May 2018

Teacher Report

(Full Newsletter cannot be shared here for privacy reasons)

 

Welcome back after the holidays

Our aims, for this time of the year, generally revolve around the children building relationships of trust and friendship with both adults and peers, getting use to being part of a group, participating in activities, learning about each person within our group, learning the other children's name, getting to know who you share common interests with, connections with and making new connections with children you may not think you will be attracted to. Lots of social interaction either by participating directly with these people, by playing next to them at a similar activity or by observing the other children at play. Research suggests that an adult's involvement can increase the children's learning, so you will see us involved
within the play taking various roles. These roles will be tailored to each child's individual learning plan.
Various roles of instigator, guider, follower, negotiator, playmate, including others within the play, allowing children to only have a few children playing together, teacher of knowledge, social skills, language, encourager, facilitator, providing extra resources and so the list goes on.
Each child has a learning plan. By observing the children we create a baseline of their achievements, skills and abilities which guides us to plan goals for each child to guide their learning towards their development. This is where you know your child best and the information you pass on through conversations, dedicated meeting times and written information is invaluable to help us know more about your child- their interests both at home and kinder, who or what their talking about at home, their joys and fears, their strengths and goals as well as your goals for your child. We aim to write 3 Individual Learning Plans over the year, including a 'Transition To School Statement'; for the children in the 4-5 yo group and 2 for the children in the 3-4 yo group. By observing the children, noting the children's development, assessing and setting goals for the individuals and the whole group and using their strengths and interests as a means to engage the children, is how we write our program each fortnight for the 4-5 yo group and monthly for the 3-4 yr old
group. Each program is unique to each group at that point in time. The planned experiences may seem similar to other years, or other kindergartens, however it's the why they are being offered and set up that is unique to each program.

The children in both groups have settled in well with our activities, daily schedule, routines and relationships with both teachers and peers. Some children may take longer than others to feel safe and secure at kinder and this is one of our main objectives to support each child in their separation from their families to build a trusting relationship with teachers and children. Each child will be supported how they need for as long as they need. Please continue to let us know how your child is fairing and also how you are too.

4-5 yo program

The children's main areas of development we have been supporting them in are their:
-social interactions: joining a group of children playing together, joining another child to play, respecting each child;s right to a piece of equipment, taking turns with equipment, incorporating other children's ideas into their play and compromising ideas to sustain play together,
-emotional development: acknowledging the children's feelings, naming expressed feelings, supporting the child to calm & teaching 'Stop, 3 breaths, Think, Act'; program, acknowledging empathy, modelling an apology on behalf of the child, learning about giving to others (through the orangutan project)
- gross motor skills: developing large motor skills, core strength, co-ordinating their body, awareness of body parts, through the obstacle course, animal walks, sensory motor program
- fine motor skills- using 2 hands at an activity, hand strength, finger skills, particularly thumb and pointer fingers,
-intellectual skills : classification, sorting, furthering the children's knowledge in their preferred topics (mostly around animals, Ireland and St Patrick's day, Chinese New Year Festival), counting, naming body parts,
-language and communication- participating in reciprocal conversations, waiting for your turn to talk, listening to others talk, enjoying stories, predicting what will happen next in a story, joining in discussions, songs, puppet shows,

3-4 yo program
Social skills- being able to play around and with other children. Getting to now each other, learning the names of each other, playing with each other in common play areas and with common interests. Finding out who they connect with. Taking turns with equipment, play spaces and people.
- Emotional development - finding security with known adults and other children, coping with separation when your parent leaves, coping when issues arrive in play. Within these areas adults offer varying degrees of support depending on what level each child needs to help them re-engage with play and relationships within their play.
- gross motor skills- co-ordination of your body needed for running, climbing, jumping, walking up and down stairs, swinging, climbing into and over equipment.
- fine motor skills - using 2 hands to participate in experiences and play, drawing with a variety of implements,(crayons, text as, oil pastels, chalk), using tongs, threading, painting, collage.
- intellectual skills- adding lots of language , songs, stories to explain concepts, increasing verbal reasoning during conflict resolution processes after the child is calm and able to process the verbal information.

