The Staff and Management Committee of Kendall Community Preschool have developed a philosophy which we believe is unique and best reflects the ways in which we work with preschoolers. We have chosen to use the Principles of the Early Years Learning Framework to organise aspects of the philosophy and recognise that many areas overlap and are co-dependent. We have chosen this format because these five principles “have been identified to support and sustain practice to enhance children’s development towards achieving the learning outcomes” (Raban et. al. 2010 p14).
SECURE, RESPECTFUL AND RECIPROCAL RELATIONSHIPS
We believe that at the heart of all human experience are relationships: relationships with others and with the place or environment that each person exists in.
The whole child, including the mind, body and spirit, is nurtured, valued and educated at Kendall Community Preschool. Each child is encouraged and supported to relate joyfully to the people around him or her, improving their own sense of wellbeing and that of others.
Interactions between all members within the preschool community convey genuine respect for the growth and development of the people ‘inside’ each child. Sharing conversations and ongoing journeys provide opportunities to connect with ideas of care and respect.
We maintain respect for the Biripi People, the traditional owners of the land that Kendall Community Preschool exists upon. We hope to learn from the ways in which they have cared for their country, we value their wisdom, knowledge and ways of knowing, and hope to share in their important stories.
We believe that all members of the preschool community can benefit from interacting with the natural environment by engaging in responsible, meaningful ways. Daily connections are nourished through caring for the animals and veggie patches, being mindful of waste and compost, being part of the rhythms of the seasons and addressing our responsibilities for being sustainable at preschool.
Kendall Community Preschool will make choices that uphold our commitment to environmentally sustainable practices. Initiatives such as the reduction in the use of plastic bags, use of responsible, natural cleaning products, composting of unwanted food and plant materials, the re-use and reclaiming of items over the purchase of new items where possible, will all be considered in decision-making processes.
Useful and practical environmental messages are embedded in the day-to-day curriculum of the preschool and will be communicated to families and the wider community thereby enriching the children’s lives and the world beyond the preschool gate.
We believe that the many connections children make with those around them help them to form their self-identities and their view of the world. We believe it is vital for children to have their needs met and to be able to trust and seek support from a warm, inviting and loving environment at Kendall Community Preschool.
We believe that children’s voices, opinions and reflections are important, and that part of our role is to advocate for the rights of each child and to act in the best interest of all children in the community.
We believe that children construct their knowledge in a variety of ways. Supporting the children and fostering opportunities where they can work individually, in small groups and as part of larger groups ensures the building on of shared knowledge and the development of authentic social partnerships.
HIGH EXPECTATIONS AND EQUITY
We see the children as powerful, resourceful, active learners, capable of engaging, competent at experimenting, and curious about investigating and learning from a well-planned, open-ended environment that values creativity and thought. This is the way we see the preschoolers – it’s our Image of each Child.
We believe that through the development of relationships and partnerships with families and the community, we are able to promote the rights of children.
The environment both indoors and outdoors, is deliberately created so children can build connections with beautiful, natural materials and be challenged by the material’s possibilities and by the expectations of the educators. Open-ended materials allow all children to participate in their work according to their abilities and interests.
We believe all members of the preschool community will contribute to the care and development of our outdoor classroom – the preschool garden. The textures, sights, sounds, smells and tastes in this rich, deliberately created space are also important teachers for our children.
RESPECT FOR DIVERSITY
We recognise that each member of the Kendall Community Preschool’s community is unique. We value this diversity and the interests, skills, ideas and experiences of living that it brings. We believe that a truly supportive community is achieved when the unique aspects that each member brings enriches the experiences of others.
We believe that embracing and nurturing each person’s individuality and uniqueness develops a genuine sense of belonging and self-worth.
Through supporting and celebrating the diversity we see in life, a culture of living and learning together with understanding and acceptance, can be promoted and grown in each child, staff member, family and within the wider community.
Kendall Community Preschool supports and promotes the development of considerate behaviours across all of its members, where people commit to thinking about the impact their behaviour may have on others and this guides their choices and nurtures their relationships.
ONGOING LEARNING AND REFLECTIVE PRACTICE
We believe that confident, engaged, supported and critically reflective educators can challenge and extend children’s thinking about their place in the world. This invites ongoing inspiration from a variety of ideas, approaches and theories to Early Childhood education.
Educators guide children’s learning and invite them to think, problem-solve and make choices that allow for the development of positive learning dispositions and the skills for life-long learning.
Kendall Community Preschool has the important role of providing and promoting a curriculum that is meaningful, relevant to its students, generated from the interests of the children, negotiated with educators, and that meets the needs of the children being educated at preschool.
We believe that by continually reflecting on the way educators work with children, each other, families and the wider community, we will be able to promote the evolution of deeper understandings that will allow us to create innovative experiences and strive for excellence.
BIBLIOGRAPHY AND REFERENCES
Raban B., Margetts K., Church A., & Deans J. (2010) “The Early Years Learning Framework in Practice – A Handbook for Educators and Parents”
Image of the Child –Reggio Emilia (from our extensive staff resource library and conference participation, and study tour to Reggio Emilia attended by Sooz Crowle, 2001)
Considerate Behaviours – Porter, L. (2011) “Children are People too – a parent’s guide to young children’s behaviour.” 4th Ed.
Banning W., Sullivan G. (2011) “Lens On Outdoor Learning”