As the children arrive they greet one another, and then settle down with the toys selected that morning for early play until everyone else arrives.
The educator observes each child and gets an idea of how each child is feeling on arrival.
This is a structured group period where the children are formally welcomed, and they share their news with the other children. The weather and day of the week is discussed as well. This conversation time develops confidence and language skills. It also develops memory skills as the children try to remember their “news”.
The theme for the week is introduced, together with various props and pictures to explain more clearly what the concept is about. Then it’s sing -song time with lovely children’s songs, including many of the Nursery Rhymes. Now the teaching segment is introduced which may involve several aspects: such as a new colour or shape, investigating a colour bag, or a fun hands-on activity; followed by marching to Mozart with a musical instrument; and then catching bubbles.
Then we may have an educational activity such as an auditory processing puzzle or game. The activities are age appropriate, varied and cover all the curricular requirements.
Great fun is had outdoors as the children have the freedom to run, ride bikes and choose what they would like to do. They play in the Wendy-houses, on the jungle gyms, slide, swings, sand pit, hanging on the monkey bars, throwing or kicking balls, balancing on the tyres or crawling through them.
Outdoor Play encourages gross motor co-ordination, the development of healthy muscle tone and muscle strength, as well as social interaction skills.
Co-operation in various games and taking turns is also taught.
Playing outside builds confidence and independence and encourages communication and imagination.
There are many different areas of play in the school, allowing a child to choose a quieter area, such as the sand pit or the play road area with the cars, if desired.
These fun activities during this time are designed to develop fine motor co-ordination, creativity and freedom of expression. The children complete their picture for the day or perhaps a construction activity. We often paint as it develops eye-hand co-ordination and fine motor control. They also learn to use all the space available on the piece of paper, which develops spatial orientation. They work with glue, pasting pictures down, or decorating with many creative materials. They even learn to cut! The end result is not as important as the “doing”.
Messing is part of the fun and allows a wonderful sense of freedom.
Much praise and encouragement is given to develop a healthy self-esteem and confidence in their abilities. Recognition of each tiny step and progress is constantly given.
The children head outdoors again. Now there is often an organised activity when a special skill is to be taught. Here the educator facilitates balancing activities, tandem walking, obstacle courses, group games or ball skills. In summer we often do water activities at this time.
Children do learn best through active learning, so when they are playing they are actually working with various concepts.
The structured activities during this time are designed to develop pre-Maths, pre-reading and pre-writing skills. Each week a new topic is explored. The children work on a set task in small groups with their educator. The educator observes each child’s ability and approach.
This assessment allows the educator to see the different areas where each child has strengths and weaknesses. Activities cover all requirements including matching, sequencing, conceptual development and perceptual tasks. Many good work habits are instilled in this time such as perseverance, completion of the task, neatness.
The educator tries to encourage and help the children solve problems on their own, using a calm trial -and –error approach if necessary.
These activities may involve free choice on some days and planned activities on other days. They include puzzle building, threading, play dough, educational games, construction and fantasy play.
Make believe play with dressing up is a very important part of a child’s development. As the imagination develops they can step into a new role where they reflect what they have learnt about the world around them.
This role playing allows them to express their feelings and sometimes allows negative emotions or experiences to be worked through.
The children settle down on the carpet to listen to a delightful, interactive story. Each age group has their own level of story books appropriate for that particular age.
The story is whenever possible linked to the theme being investigated that week. Thereafter, they build puzzles or some other reasonably “quiet” activity while they wait for their lift home.
This is a calm time after a wonderful creative, social and stimulating morning. After such a busy morning a rest is essential!