Early Childhood Teacher
Blue Gum Room
Springfield Child Care and Early Education Centre
Do you remember playing in the rain as a child? Did you delight in jumping in muddy puddles? Do you remember the relief of a cooling shower on sweaty summer skin?
The recent bout of showery weather prompted me to reflect on how we express our philosophy through everyday experiences with the children. A professional colleague asked me how our children were reacting to being inside due to the weather, the assumption being that children need to be protected from a little summer rain. Of course, with our indoor-outdoor program, our children have the freedom and flexibility to move inside and outside for much of the day even when it’s muddy and damp outside. No one is forcing them to shelter from the rain or to be in it. It’s their choice and we respect that choice and that’s how they learn to make good choices; through experience and encouragement.
We always work closely with parents and if a parent requests that their child stay out of the wet then we naturally respect that. They are the experts on their child. Parents who choose our centre tend to value the emphasis on experiencing the natural world in all it’s diversity. That’s why our Mayfield farm visits are so popular! It’s wonderful when families visit the farm with us or come on excursions to the park or Mobile Library.
As a child did you play with cousins, neighbours or the children of your parent’s friends? Did you learn how to relate to older children and to younger ones?
Last week I was enjoying spending time with children on the big swing and I reflected on how natural it is for children of many ages to play together and learn from each other. The environment we create is relaxed and friendly because for much of the day the children can choose to play wherever they like. Siblings are free to spend time together, older children learn how to look out for and look after the younger ones, younger children learn from watching and playing with the older children. This creates a sense of community and inclusion. It reflects ancient ways of being and becoming, the power of learning within a community.
Do you remember singing and dancing as a child? Or the joy of learning something new? Of listening to a story and having the world of imagination opened to you?
Honouring the power of play is integral to our approach. Within the Kindergarten Program we have some structured group experiences and activities, always playful, always fun. They create a sense of belonging and an opportunity for explicit teaching that prepares the children for the next stage of their educational lives while remaining entirely appropriate to this stage of development. I delight in the enthusiasm the children show for these special times and respect that it’s the process not the product that is paramount in Early Childhood Teaching. I still fondly remember my time at Kindergarten, all those many years ago. Do you?