At Flinders, we have a strong culture of play and play based learning built on contemporary early childhood theory. But not everything we do at Flinders is play based; there are a number of aspects of our program that are work based, outcomes based, and task oriented. Regular experiences such as cooking and gardening cannot be considered play in the sense of early childhood theory; these experiences are not exclusively ‘pleasurable, self motivated, process oriented, symbolic, active and voluntary’ (Lennie Barblett, Why Play Based Learning?). They have clear guidelines and boundaries which are defined by educators, and are only available for certain periods of time. Children work collaboratively with an educator towards a particular goal and the product is as important as the process. The integration of these kinds of work based experiences within a play based program gives children an opportunity to learn new and important skills and processes, to be involved in different kinds of tasks, and to develop different kinds of community relationships. The task oriented nature of the experiences leads to explicit teaching opportunities relating to health and hygiene practices, safety, turn taking and cooperation. The guidelines for participation in this kind of experience are clear; children know that this is not a time for play but a time for work, and whilst it is fun and we do gain a significant sense of satisfaction from the process, participation is dependent on working within certain guidelines. As these guidelines are generally related to personal and group safety, health andRead more
As we have mentioned in previous posts, Flinders will be presenting at the Early Childhood Australia Biennial Conference in Melbourne in September this year. We are extremely excited about and grateful to have this opportunity, not only to present our work in relation to the Making our Mark project, but also to be a part of the professional learning community that will be attending the four day event. Educators from Flinders have attending ECA Conferences in the past and have come back feeling inspired and excited about their experience, ready to find ways to translate new ideas and theories into practice at Flinders. We will be presenting on the Saturday of the conference, and our paper is titled Making our Mark. The Making our Mark project has been discussed in previous posts on this blog, so head back through our history to find out a little more. As a part of the preparation process for the paper presentation, the Programming Educators have been involved in an intense one month period of writing, meeting and thinking hard about the data we have collected so far. As we have reflected, thought, conversed and challenged ourselves and each other, we have come to some very exciting new ideas and understandings about the role of mark making in children’s learning, our role in facilitating mark making experiences, and how various theories can act as lenses through which we can analyse our work. Without giving the entire paper away, we are looking forward to sharing ourRead more
As regular readers and members of the Flinders Community would be aware, we are very interested in outdoor play and winter outdoor play. Preschool and Sturt House both run successful winter play programs, and May Mills House are beginning their journey this year. But there is another house of educators and children who are interested in learning more…what would happen if we took the babies out to play? We wanted to share with you a video of babies engaged in rain play, but we couldn’t quite find the right one, the one that really resonated with us. So instead we have made a pinterest board to inspire us, we would love you to take a look at it by clicking on the link below… http://www.pinterest.com/flinderschild/babies-in-the-rain/ What do you think?
Over the past couple of months the Programming Educators and Assistant Directors at Flinders have been exploring the image of the child. What does this idea mean? What is our image of the child? What does the Flinders child look like? How does this impact on our practice and programs? An interesting journey… We began by exploring what the phrase ‘image of the child’ means. Originating in the Reggio Emilia philosophy, the image of the child corresponds to people’s beliefs about who children are and what they can do. Not individual children, but children broadly. So when we talk about the image of the child we are talking about all children; not just a quality or personality trait or disposition that is a part of one child’s character. The image of the child informs all areas of our practice, be it consciously or unconsciously. Because the image of the child has such a significant impact on our practice, we began to explore some descriptors, some terms that could encapsulate our collective image of children. This is a complex process to undertake within a group of educators; so much of this is about values and attitudes. Yet we recognise that having a statement or series of terms that we all agreed clarified our collective image of the child, a definition of the Flinders child, could helps us to support children, educators and families in new an interesting ways. We could use this statement as a touchstone to refer to in ourRead more
I’ve been watching this video over and over lately, and feeling inspired by it’s message. Connecting children to the natural world is a key part of our journey at Flinders, and finding moments of inspirations such as this help validate our path. This video is making us think about how we can translate these experiences to our context – how can we generate deep connections with nature for children? Especially those children who are under three? What environments should we develop, what experiences should we facilitate? How can we build hidden woods at Flinders?