- language, language everywhere ..... Songs, stories, conversations.


We thank you for your participation with our Mother's Day afternoon tea, the children were very excited to share the time and of course their cooking of the chocolate cakes with you.

October 2017

The Children’s Interests in the Program this month: our biggest one at the moment is the “cruise ship”. We are still working through the children’s ideas for dramatic play themes indoors to replace the Home Corner. So far we’ve had an airport complete with an x-ray machine for baggage, screens for your seats and blankets, food service and drinks and the pilots with lots of computers in their cockpit, a lolly shop with beautiful homemade lollies, salt dough gingerbread people and the excitement on the last day of the shop when we had “real’ lollies to eat, and a library with a conveyor belt for return books, computers, reference books as well as story books, a café and a sliding door to enter and leave the library.

Each time we have a new concept we have a “Meeting” about the topic. Those who are interested come to the meeting and offer ideas for what needs to go into the theme. So, when we had our meeting about the “boat” concept we looked at various types of boats on the iPad from rowing boats to speed boats and ships and yachts. The child whose original idea it had been to make a boat was able to choose what type of boat we made… he chose a motor-powered boat. The children then voted between a ship and a small speed boat. When we vote, the children choose which group to sit in and we count the numbers in each group. Majority wins. However, because the other group has missed out on their idea, the group who “won” acknowledges the others’ loss by saying “Sorry… maybe next time you will get a turn”. We have transferred this concept into many areas of the day and program too, so they are practicing not getting their way and what to say to the child who misses out. (This helps by acknowledging the feelings of others and helps build resilience.)

So, the ship was the item. What sort of ship? One child suggested a “cruise ship”. So, we looked at cruise ships on the iPad. Do we want a cruise ship? Yes……What’s on a cruise ship? The children used the photos to stimulate their ideas and draw on their own knowledge and concepts of a ship….We need …….”a café (we always seem to have a café!!!) with ice-cream, pizza, chocolate cake, fruit and veggies, fish,  and  milkshakes, a movie theatre, a party deck, toilets, control centre for the captain, life rafts, a pool, mini golf, an anchor, flags, steering wheel, seats, bedrooms with a fridge and freezer so you can sit in bed in your bedroom and eat, have a drink and watch TV”. The children selected what they would like to make and asked another child to help them and got to and made our “cruise ship”. So now we have Minions playing on the theatre screen whilst Rock and roll music blasts out on the party deck with flashing lights and streamers. If you need the toilets there’s a urinal for boys and a sit-down toilet for girls, both with pictures so you ow which is which!!! And every so often the captain calls over the loudspeaker … “Abandon ship…… we’re going to sink” so we all make our way to the life rafts. The café serves pizza and milkshakes and if it’s all too much you can retire to your bedroom and watch TV in bed.   There is so much learning happening through partnerships and sharing of ideas and play spaces…. It’s wonderful to be a part of the children’s learning and putting into action their thoughts and ideas…. all coming from self-initiated plans and thoughts.

Other interests have been the “bad robber” or baddies that the superheroes have to chase and catch or  police, animals or children being hurt and having to go to hospital for bandages, slings, and crutches (spades) and  a stay in hospital, houses with TVs, carports, garages and outdoor areas, the gymnastics swing provides a great sense of achievement for those who have succeeded or have persisted for months to achieve, Minecraft weapon making, sticks for weapons within a game, sensory play in the mud pit overfilling the hole that overflows into the playground, making trenches for it to follow and end up in another pool to jump in, sand pit cakes, ice-creams and traps for baddies to fall in to, making treasure to hide in the sandpit….. and the list goes on. These have all come from the children’s own ideas. We constantly find and provide resources to support their learning and ideas.

Within all of the play there are always negotiations that the children benefit from extra support from adults. Sorting through what happened….. what else could you have done, ……apologising for inappropriate – usually physical- means of solving a problem, ……. practicing verbal means of solving problems and then support with turn taking.

