Educators have reflected on the best ways to share important information about how our preschool operates with families, and have created what we are calling 'family information snippets'.
We will post 2 a week for you here. If you have any questions or comments please don't hesitate to talk to your child's educators or Narelle.
Here at preschool, we believe in a risk-benefit approach as children engage in play. This encourages children to challenge themselves, explore and feel confident to make their own decisions. Educators support the children to assess their own risk in their play. We use a risk awareness approach by skillfully guiding, supporting and encouraging the children to further their sense of self awareness in play. This includes educators using language such as: “what is your plan?” ‘do you feel safe?’, ‘where could you put your feet next?’, or ‘what might happen if? This supports the children to think about what they are doing, asses their own risk and become confident and successful when faced with challenges.
Risky play in early childhood assists children’s development of many skills such as:
· Resilience and persistence
· Balance and coordination
· Confidence and independence
· Curiosity and problem-solving skills
· Awareness of their capabilities and limits
· Ability to assess and make judgement about risk
· Understanding the consequence of an action
· Handling tools safely and with purpose
Sand Pit Play
The sandpit is a popular choice for children of all ages. It provides opportunities to develop numerous skills. Some of the more obvious ones are gross motor skills and fine motor skills. Sitting in the sand can provide extra support if a child is still developing those trunk and core muscles for sitting and having their hands free to play. The uneven surface can prove a challenge for balancing. The sand provides resistance to develop strength in muscles and opportunities to push, pour, scoop and sprinkle. It is also a wonderful sensory experience, with many properties by itself, such as rough, smooth, hot, cold, dry and wet. This in turn allows for lots of language development and mathematical concepts to be explored. A bucket may be full or empty, a hole big or small.
Most of all, the sandpit offers plenty of opportunity for social skill development. You will often see a child playing happily and quietly alone in their own world of imagination and creativity. A trough can become a river, a sandcastle a volcano, and there is always a kitchen or construction site. Children can learn to play alongside others with similar ideas and then work together on a project such as making a cake or building a road.
Within our preschool rooms we have dedicated construction areas. These areas are resource rich, with a permanent arrangement of large wooden blocks and tubs with other resources such as small building blocks, roads, trucks and other equipment based on changing child interest and focused learning topics. Educators also utilise this area to host other construction pieces such as the Duplo and train tracks. There is also often construction play provided on our deck area for children to use.
In construction play we see many skills being developed such as sharing, negotiating, teamwork, spatial awareness, learning about colour, shape and other mathematical concepts. Many children sustain play here for long periods of time and enjoy the satisfaction of creating their construction piece.
Dramatic play fosters imagination and creativity. For preschoolers it can be one of the most creative times in their lives. It gives opportunities to build confidence to play with others, develop communication and social play skills, practice fine motor skills such as pouring and dressing, and express their ideas and feelings and develop their awareness of others.
Critical thinking, problem solving and decision making are all practiced in the home corner, digging patch or even on playground equipment. Dramatic play is an important precursor for literacy skills, where children use what they have experienced or seen and turn it into "stories".
Utilising our 'home corner' spaces as a post office, hospital, vet or cafe will support your child to explore their ideas and experiences in a safe environment.
When you hear your child say "Let's pretend..." know that this is the beginning of their story writing.
The Raising Children Network has lots of great ideas to set up dramatic play and help foster your child's creativity.
Gross motor play
Gross motor play involves using large muscles, core strength and requires whole body movement. This type of play is an important part of child development as gross motor skills are required for your child’s body to preform everyday functions such as standing, walking, running and sitting upright on the floor and on a chair comfortably. Gross motor development is also important for ball skills (throwing, catching, kicking), self-help skills (dressing, toileting, eating) and the ability to maintain appropriate posture to sit at table and engage in a task- this will be increasingly important when your child begins to attend school.
Gross motor development also builds on a child’s wellbeing as they will feel confident to engage in physical play with their peers, further developing their friendships, social skills and independence.
At preschool we ensure the children engage in a wide variety of gross motor play each day through purposeful activities and in free play. Some of these include games like Hide and Seek, tag, What’s the time Mr. Wolf and Duck, duck, goose, and play that involves climbing, jumping, digging in the sandpit, gardening, pushing wheelbarrows, riding bikes, obstacle courses, dancing and so much more.
