Term 1, 2010 saw the introduction of the new National Curriculum, The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia, "Belonging, Being and Becoming". It has a specific emphasis on play-based learning and recognises the importance of communication and language and social and emotional development. Early literacy and numeracy are a focus.
'The Framework conveys the highest expectations for all children's learning from birth to five years and through the transition to school. It communicates these expectations through the following five Learning Outcomes:
1. Children have a strong sense of identity
2. Children are connected with and contribute to their world
3. Children have a strong sense of wellbeing
4. Children are confident and involved learners
5. Children are effective communicators.'
EYLF, Commonwealth of Australia 2009
Term 3, 2010 saw the most significant change to preschool education over the last decade with the introduction of Universal Access for all 4 year old children to 15 hours of preschool education per week. For us, already operating at capacity, this meant the introduction of 10 sessions per week enabling children to attend for two full day and one half day session. In order to maximize learning opportunities we completely restructured the preschool day with an emphasis being placed on a balance of play and more structured activities in the morning with 30 minute explicit teaching groups and a more play based afternoon. Students are divided into groups based on development level and school transition groups and explicitly taught concepts and skills using a practical hands on approach where the staff to student ratio is 1:11 rather than in a large group. This enables all children to have opportunity to practise and master new skills, develop relationships with children they will transition to school with and for staff to provide scaffolding for individual children's learning at more appropriate levels. Staff have a greater understanding of each child's skills, dispositions and interests.
We value play as a fundamental and effective tool to educate. Children learn when they are active participants. We provide children with opportunities to interact with others, explore, experiment, discover, create, marvel and imagine. Play provides endless scope for children to interact, explore, understand, develop and practise a wide range of skills and knowledge appropriate for their level of development.