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Does your child learn at their government kinder
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Posted 15 July 2015 - 04:23 PM
I think of you want the things tou have described them you would need to privately enrol in an early learning center.
I must admit that DS's 3 year old kinder last year followed more learning structure, and I was a little concerned regarding the apparent lack of structure and formal learning at the council run 4 year old kinder. However DS has thrived there, he cannot wait to go on his kinder days and if you take the time to study and read their folders plus the daily observation sheet, you will see there are definitely learning outcomes from this more informal play based learning.
I have taught DS his alphabet, his shapes, his colours and numbers independently at home and he his able to read quite a few words now. Mostly it's through lots of reading together, going for walks and counting the numbers on the houses, letting him hand over money at the shops and counting the change together. Again not formal learning but stuff he picked up a lot from life.
Plenty of time for formal learning in prep next year! You only get one childhood and play is very important!
Posted 15 July 2015 - 04:30 PM
A good preschool will teach early literacy! In fact good parents usually teach their kids early literacy skills! The problem is most parents aren't trained to know what all the stuff is that kids need to learn before they can do what looks like 'reading'. Parents think learning letters is the first step. It is NOT. Before a child can learn letters there is a whole lot of other stuff to be learnt. Most kids learn it just by watching adults and being read to, but that is partly what is meant by play based learning! Here is an article I read just the other day that talks a bit about these early literacy skills...
So, if your kid is playing 'mums and dads' at kinder and they are cooking dinner and the teacher just happens to have put some cookbooks in the play kitchen for them to use... That's early literacy learning! Sure, to you it doesn't look like they've learnt much, but it's an essential precursor to reading and kids who don't get these kinds of experiences generally don't do so well at school.
Often the best learning at this age occurs in small discussion groups where a teacher and a few children will talk about ideas and learn from each other and often write down or draw about what they are doing.
Number and letter recognition happens, but it does not need to be structured at this age. There does not need to be a 'letter of the week' and no point in there being one as they will do it all again at school and there will be no advantage of them knowing it beforehand. Sure, you could teach a bunch of 4 year olds all their letters by rote. It won't make them smarter, nor will it make them better readers. Good reading requires the ability to analyse text and understand it, not just decipher the words, which means kids need to learn to think and experiment and wonder. This is what play teaches that rote learning will not.
Please also understand that there is a huge range of ability in 3-4 year olds and it does not always translate into smarter kids later. Some 4 year olds know all their letters and some hardly any but the ones who know all their letters before school do not necessarily end up being better readers by the end of primary school.
And for what it's worth, my DH grew up in a country where kids did not go to school until 7 years old. Given that he near topped the state in Qld for year 12 and was a straight A uni student doing a double degree in Actuarial studies and Mathematics I don't think the 'late' start did him any harm...
Posted 15 July 2015 - 04:52 PM
Thanks for all of your replies. I can safely day that what I saw at Kinder when I volunteered was free play. They had 2.5hrs of it in which the assistant just filled in paperwork the whole time and I saw the kinder teacher only talk to 2 groups of kids (one at the play dough table and the other at the pasting table).
That was followed by about 30mins for lunch, 30mins outside and then 20mins on the mat for a book and a song and then it was home time.
The teacher didn't even gather all the kids on the mat in the morning and introduce me to them. I had to go around to all the kids and introduce myself while they were playing.
Like I said, my DD is bored, and from what the other mums say, so are a lot of the other kids there.
Posted 15 July 2015 - 05:05 PM
I think the 'bored' thing would definitely worry me. They should NOT be bored at kindy!
Posted 15 July 2015 - 05:18 PM
At our Centre the older children (3.5/4-5) are taught the alphabet, are encouraged to learn and write their names (Uppercase first letter, lowercase the rest), their numbers and whatever they are curious about.
They also learn colours, shapes and simple maths. Usually through games (board based and teacher created).
Our younger group (2-3s) learn numbers, colours and shapes, and other things they show an interest in.
Posted 15 July 2015 - 05:24 PM
So it's only half day kinder? My 4 year old son goes to preschool from 9am to 3pm...
Paperwork 'could' actually be taking observations, but generally that's pretty quick, shouldn't take 2.5 hours.
I wouldn't necessarily expect the teachers to gather kids on the mat to introduce you to them. They don't at our preschool and I've done 3 full days there this year. The kids just rock up to me and ask "Are you Pieter's mum?"
However it does sound like your Kindy is doing less than what they should be. You should not expect the teaching of school stuff, just expect engaged teachers who work with the children.
If you feel like doing something about it, ask to talk with the director (or lead teacher or whatever they call the teacher in charge) and ask about the learning program. Ask to see their observations on your child (they can't show you other kids ones) and specifically ask how they are facilitating her learning. If they can't give you a satisfactory answer, tell them so.
Posted 15 July 2015 - 05:35 PM
There might be an issue with this particular pre school but our children's pre school (4 to 5 year olds) was very unstructured learning and this was 20+ years ago.
