Today Dr. Marie Martin talks about how children attending an outside of SOEL Kindy are propelled backwards from being capable, involved co-learners, to “little kids” again.
When 4 year olds are in two kindergarten programs they have ‘a foot in two worlds’.
At SOEL, they are ‘big children’, capable and competent. They are required to use their well-developed self-help skills, studio skills and research skills (learned over the three or four years of their SOEL enrolment) as they engage in play-based learning and long term investigations, achieving a depth of thinking that constantly amazes early childhood professionals, researchers and practitioners who visit our centres. The children’s creativity and imaginations are stimulated in our programmes, developed by our artists and harnessed in dramatic, construction, manipulative and exploratory play. Children’s problem solving and decision making skills are applied as they make informed choices about the things they do, their production processes and their interactions with other children. Fundamental movement skills are practised, refined and demonstrated in a wide range of activities in gardens, rooms and excursions. Children reinforce their own learning, skills and development as they mentor younger children, purposefully engaging with them in a measured, kind, collaborative process, praising the younger child’s attempts at as task, celebrating with them when they success and reflecting their own interactions with their educators and mentors. Language and numeracy skills are learned, reinforced and applied through authentic purposes: creating lists, measuring, researching, recording, reporting and reflecting.
At the local kindy program, 4 year olds are some of the youngest children in the school. They seem little to others and the older children certainly look like ‘big kids’ to the 4 year old. Their capabilities are seen in the spectrum of the next 7 years; immature and developing. They are associating with children they may be with (at least those who don’t move suburbs, schools ort states) for their primary schooling and they may see at a neighbourhood park (if the families take them there) or through ‘play dates’. Fundamental movement skills (such as running, catching and dodging) are the focus for physical education and fine motor skills (such as cutting and pencil grip) are important in ‘table top activities’. ‘Formal’ lessons emphasise the skills of letter, sound, word, sentence and number recognition and patterning.
The role of the family continues to be paramount; children deserve someone who loves them unconditionally. The values of the family can be learned only through relationships and interactions with family. Skills need places and situations to be practised and applied. Children’s learning and thinking needs to be aired and heard.
Children who ‘have a foot in two worlds’ move from being a ‘big kid’ at SOEL to being a ‘little kid’ at school. With support, they can find ways to accommodate the different perceptions and expectations of them and take advantage of the opportunities provided.
Our Pre-Kindy and Kindy Program Age Group Specialist, the very talented and experienced Pia Coates reflects on how the oldest of our children participated in NAIDOC week this year.
By Pia Coates
NAIDOC Week celebrations are held across Australia each July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. NAIDOC is celebrated not only in Indigenous communities, but by Australians from all walks of life. The week is a great opportunity to participate in a range of activities and to support your local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. The 2017 theme – Our Languages Matter – aimed to emphasise and celebrate the unique and essential role that Indigenous languages play in cultural identity, linking people to their land and water and in the transmission of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, spirituality and rites, through story and song.
To celebrate NAIDOC Week at SOEL a small group of children from each Kindy programme made their way by train into the State Library in Perth to share together in story and song with Indigenous people. This offered the children at each Centre the opportunity to meet up with each other and share in the enjoyment of the stories told.
Among the stories read were, Big Rain Coming by Katrina Germein and Bronwyn Bancroft, and Tiddalick: The Frog Who Caused a Flood by Robert Rosenfeldt.
The children listened to each story with interest and enthusiasm. We sang familiar songs in English and Noongar. This was followed by an opportunity to weave wool and twine around an indigenous representation of a snake shape. The children delighted in this opportunity where they showed persistence in undertaking such a challenging task. Our adventure into NAIDOC Week concluded by travelling back to our respective centres together on the train.
In this article, Dr Marie Martin writes about children being raised with more than one language, what to broadly expect and where to ask for help.
By Dr Marie Martin
Bilingual Families Perth are a great resource for families who are raising children with more than one language. In the past 10 years they have provided support for families who speak Afrikaans, Bengali, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Cantonese, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Farsi, Finnish, French, German, Gujarati, Greek, Hindi, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Macedonian, Malay, Malayalam, Mandarin, Mongolian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Samoan, Serbian, Spanish, Swahili, Swiss-German, Swedish, Tagalog, Tamil, Turkish, Vietnamese besides various dialects of the relevant languages.
Most of their work has been with families who have pre-school or school aged children but they have links to hundreds of resources and they are a way for you to connect with other families experiencing similar issues.
In terms of language acquisition,this article by Fred Geness might be helpful.
I’ve summarised some key points here.
Language acquisition is an everyday and yet magical feat of childhood.
Knowing the language of one’s parents is an important and essential component of children’s cultural identity and sense of belonging.
Generally speaking, bilingual children’s overall proficiency in each language reflects the amount of time they spend in each.
Bilingual acquisition is complex because bilingual children may depend not only on parents but also on grandparents, playmates, or childcare and daycare workers to learn their languages.