We all need a little time out sometimes and it’s very important that we provide our children with these spaces throughout their day at preschool.
Whilst playing inside we provide areas in the room that children can go to to relax their bodies and minds, somewhere comfy to read a book with a friend or educator, or to enjoy a moment of solitude.
We have some beautiful purposefully built pieces of furniture just for these occasions thoughtfully placed throughout the room, full of comfy pillows and decorated to create that relaxing atmosphere.
We have a quiet room that is used to facilitate small group learning activities and can be used as a one on one learning or calming environment.
Outside we create these areas on rugs and mats under the trees and on our garden deck nestled amongst the greenery. A place to enjoy quiet reading or drawing or even just lying down and simply being, using our senses to take in the world around us.
These spaces are such an important part of a child’s wellbeing and all our educators ensure they are available each day and are supervised sensitively to ensure they are used to their full potential.
Playdough and Clay
We use playdough and clay within our program as a way to help children build hand strength and dexterity. These materials and the associated tools support children’s development of fine motor skills, which helps build strength to later effectively hold and use hold pencils and scissors.
There are many other benefits of both playdough and clay, including;
-enhances hand/eye coordination,
-improves social skills,
-supports literacy and numeracy,
-listening and following directions as well as asking questions,
-playing with others and sharing resources.
Our easy playdough recipe could be great to make over the holidays. You can add anything you have at home to encourage exploration and play, such as sticks, leaves, seeds, herbs, small containers or small toys (dinosaurs, insects etc).
The Importance of Play
Here at preschool our learning environment is play based and we value uninterrupted play as an essential part of every child’s learning. Play is important to healthy brain development and when children are playing, they are building their knowledge and developing their social, physical, emotional and cognitive skills. Play also allows children a safe space to communicate their emotions and experiences.
Each day we program for and set up play spaces that focus on individual or group goals, children’s interests or ideas and play that promotes collaborative and social engagement. Children are naturally curious and when they are engaged in play, they are making sense of their world, exploring, experimenting, building, and using their imagination. Play is also a valuable way for children to extend their emerging literacy and numeracy skills.
Cooking at Preschool
Cooking is an important part of our program at preschool and the children thoroughly enjoy being part of each experience. When we open children’s minds to the world of cooking we’re promoting a love and enjoyment for healthy food that will carry into their future lives. We love to use produce we have grown in our vegie patch.
Cooking provides children with mathematical and scientific skills by measuring, pouring, weighing, estimating and observing the changes throughout the process.
It also promotes literacy and language skills by reading and following a recipe, listening to instructions, discussing the recipe steps as a group, all while working to complete a joint task.
The feeling the children get with the end result and being able to explain what they made and to share their yummy cooking with one another, is definitely why we value cooking as a learning tool at preschool.
We love to experiment with new recipes, have you got a simple family recipe that you would like to share with us?
Educational Planning Meetings
At 3.30 each day both groups come together in one room to allow for the other groups’ Educators to have their educational planning meeting. Our educational planning meetings are a valued time for Educators to reflect on the program and plan for the coming days. This is also a time where they collaboratively set goals for individual and groups of children and formulate strategies to support children to reach those goals.
So one day out of your child’s two days they’ll head next door for quiet activities as they finish their preschool day.
As well as Floorbooks, Educators create group learning stories and ‘Magic Moments’ that capture a learning project, topic or snapshot into a special moment in their day.
These pieces of documentation are kept in your child’s Learning Book.
The aim of this Learning Book is to become a beautiful collection and representation of your child’s learning journey during their preschool years.
It will stay at preschool, with educators regularly adding observations and assessments of learning as well as working with your child to add photos and work.
These books are accessible at all times for children, and during the year we will make times to invite you to look through it with your child so they can share with you what they have been learning.
Floorbooks are one of the ways we communicate each group's learning. Everyday the children and educators add to it collaboratively- this may be an ongoing project or something of interest that has happened during the day.
The children take ownership of the Floorbook and it will always have their voices and/or drawings within.
At the end of each 2 day group, they are placed outside the front for you to take a look at with your child. This normally provokes some interesting conversations about their day and what they have learnt.
We would really love families to write comments or share ideas in our Floorbooks too. There is even a space on the right hand side especially for this.
Each week the Floorbooks are also posted on our closed Facebook page and parent portal area of the website for the families that don’t have time to have a look at preschool, or if someone else picks up/drops off your child, so no one misses out.
