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“The Early Years are the most crucial phase in each individual’s life – a child’s learning and education in the Early Years are inextricably linked to the holistic development which occurs through informal and formal settings, planned and spontaneous activities, structured and unstructured events.” (National Curriculum Framework, Ministry of Education and Employment, December 2012)
The purpose of this Curriculum, based on the New National Curriculum Framework 2012 (NCF) is to establish a strong foundation for learning in the Early Years, and to do so in a safe and caring play-based environment that promotes the social, emotional, moral, physical and cognitive development of the child. This will also help him/her make a smoother transition to Year 1.
The principle of entitlement to education ensures the development of the learner as he/she progresses through the different phases of learning;
The principle of diversity, catering for the different needs and interests of each child;
The principle of the continuum of achievement, helping each child to reach his/her full potential
The principle of learner-centred learning, where the focus is on the needs, skills and interests of the learner
The principle of quality assurance, ensures that the methodologies used reflect best practice
The principle of Teacher Professional Support, i.e. teachers need to be trained, up-skilled as well as re-skilled in the new pedagogy.
The Curricuculum reflects the belief that Kindergarteners are capable and active learners, full of potential. It aims to provide every child with the opportunity to learn in the way that is best suited to his/her individual strengths and needs to develop:
- Health, well-being and a sense of security
- Emotional and social competence
- Curiosity and confidence in learning
- Respect for the diversity of his/her peers
Our school is convinced that the child learns best when we build on his/her individual strengths. Each staff member feels favoured but at the same time responsible, with being entrusted to guide each child to develop morally, socially, physically, emotionally and cognitively, by creating a classroom environment which is both happy and safe.
Some children will benefit more from one type of teaching strategy than another, some may need more time than others to develop knowledge and skills and to achieve a learning objective. Children thus need to be given learning experiences that fall within the range of things they can do with and without guidance.
Assessment is the key to effective teaching. Its primary purpose is to improve children’s learning. Well-planned work provides many opportunities for ongoing observation and assessment of child’s strengths, needs and interests. On the basis of this ongoing assessment, Kindergarten assistants should strive to help children build on what they know and extend their thinking. Assessment strategies should encourage children to show what they know and can do, rather than focus on what they do not know or cannot do.
Assessment enables KGAs to determine how well their planned activities and teaching strategies are working and to make any necessary changes. Besides, “children who are identified as requiring additional attention can be provided with the appropriate support”. (NCF p. 47)
In the Early Years, emphasis should be given to general competences developed through cross-curriculur themes. The NCF proposes five outcomes to be achieved in the early years cycle (Kinder 1 to Year 2):
1) Children who develop a strong sense of identity
2) Children who have a positive self-image
3) Children who are socially adept
4) Children who are effective communicators
5) Children who nurture positive attitudes towards learning and become engaged and confident learners.
Play paves the way for learning and lies at the core of innovation and creativity. It provides opportunities for learning in a context in which children are at their most receptive. It has long been acknowledged that there is a strong link between play and learning for young children, especially in the areas of problem solving, language acquisition, literacy, numeracy and social, physical and emotional skills.
Using real-life contexts for activities is a highly effective way of motivating young learners. Children grasp ideas more easily when they are able to connect their learning to their own lives and the world around them. Mathematics becomes abstract too early for children. Developing concepts within a real-life context allows children to bridge the gap between the concrete and the abstract.
The Kindergarten Curriculum consists of seven areas of learning: Personal and social development; Religion; language: listening and speaking, pre-reading & pre-writing; mathematics; Science and technology, Health & Physical Activity; the Arts. These are based on the five developmental domains: socio-emotional, communication/language, cognitive, moral and physical.