Learning at Different Ages

A child’s brain develops faster in the first five years than at any other time in their life. Learning in our centres, as in life, occurs in a variety of ways. Children need meaningful experiences in order to grow into lifelong learners.

Literacy at Guardian

For the love of literacy!

Children don’t learn how to read or write overnight or simply begin the year before school. In fact, the foundations for literacy are set from day one, so it’s imperative to provide children with the right support and stimulus from the get-go.

They say it takes a village to raise a child, and this holds true when it comes to developing literacy skills. We work in close partnership with families and the local community in order to support children on their individual literacy journeys. From reading aloud to conversing, exposing children to a wide range of printed materials, to singing songs and nursery rhymes, to visits to the local library, the opportunities to develop literacy skills are everywhere.

At Guardian, we focus on literacy development from birth and create carefully planned learning experiences that support literacy development at every stage. Children learn best when they feel secure and happy, in stimulating environments with a supportive network. Our educators take pride in developing fun-filled learning programs that are based on each child’s unique interests and have visible and clear learning outcomes.

Literacy and school readiness

It’s important to remember that children do not need to read or write before they start school. Research shows that the biggest determinants of academic success at school relate to social and emotional development in children.

“We are building security and identity and so we encourage children to express their emotions by openly accepting and acknowledging them. We recognise our active and intentional adult role as partners in children’s learning and we understand that children are learning from us through our every word and action about kindness, empathy, generosity, gratitude, honesty and respect. More profoundly, they are learning about themselves, their abilities and their worth, their place in their hearts and in the world.” – Bronwyn Thomson, Guardian Curriculum Mentor (QLD)

What literacy looks like at Guardian

Infants

  • Development of close relationships ensures educators can read children’s cues and early stages of language
  • Children are supported as they build the confidence to explore language
  • Reading aloud and singing nursery rhymes
  • Open ended resources to promote physical and mental development
  • Plenty of exposure to conversation

Toddlers

  • Sharing ideas and opinions in group discussions build vocabulary and confidence in using language
  • Plenty of exposure to printed words
  • Recognising familiar words including their name
  • Encouragement to use mark making, drawing and arts to express themselves
  • Children consistently learning from their peers
  • Educators use new words in context to make them meaningful and relevant to children
  • Children are free to read throughout the day: books build confidence and develops the process of reading, memory and comprehension skills

Kindergarten and preschoolers

  • Educators ensure there are a plenty of opportunities, materials and mediums to engage with letters and words, both in English and other languages
  • Early emergent writing: children are developing an understanding of capitals, writing words using invented spelling, creating more letter-like shapes
  • Children sign in each day using their name
  • Access to a range of literary resources including picture books, magazines, maps and literacy documents that relate specifically to the child eg. Storypark, visible centre documentation and weekend diary
  • Educators help children to make meaningful real world connections between words and their environments
  • Child interest-led projects develop literacy through discussion, articulation of ideas and opinions and adding context through words and writing

The literacy journey

Infants

When an infant hears the sounds of people talking, songs being sung, and the rhythms and repetitions of rhymes and stories, they’re setting the early foundations for literacy. We use every opportunity to laugh, sing and chat with children – from nappy changes to meal times, the more we have real conversations about real thing that pertain to them, the more they understand language.

While infants are not yet communicating with words, they do a lot of speaking with their actions, hands and facial expressions. We encourage babies to build communication skills by asking them questions, affording them plenty of time to respond and always acknowledging their communication.

Hand-eye coordination is important when it comes to writing, and babies are developing these skills from birth. By exploring their physical capabilities, fixing their gaze on an object and grabbing it, and playing with their own fingers and toes, infants are developing their hand-eye coordination which sets the foundations for writing.

By the age of one, children have learnt all the sounds that make up their language.

Toddlers

We give children the opportunity to explore as much print as possible, especially print that is meaningful to them (menus, receipts, newspapers etc). Children will notice the shapes and start to see familiar letters which will then develop into reading words. It’s around this time children begin mark making and showing control with tools, fingers and toes, modelling writing with other children, and beginning to understand the direction of writing.

From songs and books, children will learn words, sentences, rhythm and rhyme. Children who know how to rhyme are helped to read as they can then correctly guess a word, even if they don’t necessarily know how to read the word just yet.

