At South Thornlie Primary School we have a predominately play-based approach to teaching and learning in the early years. Jennie Lindon and Liz Rouse (2013) describe play-based learning as experiences and opportunities where children select what and how they would like to do things in carefully designed learning spaces that aim to build on children’s interests and experiences, as well as concepts learnt through explicit teaching at other times throughout the day. They use the resources provided to direct their own learning whilst being given time to explore, practise and improve their skills.
During play-based learning time the teacher and education assistant skilfully guide and ‘nudge’ the students to extend their thinking and skills, whilst acknowledging and supporting students’ learning through teachable moments related to the curriculum. Our job as early childhood educators is to provide children with rich resources, environments that foster their interests and plenty of time to explore and repeat play experiences.
Our program provides a wide range of rich play-based experiences to challenge and inspire all students. The focus is on the whole child, with experienced staff supporting every individual to explore their independence and individual interests. Our program encourages students to question and wonder about their world whilst encouraging and developing a strong foundation for literacy and numeracy.
A priority is placed on developing students’ phonemic awareness and oral language skills. These important pre-cursers to literacy development are explicitly and intentionally taught in structured lessons, as well as through the exploitation of ‘teachable moments’ as they occur throughout the day. These may be the result of teacher/child or child/child interactions that spontaneously occur through ‘play’, conversation, explanations etc.
West Australian Department of Education planning documents, policies, guides and standards are used to design and deliver our Early Childhood programs. Important examples of these are listed below.
The Western Australian Curriculum – Kindergarten Curriculum Guidelines: Curriculum and Assessment Guidelines
The Western Australian Pre-primary Curriculum
Being, Belonging, Becoming – The Early Years Framework
National Quality Standards