School readiness is something we have worked hard on with our local schools and continue to do so. There are plenty of things we can do to help make the transition from ECE to Primary School smooth for our tamariki. Last year we had a great Transition to School Evening which was attended by the new entrant teachers from our three local schools. They came together and put a list of attributes that all three schools felt were important to provide a smooth and positive transition to school. These included a child being able to independently:
While ABC's won't help a child learn most of these skills, they were certainly help a child learn their ABC's as independence and a great sense of belonging allow a child to explore and trial new things without anxiety or stress.
We are born to connect.
During early childhood we learn to connect and create patterns, this is how our understanding of concepts develops. Young children need patterns and experiences to understand how the world works. They provide tamariki with an appreciation of what to expect throughout life in terms of possibilities and opportunities. Psychiatrist Rene Spitz studied infants and young children during the 1930's and found that even if children received adequate nutrition and health care they would still fail to thrive from a lack of loving contact.
Attachment is a relational process which builds throughout infancy and is established at about 8 months of age when infants develop significant cognitive skills. Children at this age develop the capacity to cognitively understand what is often referred to as object permanence - the understanding of cause and effect and the appreciation that objects (including people) can still exist even if we can't see them at the time. Children who love playing 'peekaboo' are in this exciting stage of development! Once a child is able to understand object permanence they are able to understand a different way of thinking, have feelings about themselves and others, and this allows the first learning's in relationships and how they work.
Spitz found that how children learn to connect and engage with their caregivers was how they then interacted with people their whole lives. This is a pretty fundamental finding and one that we can often here in adult conversations being 'you're just like your mother' or 'you are just like your father'!
Regardless of who we are acting like (in my case it's definitely my father!), the framework of interactions we have from infancy that continues throughout our whole life does define how we understand love. There is a reason for positive guidance being a major part of the Ministry of Education guidelines for all ages and it is something we definitely support at Cherry Grove. It makes teaching routines, boundaries, and rhythms much harder and the social commenting required is far great but it is worth the time and effort for our tamariki to understand they are loved regardless of how far they have dipped their toes over the edge!
The first week of Summer is here and we are embracing the warmer temperatures. What a fantastic day we had on Friday exploring hundreds of kilos of ice in all sorts of different ways all over Cherry Grove! There were ice sculptures, ice cups, sandpits filled with ice, ice bricks with all sorts of loose parts frozen into them, and ice blocks for tasting!
Summer is filled with so many opportunities for learning and development because the weather allows so much exploring to be done without fear of cold or illness. Research consistently shows that during the Summer months the mind is sharper and more open to stimulation, which leads to children exploring more. Exploration helps children build self-confidence and gives them a great feeling of accomplishment as they try new things and succeed at a level that has incredible meaning to them. When children have more control over what they want to learn and how they want to learn it, the outcomes for development are better than when we try and contrive a learning experience for them.
This is especially true with sensory development. Children who can explore their senses and what appeals to them in their own time are more willing to give new experiences and opportunities to explore further a go. We have some children at Cherry Grove that will take every opportunity to participate in messy play, and definitely create their own messy play if the opportunity presents!
It's a wonderful practice of independence when a child can follow their interest and it also gives them more chances to make age-appropriate decisions, care for the things they are using, and problem solving using their knowledge of the world.
We will have loose parts available to our tamariki in all our environments through the summer.