Wednesday 15 June, 2016
As our second term draws quickly to a close, it is my pleasure to present our Monthly Report.
We continue to enjoy a full complement of children in both groups and no changes to this are anticipated.
There has been the usual number of absences due to a variety of illnesses, but thankfully, no epidemics! We are grateful to parents for being vigilant about keeping unwell children at home until they are no longer contagious. Hand washing is still the easiest and most effective way to prevent the spread of disease. We continue to use a specific waste bin for tissues (The “Sniffle Bin”) and this has proven to be very popular.
Both groups have been very busy these past weeks as they continue to explore their interests and the environment here at Kindergarten.
The onset of cooler weather has altered our work together somewhat. The mornings are crisp and we are finding ourselves staying indoors a little longer to give the grass time to dry and warm up before venturing outside.
The introduction of our new overhead projector (OHP) has encouraged some creative experimentation in both groups. The use of everyday items on the projector’s glass top has encouraged us to look more carefully at the shapes of many other things around us. What we envisage may appear on the wall as a shadow is often very different from what we do see. The children are hypothesizing as they work and experimenting to achieve certain results. The OHP also lends itself perfectly to imaginative story telling as we use a beautiful set of transparent sheets with a variety of images that support ideas and thoughts.
The art of story telling is learned in that children must first put thoughts into an order and then reproduce these in context so as to make sense. There is a process to telling as story and these props are perfect for working on this skill.
The Reggio Approach to early childhood learning actively supports children following and developing ideas through the use of resources such as these. We are beginning to work more towards helping children use them with success. This journey will continue long term for us all.
Outdoors, there are lots of projects being developed and collaborated on. The hammering table with its accessories is a popular place to visit of late. Through Miss Kate’s contacts, we have been fortunate to finally find a regular supplier of wood offcuts so we can continue to offer this wonderful experience.
Our beautiful, natural environment, although a welcoming and exciting place for children, is also home to many kinds of wildlife. This includes bees, both native and European. The latter, as in many past years, are currently gathering in the blossoms of the massive gum tree above the sandpit. They are falling onto the ground around the sand and grassy areas nearby. Because there have been a couple of children who have been stung, we are all currently wearing our shoes outdoors each day. This means that we are also being very vigilant about how the children climb and use other pieces of equipment. (Climbing barefoot is safer than with shoes.) Once the ‘bee season’ has passed and the weather is warm enough, we will remove our shoes once again.
Although the children’s work is wide ranging, our report cannot contain everything we think about, discuss and do each month with the children. Our Big Book/Day Book contains a greater amount of information for families to peruse. These are available every day for you to read and discuss with your children. The weekly newsletter that goes home is another source of wonderful information for everyone to access as well. Please feel free to contribute your thoughts or reactions to our books. They belong to us all!
Mrs T has been working each week with both groups as our Outdoor Teacher. She left at the end of May to spend two months in London with her daughter Hannah and her family. This term she has continued to help us think about all manner of ways we can contribute meaningfully to our efforts in sustainability here at Kindergarten. It is envisaged that these practices can find themselves slipping into the way our families live also. Upon Mrs T’s return, we will explore more ways that we can connect with our natural environment, that are respectful and inclusive for all.
Amanda, Deb and I attended a seminar on Wednesday 25 May, which further explored the notion of risky play in early childhood settings. It was facilitated by Stephen Gallen whose ideas and knowledge are inspirational when we consider our responsibilities towards children’s safety in conjunction with their need to trust and challenge their own abilities. Research shows that we are not doing children any favours by mollycoddling and protecting them to the point where they have had no experience of testing their own skills and taking some well thought through risks. Children who have not had the opportunity to take calculated risks when young, are often the ones who take unnecessary and ill-considered risks as teenagers and young adults.
On Wednesday 1 June, Amanda and I attended a networking meeting at C&K Mudgeeraba where the annual Barefoot in the Park Day was discussed. This event has been held in a variety of forms here on the Gold Coast for over 35 years and our centre has been involved in almost all of them. It is a special day in the Gold Coast Community Kindergartens’ calendar and an opportunity for us all to come together in one space to celebrate our region’s children and families. We meet each year during Children’s Week in October and more specifically on International Children’s Day, which is the Wednesday of this week. Centres take turns to be the coordinators and this year, as well as last year, Labrador Kindergarten is at the helm. Our centre was responsible for organizing it for almost 10 years in a row a while back, so we’re off the hook for quite a while! J
Last Wednesday 8 June, families in Miss Jane’s group visited the centre for a quick 10 minute chat about their children’s progress so far this year. Thank you to those families who were able to join in on this opportunity. As Miss Amanda’s group has only been working with her for one term, these chats will occur early next term. Watch for a relevant notice coming soon.
