17 February, 2016
It is my pleasure to submit my first report to the Committee of Management for 2016.
Our year has begun with a full complement of children in the centre. A staggered start to both groups (half of each group entering the centre for the first time on two parts of a day in the first week) afforded everyone the opportunity to settle in at their own pace, and thus avoid much of the anxiety that usually accompanies ‘first times’. After a few minor bumps in the road we are all truly on the way to happy, secure starts for everyone.
Thankfully there have been few absences since our term began. Hopefully this will auger
well for the rest of the year! Thank you for keeping unwell children at home until they’re on the road to recovery. By nipping illnesses in the bud this way, epidemics can be largely avoided.
The children have settled in well and some friendships are already becoming established. Our emerging curriculum requires input from the children regarding the day’s activities as well as the day to day organisation of meal times and tidying up after ourselves. They have accepted these responsibilities eagerly and look forward each day to the time when the names of the daily helpers are revealed!
Our Circle Time each morning is a success. The children arrive and, after completing their morning chores, move promptly to the green mat to greet each other. Thank you for actively encouraging your children to participate in the morning routine upon arrival. Our settling song denotes the beginning of our day together and signals the opportunity to share news and discuss interests. (Our “Welcome to Country” greeting also encourages us to be appreciative of those who came before us. Our local tribes were the Yugambeh people.)
The introduction of little name tags which are used by the children to label their work with ease has been popular. In the past some parents have been a little alarmed by this because they think that if the children are simply selecting their name tag to name work, they will then cease to practice writing their name themselves. We look on the tags as an adjunct to name writing. They are providing another opportunity for the children to continue to reinforce their knowledge of their own name, as well as those of their friends. When children first start practising their writing, they have to work very hard on the fine motor skills required to do it well. For this they need plenty of space and a smooth, unimpeded surface, along with larger pens or crayons which are easier to grip. It is difficult to name a wet, wobbly collage construction themselves. The independence gained when writing one’s own name on work is more than equaled by a child finding a name tag amongst 23 and attaching it to work unaided. There are always lots of opportunities for the children to practise writing skills in other ways.
The Belonging Stones, which were introduced early in the year, are a tangible way for children to quickly connect with their Kindergarten and those in it. Our wellbeing is fundamental to our happiness and children need to feel that they belong here and are a part of a community. They’re part of the basketful of stones so they’re important.
Over the past weeks the children have had opportunities to explore their creative side through the presentation of art activities. As everyone comes to feel more confident and comfortable in the Kindergarten environment they will be able to decide on many of their endeavours by themselves. One of our main goals is to give children the opportunity to explore their own strengths and interests through decision-making and free choice. Equipment and materials are freely available to everyone to use as they require. Naturally, should the need arise, we will be there to help stimulate their explorations and assist to send these in the directions most meaningful to them.
Outdoors, many of the children are very involved in all aspects of the playground environment. Each day the children have the chance to explore those areas which are always available – ie: sand, water, mud (!), swinging apparatus, our amazing climbing equipment, etc. Within these areas, there are many new and changing accessories or configurations which alter and evolve as the children’s interests and skills ebb and flow. It is through our observation of the children’s interactions with each other, ongoing discussion with them and the materials provided that we begin to see the path that the developing curriculum will take.
Already we have had visitors here at Kindergarten. We have met and worked with Mrs T in our Outdoor environment. They children have helped clear and replant the vegetable patch with her. They have planted their own bean seeds so as to begin to create a Bean Teepee. Group 1 is growing the beans into stalks and Group 2 will plant these so as to create a living teepee in the garden. Mrs T will work with us over the year on sustainable practices and a deeper connection to the world outdoors. We will focus on considered risk taking and physical skills which encourage resilience and perseverance. Of course these traits carry through with us into adulthood. Practising them as early as possible is very desirable.
Miss Alanna has begun working with us in the Art Studio this week. Alanna, our Artist-in-Residence, will be guiding the children throughout the year as we explore the world of self-expression through artistic pursuits. We have begun our journey by thinking about what an artist is and examining the concepts of aspect when arranging paper before working (portrait and landscape). Even the most accomplished artists had some guidance and training in techniques and methods before they could produce what is in their head and heart. In this way, we can give children the skills and then the opportunity to use these skills in whatever ways they see fit. Alanna will work with the groups each fortnight and introduce new concepts and methods for examination.
The Afternoon Chats to be held this week for each group will provide an opportunity for some common questions to be addressed. Thank you to those parents who are able to come along. If you aren’t able to attend, a small handout with some points of discussion is available for you to collect.
Following an offer to decline inclusion, a list will be distributed to everyone, which contains the names and telephone numbers of every family in the centre. This is to make contact within the centre easier and more expedient.
The Dads will be joining us next Saturday morning, 27 February, 2016, for Fathers’ Morning. The Group 1 Dads will be able to bring their Kindy girl or boy for an hour’s fun from 9:00-10:00am. The Group 2 Dads will come along after that from 10:30 – 11:30am. The kindergarten will be set up as it would for a typical Kindergarten day and everyone will be able to move around the centre freely and explore together. This short and casual visit will give Dads (or significant others) the chance to see the environment their child will spend a great deal of time in this year. It is hoped that by knowing the spaces and the other people the children mention, lots of conversation and feelings of connection will arise.
Our first few weeks together appear to be a portent of the year to come – ie: exciting, happy, productive and meaningful! We’re looking forward to many days of fun and sharing with you all.
Enjoying a funny song together…
I’ve noticed one thing about parents. No matter what stage your child is in, the parents who have older children always tell you the next stage is worse. Dave Barry