There are large individual differences in language acquisition — some children acquire their first words or use complex utterances much earlier than other children. The same kinds of differences are characteristic of bilingual children.
While bilingual children’s vocabulary in each individual language may be smaller than average, their total vocabulary (from both languages) will be at least the same size as a monolingual child.
Because bilingual children learn words in each language from different people, they sometimes know certain words in one language but not in the other.
The ways of communicating in certain social situations or of expressing certain meanings can be quite different in some languages.
At some stage, most bilingual children use sounds and words from both languages even though the people talking with them are using only one language. Mixing languages is a natural and normal aspect of early bilingual acquisition, even among proficient adult bilinguals.
Lowan, L. 2015. Bilingualism in Young Children: Separating Fact from Fiction.
National Simultaneous Story Time was a great success in all of the rooms at our centres, with discussions around what happened in the story, jumping and stretching as high as we could to reach the moon and singing the nursery rhyme that underpins the story being told, among many things that happened.
In the Art Studio in Subiaco, the story was read to small groups in various places highlighting the importance of the environment as a space and how it can facilitate further learning, significance or meaning to a story. The children used the medium of clay to work with as they read through the story. It provoked further stories in relationship to their space and ignited memory from their factual learning.
Six Kanimbla children, also from Subiaco, ventured out to read the story while at St Luke’s Nursing Home, reading the book at spot on 11:00am. It was a fabulous story enjoyed by both the children and the elderly residents.
Acting out the story is a great way to get involved and an extra aid to recall and comprehension.
Everyone at West Leederville was also buried deep in the book, with many of them reading it several times over the last week or so, and more than once on the day too.
Davinci children engrossed in the story…
By Dr Marie Martin
“According to the latest statistics from the Productivity Commission, the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector collectively employs around 140, 000 people, of which only 3 per cent are male. That’s just 4,200 men across the whole country…” 1
SOEL recruitment policy
Schools of Early Learning employ males and females who are knowledgeable, skilled, committed, have beautiful interactions with children and a belief in children’s competency and capability. They know that children can “break new ground”.
Our experience is that both men and women are equipped to care. Men and women are capable of nurturing relationships with children. Children need the opportunity “to see men and women carrying out the same tasks equally, which will help to break down the stereotype of what is traditionally seen as male or female work and therefore makes it more acceptable for men to work with children”. Role modelling is important but so are “opportunities to form relationships with a diverse range of adults and peers.” 3, 4
What men bring to SOEL…
“Men can bring different skills and qualities to the profession which could help to broaden the curriculum and enhance the quality of the service. Having a male childcare worker present is good for staff relationships and brings a healthy mix.” Research suggests that men “do have different styles from women in many aspects of their work such as their use of language, risk-acceptance, physical play and humour, as well as behaviour in staff meetings, input in policy discussions etc. Men are not better than women, but they are different and together men and women create a rich culture in which to raise child”. 6
Supporting our male and female educators
SOEL has comprehensive policies and procedures that support male and female educators to work professionally and supportively as a team to create wonderful learning opportunities and positively engage with children. We have robust recruiting and orientation procedures, thorough and regular training requirements including detailed child protection training, and reward structures for high levels of performance to which educators aspire. Our quality assurance system involves internal audits of every aspect of educators’ practice, performance review processes enable regular review of performance, team meetings assist feedback on individual and team work and our quality improvement program requires systematic self-reflection.
All are welcome…
Caring and educating children is one of the most challenging and rewarding roles anyone can have. SOEL welcomes men and women who aspire to inspire children to grow, develop and learn with “consciousness of mutual respect, open communication, complementary expertise and an appreciation of different perspectives”. 7
1. NSW Community Childcare News http://ccccnsw.org.au/early-childhood-education-and-care-no-boys-allowed
2. Amy Harty, An exploration of the influence male childcare workers have when working with children, p. 23 https://www.barnardos.ie/assets/files/publications/free/childlinks_body28.pdf
3. Ann Conroy, ChildLinks, Editorial, p.1 https://www.barnardos.ie/assets/files/publications/free/childlinks_body28.pdf
4. Aiofe O’Gorman, Teachers in Early Childhood: An exploratory study of the influence on gender, p. 11 https://www.barnardos.ie/assets/files/publications/free/childlinks_body28.pdf
5. Amy Harty, An exploration of the influence male childcare workers have when working with children, p. 24 https://www.barnardos.ie/assets/files/publications/free/childlinks_body28.pdf
6. Lauk Woltring, Get the Good Guys in and the Wrong Guys Out, p. 15 https://www.barnardos.ie/assets/files/publications/free/childlinks_body28.pdf
7. Aiofe O’Gorman, Teachers in Early Childhood: An exploratory study of the influence on gender, p. 12 https://www.barnardos.ie/assets/files/publications/free/childlinks_body28.pdf