OUR PHILOSOPHY (revised and updated April 2018)
The early years of a child’s life are the most significant in laying the foundations for their overall health, wellbeing, learning and development as individuals. We know from research that a child’s brain undergoes its highest rate of growth and development in the first 5 years of their life. Most neural pathways within the brain are laid down in these early years. Development of physical and language skills is rapid and complex. Many of a child’s own attitudes and personality is shaped during these critical years of development.
With regards to the children and families we believe:
* Pre-school is an essential opportunity to further extend a child’s development and learning. Pre- School is a continuation of the vast amount of early learning and experiences that have already started within the home before a child even commences Pre -school. We recognise families as the child’s first teachers.
* In the importance of providing a smooth and reassuring transition from home to kindergarten, supporting each child to feel safe, secure and supported.
* Creating welcoming and safe environments for every family is vital to building positive working relationships between Educators and the children and families.
* Children learn best when collaborative, respectful and supportive relationships exist between Educators, families and the children. Establishing trusting partnerships and the sharing of knowledge between families and Educators enables individualised planning for each child to occur.
* Children are capable, curious and competent learners. Children are shaped by their experiences and backgrounds. Every child is an individual. They may have different learning styles and be at different stages in their development and competence in one or more of the developmental domains. A child’s stage of development cannot be rushed through. It is important they have plenty of time and experiences at each stage of development and learning before moving onto the next stage.
* All children have the right to be treated equally regardless of their gender and to be given the opportunity to explore freely within our programs. We believe in promoting equality between genders by striving to be aware of gender based stereotypes and challenging these within our service.
* We respect the principles upon which the United Nations Rights of the Child is based. Every child has the right to access high quality care and education. They have the right to be and to feel safe, not just in their own homes but within their wider community. Our practices and programs are guided by the UN Declaration on the rights of the Child, a Professional code of Ethics, Child Safety Standards and the Early Years Learning Framework for Australia.
With regards to the Educational Program we believe:
* In an approach to learning and growth that is holistic. That is, one that focuses on the whole child. The physical, cognitive, emotional, social and personal well- being of every child. These areas are closely intertwined and are all equally important.
* Play is the work of young children and a quality early childhood service acknowledges this and strives to provide an environment rich in experiences that build independence, a sense of belonging, curiosity, exploration, self- expression and awareness and opportunities for social interactions to build interpersonal skills.
* Play may be led by the children with their own (appropriate and safe) choices. At other times it will be teacher directed with a clear plan and specific outcome planned for.
* The Educators and the environment (or third teacher as described in a Reggio Emilia approach) are crucial for creating stimulating, valuable play opportunities. The Educators role in planning for the group and the individual children within it, is a very INTENTIONAL one. Educators are observing, recording, assessing, modifying, prompting, adding, extending and scaffolding learning with the children. Our programs are designed for the children within them and as such, will vary from year to year. The environment is designed to invite exploration and curiosity. Resources are made available to the children to follow up on their ideas and to challenge them.
* It is vital for children to be provided with long periods of play, with flexible approaches to accommodate the needs and interests of the children. Children need time to revisit experiences, even familiar ones, to build skills and knowledge, complete or extend upon ideas, to practice when faced with disappointments and to make sense of their world. As such, our daily routines are flexible and can spontaneously change according to the needs and requests of the children. We believe that to be responsive to the children, routines such as for eating, need to occur at a time that is appropriate at the time for the children. There is a structure to our sessions, but it is a flexible one.
With regards to Cultural Diversity we:
- Are proud to be a unique, culturally diverse service. Our community is reflective of the multicultural country in which we live. Our service for example, is attended by a high number of Burmese families. As such, we work closely with local community services to provide for their specific needs. We are proud of our partnership with the Burmese community.
- Believe equally in the importance of respecting and acknowledging our Australian Indigenous population.
- We proudly acknowledge the traditional owners of the land upon which our Pre-school stands, the Wurrundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. With the support of Indigenous community members and organisations, we hope to build knowledge and respect for the Indigenous community within our service.
- Believe in the importance of Reconciliation and creating culturally safe environments for Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander families is an important aspect of this.
We invite ALL families to share their cultures with us, to share their knowledge, resources and ideas to enable our service to achieve a culturally, respectful environment for all who access it. Through partnerships with families we aim to build our own knowledge and appreciation of different cultures in our local community.
With regards to Professional Development:
- Uniting and the Educators employed by Uniting are committed to ongoing Professional development that supports our work with children and families. Educators are registered with the Victorian Institute of Teaching and as such, are required to complete a minimum of 20 hours of Professional training annually. Our Professional development must meet VIT standards and must also show commitment to developing our skills in working with children who have additional needs.
- Educators share their learning with each other and attend a wide variety of learning opportunities on offer during the year. Educators are provided with resources from key industry organisations in the area of early childhood to support us in maintaining current knowledge, practice and standards.
Programs and practices are guided by the Early Years Learning framework for Australia, the Victorian Early Learning and Development framework, The National Child safe standards, the National Quality standards and a Professional code of ethics.
Outdoor Philosophy (August 2017)
The early years are the most important years in a child’s life. Preschool is the continuation of the early learning that has started at home
At Ringwood Uniting Church Preschool we believe in the equal importance of our outdoor learning environment in complementing and extending our overall philosophical beliefs on how children learn and how we can best support them in their learning and development here.
- Children need to spend extended periods of time outdoors involved in free play, during all months of the year. Outdoor play should not be restricted (unless deemed unsafe or access to equipment is restricted by extreme weather conditions)
- Free play is play that comes from the ideas of the child/children involved rather than created by adults and this is as important as intentionally planned experiences in the outdoor environment.
- Educators /Adults have a role in children’s play that is not intrusive. Sometimes it is simply to observe, monitor, reassure and to assist if necessary. Educators will be deliberate and purposeful in assisting children with their skill development and safe behaviours.
- In accommodating the needs of all children regardless of ability in the outdoor learning space and exploring ways to ensure every child is able to be supported to participate and access all opportunities here.
- Educators observe play and relationships closely and may extend or stimulate play ideas by offering and introducing children to a wide range of resources that they can utilise to facilitate their play or to guide it into additional areas of learning.
- The outdoor learning space provides an abundance of sensory experiences, greater diversity of gross and fine motor challenges, varied open ended materials and endless opportunities for imaginative play. All of which are crucial to all areas of a child’s development.
- In ensuring common links and flow between the indoor and outdoor space to accommodate the different learning styles of the children. Some children are more relaxed and open to learning opportunities when experiences are offered outdoors. Others enjoy the freedom to move between the two areas as often as they choose during a session.
- In helping children to develop a sense of wonder and respect for nature, particularly with the increased availability of screen devices to children. Establishing a balance between screen time and outdoor time is also imperative to a child’s holistic development and overall mental well-being.
- In extending children’s natural interest in the outdoors, through learning about sustainability practices and learning on offer in this environment, such as care for the minibeasts that live in our play spaces
- In the benefits of experiencing the natural environment for its many positive impacts on mental health and wellbeing as well as the physical benefits.
- In participating in and promoting interest and engagement of children, families and staff in the Achievement Program which has a high focus on Active play to promote stronger mental and physical health and wellbeing.
Our Philosophy is guided by current research and by the Early Years Learning Framework for Australia and the Achievement Program benchmarks