B2 Melissa MacMaster, Natalie Cross, Debbie Roper

Melissa MacMaster, Manager Education and Curriculum, GEKA
Debbie Roper, Early Childhood Teacher, Orrong Road Kindergarten, GEKA
Natalie Cross, Early Childhood Teacher, Carnegie Kindergarten, GEKA
the balance of flexible yet predictable environments for children
that inspire decision making, choice and independence
how to utilise natural, recycled and open ended materials to
promote a sense of responsibility, independence and agency within
supporting families to understand how flexible, play based
programs support the development of skills for the transition to
school and life
how educators can confidently embrace, support and promote
change - one day at a time!
Traditional verses Contemporary
Take a minute to consider your childhood
kindergarten experience?
How many of you, in your programs,
Start or finish the whole group with mat time?
Start or finish the program at the individual pace
of each child?
Have separate indoor and outdoor time as a
whole group?
Have a flexible indoor/outdoor program?
Have mealtimes together as a whole group?
Have flexible snack?
Access to high quality education
programs for at least 15 hours in
the year before school - longer
sessions, which enable longer,
more sustained learning
• Honour children’s right to play, as both a process and context for
learning (ECA Code of Ethics, 1.12)
• Utilise knowledge and research to advocate for universal access to a
range of high-quality early childhood programs for all children (ECA
Code of Ethics, 4.5)
• Each child’s current knowledge, ideas, culture, abilities and interests
are the foundation of the program (NQS, 1.1.2)
• The program, including routines, is organised in ways that maximise
opportunities for each child’s learning. NQS, 1.1.3)
Flexible timetables and routines
• Acknowledge the rights of families to make decisions about their
children (ECA code of Ethics, 2.5)
• Respect the uniqueness of each family and strive to learn about their
culture, structure, lifestyle, customs, language, beliefs and kinship
systems (ECA Code of Ethics, 2. 6)
• Physical activity is promoted through planned and spontaneous
experiences and is appropriate for each child (NQS 2.2.2)
• Children are adequately supervised at all times (NQS 2.3.1)
• Facilities are designed or adapted to ensure access and participation
by every child in the service and to allow flexible use, and interaction
between indoor and outdoor space (NQS 3.1.3)
Our view of children!
• Acknowledge children as competent learners, and build active
communities of engagement and inquiry (ECA Code of Ethics, 1.11).
• Educators respond to children’s ideas and play and use intentional
teaching to scaffold and extend each child’s learning (NQS, 1.2.2)
• The dignity and rights of every child are maintained at all times (NQS,
Partnership to learning – shared
responsibility; shared power
Shift in focus – learning for life
(not just for school)! School
need to get ready for
Kindergarten children!
Recognise children as active citizens participating in different
communities such as family, children’s services and schools (ECA Code
of Ethics, 1.3)
Listen to and learn from families, in order to acknowledge and build
upon their strengths and competencies, and support them in their role
of nurturing children (ECA Code of Ethics, 2.1)
Develop partnerships with families and engage in shared decision
making where appropriate (ECA Code of Ethics, 2.4)
Develop shared planning, monitoring and assessment practices for
children’s learning and communicate this in ways that families
understand (ECA Code of Ethics, 2.7)
Acknowledge the power dimensions within professional relationships
(ECA Code of Ethics, 6.4)
Each child’s agency is promoted, enabling them to make choices and
decisions and influence events and their world (NQS QA 1.1.6)
Children are confident and involved learners (Outcome 4 EYLF)
• Share and build knowledge, experiences and resources with my
colleagues (ECA Code of Ethics, 3.5)
• Collaborate with my colleagues to generate a culture of continual
reflection and renewal of high-quality practices in early childhood (ECA
Code of Ethics, 3.6)
• Children develop dispositions for learning such as curiosity,
cooperation, confidence, creativity, commitment, enthusiasm,
persistence, imagination and reflexivity (Outcome 4 EYLF)
• Children are supported to become environmentally responsible and
show respect for the environment (NQS, 3.3.2)
Individualised learning journey
• Curriculum decision making contributes to each child’s learning and
development outcomes in relation to their identity connection with
community, wellbeing, confidence as learners and effectiveness as
communicators.(NQS QA1.1.1)
• Each child’s current knowledge, ideas, culture, abilities and interests are
the foundation of the program (NQS QA 1.1.2)
• Development of a strong Identity and sense of self (Outcome 1 EYLF)
Creativity and imagination are
• Acknowledge the uniqueness and potential of all children, in recognition
that enjoying their childhood without undue pressure is important (ECA
Code of Ethics, 1.8)
• Children express ideas and make meaning using a range of media and
begin to understand how symbols and pattern systems work (EYLF,
Outcome 5)
• Children use information and communication technologies to access
information, investigate ideas and represent their thinking (EYLF, Outcome
Small group experiences
• The program, including routines, is organised in ways that maximise
opportunities for each child’s learning (NQS QA 1.1.3)
• Children learn best in small groups where individual attention can be given
(relationship between the child and the adult and the ability of the adult to
respond to the child) (Colbert, 2014)
• Smaller groups of children reduce the noise levels and increase
concentration – optimal environment (Colbert, 2014)
Valuing different interests and
learning styles
• Acknowledge the holistic nature of children’s learning and the significance
of children’s cultural and linguistic identities (ECA Code of Ethics, 1.9)
• Children resource their own learning through connecting with people,
place, technologies and natural and processed materials (Outcome 4 EYLF)
• Every child is supported to participate in the program (NQS, 1.1.5)
(Auditory, visual,
Kinaesthetic/tactile , logical or
analytical learners)
Dear Families,
As educators we are constantly evaluating our program and practice to make sure that it is current and meeting the
needs of our Kinder community. For a while now we have been discussing our program in terms of its flexibility.