Kindergarten and preschoolers

Leading up to formal schooling, children are typically showing signs of early emergent writing. Children will be attempting to write their own name, beginning to use spaces between letters, developing an understanding of capitals, and writing words using invented spelling. To support this, we encourage children to sign in each day, and expose them to a wide range of printed material including script in other languages, picture books and books with chapters, as well as real world collateral including tickets, catalogues, magazines and maps.

Children are read and told stories on a daily basis and these stories form part of a story database to retell to each other. At this age, children are now able to use language to ask questions and communicate their thoughts and ideas while also listening and responding to others. As projects form and deeper thinking starts to occur, children are given the opportunity to use the arts to develop their thinking and ideas, for example drawing their plans and ideas for a building before they create it.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn the more places you’ll go.” – Dr Seuss

Numeracy at Guardian

Numeracy: More than counting!

Numeracy development happens every day in every room at Guardian. Working in close partnership with families, our educators embed numeracy into daily life helping to maintain a continuation of learning from home to centre.

From the use of open ended resources, to making real world connections to numeracy, to projects and experiments that incorporate numeracy concepts, children are consistently developing their numeracy skills at Guardian!

What numeracy looks like at Guardian

Numeracy development is supported in a wide variety of ways at our centres. These include:

  • Resources including open ended materials
  • Internal and external environments
  • Projects and daily experiences
  • Educator relationships and engagement
  • Visible documentation throughout the centre
  • Working in partnership with families

Infants

  • Open ended resources encourage children to recognise and play with patterns
  • Counting during the day to make it meaningful for children eg. how many beds do we need today?
  • Numeracy and maths concepts are used in everyday language, routines and play

Toddlers

  • Numeracy is entrenched in children’s thinking process: children incorporate counting into their own learning independently
  • Educators encourage children to solve their own problems and use real world examples to create meaningful connections
  • Open ended materials are provided to allow children to engage with, recognise and recreate patterns
  • Project and experiments encourage children to work with time concepts (tomorrow, this afternoon, last week etc) and calendars

Kinder

  • Children recognise numbers in their environment and want to know how to write and use them in their everyday life
  • Using numbers daily children quickly learn the skill that a number represents real objects – how many blocks make their tower
  • Using more complex materials, children engage with, copy and create patterns, and group according to similarities and order of size and/or length
  • Loose parts help children to develop other maths concepts such as comparing, parts and wholes, measurement of temperature, time, weight, volume and length and knowledge of shapes

The numeracy journey

Infants

From the very beginning we are developing numeracy skills in children. This is done through using concepts in everyday language, routines and play. For example, we will count with children how many beds we need that day or count little fingers and toes. We also count during the day to make it meaningful for children – it’s not just about rote learning numbers!

By providing open ended resources, our educators encourage these to be used in a variety of different ways to help develop numeracy skills. While using these materials, children are discovering concepts like big, small, tall, short, volume, numbers, pattern-making and counting. Through conversation we ask many questions and afford children the time to reflect on these and acknowledging their ways of communicating.

Toddlers

For toddlers, learning maths concepts becomes more complex and are entrenching maths in their thinking process, incorporating counting into their own learning independently. Children also start to relate numbers to themselves eg. “I am two and he is littler than me” or “I am taller/bigger than her” – this is demonstrating they are beginning on understand comparison, scale, age and volume in real terms.

At Guardian we offer a wide variety of open ended materials to engage with, recognise and recreate patterns – Pattern making is an important part of numeracy development as it encompasses many areas including critical thinking, creativity, problem solving and representing patterns they see in their environment and translating it into a representational form.

Kindergarten and preschoolers

In the year leading up to formal schooling, children have begun to recognise numbers in their environment and want to know how to write and use them in their everyday life. Educators ensure numbers are used in every day experiences to create more meaningful learning around numeracy. Using numbers daily, children quickly learn the skill that a number represents real objects eg. how many blocks make their tower.

Open ended resources help children to develop other maths concepts such as comparing, parts and wholes, measurement of temperature, time, weight, volume and length and knowledge of shapes. Children are aware that numbers have numerical sequence and are understanding maths concepts including bigger/smaller/heavier/lighter.