This afternoon, our centre will host a Gowrie Networking Meeting from 3:45pm – 5:30pm where all Gold Coast based Gowrie affiliates will attend to work together on Professional Development. It will centre this time on “Transitions”, which is part of Quality Area 1 of the National Curriculum. This focuses on Educational Program and Practices. All centres will share and discuss their own practices. These are always very supportive and informative meetings.
Next Wednesday 22 June will be a Pupil-Free Day for our centre. During these days, all staff are in attendance as we come together to reflect on our past term and to plan for the direction our centre will take over the next term. Third term is always busy as we begin to make arrangements and prepare for our 2017 intake. On this day we will all be updating our CPR qualifications and also meeting with Ms Sue Brown, the Deputy Principal of Broadbeach State School, who will be sharing the specific local results of the recent AEDC census. This gives a picture of what is happening in our immediate region and will provide us with information that we may use to continue to meet the specific needs of those in our community.
Our journey towards truly reflecting the National Quality Framework continues. The ongoing work on our Quality Improvement Plan also continues. This document, which is on our sign-in table every day, grows and changes continually as we work to set plans in place to represent what is considered best practice in Early Childhood Education. Miss Mandy, Miss Jakki and Miss Kate are also a part of these professional conversations. There continues to be many opportunities for us to consult with all members of our community and beyond so as to best meet the needs of all stakeholders. We are enjoying sharing our QIP with all families. Please let us know if you would like to discuss it with us. We’re always keen to talk about ourselves! 😉
Our centre is affiliated with Gowrie Qld, and as such we are required to use the Queensland Kindergarten Learning Guideline as our basis for curriculum development.
The QKLG has five Learning and Development Areas which must be considered. One of these is Wellbeing. According to the QKLG:
A kindergarten child who has a strong sense of wellbeing:
- is building a sense of autonomy and wellbeing
- they delight in making decisions and choices (a sense of agency)
- they have courage and resilience to manage change and challenges
-they are building ways to understand and regulate their emotions
- explores ways to show care and concern and interact positively with others
-they have an interest in and a desire to interact with others
-they are considering and empathising with others.
- explores ways to promote their own and others’ health and safety
-they manage personal hygiene and self-care
-they manage ways to stay healthy and safe
- explores ways to promote physical wellbeing
-they develop control and strength for manipulating objects, tools and equipment
-they have large movement skills, movement control, coordination and strength
-they have the confidence to engage in movement challenges
**According to definitions, the "sense of agency" refers to the subjective awareness that one is initiating, executing, and controlling one's own volitional actions in the world.
In our view, "Agency" is more than just initiative or ownership. It’s a powerful concept and tells us how much a child is engaged and in control of their own learning, how much control they have over what is around them, and it requires us to question our own expectations of them in that process. It’s about children facilitating their own learning and how we adults see that, allow that and plan for it.
Stopping to really listen to children is more than just asking - it requires respect as well as thoughtful and authentic consideration.
Giving children agency at Kindergarten means that we are genuinely including them in the direction we take each and every day. The journey is meaningful to all because it truly reflects those who take it. This is an ongoing endeavour for us.
Our last week of the term ends on Friday 24 June, 2016. Prior to that we will be asking families to spare a half hour or so to assist us with preparing the centre for the upcoming holidays. During these two weeks, we will be working on and off in the centre to organise and improve our environment.
We will also be assisting where possible with preparations for our Cake Stall on Election Day, Saturday 02 July 2016. Sadly, our centre will not be a Polling Booth but we will hold our stall at the nearest booth, the Senior Citizen’s Centre in TE Peters Drive. A note about this will be distributed this week. Please help us if you can.
Kindergarten will resume in Term 3 on Monday 11 July 2016 for Miss Jane’s group and on Thursday 14 July 2016 for Miss Amanda’s group. By that time, Mrs T will have returned from her adventures and will have so much to tell us! We’ll look forward to it.
Finally, grateful thanks go to our Committee of Management and to all our families for your wonderful support once again this term. We look forward to another busy and happy 10 weeks together.
Jane Hely Amanda Driessen