When we refer to a ‘flexible program’ we refer to a program that allows children and
families to be included according to their circumstances and developmental needs.
We still have structure during the day but a flexible program gives everyone the
opportunity to work at his/her own level and pace.
A main area of discussion has been how we end our day. We have flexibility in the morning as we open the door at
9am but you can enter any time after that.
This gives the children a chance to enter and settle quietly, families the opportunity
to drop off other children at school without rushing from one place to another,
parents can have a quick chat with the educators if they feel the need and it also
gives families the opportunity to be a part of the program if they have time to sit and
We would like to see the same happen at the end of the day. We have had a rethink of the way we read a story and
open the door at 3pm. This works for us inside the room but there are a couple of issues.
What about those children whose parents are a little late?
How does that make them feel to see all the other children being picked up at the
same time except for him/her?
What does that do for their developing sense of identity and emotional wellbeing?
How does this practice value the family? We don’t want you to feel
left out (literally) and even though we have said that you are
welcome to come and join us on numerous occasions, someone
pointed out that they would feel intimidated as a parent to do so.
How can we be more inclusive and flexible while keeping the
children safe within the classroom with people coming and going?
How do we make sure that the children still take on the
responsibility of looking after and packing away the room at the
end of the day with a flexible end of day routine?
We have decided that from next week we will begin a new routine. The children will begin to tidy the messy
areas of the room at approximately 2pm.
Certain areas will remain available for play and you are more than
welcome to join us to play or pick up as you please until 3pm. This will
give you time to join in with the program and also give us time to
catch up without the end of day rush.
We ask that you enter through the double door (that will be closed) as you do at present. This way we can
monitor who is arriving. When leaving, we would like the children to say goodbye to either Vanessa or
myself so that we know who is leaving. We also ask that if you bring in siblings that they be respectful of
work that the children are doing and that you allow time for your child to pack up what he/she is doing
before leaving. Your opinions and feedback would be most appreciated on this or any other part of our
Kinder program. We look forward to a calmer and more inclusive end to our day.
Professional Development
Children are given the opportunity to explore their natural
environment and learn essential safety skills in an
environment that provides opportunity for assessed risk
taking such as playing with sticks and using glass vases
and jars rather than plastic for paint mixing, water, storing
pens, textas, etc.
Ceramic plates and glasses for the home corner as well as
for eating.
“Being recognises the significance of the here and now in children’s
lives. It is about the present and them knowing themselves, building
and maintaining relationships with others, engaging with life’s joys
and complexities, and meeting challenges in everyday life.”
Belonging, Being & Becoming – The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia, 2009, p.7
Challenging children’s thinking with open ended, non specific
Eliminating the use of adhesives
“Taking time for experimental building without the necessity for
creating a product gives children a chance to get to know the
various shapes and their potential for construction. It also gives
children a chance to try out their ideas.”
“Bringing materials into the classroom and discovering their
potential for learning involves many of the same process skills
used in maths and science and interpreting literature. It’s a way
of thinking about things. It helps both teachers and children
become more aware of how they think.”
