Coming into second term, I interviewed each of the children about kinder. One of the questions I asked them is what they think they should be learning. There are the learning goals the children set for themselves:
Learn new things
Learn about machines
Tidy up after ourselves
We will take these into account as we plan our program during the term.
We also had a meeting of the teaching team and identified a learning goal of our own for each child., influenced by what the child said, and what we have observed ourselves. I thought about these a bit more in relation to the learning areas of the curriculum framework, and distilled them under those categories.
This is how they look:
Support developing agency
Develop emotional resilience around not getting what you want
Confidently undertake unfamiliar tasks
Broaden social circle
Promote gross motor skills
Undertake cognitive challenges
Learn to recognise and write own name
Develop conversation skills
Then I also tried finding some plainer words to capture those ideas:
I can say no
She can say no to me
I’ll give it a try
I am making friends
My body is strong and can do lots of things
This is making me think
That is my name
I have something to say
Over the course of the year, children will be gently encouraged to learn to read and write their name. It is not essential for children to be able to read and write their own name before they start school. But it is a great entry point into literacy.
One of the strategies we use is our daily signing in routine. Children find their name and move it to the other basket to show they have arrived. In first term, we used name tags with the child’s name and photograph. The children can use the photograph to recognise their own name, but they are also getting more familiar with the written name.
In second term, we have taken the photograph off. Now the children have to recognise the name just as writing. This is a lot harder. It requires real alphabet knowledge. Some of the children are already easily able to recognise their name, so for them it is simply a sign-in task. But for others, it is a challenge. The daily task offers a low pressure opportunity and incentive for these children to work on mastering that task.
Learning song lyrics is considered an effective way to memorise new language. Many people are able to learn lyrics in a language they do not know at all. At Italian kindergarten we often sing together and use songs to support language learning, including songs I have written to fit the program.
However, it is possible for lyrics in an unknown language to stay a string of sounds without meaning. To really make the transition to language learning, we have to break the lyrics out of the song, and bring them to life as spoken language.
This year, we have been starting each morning meeting (riunione) by singing Ciao Buon Giorno. This well known song is a comforting entry point into Italian for the children who are not used to hearing it. It is also an appropriate morning song, since the lyrics are the language of greetings.
One of the lines of the song is ‘buon giorno’. As a step in moving from lyric to language, I have now started to go around the group during riunione saying ‘buon giorno’ to each of them in turn, and providing an opportunity for them to reply the same to me. For many of the children this is well established knowledge. For some it is new. Then there are those who well know what buon giorno means, and when you are supposed to say it, but are used to leaving taller people to communicate on their behalf. And some for whom speaking up in a group is a challenge.
We are all participating in this social routine, but the learning involved for each child can be different.