We started back on the 7th. Cohort entry means that we had 13 new little learners all at once, mixed in with our 13 learners that had been with us for several weeks or several months.
This year we pick up from where we left off, with practices based on developmental stages rather than age or length of time at school.
Without knowing the ages of the 13 in the cohort it was not clear who was still yet to turn five, what was quite clear from day one through observation and interaction was the developmental differences in the 26 children we are to work with this term. This affirmed the absolute need to establish practices that are able to cater for each one of these individuals, not to establish a one size fits all approach. I am looking forward to further developing my practice around this.
It has only been three days, but what I have noticed already is the happiness.
This year rather than doing a sit down roll as we were last year, we are allowing children just to play as they come in and say goodbye to their caregivers as and when they are ready to. We are then free to roam and tick the roll, while greeting and talking to children individually. By 9.15am we are ready to come to the mat for our songs that will become part of our morning ritual this year.
In these first few weeks, we will establish little rituals and routines, introducing children to moments of teacher direction, using drama for learning, singing songs and finding out emotions, kindness and our learning mindset. We will not leap in with any developmental or cognitive based goals for the first month, even with the children that were with us prior to the end of the year. Our aim is for them to just settle, to just be and find absolute joy in learning through play.
My goal this year is to develop my ability to write learning stories and create provocations from the interests and urges that I notice.
This goal will be challenging for me, but I have already had a go at a few over the last week with a basic template I have made that includes Key Competencies, Dispositions, Curriculum Area, Urge or type of play/stage seen, with comments around what was noticed, what this means and what next. The challenge for us is to write learnings stories based on the developmental stage of the child so that we can really be reflecting their learning journey. We want to show that connection from ECE to school in the child's journey, but are also conscious that it needs to reflect a progression as time goes on.
As an example of this, I observed the play of two children this week, cooperating in their play, negotiating and establishing rules together. Quite a high level of play, which was awesome. They were making food for a restaurant, one of them making the ingredients and the other preparing the dish for their customers. Although the play was similar for both, when observed closely, they were actually doing quite different things. The first child preparing the ingredients was creating shapes, sorting and counting out the ingredients. The second child was much more interested in the social side of the play, interacting with her customers and was less concerned with the product. The learning stories that I wrote for them reflected this. For the first child I captured the maths I had seen as she was making groups up to ten " 4 here and 4 there is 8, 2 over there, together that is 10" I was able to look to the curriculum for the learning here. For the second child it was more a case of focusing in on the dispositions that she was learning and exploring.
We managed to write five learning stories this week between us and noticed a huge interest in fish through the play. From this we were able to develop a provocation. This is my goal, to really focus in on urges and interests so that I can further extend on this through snippets of teaching and the development of provocations.
I'm really looking forward to this journey and am already feeling like these learning stories are going to be a great way of capturing not only curriculum, but developmental stages.
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