As we have recently transitioned into two worlds, one of online home learning and one of onsite school learning, one of our challenges is to build connection and continuity between these two contexts. Our continuous learning plan aims to be that bridge, and over it, we can offer many rich learning experiences that are equally sustaining and developmentally engaging for the children.
An excellent opportunity does exist to deepen our partnerships with families as we virtually step into each other’s homes. By creating a welcoming and inclusive online and onsite environment, all involved in the partnership, children, families, and teachers, are given opportunities to engage in ongoing learning and development.
Recently, a past colleague and friend, Kirsty Liljegren, an educational consultant, was permitted to share her thoughts and responses. I hope you find them helpful.
“I have been having conversations with families who are anxious about what it means for children to be missing school. It is impactful in so many ways, and of course, is circumstantial—a few thoughts from me in the hope that it reassures and eases some of the angst.
- Life is learning-it doesn’t start and stop as children walk through the centre or school gates. You are your child’s first teacher, and you always will be.
- Ordinary everyday moments are full of potential. Learning is sparked and enabled through curiosity, wonder, imagination, creativity, and conversation.
- Play is the vehicle for learning-children learn through being active with body, hearts and mind working in harmony.
- The outdoors is an enriching classroom.
- Reading together is a verbal cuddle at any age.
- The arts support expression, communication, and the generation of ideas.
- Small moments matter. Whatever you can manage is ok, be kind to yourself.”
“Children learn about themselves and construct their own identity within the context of their families and communities. This includes their relationships with people, places and things, and the actions and responses of others. Identity is not fixed. It is shaped by experiences. When children have positive experiences, they develop an understanding of themselves as significant and respected and feel a sense of belonging.” (DEEWR,2020 ).
In the Cocoon group, we recently created our letterboxes in the classroom. The children have enthusiastically been writing letters to their friends and posting them into their school letterbox. At home, the children explored their letterboxes, and some ventured out to discover the letterboxes in the street where they live. Letterbox numbers became a focus, and some children chose to write their house numbers with found materials.
At school, the children shared their knowledge about letterboxes.
“The postman delivers the mail. They can be boxes or packages.” Riley
“My letterbox has newspapers only. It is number 22.” Lewis
“I have 6011 on my letterbox.” Teddy
“They have numbers on them, so the postman knows which letter goes in it.” Ollie C
“Mail goes in my letterbox. It’s white, and it has 8 on it.” Luca
On a community walk, to the surprise of the children and teachers, a postman on his motorbike stopped to talk. The postman showed the children his scanner for the packages he delivers each day.
The Adventures of a line. “A line is a dot out for a walk.” (Paul Klee)
Earlier in the term, the children explored the meaning of lines in art. Extending on this experience, we offered the children the opportunity to play with lines at home and school. We invited the children to draw a line, and it might be straight, curvy, wavy, dotted, zig-zag, spiral or your invention. Christopher decided to find a ruler to draw straight lines.
Lines were created with natural materials, blocks and through the shape of our bodies. Lines were found at school in all sorts of places.
“There are actually lines everywhere. These lines go down, these go across. Some lines go diagonal. There’s even lines on my clothes!” Riley
The Mandala Maths Challenge explored shape and symmetry. The children collected some beautiful nature from Boon Wurrung/Bunurong Country to use in their Mandala. Tricky part was deciding what to put in the middle and repeating a circle pattern around and around the middle part. Some beautiful ephemeral Mandalas were created.
Teddy’s Lullaby from home.
Teddy recently shared a beautiful lullaby that brings him a great deal of meaning and joy. We have all enjoyed listening to and learning this beautiful Lullaby.
“I watch it every day with my Mum then I go to sleep. I like the little Kangaroo the best.”
Tjitji Lullaby (meaning child in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara languages) sings baby animals to sleep as the sun sets and the moon rises. Tjitji Lullaby was created on the lands of Kaurna, Gunai/Kurnai, Boonwurrung/Bunurong, Kabi Kabi, Yuggera and Turrbul People. (ABC, 2021).
Mindfulness and Wellbeing.
“Wellbeing includes good physical health, feelings of happiness, satisfaction and successful social functioning. A strong sense of wellbeing provides children with confidence and optimism which maximises their learning potential.” (Early Years Learning Framework)
Embedded into our daily lives, whether at school or home, are times set aside for mindful
meditation practice. Presently we are learning the ten mindful movements written by Thich Nhat Hanh. The practice of mindful movements is to bring awareness and enjoyment into our bodies. Mindful movements are effortless but very deep and a wonderful way of connecting your mind and body in mindfulness. They are a way to touch the sky, to smile at your body, and to touch your heart.
“Mindful meditation teaches children to notice what occurs in moments of stillness, to observe the self and bring their attention fully to the present moment. As the skills of self-awareness grow through the practice of meditation, self-knowledge blossoms.” (Janet Etty-Leal)
Our sincere gratitude and thanks to all families for your unwavering support and appreciation in all that we do. Community spirit is alive and well.
KELLIE, RACHELLE, MILLY, BELINDA, HAYLEY & CATHY