Tag Archives: kindergarten

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

6 easy, yummy recipes for hungry kids after kindergarten

When kindergarten is over and home gets closer, the kids are suddenly hungry and will want food NOW. Luckily for you, we have a collection of healthy recipes that’ll result in something delicious and nutritious.

 

Something savoury

If your child doesn’t have a sweet-tooth and doesn’t eat the birthday cupcakes at kindergarten, try some of these. You won’t have to swing by the bakery on the way home if you have a savoury muffin or a scroll in the tupperware container.

 

 

savoury muffins kindergarten

Cheese, mushrooms, capsicum, and ham come together to make these tasty muffins that’ll last for a few days Pack them in the lunchbox for morning tea/lunch and freeze some for a handy snack when you run out of other stuff.

 

 

pizza scrolls

Who doesn’t have a soft spot for pizza! This is a portion-controlled, savoury indulgence the kids will love. Just some puff pastry, tomato paste, and cheese make the basic version, but you can add extras as you like. Try some classic ham or even zucchini.

 

 

Savoury toast

When in doubt, get the toaster out! Australians love all-day breakfast, so of course it’s okay to have it for afternoon tea as well! Besides eggs and avo, there’s options like pureed pinto beans, and cheese and nacho toast. You can’t go wrong with cheese and Vegemite, either.

Sweet Stuff

Of course, you can’t forget the sweet stuff. Lots of products on the supermarket shelf are full of refined sugar. You can cut this out, as well as the extra cost, when you make your own versions at home.

 

 

sweet toast

They’re sweet but healthy, and have a little extra crispy crunch. From the fruit face to the peanut butter bear (a Pinterest fave, apparently), there’s close to a dozen options to choose from after the kids get home from kindergarten.

 

donna hay muffins

If Donna Hay says it’s great for her kids, who are we to argue? Banana and blueberry muffins serve that sweet tooth nicely without overdoing it on the sugar. You can have one yourself with a cup of tea while the kids are at daycare.

 

 

ants on a log

A bit sweet, a bit savoury, all interesting. These celery and cream cheese sticks are too easy to put together. Your children will get lots of different flavours and textures all in one snack!

 

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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Choosing the Right Early Childhood Service for your Child

Often when parents are looking for information about child care they are interested in fees, opening hours, food, vacancies, waiting lists and qualifications.

 

There are many checklists that parents can find to help them as they explore the options available to them, however sometimes there is so much information, it can be quite overwhelming.  I recently came across a checklist that had over 90 items to check either a yes, no or n/a answer.  

 

There are definitely some things families need to ask, but what are the most important things?  Is it about fees?  Is it about food?  Is it about cleanliness?  Is it about ratings?  Is it about quality?

 

For us, we believe strongly that it’s about having a shared vision of childhood, and what you value for your child’s childhood.  There are many services to choose from, and many different ideas, philosophies and “marketing gimiks” around.  Some advertise “structured programs”, others say they have “specialised school readiness programs” and others say they are “Reggio or Montessori inspired”.  Here at Eskay Kids, our mission is to ensure children have the best possible childhood experience, in a very natural environment, where their choices and voices are respected – we value childhood, and authentic childhood experiences.      

 

When you visit , you will find some centres are completely artificial, while others are completely natural.  You will have a good idea in your mind of what sort of childhood and childhood experiences you want for your child.  Some prefer a very plastic, clean, sterile and sanitised environment with lots of bright primary colours, so those families should seek out a centre that meets that particular need.  Other families want a very natural environment for their child with trees, mud, timber, boulders, sand etc, so families who want their child to have a childhood in a natural setting should seek out a service that has a strong affinity with the natural world and a nature pedagogy approach.

 

Some families want their child to have formalised, structured early academic programs where there is a strong focus on the ABC’s and 123’s, so they should see out a service that delivers early academic instruction.  Some families want their children to develop their independence, problem solving, decision making, confidence and agency skills, so families should search for a service that designs it’s programs with the ability for children to be able to make many of the decisions about their day including whether they play inside or outside, which environment they would like to choose to play in, deciding when they eat, and if/when/where they might rest.  In our experience, children learn to make good decisions by being allowed to make decisions, and children learn to become good problem solvers by being allowed to solve some of their own problems.   

