The Early Learner is the child in the age span from birth to eight years old, however for Catholic schools in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle the focus of Early Learning is the child transitioning into Kindergarten and the child in the school years of Kindergarten, Year 1 and Year 2.
The spiritual, emotional, social, academic and physical development of young children has a direct effect on their overall development and on the adult they will become. That is why understanding the need to invest in very young children is so important, so as to maximise their future wellbeing.
The quality of a child’s earliest environments and the availability of appropriate experiences at the right stages of development are crucial determinants of the way each child’s brain architecture develops.
The research is conclusive that the Early Learning years of Early Childhood is a time of remarkable growth with brain development at its peak. During this stage, children are highly influenced by the environment and the people that surround them. Early Childhood is more than just a preparatory stage assisting the child’s transition to formal schooling. It is a time of holistic development of a child’s social, emotional, cognitive and physical needs in order to build a solid and broad foundation of lifelong learning and wellbeing. (UNESCO, 2016).
We have a strong focus on early learning at our school. An emphasis on creativity, curiosity, positive relationships and play as pedagogy help build a curriculum shaped by the views of children, the roles of teachers and families and the interpersonal relationship between them. A positive transition to school helps to establish collaborative relationships between children, families, teachers and the community and build a successful foundation.
In 2021, our new Kindergarten children will transition to school by taking part in a diocesan initiative called Successful Foundations. An initiative based on play, engagement, curiosity and fun! Shops, vets, hairdressers and other examples of provocations are intentionally and purposefully set up to encourage play. These opportunities will help your child develop intellectually, physically, socially and emotionally.
Children are naturally motivated to play. We use a play-based curriculum built on this motivation and use play as a context for learning. In this context, children can explore experiment, discover and solve problems in imaginative and playful ways.
This play-based approach involves both child-initiated and teacher-supported learning. The teacher encourages children’s learning and inquiry through interactions that aim to stretch their thinking to higher levels. The teacher can also bring the child’s awareness towards mathematics, science and literacy concepts, allowing them to engage with such concepts through hands-on learning.