Welcome to this month's newsletter.
The year seems to be going at full speed with Spring arriving in a week's time.
Can you believe that Christmas is only four months away? Our educators are already starting to mind map and think about the children's end of year celebrations and how that may look given the changes to our world that Covid-19 has brought upon us.
Confirming enrolments for 2022 - From next month or so we will be asking parents to start to think about and confirm their bookings for 2022, advise of children who will be leaving or children taking holidays/absences for December 2021 and January 2022. This is to assist us with allocating vacancies to our 2022 waiting list families as well as approving leave for staff who have requested holidays during that time. A form will sent out to families for completion within the next month or so, so keep an eye out for the message when this is made available.
Terminating Care or changes of bookings - Please keep in mind that we require two weeks written notice if your child is finishing up or you are changing your booked days. This is to assist with the roster allocations. Under government guidelines for receiving the Childcare Subsidy a child must attend on their last day when notice to cease care has been given by a parent or the childcare subsidy will not be applied. This will result in the parent being liable for full fees for any absences preceding the last day of the notice period.
Educa – The centre uses Educa as a communication format that allows parents to receive and view photographs and learning stories and share information regarding their child. Parents are able to invite family members who can then view the photographs and learning stories as well. Parents are encouraged to use Educa to communicate with their child's educators via the child notes section or share photos and stories regarding your child's interests or experiences away from the centre. This will assist with keeping open communication and building relationships between families and educators.
Recycling and sustainability - Don't have a compost bin at home? Feel free to bring in your vegetable peelings etc and place them in our compost bin to help extend on the children's learning about sustainability and assist with embedding this into practice.
If anyone has any pots, pans or other household item that you no longer want, you are welcome to donate them for creating an outdoor home corner area.
Absent for the day or arriving after 10.00am – If your child will be away for the day or will be coming in to the centre after 10.00am can you please let us know. This would be greatly appreciated to assist with meal preparations and also staffing allocations.
Have you heard about STEM? -You may have seen the educators talking about STEM in the stories and observations on Educa. What is STEM? STEM refers to the integrative exploration of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. STEM in early childhood is occurring every day through observation, exploration, investigation, experimentation and most importantly – PLAY.
The focus on STEM in early childhood has grown dramatically over the years with the rise of technology and an increased understanding of the importance of these areas for life and careers of the future (think problem solvers, explorers, creative thinkers. Think building resilience in kids to create resilient adults).
So how do you incorporate STEM into your little one's world? You may be surprised to realise that you are probably already doing this every day. Have you ever cooked with your child at home?
Think about all of the STEM moments that were happening:
Adding a cup of flour / oil / water = Maths (capacity and volume)
Adding an ingredient one by one, such as three eggs = Maths (numbers, counting and one-to-one correspondence)
How are we going to get the eggs out of their shell? = Engineering
Mixing different ingredients and observing the outcome = Science
Using senses to see, touch, smell, taste and hear = Science
Was the recipe from a book or was it from an online source? = Technology
Placing the mixture in the oven and watching it rise = Science
How many cupcakes did we make? = Maths
Think about when your little one has a bath. Are there toys that sink and float? What about a cup that they fill up and pour out. These are all STEM moments.
Do you go on nature walks and explore? Play with loose parts and make patterns or create structures? Do you value box construction play? Do you have blocks in your classroom or home? STEM moments! Have you seen children looking for butterflies? Counting petals on a flower? Building a cubby house? All STEM moments!
Do you have toys with magnets? Have you ever built a marble run? Do your children build with Lego? All STEM moments!
Have you ever tried playdough / kinetic sand? Do you have a tinker table in your classroom or home? Compost bin or worm farm? Light table? Torch? STEM! STEM! STEM!
Often, without us even realising, the intertwined relationship of these disciplines is occurring and children are learning and developing through play. Have you ever observed a child building a block tower? They will often count the number of blocks used and measure the height of the tower against themselves: "The tower is taller than me!" That's engineering, maths and science entwined right there.
Whilst STEM is occurring naturally within a quality early childhood classroom setting through open-ended play opportunities and resources, STEM based activities may be intentionally planned at times too. For example, after reading The Three Little Pigs story, children might be encouraged to try and build a house of their own design from sensory materials such as recyclables / loose parts / blocks that can withstand the force of the wolf's huff and puff .
During the early years, children spend much of their time playing, however in an early learning environment the planning, scaffolding and intentional teaching that occurs is shaping those little minds and they are actually LEARNING THROUGH PLAY.
The blocks aren't out only for fun. The opportunities for STEM learning while playing with blocks are endless. Not only are the children developing mathematical skills through engineering with 3D shapes, developing an understanding of quantity, number sense, spatial awareness and geometry, block play also develops science skills through the properties of materials, stability and balance.
Playing with loose parts offers children the opportunity to explore different materials, build and construct, use their imagination, count and make patterns, test density and stability and so much more.