Although you may not see a photo of your child every week (as educators value their time in engaging fully with children rather than taking lots of photos), they were most likely involved in the learning, discussion and play that is documented, so should be able to talk to you about it.
The Daily Routine
Routines give children a sense of security and stability and help them feel safe and secure in their environment.
Our flexible routine allows for long periods of uninterrupted play and provides children with many opportunities to interact with the environment and other children, to master skills, explore interests and be creative.
Adjacent to the circle time areas in both rooms there is a visual routine for the children. This is a guideline of our day. We are flexible when it comes to the routines, noticing when children are engaged or when they are needing to move on to the next part of the day, e.g. lunch. Being flexible and adaptable allows for children’s needs to be met and to ensure a sense of flow to the day.
Educators use the visual routines at circle times to support children in understanding where we are up to in our day and what is coming next, and facilitate discussion and communication of any changes to the usual routine.
It can also be a helpful resource for educators in supporting children who are anxious or upset at drop off time. Seeing what their day looks like and when Mum or Dad will come back supports their sense of security.
Rest and Relaxation
Educators understand the importance of a short relaxation time each day after lunch for all children, as it provides an opportunity for their bodies to be still and quiet and helps them develop an awareness of their body’s need for short periods of rest and relaxation, breathing and quiet.
Please provide a small, cot-sized sheet each day that your child will put on their yoga mat for rest time.
As well as providing a time in our daily routine to all rest together, educators ensure there are areas both indoors and out where children can spend some quiet, restful time if they recognise that their body needs it.
Please continue to talk to your child’s educators about their changing rest and sleep needs throughout the year.
Clothing at Preschool
Your child’s preschool day is filled with many different types of play, including sensory play with sand, water, dirt, paint, goop and clay. Please dress your child in clothing that is appropriate for this type of messy learning.
•We are a Sun Smart service, and ask that children come dressed wearing protective clothing, such as T-shirts that cover their shoulders. No singlets or sleeveless shirts please.
•Your child's hat will be kept at preschool this year. They are kept in individual pockets and will be washed regularly.
•Please ensure that your child wears secure shoes to preschool such as strapped on sandals or joggers. We ask that you leave thongs and crocs at home as this type of loose footwear can lead to trips and falls during play.
•We value giving children the opportunity to learn in all weather. We ask that you please pack gumboots and a raincoat on rainy days so that your child can continue to access and learn in our beautiful outdoor space.
•Spare Clothes: We ask that children are provided with at least two sets of spare clothes and their preschool wet bag each day. Please label all belongings with your child’s name, including shoes.
• A special note for Gumnut Nature Learners: As this is an all-weather program, we ask that Gumnut children ALWAYS come in covered shoes with quality wet weather clothing each day.
Food at Preschool
At preschool we ask families to provide their children with healthy food options and to provide water only to drink. Morning tea and lunch should be sent in separate containers and consist of food that is healthy and nutritious. We are a nut-free preschool so please keep all nut-containing foods for home. As Alstonville Community Preschool has a strong sustainable ethos we ask that families consider low waste packaging such as using wax wraps and re-usable containers for foods such as yoghurt and crackers.
What to bring:
· Morning Tea (in a separate container) – fruit, veggie sticks, yoghurt, cheese, crackers, homemade muffin etc.
· Lunch – Sandwich, frittata, salad, pasta - the options are endless!
· Water in a bottle your child can easily open
Things to consider:
· Is your child easily able to open their food containers independently and with ease?
· Can your child easily open and drink from their water bottle?
For Healthy lunchbox tips and tricks visit Let's Look at Lunches - Lunchbox Budget Tips
Morning routine on arrival
We view all children as capable and confident learners at preschool and educators feel it’s really important for children to be encouraged to manage their own belongings and attempt new tasks for themselves.
On arrival we allow your child the time and space to do these little jobs for themselves, offering assistance to them only when asked.
They’ll be building important skills around caring for themselves and their belongings, organisational skills, following routines and developing a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment in their abilities.
My Preschool Jobs:
When I arrive at preschool:
1. I find my name and choose a locker
2. I put my drink bottle in the top of my
locker and my bag down the bottom
3. I put my morning tea in the fridge
4. I put my lunch in the fridge
5. I wash my hands
Now I’m ready to play!