See below a testimonial from a client of the Alstonville, near Wollongbar Preschools.
"Hello to all the staff at what we call ‘day care’ in Alstonville, near Wollongbar. I am one grandmother of two children and am writing to express my own personal appreciation to all of you for what you do for these children.
I have just finished reading the oldest child’s last ‘school report’ from the Alstonville, near Wollongbar Preschool. What you do with these children is amazing. I am a university teacher and I wish I had half the skills, knowledge, care and individualised consideration for my students that you do for these ‘learners’. It would be a lot more fun learning from you as educators compared to me as a university lecturer and probably a lot more effective too.
The early learning framework seems to me to be the blueprint for what every teacher at every level of the education system needs to achieve with their learners. At university we focus on an employability framework. At your Alstonville, near Wollongbar Preschool the early learning framework focusses on creating decent human beings with emotional intelligence as well as the basis of literacy, numeracy, knowledge etc. The work you are doing is laying excellent foundations.
I like that you identify areas of improvement for my oldest grandchild and also note their areas of strength and that this is done with evidence and compassion, not judgement and criticism.
As a university teacher, I won a national award for my teaching. However, I learned more about good teaching from my oldest child’s book than any academic workshop, lecturer etc and have attended in my 20 years university experience.
What I have learned:
- Make it fun
- Make it active
- Make it interesting
- Make it relevant
- Make it ‘easy’ in terms of clues, scaffolding, hints, support etc
- Chunk it up
- Make it personalised
When I am lecturing I may have 200 learners (in a lecture) or 30 (in a tutorial) compared to the small groups you work with. But, I can’t seem to apply your principles and adapt them to the environment in which I am an educator?
It must take a lot of time to create each child’s portfolio? You have to be very accurate and detailed about the ELF criteria, your actions, the children etc which is is fantastic. The older child’s ‘book’ is the most comprehensive ‘report’ I have ever seen for any learner, ever, at any level and appears to be done with time, effort, care and professionalism. I am really impressed and very grateful that my grandchild’s learning is getting much more time, energy and motivation from you.
Occasionally, I do the drop off or pick up, during this time all the children are engaged in general care, so it looks like baby sitting or day care. I have never been there when you are engaged in the activities documented in the older child’s book. So, I don’t get to see the excellent, structured, educational work you do. The book is a great tool for communicating and documenting this.
Example: An interaction between one of my grandchildren and another child, where both of them needed to improve their social skills. The way I read this document, it was handled really well. I venture to say that if I had this level of professional, early education about social skills or emotional intelligence my later life would have been a lot easier.
This ‘report’ is really useful for me to know where the grandchild is up to in learning and development. It gives me some clues to what to talk to them about in terms of what they have been learning at day care, what to expect.
Example: I was impressed that the older grandchild could count and recognise their name (last year 2016). Now I can see that maybe they could also do basic maths addition etc (2017). Very useful and interesting.
To be honest, I thought that this literacy and numeracy, early learning was just a bonus, and all this would start happening at school. But now I can see you play a vital role in early learning and school, readiness. Indeed, I think you give a school head start, not just readiness.
The NSW Transition to School Statement
This statement is a great idea – I didn’t even know it existed. Obviously as a grandmother I am not into this level of detail. Just saying it is a great idea. It would be useful document for my incoming university students. The attention to detail and evidence-based information you provide will give the learners new teacher a really good heads up and some great background information.
I didn’t attend my graduation because I thought it was ridiculous to have graduation from day care, but I can see that you have had a significant, formative influence on the children’s early learning, that sets a great foundation for their later education. You should get a lot more pay, appreciation and recognition.
Well done, great job and thank you very much, speaking for myself as a grandmother."