Learning opportunities in routines and transitions

Over the last couple of weeks we noticed that routines and transitions in St. Anne’s Room have had an increasingly smooth flow. As educators, we believe that throughout the routines and transitions of the day there are valuable learning opportunities for all children, such as; relationship building, supporting a sense of belonging and identity, language and skill development and independence. These opportunities may arise during transitions from one space to another or when handwashing for snack or organising their bowl, cup and cutlery for lunch time and so on.

All aspects of the program, including routines, are organised in ways to maximise opportunities for each child’s learning. (The National Standard, ACECQA, revised 2018)

One part of the routine that has particularly shown development is the transition the children make from their play, inside or outside, to group times. The children are now familiar with the group they are in, Murraya or Grevillea, and know which end of the room they have group time in. As soon as they hear the bells for group time there are children sitting ready for their peers to join them. This has supported the children that have started recently, they learn from the children who are familiar with the routine. We have also introduced visuals into the environment to support the inclusion of all children in routines and with transitions, ie. a visual timetable using photographs and pictorial symbols that the educators use with the children.

The sense of belonging to a group has developed, Emannoop was concerned when he noticed that his Grevillea group sign on the door had disappeared, he searched high and low until he found it. The children are beginning to use the words Grevillea and Murraya too. Belonging to a group is supporting a sense of identity. When children feel they belong they are more receptive to learning.

Our image of the child is rich in potential, strong, powerful, competent, and, most of all, connected to adults and other children. (Loris Malaguzzi, Young Children 1993)

Group times offer opportunities for children to be connected. Learning is evident throughout the routine but we have noticed that group times have become a time where the children enjoy being together with their peers and experiencing shared learning. Group times are the part of the routine where we routinely focus on Prayer, discussing bucket filling and specks of gold. This week Murraya group have also been learning about Australian animals, their habitats and the sounds they make. We had positive feedback from Casey, Mason’s mum, she told us how amazed she was that Mason was talking about Kookaburras at home. The Grevillea group had a focus on colours, a particular interest of Max’s. We read ‘Where is the green sheep?’, mixed colours, made shades of colours and played games involving colours.

The children demonstrate their independence throughout the routine. They have become particularly capable at organising their own rest mats before lunch and then after resting; cleaning them and putting them away. It is also lovely to see the children helping each other when required. An example of this was when Aria showed her new friend, Anna, every step of the process with the mats. Xavier is often observed helping others lift their mats into the storage cupboard to pack them away.

The children are involved in designing the routines, this has shaped Grevillea Prayer time, for example.  Eva asked if she could set up the space for prayer time with the Bible, the statue of Mary, Joseph and Jesus and other resources, we now do this every day, the children love having the responsibility for certain jobs. This also provides an opportunity to develop their emerging autonomy.

When routines and transitions are consistent and predictable, as they are for the children in St. Anne’s Room, they can contribute to a positive learning environment.

 

Links to The Early Years Learning Framework

‘Children feel safe, secure and supported and use effective routines to help make predicted transitions smoothly’

‘Children develop their emerging autonomy, inter-dependence, resilience and sense of agency’

Outcome 1: Children have a strong sense of identity (Belonging, Being and Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia, 2009)

 

Links to our philosophy

We will provide an emergent and responsive curriculum for all children based from the philosophy of the service, provocations of educators and children’s strengths and interests as well as the interests of the group.

 

Play is literacy (Wohlwend 2015)

The children in St. Anne’s Room continued to engage in shop play this week. With the provision of resources to support role- playing shops we continued to observe the children. We wondered whether their play was about shops or making connections with each other as they used the shop scenario to initiate interactions.  

This week we have noticed many less spontaneous announcements of “Ice cream” around the room. This may be because the shop is providing some opportunities for the interactions that the children are seeking or because the children themselves are discovering new ways of initiating interactions themselves.  

We observed an example of the children initiating group interactions this week on numerous occasions. Some children collected as many chairs as they could and arranged them in different ways. On one occasion the chairs were arranged in a long single line and it became a train, another occasion saw the chairs arranged in lines of two and it became a bus. This play has been led by Jon and Tavae, wonderfully, the play has been very inclusive, whoever wants to have a ride on the vehicle, can.  

In addition to social interactions the shop also offered opportunities for both literacy and numeracy. The clipboards are popular, some children like being in the shop to draw, like Leo, who draws his family. Others use the clipboards as shopping lists or to show customers what is on offer, such as Ojasvi, she makes wavy lines on her paper from left to right then she offers, “Noodles”, pointing to her paper. Ellara had a different purpose for her writing, she hung her papers up on the frame behind the shop, “To tell people not to climb”. She then wrote one to inform everyone that it was lunchtime. As the week progressed the children’s interest became more focused on using the clipboards and writing for different purposes, Eva wrote to Santa, Charlotte recorded her teddy’s temperature and Sarah wrote to her Grandma in Melbourne. 

We saw numeracy with the children using large buttons as dollars. There has been much comparing of who has the most dollars and counting to ensure fairness. Sorting the dollars using the attribute of colour has been prevalent too. We introduced some numbers to the shop, the children were particularly interested in the numbers that meant something to them. Leo held up the number three and said, “I three”. There was also interest in the numbers on the cash register display. Alex pushed the button twice on the cash register and two numbers appeared, he said, “75”. He pushed more numbers until the display was full, he then said, “A thousand”. He knew that more numbers meant a bigger number like one thousand.  

The theorists, Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky, both emphasise the important contribution role play makes in children’s development.  “From a Piagetian viewpoint, creating sociodramatic play opportunities allows children to independently consolidate cognitive skills like concepts of print, and explore the interactions between other individuals and the physical environment” (Piaget 1962: Yaden, Rowe and MacGillivray, 2000).  

A focus for the children in their role play this week has been literacy. From a Vygotskian perspective literacy is viewed as a social, constructive process that begins in early life (Vygotsky 1967). Emergent literacy develops through everyday experiences with others, shop role provides this opportunity.  

We will continue to observe how the children are developing their skills in initiating interactions with others in their play and we will provide further resources for literacy which encompasses communication through language, making marks, recognising symbols and social and emotional development.  

Links to The Early Years Learning Framework 

Practice – Learning through play. When children play with other children they create social groups, test out ideas, challenge each other’s thinking and build new understandings. 

Outcome 5 – Children are effective communicators. Experiences in early childhood settings build on the range of experiences with language, literacy and numeracy that children have within their families and communities.  

Links to our philosophy 

We will engage in projects that build on the learning of educators and foster new understandings of the ways in which children learn and grow in their early years.