The year before ‘Big’ school – an insight with Nicola

Mrs Nicola Walker, our kindergarten teacher at Kids on 4th, knows very well how much parents worry about the lead up to their little one entering into the brave new world of ‘Big’ school. Nicola has been an educator at Kids on 4th for over 10 years and has run our Queensland Government accredited kindergarten program for the past 5 years. During her time at Kids on 4th Nicola has nurtured and prepared over a thousand children for their successful transition into the exciting new adventure of primary school. “Many of the Sharkies I have known since they started at Kids on 4th as babies and it is so rewarding seeing them all excited and heading off to school.” (Nicola Walker)

After talking to many prep teachers over the years and working closely with local primary school teachers, Nicola knows firsthand the most important areas of school readiness to be working on in the year before prep. “During their kindergarten year we focus on a holistic approach to preparing children for prep and beyond. One of the most common things I hear from prep teachers is the importance of children being socially ready for school, being able to manage their emotions, independently resolve problems, and the ability to follow directions. Throughout the year our play-based program provides many opportunities for the children to develop self-confidence, become independent problem solvers and manage conflict effectively. Our school readiness program really focuses on getting the children ready for a day at school. From the beginning of the year we start to give the children more responsibility for their belongings, support them to use the bathroom independently, follow multiple instructions, and manage eating appropriate foods from their lunchbox at each mealtime.” (Nicola Walker)

The kindergarten program at Kids on 4th aims to provide every child with the necessary skills and qualities they need to thrive in school. The program responds to the children’s needs and interests, builds on their current knowledge, and extends their ideas and knowledge, helping them to become confident and enthusiastic learners. All of which lays the foundation for success at school and the continuation along a path of life-long learning.

Our kindy program aligns with the Queensland Kindergarten Learning Guidelines (QKLG), which aims to maximise learning outcomes for all children in kindergarten and provides teachers with a framework for planning and monitoring children’s learning and progress. The QKLG build on the national Early Years Learning Framework, and is essentially the same curriculum implemented in all accredited Kindergartens, C&K’s and Pre-Prep programs.

The QKLG is based on five learning and development areas. These include:

  1. Children have a strong sense of identity
  2. Children are connected with and contribute to their world
  3. Children have a strong sense of wellbeing
  4. Children are confident and involved learners
  5. Children are effective communicators

The Shark’s kindergarten program promotes active learning, through a play-based curriculum that supports children’s learning in a variety of ways. Our play-based environment is carefully planned and organised to promote learning and to help children progress. By observing children’s play, Nicola is able to get a better understanding of their interests and abilities and can help them explore and build on their ideas and strengths. All kindergarten programs are play-based, which means that it may not always be obvious to you what your child is learning, when in fact they are learning a lot! Research has shown that in kindergarten, children’s early numeracy and literacy skills are best learned through the contexts of play, real-life experiences and routines and transitions.

Literacy and numeracy teaching and learning is embedded in our kindergarten program. As our program is play-based, our literacy and numeracy teaching strategies may not always be obvious but there are plenty!

These include:

  • Use of the interactive SmartBoard
  • Cooking experiences
  • Block play, construction
  • Matching, sequencing, sorting games
  • Fine motor experiences – cutting, manipulating playdough, threading
  • Puzzles, exploring patterns in nature
  • Sandpit play
  • Movement and music

Effective school readiness and a smooth transition to prep, hinges on the collaboration between the educators at Kids on 4th, families, children and schools. Throughout the year parents are able to access all of their child’s learning and developmental records via iChild – our parent portal. Families are also encouraged to provide feedback and input into the program and the children’s ideas and interests drive the curriculum. Half way through the year each child receives a mid-year Learning Summary and families are invited to attend Parent – Teacher interviews. “It’s great to sit down with family’s half way through the year to highlight how their child is progressing and to discuss the best way to support them in the transition to school,” says Nicola.

Towards the end of the year Nicola prepares a Transition Statement for each child; which summarises their learning and development in kindergarten. The Transition Statement is designed to enable information to be shared between families, early childhood services and schools. The information in the Transition Statement can be used to support children as they move into early schooling. If parents share information recorded on the Transition Statement with their child’s school, it can be used to help:

  • Identify different pathways and approaches to transitions that best suit children and their families
  • Plan ways to help children and their families feel welcome and comfortable in the new setting
  • Identify starting points for learning that build on children’s identified strengths, talents, motivations, interests and learning needs.

All of these elements of the Kids on 4th kindergarten program help to provide your child with the best possible transition to ‘Big’ school. It is so exciting and very rewarding seeing the children who have grown and flourished at Kids on 4th, many since they were babies, head off for their new adventure at school.