“The emphasis in current approaches to early childhood curriculum is on investigations and projects that build on children’s strengths and interests and that respond to children’s questions, rather than one-off experiences based on what adults perceive children are interested in or need to know” (Arthur et al. p. 27).
As you enter the pre-school room at Gumnut Gardens it looks different. The difference is identified by many factors underpinned by the intent of the design of the learning space. On entering the room you are immediately captured by the children’s portraits respectfully displayed in the room. You will then observe the children playing, be it in small groups with an educator or pursuing their own investigation.
The pre-school children are encouraged and supported by the educators and the environment to be: active researchers, curious, to initiate design and extend on their own play, investigate and explore areas of interest. The structure of the day supports sustained learning as there are lengthy and uninterrupted blocks of time for children to explore and learn through their play. In addition to the materials and other provocations the educators present to the children, there is a constant opportunity to engage with many different projects. Project work affords children many learning opportunities notably to revisit and build on their previous learning. The materials, resources and design of the room allow children to create and explore with open ended resources, loose parts and real tools. The provision of these materials and resources supports each child to experience the freedom to explore and create so their play and the subsequent learning is meaningful to the individual.
Learning is a process, when children are engaged in meaningful and relevant learning they are developing their “learning dispositions.” Learning dispositions are defined as a “habit of the mind.” Therefore, it is important children are encouraged to develop dispositions – habits that will position them to be active lifelong learners. An active learner with established learning dispositions will transition effectively to the next stage of learning.
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Arthur,L., Beecher, B., Death, E., Dockett, S., & Farmer,S. (2015). Programming and planning in early childhood settings (6th Ed). South Melbourne, Australia: Cengage Learning.