For many children, kindergarten can be their first experience in a structured setting with teachers and groups of children. It's an opportunity to learn to share, follow instructions, and begin the foundation for learning that will occur in school.
Early childhood teachers observe, ask questions and listen to children's ideas. To nurture their curiosity and motivation to learn, educators use children's interests and ideas to create experiences. And even a simple, chance event - such as a child's discovery of a snail in the outdoor play area - can be turned into an exciting opportunity to learn. A young child's cognitive skills are strengthened by engaging in a wide range of hands-on experiences that challenge them to observe closely, ask questions, test their ideas or solve a problem.
In an early childhood centre, children's language skills are nurtured in a 'language-rich' environment. Teachers help children stretch their language skills by asking thought-provoking questions and introducing new vocabulary during their daily experiences. Children have many opportunities to sing, talk about favourite books, and act out stories.
Young children show growing interest in numeracy and literacy skills. To prepare children for the academic demands of school, educators offer a wide variety of games and activities that help children acquire these skills. For example, matching, sorting, counting and board games build children's understanding of numbers, categories and sequences, which supports later math learning.
Putting together puzzles encourages children to notice patterns, plan ahead and problem-solve. To sustain children's excitement and motivation for learning, early childhood programs introduce early literacy and math skills not as isolated exercises, but in the context of experiences that are interesting and meaningful to children.
In order to learn, a young child needs to feel cared for and secure. A young child is able to spend time away from parents and build trusting relationships with adults outside the family. High-quality early childhood programs nurture warm relationships among children, teachers and parents. And teachers build a close personal connection with each child in their care. Young children learn social skills and emotional self-control in 'real-time'. Three and four-year-olds learn through their experiences and good teachers make time for those 'teachable moments' when they can help children learn to manage their emotions. They don't automatically step in to resolve children's conflicts for them; they have a good sense of when to let children work out their own problems and when to intervene.
Children's sense of competence and self-worth grows as they learn to take care of themselves and help others. Teachers appeal to a young child's desire to engage in responsibility by offering them opportunities to help in the classroom, for example, watering the plants.
Children are expected to wash their hands before morning snack, keep personal belongings in their locker, and pack away. Throughout their school years, much of children's learning will take place in the company of their peers. In a high-quality early childhood program, children are introduced to the behaviours required to participate successfully in a classroom.
A young child's physical development allows them to explore their environment - and to challenge themselves in new ways. Early childhood programs provide several opportunities daily for children to run, climb and play active games. A variety of activities are offered to help children develop fine motor skills and build their hand-eye coordination and balance. When your child is ready to begin their journey in school, you can feel assured that their attendance at kindergarten has assisted in building their knowledge, skills, and confidence to do well in school.