The children have also benefited from our incursions of “Responsible pet Program where they learnt to “read the behaviour of a dog”, when to approach and when to leave the dog alone, how to ask to pat a strangers dog and what to do if an angry dog approaches, Life Education – Staying Safe Program, which taught us about safety in cars, on the roads – where is it safe to cross, holding hands and being with an adult who cares for you, safety at the beach and safe use of medicine’s- always let a grown-up give you medicine, never do it yourself. The excursion to the Belgrave Library, not only involved learning about the library and having stories read by the librarian but safe walking within our community- looking before we cross a road, holding hands when we’re out and about and staying with an adult. (A recent Road Safety Program I attended informed us that in terms of the children’s brain development, children don’t independently put in to practice road safety rules until they are 9 years of age!! So they need constant reminders and someone else responsible for them at least until then.)

And the chickens have been observed, held and enjoyed by both groups. “They are so cute and soft”! Some children are making the connection between the food we eat and the animals. “So does the chicken we eat come from real chickens?” raises deeper questions of life. The death of 2 chickens also adds new discussions about death and life cycles too.

The younger children (3-4 year olds) have enjoyed many sessions of babies, bathing dolls, feeding them, dressing them, making food and putting them to bed. Sometimes the dolls are taken for a walk to go shopping or to the park. The children are very involved in their art type activities of paintings, collage, finger painting, drawing, and love the play dough. We have added scissors, knives and pizza cutters to the dough to encourage more fine motor development as a readiness skill for cutting with scissors and more complex drawing. Threading, whilst also developing the children’s eye hand co-ordination, is also working on their fine motor skills of a pincher grasp and strengthening their thumb and index fingers. These are all skills that help develop the fingers ready for the tripod grip (correct hand grip) for holding a pencil or writing/drawing implement. The children have repeated these types of activities over and over and over and over…… never seeming to tire of them. Then we introduce another activity and that becomes the favourite.

At the moment the children are enjoying the stamp shapes and stamp pads creating lots of pictures using these.

They love their group time of songs and stories and sit very attentively listening to the stories. As it is a small group, we have formed very close relationships with each of the children and it’s lovely to see and hear them having wonderful conversations together at the table at lunch time or during their play. I think this is a great benefit of a small group, where the children get to know each other very well, we have lots of time for them, the day is quite relaxed and the language is so rich. We have time to help and support them through any negotiations about turn taking with equipment or play spaces and time to join in their play. I met a friend who teaches in a 3 yo group which has 22 in the group. She says she’s exhausted after the day and its mayhem. I felt very privileged to have our small group and the joys we all share. It reminds me of a quote I saw……. “How is it possible out of all the children in the world… we got the best ones?”

Smiles for Miles

We have received the “Smiles 4 Miles” Dental kit which has dramatic play sets for the children to role play a dentist visit, books about going to the dentist for a check-up, games and activities.

One of the activities we played looks at different foods – both every day and sometimes foods. The children match a “happy teeth” sign or “sad teeth” sign to the different pictures of foods and drinks – vegetables, chocolate, lollies, cheese and crackers etc. Some of the foods and drinks are tricky for the children and these promote discussion on the levels of sugar in each food. The ones the children we confused about were the juices and yoghurts.

Healthy Eating programs recommend juices are in the sometimes foods category as well as flavoured yoghurts, muesli bars and dried fruits.

As we are encouraging healthy eating or everyday eating at kinder please remember jam and honey are very high in sugar as well as most breakfast cereals, muesli bars and flavoured yoghurts. Plain yoghurt, with fresh fruits mashed and mixed in, are a great way for the children to have yoghurt. 

From a sustainability point of view and in terms of excess rubbish our families are amazing. The reuse of containers for the children’s food and very very small amounts of glad wrap for sandwich wrappings or plastic bags is fantastic.

Do you know child dental care can now be bulk billed?

As part of the “dental kit” we have brochures to hand out about the Victorian public dental service. There’s a clinic in Knox.