 

Choosing an early childhood service for your child, is more than ticking boxes, it’s about finding a really close alignment with your beliefs and visions for your child’s childhood.  At Eskay Kids, our vision for children is one of beautiful and authentic childhoods, of nature, of natural environments, and of children having a strong voice and agency over their day.  It’s not a complete “free for all”.  There are still rules, boundaries and routines, however our routines are based around the natural interests, rhythms, and flow of each child, and instead of having one room routine for a whole group of children, we have individualised routines for each individual child.

 

There is lots of research available to help families decide what is truly important to them.  We’ve posted some articles below that support our visions and values for children.

 

Written by Sharon Kneen

 

Give childhood back to children: if we want our offspring to have happy, productive and moral lives, we must allow more time for play, not less

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/give-childhood-back-to-children-if-we-want-our-offspring-to-have-happy-productive-and-moral-lives-we-must-allow-more-time-for-play-not-less-are-you-listening-gove-9054433.html

The Vital Role of Play in Childhood

http://www.iaswece.org/waldorf_education/articles/education_toward_freedom.aspx

Should we just let them play?

http://theconversation.com/should-we-just-let-them-play-24670

Let the children play:  Nature’s Answer to Early Learning

http://www.ccl-cca.ca/pdfs/ECLKC/lessons/Originalversion_LessonsinLearning.pdf

Why Play Equals Learning

http://www.learnnow.org/topics/play/why-play-equals-learning

Benefits of Connecting Children with Nature

https://naturalearning.org/sites/default/files/Benefits%20of%20Connecting%20Children%20with%20Nature_InfoSheet.pdf

The Outdoor Classroom Project

http://outdoorclassroomproject.org/about/the-outdoor-classroom/

The Crisis in Early Education A Research-Based Case for More Play and Less Pressure

http://www.shankerinstitute.org/images/Dec-11-crisis_in_early_ed.pdf

Schools now turning to nature-based playgrounds

http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/western-australia/schools-now-turning-to-naturebased-playgrounds/story-fnhocxo3-1226828146116?nk=a7a1004fd96d694f383efd8cc944d5a2

Play Based Vs. Academic Preschools: What the Research Says

http://www.mhpcns.com/resources/play_vs_academic.pdf

Stop Stealing Childhood in the Name of Education

http://www.maggiedent.com/sites/default/files/articles/StopStealingChildhoodintheNameofEducation_BY_MAGGIE_DENT_1.pdf

Building Positive Relationships in Child Care

When a child starts child care for the first time, moves to a new centre or if they suffer from separation anxiety, emotions can run high for all parties involved, the child, the parent and the educators. To help children transition into the new care environment we must implement strategies to help ease the stress of the situation.

positive relationships

Through observations and reflective conversations, the educators came to the understanding that the toddlers, especially new children, were becoming overwhelmed with big emotions when the room was busy and loud. In our Kookaburra Room (15 months-2 1/2years) an important strategy we now have in place is ensuring we provide a calm and quiet environment to help overcome this concern.

building

We realised that children will naturally connect with some educators better than others, so we have used this information as a tool in assisting children whenever they need comforting. This could be helping the child cope at drop off time, if they hurt themselves, or even just changing their nappy. We have found the consistency of care is really beneficial for the children, as they build a positive relationship with the educator. Through having a positive relationship, an educator is able to join the child’s Circle of Security.

As each child is individual, we try a variety of settling ideas, this may include:

  • Singing
  • Reading
  • Sensory activities
  • Getting their bed out so they have a safe place
  • Looking at our animals, Rosie the chicken and Squirtle the turtle
  • The sandpit
  • Getting their sibling(if applicable) to play with them
  • Sitting with an educator in a quiet place and talking about what the children are doing in other areas of  the environment or just having that physical closeness
  • Finding an interest based activity

Or it could be as simple as establishing a drop off routine such as sitting down at the table to have breakfast or morning tea.

To help children feel like they belong and that they are in a safe and secure environment we will try all of the previously mentioned techniques and more. However, if parents feel apprehensive about leaving their children, these strategies will rarely be successful. This is why it is vitally important to continually strive to build positive relationships with the families, so they too can have their own sense of belonging in our service. We have learnt children will respond positively toward us when parents do.

Written by Sallyanne Hill and Peta Doyle

Toddler Room

Karana Early Education Centre