The early learner is the child in the age span from birth to eight years old, however for Catholic schools in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle the focus of early learning is the child transitioning into Kindergarten and the child in the school years of Kindergarten, Year 1 and Year 2.
The spiritual, emotional, social, academic, and physical development of young children has a direct effect on the adult they will become. Understanding the need to invest in young children is important to maximising their future wellbeing.
The quality of a child’s earliest environments and the availability of appropriate experiences at the right stages of development are crucial determinants of the way their brain architecture develops.
The research is conclusive that the early learning years are a time of remarkable growth when brain development is at its peak. During this stage, the environment, and the people that surround children, are highly influential. Early childhood is more than just a preparatory stage assisting the child’s transition to formal schooling. It is a time of holistic development of a child’s social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development required to build a solid and broad foundation of lifelong learning and wellbeing. (UNESCO, 2016)
We have a strong focus on early learning at our school where an emphasis on creativity, curiosity, positive relationships and play as pedagogy helps build our curriculum. The views of children, the roles of teachers and families and the interpersonal relationship between them also shape our thinking. A positive transition to school helps establish collaborative relationships between children, families, teachers, and the community and build a successful foundation.
Children are naturally motivated to play. We use a play-based curriculum built on this motivation and use play as a context for learning. In this context, children can explore, experiment, discover, and solve problems in imaginative and playful ways.
This play-based approach involves child-initiated and teacher-supported learning. The teacher encourages children’s learning and inquiry through interactions that aim to stretch their thinking to higher levels. The teacher can also bring the child’s awareness towards mathematics, science, and literacy concepts, allowing them to engage through hands-on learning.