May/June 2017

4-5 yo group                May

We've had a great start to term 2 with everyone more settled and knowing how our day goes, knowing what routines are when, who the children are, who they feel most connected to, who they would like to make friends with and generally more comfortable which naturally reduces the tensions and anxieties that occur when either changes occur in a known environment or when you join a new community. It's always comforting for Janet and me to see the transition and then the transformation when everyone is more settled. This doesn't mean that all is running smoothly for all children, it's just a lot more predictable for all.

In observing the children's interactions with each other, we have noticed that quite a few of the children would benefit from more support of an adult in their play. So we have planned to guide the children's play by being more involved in their group dramatic play or imaginative play where it would be helpful. Being involved in their play ideas can be a bit tricky!! Being aware of the level of support each child benefits from, either introducing an idea or following a suggestion by some children, do you start the play or wait for it to evolve, do you interject with your own ideas, when are you taking over or not engaging others, can you allow others to join the play or do the children decide how many can join in, when to be a bystander in the play, when to lead or follow and when to leave the play depends entirely on each individual child.  This is a 'socio cultural approach' to learning where the children interact with either peers and/or adults to further their learning.

So far we've set up cafe outside and had a crocodile game where 8 children played at being crocodiles. We had to choose our own names, swim around and look for food, have a sleep, eat more food and swim some more. The cafe began with building the cafe using the large wooden blocks, setting tables, finding the tea set for plates and cups and getting the basket of coloured blocks to use for food. We had a chef and waiter and lots of customers. Both games were very successful with more involvement by children who may play alone or in very small groups of 2 children.

The restaurant indoors has been very stimulating of more dramatic play by children who may not play in the house type play. We have maintained a babies section next door to the cafe to continue that type of play for those who love the house type theme.

The animals and dinosaurs continue to be extremely popular so we have used the dinosaur interest to create a new imaginative play space that incorporates dry sensory play of fine gravel. Some children prefer dry sensory medium to the messy, so by adding gravel it meets the needs of the children who prefer non-messy play.

Others who crave the messy we will introduce more fingerpaint and other messy mediums.

The children's fine motor skills particularly developing the thumb and index fingers which are used in cutting and correct grip of a writing implement are being developed through threading, eye dropper painting, printing using a peg on the sponges, play dough with pipe cleaners to push into the dough, cutting a thin strip of paper to use in mosaics to make an Aboriginal flag, Peggy beads and construction sets.

As well as developing the finger skills for writing, we are working on the large muscles in the shoulder and upper arm which impact on the writing too. So the obstacle course meets this need as well as general strength, core muscles, balance, body control and other aspects of general co ordination. All children are participating before we go inside to sit on the carpet for story and relaxation in the middle of the day. By developing the body physically this in turn impacts on the children's ability to sit and concentrate. It helps integrate their muscles and build connection between both sides of the brain which allows the body to maximise learning.

We have introduced a relaxation session in the middle of the day before lunchtime to calm and centre our bodies and thought processes. By resting and switching off for a short period it restores the body and mind, allowing the mind to wander and create. The children have responded very well to this experience and are able to lie quietly and very still for a short period of time. Long enough for some to start yawning!!! We are encouraging the children to bring a small pillow to kinder, to leave at kinder, for this time.

June

I’ve looked through the photos from when I was away and there have been some exciting activities and developments happening. The children certainly enjoyed Anne’s new songs and mat times and extensions and additions to the program. She enjoyed her time at Belgrave too.

The restaurant was being used less and less so we asked the children what other ideas they had for changing the area into. We had “Floor book” discussions where the children talk about their ideas in small groups, we write them down for them and they draw a representation of their thoughts. The “Floor book” concept is a record of each child’s thoughts and ideas and is a concept designed and developed by a Scottish teacher Claire Warden. It is a great opportunity for each child to have their ideas spoken and discussed. We use a question either coming from the children’s thoughts and ideas or of information that we want to know more about what the children know and are thinking. So it’s very relevant and on topic for these children. So we asked the question “What could we turn the restaurant area into?” There were lots of suggestions ranging from an airport, a vet, a boat, and shops to the Eureka Tower. The two most popular choices was the airport and shops so the children “voted” on which of the two we would do first and the airport was chosen. Next we had an “airport meeting’ for those interested in making the airport. “What do we need in an airport and how can we make it?” The list is in the Journal book. The children then allocated who was going to make what and what they would use and how to make it and now we have a great airport with a walking tunnel an x-ray machine, boarding passes with numbered seats, trays for food and drink, pilots with a computer, a book shop and a café. We need a large box for a toilet in the plane if you have one or could get one for us please? We used stories, information books and the ipad to resource information and ideas for each of the suggestions made by the children.