(Topal & Gandini, 1999, Beautiful Stuff: Learning with found materials)
Set drop off and pick up
Flexible drop off and pick up
Mat time to finish
Session still running at pick up time
Adults as responsible for play
Children also Involved in play space
Family engagement in
kindergarten limited to being
Kindergarten and Families working
together in partnership for the care
and education of all children
Involvement with Children
Shared responsibilities
Including children in transitions/routines equals
more time together in play
Lifelong learning
‘Real life’ learning in everyday situations (i.e.
washing up, sweeping paths, wiping tables,
Children are confident and involved learners (Outcome 4 EYLF, 2009)
Parent Involvement
Relationship building between educators and families
Relationships between families and other children
- puppet making
- reading familiar stories in other languages
- cooking Indian food and eating
Mutual Respect and Understanding
Framework, 2009, Principle 1)
(Early Years Learning
“I have so much respect for what you do now I have seen it
for myself” (Parent)
Engagement varies from the size of the table
impacting the learning
More space to spread out and work
Not all furniture will be full size so these pieces
become more ‘special’
Encourages parents/care givers to become involved if
they are comfortable too
ll. In relation to families I will:
2.Assist each family to develop a sense of belonging and inclusion.
(Code of Ethics (Early Childhood Australia)
Regular Outings (local community)
Post Office- Writing and sending cards on
Father’s Day
Planned Excursions
National Quality Standard (2011) QA6 Collaborative partnerships
with families and communities; 6.3.4 The service builds
relationships and engages with their local community.
Cultural competence (Principle, EYLF 2009)
Children are connected with and contribute to their world
(Outcome 2, EYLF, 2009)
Regular excursions to the school environment
(familiar and empowered)
Learning how to use the services (i.e. library)
Supporting a smooth transition to school
Bridging the gap between early childhood and
primary school sectors to increase understandings
National Quality Standard (2011) 6.3.2 Continuity of learning and
transitions for each child are supported by sharing relevant
information and clarifying responsibilities.
Indoor/Outdoor Program
The benefits:
 children learn in different ways and in
different environments
 maximize the use of your space and create a
calmer atmosphere
 children can be more fluid in their
engagement moving from inside to outside
and vice versa as their ideas develop
“Facilities are designed or adapted to ensure access and participation by every
child in the service and to allow flexible use, and interaction between indoor
and outdoor space” National Quality Standard (2011) QA 3.1.4
Flexible Snack
What is a flexible snack routine?
What are the benefits?
 - children listening to their bodies
 - less interruption of play
 - more autonomy and independence for
 - no time limit or rush to eat
“Children take increasing responsibility for their own health and
physical wellbeing e.g.. recognise and communicate their bodily
needs” (Victorian Early Years Learning and Development
Framework, 2009, p. 23)
Art Project
Working with a local community artist to build a wall
mural at the family meeting point inside kinder.
Stages of project
Visiting between kinder and the gallery
EYLF Outcome 5: Children are effective communicators.
Outcome 4: “ In a supportive active learning environment, children who are confident
and involved learners are increasingly able to take responsibility for their own
learning, personal regulation and contribution to the social environment.” (EYLF,
2009, p. 33).
“I’m pretty sure when they go to
school next year they are expected to
be there at set times not this wishy
washy come and go as you please
“Please reconsider this policy as you a
running a kinder not a half-way
“How does this policy foster a
sense of belonging or community
when some kids stay and some
kids don’t.”
“I can’t understand why the
children can’t be sitting on the mat
at the normal collection time with
their bags and already to go. When
they have this structure, they then
know it is Home-Time.”
“I am trying to raise a useful
member of society not another
flake who has been brought up
without learning values such as
discipline, commitment,
responsibility, consequences etc.
Timely response
Hearing and listening
Face to face
Preparing for change – clear messages of
Transition of change – consider gradual change,
utilising the ‘flow’ of the building
Follow up
“I originally thought it would not be of benefit
(flexible play based learning) as it is already
half way through the year but I was pleasantly
surprised. GEKA and all staff were very
informative, engaging and their passion for
teaching our children shone through, so thank
Better use of time
Building more meaningful relationships
Respect for the work of educators as
Parental engagement in the program –
partners in learning
Learning is made visible
Children respected as capable and competent
Supports individual learning styles
Building foundational skills for life
Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (2011) National Quality Framework
Resource Kit www.acecqa.gov.au
Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (2009)
The National Early Years Learning Framework www.deewr.gov.au/eylf
Colbert, J (2014) Group Size: What does it mean for the children in your care? Early Childhood
News http://www.earlychildhoodnews.com/earlychildhood/article_view.aspx?ArticleID=402
Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (D.E.E.C.D) (2009) Victorian Early
Years Learning and Development Framework for children Birth to Eight Years, State Government
of Victoria.
Early Childhood Australia Code of Ethics
GEKA Inc. (2013-2014) Glen Eira Kindergarten Educational Teams at Bentleigh, Brady Rd,
Bentleigh East, Carnegie, Caulfield South, Glover St, McKinnon and Orrong Rd Kindergartens.
Houghton, A (2013) Intentional Teaching: Promoting Purposeful Practice in Early Childhood
Settings, Teaching Solutions, Melbourne.
Topal & Gandini (1999) Beautiful Stuff: Learning with found materials, Davis Publications