Pre-kindergarten is a great introduction for young children into an early childhood setting, especially if they are not attending any long day care. In pre-kindergarten a child learns to be away from their parents, to engage with a large group of children, to be independent and to make choices. They learn to share and cooperate and to develop their skills and knowledge in preparation for their future learning journey. You might ask, ‘How does all this learning happen?’ It happens through their play and interactions with each other.
The integrated pre-kindergarten program allows children to independently choose from play experiences within the indoor and outdoor settings. These experiences include painting, drawing, clay, play dough, threading, puzzles, water, sand and mud play. Children are free to explore the environment, to interact with their peers and construct knowledge through engaging with the experiences. An example of a child’s experience at a pre-kindergarten session may be as follows (let’s call the child Milly):
Milly enters the room at the beginning of the session. She sees her friend Jane and joins her at the playdough table, says goodbye to mum/dad and they continue rolling the dough to make sausages. They talk about the food they are making with the other children at the table and then decide to join the group reading a story with the teacher. Milly chooses another book and asks the teacher to read it. She then does a drawing for her mum before morning tea. After morning tea she goes outside, rides a bike, makes cakes in the sandpit and then plays hide and seek with her friends. At the end of the pre-kinder session she joins all the children on the mat for circle time. They sing songs, play games and talk about what everyone did on their holidays. The door is open and all the mums and dads come to get their children. In this one session Milly has built on her social and emotional skills, learnt about other people’s perspectives and shared her own ideas. She also practised her drawing skills and made independent choices.
The play experiences offered are based on the children’s current interests and the teacher’s role is to engage with the children to help extend their ideas and build positive attitudes towards themselves, others and the environment. This is done through building positive relationships with each child, joining their play and supporting their ideas. The program is communicated to families through photos and stories in a reflection book and through each child’s portfolio, which documents their learning process. Teachers also offer times to catch up with parents to discuss their child’s progress and opportunities are provided for families to contribute to the program and be part of their child’s pre-kinder experience.
In 2020, Annie Dennis will offer a pre-kinder program as part of their integrated kindergarten program. Please contact the office to find out more about this program.