Getting Ready for School?

On Channel 7’s Sunrise yesterday, they talked about how some parents are complaining that their children don’t “learn enough” in child care, and that they should be “preparing for school” more.

One of the three principles of the Early Years Learning Framework (which sets out the overarching pedagogical configuration of what Early Childhood Education and Care in Australia should be), is “Being”. This principle compels us to facilitate children being children, children experiencing the world as it is, children being engaged in the moment, in their play, in their interactions with their peers. Children being children.

Getting Ready for School

A famous American early childhood educator, Professor Lilian Katz, said that at the age of 70 she was not preparing for the next life. This life, for children, is also not about preparation for the next thing.

Children who are resilient, grounded, secure, curious and responsible global citizens, need time to explore, to immerse themselves in every moment, to be mindful of what they are doing and feeling now and to use different tools to express themselves.

For children, washing their hands is more than preparation for a meal, an activity that follows from toileting or a way to get paint off fingers. Children use their developing patience as they wait their turn, follow multi-step instructions, manipulate their fingers, hands and wrists, feel the textures of soap, bubbles and water, understand the concepts related to personal hygiene, are mindful of their environmental impact by only using one paper towel and model practice to other children.

Similarly, saying goodbye to mum or dad, choosing activities in communal spaces, moving through the spaces to the dining area to have lunch, negotiating where to sit with your peers to listen to a book or re-setting play spaces for other children are not things that happen between the ‘real’ learning.

Every experience is equally as valid and important in offering opportunities to develop mindfulness, curiosity, resilience and integrity.

We know that slowing down, savouring each moment, developing personal and social awareness and building children’s dispositions for learning creates strong, capable and resilient learners who make remarkable achievements.

Being present, in the moment, not in preparation for anything, means that children can develop joy and wonder. In this state of ‘readiness’ they can make the most of their learning journey, alongside their Educators as collaborators and co-investigators..

Play in Practice: A SOEL Perspective

Two of Schools of Early Learning’s pedagogical leaders will present the research of six SOEL educators into children’s play, during the upcoming “Play in Practice” component of the Early Childhood Australia WA Play Summit, on Wednesday October 25, 2017.

The educators have focused on such questions as “How can we show the thinking of babies in play, when they have little verbal language?” and “How do children include and exclude others in their play?” Some preliminary evidence shows;

  • Playing alongside others helps children develop and identify a sense of belonging to a group as they interact with peers and learn how to negotiate rules for positive social interactions.
  • Gender stereotypes are articulated by children when a peer’s action or behaviour is different to the perceived gender norms. The stereotypes centre around archetypal male or female roles eg. Knights, brides, fighting, dads/mums
  • The age of the children seems to impact on the level of gender awareness. Older children are more aware of the stereotypes and more aware of the parody surrounding male or female characteristics, ways, roles.
  • Other educators from public and independent schools and child care centres are also working on ways to make the learning that happens during play more visible.

Read more about the space between compulsory schooling and SOEL here.