hours you can attend. We are also open for 51 weeks of the year as well, closing only for the week between Christmas and New Year. Long day care means that we also cater for children from 15 months through to school age. We operate as a multi-aged group – one of the most effective ways to group children and for them to learn and engage with their peers and others. The grouping means that children will mix with children who are younger and older than them. This builds on children’s confidence, empathy and skills. Younger children learning from older children is one of the best ways to gain new skills, and is much less frustrating. The grouping also reflects the broader world we live in which is filled with people older and younger than us.
The Commonwealth Government and State Governments have established an Australia wide curriculum for early years learning services – The Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF), and Queensland has the Queensland Kindergarten Learning Guidelines (QKLG). These documents describe the principles, practices and outcomes essential to support and enhance young children’s learning from birth to five years of age, as well as their transition to school. Every early childhood setting in QLD is mandated to follow this curriculum, how it is applied may vary between settings, but the common practices are a play based learning environment and where the program strongly reflects the interests of children, families, adults and community.
The EYLF and QKLG have a strong emphasis on play-based learning as play is the best vehicle for young children’s learning providing the most appropriate stimulus for brain development. They also recognise the importance of communication and language (including early literacy and numeracy) and social and emotional development. Some of the features of a quality early childhood program will be a focus on play and how children learn through deep engagement in what they are doing and adults engaging with children through this process. You will find big blocks of time devoted to children’s play, allowing children to fully explore what they are doing. There are five key learning outcomes that are addressed within the QKLG. These learning outcomes are essential for a child to succeed through life, and enhance their success as they start school. The five learning outcomes are identity, connectedness, wellbeing, active learning and communicating.
What will this learning look like? Lots of opportunity for children to engage in meaningful, planned-for play. Within our curriculum programing we intentionally plan for play and actively create opportunities for children to engage and explore play that leads them to discoveries, news skills, and new ways of thinking. Our planning model incorporates what children are interested in. Literacy, numeracy, life skills, social skills, science, and creativity are all included and this is constantly assessed against the framework and developmental milestones, to ensure that children are within the developmental level for their age group. You will see children playing together, negotiating to share equipment, share ideas on how to build projects, playing games, remembering rules and being confident to talk in groups and with adults. Some things you won’t see in our play are stencils, these are not appropriate for young children and stifle creativity and thinking. You wont see children sitting at tables doing formal lessons on number or the alphabet. This is what school does and is best left to when children are older, children learn in a far more organic way. You also won’t find us working on the letter of the week, colour of the week or other thematic approaches to teaching, these approaches are not seen as effective ways to engage children and are more for adults than children.
Howard Gardener, educational specialist, identified that we all learn in very different ways – some by doing, some by listening, some think in logical ways, some musical, some through movement. Sometimes it’s combinations of these different learning styles. Our job as educators is to facilitate each child’s learning style to get the best out of them. You will see how we notice children in how we complete children’s learning stories, how we unpack the learning and knowledge we can see against the learning outcomes and what this means for that child as they grow and in how we communicate with you about your child.