Engaging kindergarten children within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education


In my years and years of experience working in an early childhood setting, I’ve often had the experience of having to throw my plans out the window, because the children’s ideas were better than mine. It’s also about negotiating with the children as to what they would like to learn, because I reckon that’s a more powerful thing. What are you guys looking for? Have you found something that you’d like to use or play with? Oh, you want the tiger. Where’s the picture
of that tiger? A lot of it is through the negotiated planning, because we do every day, the children come in, the first thing they do is they draw a
thinking bubble of something they would like to do in that day. What are you going to draw? A medal. A medal. What’s the colour of that play dough? Today’s colour play dough yellow. Too good, you play play dough, hey? We have another little group that actually
likes to play shops. So we’ve scrunched a lot of newspapers together, we made apples and oranges and watermelons and pineapples, bananas, and it was really good for their
fingers, you know that real fine motor stuff that’s important to exercise their fingers
for writing. And we got the kids to paint them, and lo and behold we started learning about colours, and we learned about the different colours of money. We learned about the numbers, the numerals that are on the money. We talked about shapes and different sizes of coins.
We jumped on the internet. We actually investigated healthy eating and why it’s important for
us to eat healthily. And it’s not just about me telling the kids, it’s about them too,
you know, finding this information out for themselves. The children can learn through play. It’s a natural context for children to learn anyway and a lot of outcomes can be achieved through play. How about we go fishing? We start our planning process from what they would like to do, and very often up here, it’s that they want to do something about
dinghies or fishing. And we’ve had all sorts of different extended investigations around those things. We’ve done sinking and floating things, and then built a dinghy out of different materials to see which one would sink and float. We’ve done lots of stuff into nature. The children up here are very aware of their natural environment. So I think if you build from the things that
they know, the things that they’re interested in, you’re showing that you value that, and
that makes them feel good immediately. And it also means that they’re more engaged in their learning. So it’s not that you’re trying to say, oh well, you need to learn this. But
it’s more that oh let’s find out about that, and you’re really keying into their natural
curiosity.

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