Monday, 5 May 2014

Positivity

I did just have a giggle when I read the first line of my previous post...if I was surprised that we were in week 6 of the year when writing that post, imagine when the start of term two became a reality!

I have had the pleasure of engaging in some thought provoking professional development near the end of the first term and for me, professionally, I have found that I am much more in tune with what I need and want to achieve. I have been reminded of the importance of setting goals and actively working to achieve these. I have also been reminded of the power and importance of positivity in all aspects of life.

Positivity is one of those things that can sometimes feel effortless...and other times feel so out of reach. As adults there are many factors in our lives that can impact of our emotions, our reactions and our ability to be positive.

At pre-school we feel very strongly about creating and maintaining an environment that projects positivity for everyone - each child, each family member, each educator and each visitor.

There are surface elements of positivity that you may notice when you are in our pre-school. These include framed statements and inspiring quotes, beautiful items to look at and displays of art and items from around the world.

We take time to develop our positive environment and this is an ongoing project for us.

 But positivity isn't only about the visual messages. For our team, positivity comes into every aspect of our pre-school.

We have many aims in the promotion of positivity and work towards this in a variety of ways:
  • Taking time to listen to each child. Some children have much to say. Some children need a little extra time to share their thoughts and ideas. By being at each child's eye level, by taking time to be in the moment when a child is communicating, by using active listening skills, by showing each child that they are important and that we want to hear them...this all contributes to being able to build on each child's self esteem and their positive view of a world that values them.
  • Positive behaviour guidance. Being a young and growing person in the world with many other young, developing people can be a challenge. Being positive when assisting children with their emotions and behaviours is a very important aspect of our positive environment. We aim to promote a feeling of safety and honesty.
  • Genuine encouragement. There are only so many times that you can hear the words "good boy" "good girl" or "that's lovely" before these phrases become quite meaningless. In our pre-school environment we aim to make our words meaningful and show the children that we are seeing their individual efforts and achievements. "I like the way that you used the pegs to hold up your painting" "You were able to complete that puzzle all by your self! well done!" "Thank you for sharing the play-dough with your friend, now you can play together" "I can see how hard you have worked on your Lego car. I like the way the seats line up on the top".
We sometimes receive comments about the patience and ability of our pre-school educators. We greatly appreciate these positive comments. But you know what...each and every person in our pre-school family deserves the patience, positivity and joy that we are able to bring. The role of educating young children is a gift that we are very grateful to share.


Positive messages in small spaces

Thought provoking quotes

Colour and positivity


Aspects of beauty to inspire












Monday, 10 March 2014

What's happening at pre-school?

The realisation that we have reached week six of the new term was quite a surprise. The beginning of this year has been a time for developing our sense of belonging as a new group. Some friends have returned to find their way as the older children at pre-school. Other friends are with us for the first time.
I see that the dynamics of each day are different, each day having its own energy. Different groups of children engage in different play experiences. Projects and experiences that are unique to certain days have evolved and continue to develop.
The intentional teaching strategies of our educators are providing an excellent platform for the development of the children's thinking, problem solving, investigating, trialling and hypothesising skills.
We are continuing to honor our commitment to reuse-reuse-recycle and also to the provision of natural and hand-made resources.
Here are some examples from today's program...
Numbers, counting and numerals are emerging as an interest at pre-school. We have a table of natural items together with framed numerals and numeral outlines.

There is an  invitation to create. As the collage of natural materials is formed we are able to talk about the lines and curves of the numerals and the materials. The numbers of circles added to the numeral outlines encourage some friends to use their 1:1 corresponding skills while others incorporate these into a design.

We have shared a reading and telling of the Dreamtime stories Tidlalik and the Magic Colours. Using wooden and plastic animals, hand-made felt play mats, rocks, pebbles and artificial grass we have recreated the stories through play.

The return of Twinkle, our spiny leaf stick insect, has reignited interest in our friend. We added pencils and crayons with a sketch book in front of Twinkle's home to encourage sketching form observation.



Photographs of our town are added to our construction area. These provide a sense of community to our play. They spark conversation and the sharing of experiences.


The joy of early education is that we never know where our program will move from one week to the next, indeed even from one day to the next. Guided by our vision for a dynamic, holistic and deeply investigative curriculum we are frequently amazed by the power that comes from children and adults learning together.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

New Year, New Beginings

Happy (belated) new year!
It has been a very positive and progressive start to 2014. In some ways it is like we've never been away and in others it all feels very new.

We decided to make some changes to the physical environment inside our pre-school to start the year.

This has included creating a new gathering space where the lounge, the comfy chair and our pet spiny leaf insect, Twinkle, are placed. This seems to be working well as it is now in a far corner of the room and allows for peaceful reading and puzzle-doing throughout the day and a nice out-of-the-way space to come together as a group. The abundance of light in this space now, being under a wall of windows, creates a much more inviting space for the children.

We moved our dramatic play area to create a larger space that is away from the carpet. To create softness and to lower the sound levels we transferred our large mats here. This change in space and position has possibly been the most effective of all changes and we have seen the play here being very engaged from the first day we returned. We have questioned whether it is the new setting or perhaps the more open space? This is something that we will continue to observe as the dynamics of space and engagement are both fascinating and also critical to a successful program. We have noticed here also that the play seems to be more social across age groups. This may be because we had such a large presence of older and more dominant children by the end of last year and now we have a younger group of friends.

Our dedicated creative space is another aspect that we are really pleased with. We have all of our resources together and visible in an aesthetic way.We are able to have two tables and the easel operating close together. I hope, as the children become more comfortable and ready to express themselves, that we see the  integrating of creativeness and children's individual interests and that the space becomes more of a creative hub, as opposed to a set of experiences.

The use of the wall space is something that we discuss frequently and I'm sure that this is the same in services across the world! We would like informative and engaging displays that share with families the wonderfulness that occurs in pre-school. We want to ensure that children feel represented and that they see themselves reflected in the environment. One of the goals that we have set for this year is to raise the image of the children as unique and capable people through increased visual display and pedagogical documentation. Our use of the vertical space will be a large part of achieving this goal across the year.

Reflecting on and questioning the physical environment of pre-school is something that is vital if we are to maintain a space where children feel welcome and secure; are both content and challenged; where families see themselves and their children reflected; where educators feel valued and capable and...maybe most importantly (for this educator, anyway), the joy, magic, wonder and amazingness of childhood is found in every space.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

The Sustainable Holidays Update

Since making a commitment to being more mindful about my preparations I have really enjoyed the lead up Christmas so much more this year. It is very easy, though,  to slip back into busy-buy mode as I have found...

As December got closer my son mentioned the Lego advent calender that he had for Christmas 2012. I had a moment of quick panic. I HAD to buy it!  My first thought was to jump on line and order one with quick freight. But after this thought came the more mindful consideration...is this something I need to do? Is it really necessary to spend quite a lot of money to simply have this thing? Is it worth adding something else to the credit card through online purchasing? Is it worth adding to the bulk of transportation that is filling the air and roads?

I love the anticipation of an advent calender and so I thought that I could make one that was more personally suited to Ryan and was sourced as locally or sustainably as possible. Finding brown bags in my craft cupboard I then cut cardboard numbers, in his favourite colours, from 1-24 and attached these with glue to each bag.

Filling the bags was the fun part! A few precious stones from the markets, some tree decorations in his favourite colour from a fair trade store, a set of decorated pencils made in Australia, a yo-yo and a wrist band. Little things. Personal things. The most wonderful part of all? My son told me that his favourite part of his advent calender was "that you made it just for me!"

The finished product!