The Ark is our Junior Learning Space which caters for students aged 5 - 7 years
There are three teachers in the Ark; Mrs Annie Russel, Whaea Ngahuia Tawera and Ms Kelly Swinton. We also have three Learning Assistants; Tina Hetherington, Rawinia Ward and Tracey Goodrick. We strive to have an adult to child ratio of 1:10
We believe that play is the child’s work. That all children are unique, have different abilities, and learn in their own way. They learn best when they guide, direct, and follow their interests through play and have a long period of playtime to practice skills. These beginning skills are the foundation for interaction with others that will take them into adulthood and the world. We provide opportunities, encouragement, and guidance. We give the children creative and literacy experiences that encourage exploration of letters and sounds. We use sight words and a letter of the week to encourage development of literacy skills. Our teachers focus activities on both individual growth and quality group experiences for the children with a fun, exciting, and hand- on approach. 'The Ark' is equipped with developmentally appropriate materials and equipment to enable the children to learn and grow.
We provide many opportunities for conversation, sharing ideas, asking questions, and helping each other. We watch for times when children can become peer tutors; each child is an expert at something. We help children use that expertise to help others in the classroom.
This age is an exciting one in a child’s life. They are enthusiastic learners as they advance in reading and math skills and experiencing the world around them. Socially they are beginning to see situations from the other person’s perspective and truly enjoy cooperative play. Challenging themselves physically and gaining better control of their fine and gross motor skills is another accomplishment. Using their language skills to express their emotions as well as beginning to empathize with others can also been seen at this stage. Finally we enjoy learning about who God is; and the wonderful work He does in our lives.
We will follow the ideals and guidelines as outlined below.
Characteristics of Play
Play is fun, and free of external rules.
It is spontaneous and voluntary.
It requires the active involvement of players.
It requires the use of imagination and long periods of practice.
It uses symbolic play with objects and incorporates role-playing.
What the children learn
Children’s learning while playing is extensive. They learn how to share and take turns, and how to resolve conflicts. Play increases their language, communication and imagination skills. They learn how to show empathy to others, how to share ideas and act upon them. Children practice leadership roles and learn to use objects for symbolic playing. Play helps to develop their self-esteem, and build their confidence. They work out fears, separation issues, and family problems. They role-play for future jobs and occupations. Play encourages their reading and writing skills when they make lists, write recipes, etc. They practice counting and learn one-to-one correspondence, moving them along developing math skills. They increase their fine and gross motor skills. They are always learning and growing.
What teachers do to foster learning through play
Teachers will first observe children to discover their interests, abilities, and social skills. They will provide a safe and loving community in which to explore and discover their world. They will provide experiences to promote learning in the social, emotional, cognitive, physical, and language developmental domains. Teachers will set up the classroom to provide safety, control behavior and provide for optimal learning through various interest centers. We will provide a wide range of hands-on learning experiences and will help the children to take the next step in learning and skills. They will ask open-ended questions to promote thinking and engage in play following the child’s lead. It will be our practice to play extensively with the children on a daily basis. We will provide for a developmentally and culturally appropriate learning adventure for each individual child in the program, and will form partnerships with families and caregivers to further this learning. We will finally continually assess and evaluate the program to be sure it offers the best play learning experience for children.