Early Childhood Education

RATIONALE

We believe that all children have the right to a safe and nurturing environment, where their capabilities are recognised and strengthened. Our educational philosophy is based on developmental learning, inclusivity and the Catholic ethos.

BELIEFS

Notre Dame Catholic Primary School early childhood educators believe that:

  • Parents are the child’s first and most influential educators.
  • Families are central to a child’s education, so active participation of parents and others will contribute greatly to the child’s learning and development.
  • Education is directed to the development of the child’s personality and abilities, of respect for his or her parents, for human rights, for the natural environment and for his or her own cultural and social identity and values and those of others.
  • A stimulating, secure environment maximizes the child’s early learning. The child needs to develop respect, compassion and empathy for others.
  • Early childhood educators model behaviours by demonstrating respect and esteem for children, parents, colleagues, families and communities, as well as openness to different ideas, perspectives and ways of encouraging expression.
  • Play is the tool by which young children learn.
  • The skills and understanding covered during early childhood provide children with the building blocks for future learning.

CURRICULUM

The Early Childhood curriculum and pedagogy is based on the belief that:

  • Play-based experiences are meaningful, and through active exploration, a child gains confidence, learns strategies for thinking and reasoning and develops working theories for making sense of the natural, social, physical and material worlds.
  • Responsive and reciprocal relationships between adults and children support the child’s cognitive and social/emotional development.
  • A child learns best when he/she is engaged in tasks that are interesting, make sense, c onnect with and value previous experiences and add depth, meaning and joy to learning.
  • Quality early learning experiences provide a significant basis from which foundations of literacy, numeracy, learning, behaviours and future life opportunities can be developed.
  • Learning opportunities need to be tailored so that they are relevant to the individual child, acknowledge and engage with specific cultural background and respond to special or additional needs.

PROGRAM

The Early Childhood Education Program is viewed as a learning journey and is built upon throughout the early years. Teachers plan according to domain outcomes that are introduced in Kindergarten and extended throughout Pre-Primary.

The domains are:

  • Creative
  • Physical
  • Knowledge of the World
  • Literacy
  • Numeracy
  • Cognitive development
  • Religious Education

Play experiences are important for the development of:

Cognition: As children are encouraged to explore and manipulate objects and materials in their environment, cognitive skills are developed and challenged. Children gain confidence as they experience fun and success in play. This increased confidence encourages children to further explore their world and to seek out even more challenging activities. Ideas and concepts expressed by children during play increase and become more complex as their play skills increase and become more complex.

Language Development: Play is also important for the development of children’s language skills. Children experiment with language during play and use words to express their thoughts and ideas. As children become more sophisticated in their play skills, their language development becomes equally sophisticated. Children use language during play to solve problems and to communicate their needs.

Social Development: During play, children are provided with opportunities for social interaction with peers. Children learn the importance of social rules and how to get along with others through play. It is during this social interaction that children learn to express and control their emotions and to resolve conflicts with others.

Physical Development: A child’s motor development becomes increasingly more advanced through the physical activity that play naturally provides. Fine motor skills are developed through the manipulation of toys and materials. Large motor skills are developed through fundamental movement skills.

EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION IN KINDERGARTEN

In Kindergarten we begin from what the child’s prior experiences and further develop each individual socially, emotionally, cognitively, physically and spiritually.

Through many play opportunities children learn how to become assertive and resilient to various social situations, as well as becoming problem solvers and independent learners. We endeavour to support each individual child to grow to their full potential; providing them with plenty of opportunities to play, explore and learn.

Children learn to adapt to routines, transitions and procedures throughout the day and take part in making decisions about activities they would like to do, which makes learning fun.

EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION IN PRE-PRIMARY

Pre-Primary builds on the experience of Kindergarten. We endeavour to provide a learning environment that focuses on the development of the whole child through structured and unstructured learning experiences.

Many opportunities are provided for the children to explore a wide variety of materials, through hands-on purposeful and free-play activities. Learning is related to real-life experiences as much as possible so children see it as worthwhile and transferable. Learning is for life.

Children learn to appreciate the gift of our talents from God through many ‘God talks’, liturgies and prayers. Self-esteem is enhanced through positive reinforcement in a stress-free classroom. Respect, responsibility and independence are nurtured in a supportive, caring environment.

Programs are planned to be appropriate for the age of the Pre-Primary students and are implemented with attention to the different needs, interests and developmental levels of the children.

EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION IN YEAR ONE

Children draw upon prior knowledge, skills and experiences gained in Kindergarten and Pre-Primary in order to attain knew information relevant to their academic progress. Partnerships with parents and caregivers continue to be an essential component of the classroom community and, in doing so, supports the development of the child.

Play is used to stimulate, engage and motivate students as well as allow them to demonstrate their understanding in a range of contexts. Play, in Year One, encourages students to work positively within a group and therefore continues to develop social skills and competencies. It is flexible and plays an integral role in teaching problem-solving skills and promoting resilience as tasks become increasingly complex throughout their schooling. Play-based experiences, in conjunction with formal lessons, promote optimum academic achievement because it integrates with open-ended tasks.

Year One is the beginning of their formal learning journey and during this time students will gain knowledge of the world and its practices.