We’ve been thinking a bit about heuristic play and treasure baskets lately. Heuristic play is “used to describe the activity of a toddler when he plays with objects…this play is not a social activity as it concerns how the toddler experiments with the objects and the environment…This kind of play can be desribed as ‘experimental’, as the toddler’s primary interest is to discover what he can do with the objects he finds.” ( A. M. Hughes, Developing Play for the Unders 3s). Heuristic play is playing with real things, and treasure baskets are collections of real things that have a common connection, such as all wood, all metal, and so on. Treasure baskets are for one child at a time, to be explored as they see fit, with minimal interaction with an educator or parent, although the adult should always remain close by. The video shows 11 month old Freya with her treasure basket for the first time. We can see how engaged she is, how interested and involved, how exploratory and curious and competent she is. She remains here, playing, for eight and a half minutes, and many advocates of heuristic and treasure basket play recommend leaving space for half an hour to an hour of uninterrupted time for child’s play. We loved seeing how completely involved this child was, and are keen to begin exploring heuristic play and treasure baskets at Flinders. Imagine babies and young toddlers engaged in a single play experience for this length of time…trulyRead more
Earlier in the year I alluded to a couple of educator research projects that are taking place at Flinders this year. One of these is called Making our Mark, an investigation into children’s mark making and 2D art. Making our Mark is running in all houses across Flinders and is managed by the programming educators. But what exactly are we looking at… As discussed in previous posts (the Making Meaning, Making Marks series), Flinders values children’s mark making and considers it both a language and a literacy skill. Mark making occurs for children from a very young age and continues throughout their time at Flinders. It is this pervasive nature of mark making that has prompted us to explore it in more detail. We educators have been wondering, how can we better understand children’s mark making? How can we better support learning in this area? How can we learn to read children’s messages, to become more fluent in their language? As a means to begin answering these questions we developed the Making our Mark project. Each programming educator has chosen at least two focus children, one boy and one girl, who attend Flinders for at least three days each week. The educators are collecting a sample of each child’s mark making each week as a part of our ordinary documentation practices, and analysing this over time to track changes, recognise patters and better understand each child’s mark making language. We will collect and analyse the data over a full twelveRead more
Happy Harmony Week! We hope you have been feeling an increased sense of belonging at Flinders this week. Thank you to our families who have contributed to our Harmony Garden. It is blossoming with stories of belonging, family and community. Your willingness to contribute your stories to our community is much appreciated. If you haven’t yet added to our Harmony Garden, we invite you to when you can. There are resources in each house to decorate a leaf or bird, and also at the mural, which is situated on the Toddler House wall as you walk up the path from the office to May Mills House. At Flinders we consider ourselves a “community within a diverse range of communities” (Flinders Philosophy) and as such we are a meeting point for families, children and educators. Our educators and staff work extremely hard to ensure everyone who enters our community feels a sense of being welcomed and belonging, whether they are here for a short time or a long time, whether they have been a part of Flinders for days or for many years, where ever they come from and where ever they are going. Harmony Week is a time when we recognise our successes in this area, and also a time where we plan to do more, to reach more people and become increasingly more welcoming. As we plan for each Harmony Week, we hope to ‘do better’ than the year before, that the special celebrations from the previous year haveRead more
March 21 is Harmony Day in Australia. The ongoing message of Harmony Day is everyone belongs. “Harmony Day 21 March is a day of cultural respect for everyone who calls Australia home – from the traditional owners of this land to those who have come from many countries around the world. By participating in Harmony Day activities, we can learn and understand how all Australians from diverse backgrounds equally belong to this nation and enrich it.” (www.harmony.gov.au) At Flinders, to ensure all children have an opportunity to be a part of the Harmony Day celebrations, we celebrate Harmony Week. This year Harmony Week will run from Monday March 17 to Friday March 21. The Early Years Learning Framework talks about belonging as a key aspect of children’s growth and learning. It describes belonging as follows; “Experiencing belonging – knowing where and with whom you belong – is integral to human existence. Children belong first to a family, a cultural group, a neighbourhood and a wider community. Belonging acknowledges children’s sense of interdependence with others and the basis of relationships in defining identities. In early childhood, and throughout life, relationships are crucial to a sense of belonging. Belonging is central to being and becoming in that it shapes who children are and who they can become.” (EYLF pg. 7) This year our Harmony Week celebrations will foster the idea that everyone belongs through building connections between home and Flinders, between children and educators, between language and culture and ideas. Following are some of our plans; Family Favourites Cook Book Harmony Week Menu including aRead more
This week the Preschool House educators decided to build a mud kitchen in the garden. For a while they had been admiring mud kitchens on other early childhood education blogs and on Pinterest, and when the opportunity arose for them to build one this week, they took it. The educators were possibly more excited than the children! A mud kitchen is exactly what it sounds like it would be; a play space designed around the idea that children can cook with mud. Preschool House built their mud kitchen down towards the middle left of the garden, next to an existing decking space that was underused. The space is clearly defined by half buried rocks and logs, with a space left at the front to indicate a doorway. Whilst the mud kitchen was being built, the children wondered what they might do with this space; bake cupcakes? Jump in muddy puddles? Have a picnic? Watching the construction helped the children plan and imagine what might happen there, so when the mud kitchen was officially opened in the afternoon, they were ready to go, play plans in mind. Over the first few days, the Preschool House educators noticed a distinct change in the way the children played in and used spaces within the garden. Play seemed more purposeful, and children remained involved over a longer period of time. Children seemed to slow down and really focus on their work. Different dynamics began to appear as children made new connections in this newRead more