You should not be looking at the equipment and asking what activity you can do with it – and you should not be thinking about what activity you feel like doing today because it’s easy, not messy or you know another service that did it.
What do your children want to do? Ask them. What are they interested in? Talk to them and start conversations with their families. What is their life like at home? Find out information about their culture, siblings, extended family, pets, after school activities and use it to plan your curriculum. With the babies and non-verbal children families are an especially important source of information. Surround the young babies with pictures from their life and they will show you what they are interested in.
“This morning while Jackson was happily sitting in the bean bag. I (Lesley) handed him a photo of one of the many dog pictures we have in the room. We have the dog pictures as families have pet dogs. He looked at the photo for a bit. He was very intrigued with it. While he had the photo he started to smile and point as he was looking at it, and he couldn’t stop laughing. I gave him some of the other dog photos to look at and he was smiling and laughing at all of them. He displayed that he can explore relationships between living things as he was very happy to see the different dogs. This made me wonder what he does at home with his pet dog. Why does he find him so funny. Now I’m curious. I can’t wait to have a conversation with dad to discover more.
After conversation with dad …..To continue on with Jackson’s humour and love of dogs we have discovered his dog loves to play fetch with a ball. ‘Billy’ the dog retrieves the ball and drops it over to Jackson. Dad explained they continue throwing the ball and laughing for a long time.
To extend on our new knowledge about the game Jackson and Billy play we crawled around the floor pretending to be dogs and fetching the ball. We added many new words to our vocabulary – woof, run, fetch, retrieve, shake and bark.”
“Lilliana loves doing our exercises just like her mum. After each exercise we did she’d say ‘what’s next’ and would eagerly wait to be told. The children loved doing star jumps, jumping in and out. We did 10 star jumps today and counted each one. Tom and Oliver had so much fun they kept going until Tom counted to 15!
Faith watched her Uncle Jacob play cricket on the weekend. Faith also loves to play golf with her dad and even helps to pick up all the balls when they have finished. Faith loves all types of physical activity, just like her dad and uncle.
To extend on Faith’s interest in balls, we explored Faith, Alexis and Mia’s fascination with why the ball would continue to go around the rim of the tyre. Georgina explained to the girls that gravity along with motion helps to keep the ball going around and around the tyre. Georgina and the girls experimented by changing the speed they pushed the ball. If we went too fast the ball would go up and over the edge of the tyre. If the motion was too slow the ball would fall into the centre as there was not enough motion to keep it moving forward.”
Great work Rachel and Georgina, teaching children maths and physics at age two.
It has to be that easy. The more you know about how families live the more you are able to easily extend on children’s interests.
True Story by Matthew Stapleton
“Recently I helped a family day care mother. She has 3 boys aged 2, 5 and 7 living with her after they were removed from their family and community. The older boys have to leave school at 12 noon everyday due to their so- called behaviour issues. I went to the park with mum and the boys to teach mum some learning strategies. The 7 year old was illiterate. I followed his interest in climbing. He was amazing at it and I kept telling him how amazing he was. I taught him to count every step or every grasp along the monkey bars. I followed this by showing him Olympic gymnastics videos on my phone. He copied the moves perfectly. After he showed me his exciting skills I suggested we could write it up together. Within an hour and a half he was writing because he could see a purpose to it.
It concerns me that his school teachers find it easier to remove him from the school than in trying to find a way to engage him ie through following an interest. His teachers called this a behaviour problem, but none have stopped to listen to what he needs and wants. The most awful part of this experience was when he said “Thanks for learning me today.” He wants to learn, but is rejected at every turn. His comment made me very angry and appreciated at the same time.”
Do you have any children with behaviour issues at your service? How are you meeting their needs and wants?
How are you bringing their interests into the Curriculum?
When you have an understanding of children’s everyday lives, it’s easy to make connections to their community. Community is important. EYLF uses this word 67 times which is not surprising because the theory behind EYLF emphasises that learning comes from the connections children have with their community and families.
How do you make connections? Here are some ideas:
- Go on excursions to places of interest eg a service recently visited their local Pet Barn store
- Plan activities that relate to children’s after school activities, pets, parents’ jobs eg help children make an advertisement inviting others to the activity. Extend by making a newspaper with all the ads
- Arrange guest speakers/presenters
- Explore where activities/points of interest are on a map and extend numeracy and literacy skills at the same time
- Set up a mailbox so children can write letters/address envelopes to local organisations
- Arrange an exhibition of children’s art/craft at a local shopping centre
- Find out what activities happened at children’s birthday parties – a definite source of interests
- Get children to talk about their friends. Where do they see them?
- What do children watch on TV/listen to?
- What is their favourite food? Is there a reason this is a favourite eg they like going to a certain restaurant, their family is Indian/Chinese etc. Set up a ‘restaurant’ with the children
Once you start an activity, see where it can take you using the children’s cues and comments. This is how we extend learning. We have to be adaptable and flexible. That great idea we were going to do this afternoon may have to wait because the children are just so interested in continuing to explore what you’re doing right now.
For example, children at one service played with shells and sand after some visited the beach on the weekend. Educators extended this activity by helping children conduct some interesting experiments to see what sounds were made when children dropped things onto the shells. Did the size of something affect the sound? They talked about loud and soft sounds and high and low sounds.
Do you include discussions about science and nature in everyday learning activities? How could you improve?
How do you ensure you listen and act on children’s views and ideas about learning activities?