Today I conducted a pre-survey for the “Drink Well – Eat Well” program we are beginning in Term 3. This gives an idea of how healthy the food & drink is before we start the program. We scored a 100% on the drinking part!!! And 76% for our food.  More about the program later next term!! I wish it scored the rubbish content (actual rubbish not junk food I mean), as you are all amazing with the minimal amount of rubbish used for lunches. The reusing of containers is great.

We have also started a more formal gross motor program designed by the Dept of Human Services by a physiotherapist and a paediatric physiotherapist from the Specialist Children’s Services team. It was devised in the late 1990’s however it’s still very relevant. The activities in the Program have been chosen to ensure that Kindergarten children have an opportunity to widen their range of physical skills in preparation for the school playground. This is best achieved in the safe environment of the kindergarten. The program begins with a few weeks of introductory activities, a completion of a checklist which will guide the program planning for children and enrichment activities to further develop their skills. A post checklist will provide more detailed guidance should further support be required for a child. The program also includes a “home’ section for those interested. Please see me if you would like more information or the “home activities”.

3-4 yo group.   May

We began this term in our own group, with 3 new children and their families joining the group. Welcome to Holly's family, Amelie's family and Andrew's family.

Some of the children were quite unsettled with the change and will take a few weeks of getting used to the different group. Being smaller numbers we will be able to support them well.

This age group naturally seeks adult input in their play. So generally where an adult is, so will the children be. After about an hour of settling in, we saw half of the group with Janet up one end of the room and the other half with Marion. Janet was either reading stories to 4 or 5 or helping at the making table and Marion was in the block area helping guide 2 roads being built with train tracks and houses and an icecream shop. The game began with two children wanting their own roads and not willing to join them or share the space to finish with both roads part of a city with houses, shops, and trains where 5 children were playing either together or next to each other.

This group love all the similar activities to the older group, painting, play dough, sand, water, collage, home corner and block area but play with the equipment in quite a different way. The main differences being the length of time spent at the activity, their skill levels, the level of interaction between the children and a higher need for adult involvement. So it's lovely to have a small group of children where we can have a high level of impact on their social interactions, their learning, their skill development, their language and their confidence.

June

The children are more and more settled now with their own group. At first they took a while to adapt to the change of the smaller group and now we see connections happening between the children through their play, often with them asking another child to play… or just joining in next to another child playing the same game which gradually becomes one game. We see this a lot, particularly in the block area and the dramatic play area, where children are playing their own game and another child plays next to them. They begin observing each other, commenting on the other’ play ideas, copying them and then joining them together. So we have 2 train tracks that end up being a large train track or a building joins onto the train track. It’s wonderful to watch the social transformations by the children.

The children have enjoyed the slime, fingerpaint and the new soft gold playdough developing their sensory and fine motor skills through these activities. The scissors added to the play dough help develop early cutting skills by using the blue handled “training” scissors. These allow for the cutting action and naturally spring open ready for the next snip. They don’t have finger sections but use the whole hand to practice the open and shut action needed for scissors.  We offer the finger scissors at other activities too for those who have developed the individual finger strength required for using scissors!!! It can be very technical when you’re 3 or 4 and wanting to use scissors!!!!

We had our Open Day… thank you to the families who helped with the organisation, the cleanup and yard preparation, and coming along on the day. It’s always great for other families to talk with current families about the kinder, the program and the staff, to see if it suits their ideals of a kinder for their child. Quite a few families were interested in starting their 3 year old children soon so our little group is slowly growing.

Marion Prince

Teacher