There were stations set up and the children moved from one to the other doing what they wanted to do.They were fully supervised and engaged
The had outside time but nobody was forced outthere and they finished each session on the mat with a story and a general chat.
They practiced writing their name in the last 6 months of the year.
Most children were school prepared, able to write their names and some did some reading before they went to school......all without a formal lesson every being completed.
Posted 15 July 2015 - 06:07 PM
Maybe there was a bunch of paperwork to catch up on? Might have been an out of ordinary day.
But being bored is concerning. Kids who up until kinder have been plonked in front of a screen all day or have had every second scheduled might be struggling with the independence. I'm not saying thats you OP, I don't know you from a bar of soap. Just playing devils advocate.
Playdoh is actually great for pre-writing skills. Especially rolling little balls or strands with the pincer grip. I learnt this as I happened to be looking at a kinder the other day (in Moreland) and the teacher was an ex-primary teacher. She was saying how she had completely changed her view of play based learning since her time as a primary teacher, and listed some of the play that leads to reading and writing.
ETA: just wanted to say, if it was my own child and she was bored I would be really concerned.
Edited by WaitForIt, 15 July 2015 - 06:09 PM.
Posted 15 July 2015 - 07:39 PM
I'm a kindergarten teacher in Victoria so to respond to you as I would a parent of my own who raised concerns.
All early learning centres Australia wide, whether they be LDC Kinder or FDC are required to abide by the same regulations the National Quality Framework and the same curriculum document the Early years learning framework. Neither of these documents dictate adult style learning for children in fact they stipulate we should offer free play.
Unstructured free play is in fact where the greatest learning takes place because it is directed by the child and each child will take from it what is necessary.
Increasingly research indicates that not only do children receive no long term benefit when their play time is occupied by letter and number drills but that the children who have done most of this work are turned off learning by the end of primary school.
Children have a finite amount of time in their lives it is too easy for us to eat away at this as we constantly teach what we think the child should know. Why?
Do you think the great thinkers of the world developed because they learned early on that there was someone wiser who would teach them facts? Rather they had endless time to just be, which includes being bored. It is when a child is bored that he or she really starts to think.
At our kindergarten the children usually have free choice of their activities inside and these activities are creative, manipulative, sensory, dramatic, imaginary, construction, art etc. I very rarely set out 'craft' activities where I have created a template and they are expected to follow it to produce an adult friendly result. All that happens then is that I am directing their creativity and showing them mine is better.
The children choose when to eat their snack, but we eat together at lunch. We come together at the mat 2-3 times a day for discussion, stories, songs etc.
It is actually very easy to present a pretty room where the adults easily recognise learning - letter a day, carbon copy art, work sheets etc but none of these things are really relevant to how a young child learns.
Having said that I can't imagine boredom if there are enough open ended activities with materials the child can turn into whatever they want. my 6 hour session hums all day.
It would be great to talk to the teacher.
I am wondering if what I am seeing increasingly in children is not boredom but the generation of screen kids whose attention spans are short and who have lost the ability to think for themselves since they are always on the tablet or phone.
Posted 15 July 2015 - 09:10 PM
In 6yrs at Kinder parent duty I have never been introduced to the kids. Like PP said kids just ask "are you YX's mum?". I learnt the names of the kids from my child, asking the children their names or memorising their names from their hats in summer (names in hats).
Posted 15 July 2015 - 10:17 PM
I would have loved a bit more free play for my dd1, who was only 3 years 8 months at the start of (WA) kindy. The kids had their names on laminated cards and the first thing they did at the start of the day was trace their name. Then they had a bit of free quiet play (books or puzzles) then mat time where they did songs about the days of the week and letters and talked about seasons and shapes etc. Then they had group activities including painting, play dough, sorting and counting games and kitchen corner. Then crunch and sip, outdoor play, more groups and I think another mat time then lunch (early for the kindies), then rest time and I think the afternoons had some jiggle jam, another snack and more outdoor play.
Each week they had a colour and letter of the week and brought home crafts they had done on those themes. In the second half of the year, some kids started getting home readers if the teacher felt they were ready.
Posted 15 July 2015 - 10:31 PM
I think if you are concerned you should ask for a meeting with the teacher and ask the reasoning behind how the program is structured. Play is young children's work, play is vital.
Posted 15 July 2015 - 10:45 PM
I don't expect my kids to be taught letters & numbers at preschool (NSW). My 3 yo is learning to interact with others & follow a semi-structured routine (ie. lunch time, music time, story time etc). There is lots of play, often with different activities set up and kids can select what to do.
Posted 15 July 2015 - 10:51 PM
Our kinder practices Play Based Learning, in exactly the same manner you described - free ability to choose activites, group time at the end of the session.
My DDs left kinder able to read/write their own name, and nothing else.
DD1 is in grade 3 but academically is performing at a grade 4 level.
DD2 is in prep and by mid year is reading at the end of year standard.
