Discussion Time: Community Engagement

How do you engage children with the community?

This can be another difficult one, especially during covid times. There can also be challenges with centre locations and budgets for incursions and excursions. Think outside the box though, there are ways to involve the community without putting pressure on your finances.

  • Ask the children to draw pictures or make cards and deliver them to the local retirement village.
  • Send letters to people in the community or other centres and create pen pal partnerships. Young children cannot write, but they can still have input as to what goes in the letter and receiving a reply will likely create excitement.
  • Invite community members to visit the centre. Local libraries can sent workers out to share books.
  • Location permitting, walk to the local park and sing their favourite songs like a performance.

How do you engage children with the community? Comment below!

Discussion Time: Belonging

How do you promote belonging in the classroom?

It is important for children to feel like they belong in a classroom. It will help them to feel safe and secure, as well as providing them with the freedom to explore and learn.

Displaying children’s photos or artwork is one way to let them know that they belong in the room. They can see that they are recognised and that their work is valued.

It is also important to greet each child individually each day so they feel special and not just one of many.

Children can be involved with creating the classroom, sharing their ideas about where furniture and other items should be placed, as well as coming up with classroom rules.

How do you promote belonging in the classroom? Comment below!

Discussion Time: Painting Activities

What is your favourite painting activity?

There are so many different ways to incorporate painting into your program but my favourite way involves messy play. It is interesting to see that some children will go straight for finger painting and similar activities, while others will hold back and think they can only use paints with a brush.

Use your fingers. Use your hands! Explore the texture of the paint. Add it to shaving cream – how does it change? Paint your feet and toes and make prints across large paper! There is a special kind of fun that can be had when children have the freedom to get messy.

What is your favourite painting activity? Comment below!

Discussion Time: Family Involvement

How do you encourage family involvement?

I find this one difficult. There are so many different ways to encourage families to become involved, but they are busy and have a lot on their mind. There’s only so much you can do. They have to want to be involved.

I have sent out questions pages an asked for them to be returned and I have posted on our site app asking for feedback. Both have resulted with a few replies but not as many as I would like.

I find the easiest way to include family input in the program is to ask them directly during pick up or drop off times. Have a notepad ready and jot down what they say. Keep in mind that they are busy so limit it to one or two questions. You can always go more in depth for those who express interest in exploring the topic further.

This still becomes difficult when children are dropped off at the same time, but give yourself plenty of time to receive feedback so you can approach them on different days.

How do you encourage family involvement? Comment below.

Discussion Time: Documenting Learning

What is your preferred way to document learning?

There are many ways to do this, but my current favourite way to display learning in folders is to use a drawing/collage app on the tablet. Insert the relevant photos on a nice background and add key learning words (eg. experimenting), learning outcomes, the date and a few stickers just to decorate.

It does not take very long because the program has a simple design. The finished product is visually appealing and relies mostly on the photos to describe the learning. A picture is worth a thousand words!

I don’t use this method for main activities in learning cycles, where more written work is necessary, but these collages are a great way to add other experiences to learning folders. You can also send the final image home to families via shared apps or emails.

What is your preferred way to document learning? Comment below!

Discussion Time: Communicating with Families

What is your preferred method of communicating with families?

Some centres are having difficulties with communicating with families at the moment. Covid has forced many changes in our lives. At some centres, children are dropped off at the door, to reduce the number of people going inside. This means that educators might not see families to pass on any messages. Even during normal times, shifts and pick up times do not always line up.

I find the easiest way to communicate with families is through a shared app where we can send photos, programming details and information about lunches. It is a simple way to communicate with individuals or the class as a whole.

However, receiving feedback and responses is another story… Sometimes I am not even sure my work has been seen.

What is your preferred method of communicating with families? Comment below!

Discussion Time: Small world play

Describe your favourite small world play activity design.

I really love to set up small world play and I have many that I would consider favourites, but the first one that comes to mind uses a dirt patch, some natural resources and pig figurines. I set up logs and stumps so they create ramps and other shapes. Sticks and pieces of bark lean against them or get stuck in the dirt to make caves and designate spaces. Different coloured leaves can create food or patterns on the ground. I also like to use white stones to make a path.

The most important part of this small world play is digging a hole in part of the playspace and filling it with water! Pigs in mud!

What is your favourite small world play activity design? Share it below!

Discussion Time: Identity

How do you promote identity in the classroom?

Using children’s names and photos is a great start. Talking to children about their interests or what they did on the weekend/over the holidays. Discussing culture and sharing it with other children so they see that everyone is different.

Children at a young age do not always understand that different people have different interests. Some just expect their friends to enjoy the same things they do. I explore this concept with the child and help them to recognise the different identities.

Dress ups and roleplay give children the opportunity to experiment with different identities. Exploring characters will help them to understand that other people are different.

How do you promote identity in the classroom? Comment below!

Discussion Time: Nature Play

What is your favourite nature play activity?

I thought of two and I cannot decide which one to write so I will just say both!

Potion making in the dirt patch – using pots, dirt, sticks, leaves, petals, gum nuts, water and anything else we can find from around the yard. Breaking, cutting, mixing, stirring. Exploring the environment and discovering change.

Counting with nature – have a tray with numbers on it and the children have to find 1 of something natural, 2 of something, 3 of something, etc up to 10. Spread them around the number to make a display that you can show to the children at other times and reflect on what they had done.

What is your favourite nature play activity?

Discussion Time: Down Time

What do you do during your down time?

Do you get down time? Are you able to switch off? Is your mind always thinking?

For some of us, I feel as though achieving down time is actually something we have to learn. We do not always have to be busy and doing something productive. It is okay to sit back and relax or do something just for the sake of having fun. Adults need to have fun too.

I like to read. I usually go for fantasy or historical romances, but I will occasionally pick up something different. I also have a few games on my phone that help me switch off for a moment and I am a huge fan of Disney and Marvel.

What do you do during your down time?