Park Street runs a funded kindergarten program and employs a trained Kindergarten Teacher. The teacher delivers an extensive program that meets the needs of children 3.5-5 years. The program focuses on all areas of development and works towards school readiness. The program runs from 9:30am to 4:00 Monday to Friday during the school terms. Park Street continues to offer a program during the school holidays, the school holidays program is run by the assistant and qualified staff member.
At Park Street Co-Op we run a Kindergarten program that combines the best level of early education for the children in our care with the benefit of long day care. We run the whole of Park Street from Babies’ room to the Kindergarten with the same philosophy of care; creating a home away from home where the wellbeing and educational needs of the children are met by our highly qualified and nurturing staff. In the Kindergarten this continues for the older children. Our educational practises and routines are a direct extension of those throughout the centre, ensuring we provide as easy a transition possible for the children moving into the room.
As educators we try to provide a caring and open experiential based setting, which equips the children with an early foundation for learning. We believe that children’s curiosity and eagerness are valuable tools in fostering a life long inquisitiveness for education. In practice this means encouraging participation, running teaching sessions and setting up activities that support this learning foundation in a number of key areas, including but not limited to: Introduction and support of Early Literacy and Early Numeracy, Supporting children’s developing self-help and self-efficacy, and Developing children’s group involvement.
Our teaching environment is based on the concept of a play-based learning environment. We create opportunity to explore and curate the room and its activities to support the children’s learning. Play is an acknowledged and vital part of young people’s education:
“Play-based learning is defined as young learners constructing knowledge as they explore, experiment, discover and solve problems in playful and unique ways. Development is linked to play and viewed as a pattern of continuous, interrelated changes that begins at birth and continue through life span whilst learning is a change in behaviour. In the early years it is through experience in play that learning occurs.” (Ebbeck, Yim & Lee, Teaching early years : curriculum, pedagogy and assessment, Allen & Unwin, 2013)
“Play provides active exploration that assists in building and strengthening brain pathways. Play creates a brain that has increased ‘flexibility and improved potential for learning later in life.” (Lester & Russell, Play for a change. Play policy and practice: A review of contemporary perspectives, 2008).
In the Kindergarten we shape this play through the environment, and support emerging ideas with intentional teaching and group discussion. We offer opportunities for learning based on individual children’s levels of development in an area and try to cater to their interests and ideas.
Intentional teaching constitutes of those aspects of the program that are teacher directed, though not always teacher initiated. These might consist of, but are not limited to group time discussions, reading books, Word Bank, our park visits, researching topics, music or dance classes, cultural incursions, etc. These areas of our program utilise the skills and knowledge of the teaching staff to scaffold new and extended learning opportunities. These experiences maybe directly as a result of the children’s ideas or follow new concepts brought in by the staff. The accompanying curriculum outlines intended areas of focus for our recent program and the intentional teaching to support it.
Our teaching practice is quantified through Program Planning. This is a cyclical process of observation, implementation and evaluation that starts first with our close acquaintance with the children and proceeds along strong pedagogical pathways. We consider the ideas of the group and how they relate to our goals for the children and make space in our program for both formal experiences and the unexpected.
The Kinder program follows the Victorian Early Years and Development Framework. Individual transition reports are written collectively by the teacher and parents and are then forwarded to each child’s chosen school.
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- Teaching early years : curriculum, pedagogy and assessment, Allen & Unwin, 2013