I love PBL and specifically chose to keep DD2 at the same kinder rather than change her to the more structured feeder kinder for their school. Kinder should be able play and igniting the imagination and desire to learn. There is plenty of time for structure as they get older.
Besides, you will find the PBL plays a big part in the junior end of primary schools these days. It is incredibly powerful.
Posted 15 July 2015 - 11:07 PM
You would probably not think much of our kinder. Kids only gather together for 20 mins at the end. They are moving to multiple 'mat times,' but early in the year, this group couldn't cope with that. There were a few non-English speakers, a few criers, and a couple of ASD kids. Trying to get them all to sit still and listen to a story was frustrating and a waste of time for all the kids. They have done lots of tiny incremental developmental activities with individuals and the group, and they are now all doing much better. They are headed towards being able to cope with Prep.
We also have free-flow indoor/outdoor play (partly because we have aides, so min 3 educators, plus usually a parent). This means kids can choose to be inside or outside, and sure enough, there are plenty of boys who choose to mostly be outside in the cubbies or on the play equipment or in sandpit.
They are LEARNING. They are learning negotiation, cooperation, physics, gross and fine motor skills (for writing), science, maths and language. They talk to each other. They measure, pour, watch sand and water flow. They make 'cakes,' and build (engineering.)
The other day they cooperated to build a house, but the sand was dry, so one child said it looked like a mountain. Another said it looked like a volcano. The educator asked if they would like to make a volcano? She got the vinegar, red food dye and bicarb soda out, got the kids to help measure and pour, and turned that pile of sand into a FAB volcano. They talked about it... 'it's exploding.' 'There are bubbles.' 'It's frothing.' (Early literacy, describing what you see, exploring new vocab.)
Then they got the ipad out to take photos, and look up pics of other volcanoes, and talked about lava.
THIS is play based learning done well. The children directed it through their interests, and the educator facilitated the extension.
If their sandpit time had been limited, to 20 mins, so they could make sure they also hit the playdough, painting and block stations.. then they would have had a series of unsatisfying, brief experiences where they were just getting into the learning bit... and got moved on. A key part of play-based learning is allowing the child to decide how much time to spend on each activity, and move on when THEY are ready.
Some kids (girls, often) like to produce huge amounts of craft and artwork. My boy (and others) produce heaps of sand creations, block buildings, playdough weapons (unavoidable, it's in the chromosomes), and role play fire stations. There's nothing in the pigeon hole to collect at the end, but I do see photos, and read the observations, and talk to him. I have no doubt that he is being provided a rich set of learning opportunities. I see his social, motor and research skills improving all the time.
I will say, when he wasn't doing well, (and we have another ASD kid who struggles), he did appear to drift around from station to station, flicking at pencils and moving on. This is a developmental issue. He was stressed, had sensory issues and trouble engaging and concentrating. The teacher and I observed this, and put supports in place to encourage him. His OT attends kinder. He is now a star, but there are others at different points on the journey.
Posted 15 July 2015 - 11:29 PM
DS is in pre-k at a private school 3 days a week. It's basically kindergarten lite I think. They follow the regular school day, the classroom looks a lot like a regular preschool room but they do do some 'formal' learning, but it's a model which suits DS. He has learnt so much in the past 2 terms, made some great friends, still gets lots of play and is never bored.
I think it depends what you're looking for and what your child is like or style that may suit. My DD is at a Montessori preschool as it suits her perfectly and she still learns a lot as well.
The bored thing would by my main concern OP
Posted 16 July 2015 - 06:31 AM
I was thinking about it overnight and I just wanted to add an afterthought.
For me the most important things after social stuff and self confidence are curiosity and the love of learning.
Its not that I don't want my children to learn the letters of the alphabet or numbers. If I see them interested in something I follow their guide and give them opportunity to learn. And many of the things we did as a family facilitated learning.
My DD had a book she loved which was about numbers, and shapes. As well as basic maths it had more/less than, pairs, locating numbers of certain objects within a reasonably complicated but real to life picture, sequences, order etc. She loved this book and often chose to look at this rather than stories. By the time she got to school she was well ahead maths wise. But it was directed by her with me just following. She was less inclined to read so I just read stories to her.
She is still crazy about maths and is now an avid reader.
We also included the kids in lots of activities - cooking, assembling furniture, designing parts of the house etc. While doing those things the child learns so many things that you might view as academic.
Perhaps part of the resistance to play based learning (and I am speaking more broadly than the OP) is an expectation that academic learning is completely outsourced to kinder / school etc.
Posted 17 July 2015 - 09:31 AM
Thank you so much for all your responses. It's good to know that what is happening at my DDs Kinder seems to be the norm.
She was at daycare 3 days last year, where they seemed to do a lot more, including learning of shapes, colours and letters, which may explain why she's bored this year.
And they only screen time she gets when I'm trying to cook dinner. Otherwise our days are filled with play, whether it be tag, poison ball, hopscotch, snap etc - trust me she doesn't stop!
I'll speak with the teacher next week to address the issue of her boredom.
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