A child’s first year at school is a special time, one that should be joyful and filled with memorable moments and achievements. With the social and emotional wellbeing of each child our priority, strong academic foundations are laid, and important learning dispositions are established. Here are some of the ways at Strathcona, we ensure our Prep students have their very best first year of school.
We view learning as ongoing, long term and focused on acquiring greater knowledge and understanding. For each Prep student they are beginning their own personal pathway of learning. Based on the work of Geoff Masters, Chief Executive of the Australian Council for Educational Research, “A commitment to Growth”, we are committed to providing targeted teaching and learning opportunities to meet learners at their particular point of need and to ensure each student is challenged appropriately. Students are encouraged to articulate what they are ‘learning’ rather than what they are ‘doing’.
Our students are encouraged to develop an ‘I can’ mindset. The Prep teacher works alongside the Learning Enhancement team to ensure that each student’s strengths and points of need are recognised. Individualised learning goals enable students to be supported and challenged at their own personal level of learning development. Teachers develop differentiated learning tasks, teaching materials and assessment measures so that all students within the classroom can learn effectively, regardless of their starting point or ability level.
Strong academic foundations can be achieved when students are active, engaged learners. A phonics rich program forms the basis of literacy teaching and learning in the Prep classroom. We use the Little Learners Love Literacy program to support the teaching of phonemic awareness along with the CAFÉ reading program that introduces, models and strengthens a range of strategies that students need to become successful independent readers focusing on the areas of Comprehension, Accuracy, Fluency and Expanding Vocabulary. Prep students are introduced to, and immersed in, the mathematical vocabulary, shared language and thinking processes that are necessary for them to be successful mathematical learners. Mathematical skills are explicitly taught, modelled and incorporated through whole class, small group, and independent teaching. Prep students are introduced to problem solving through open ended tasks which require them to learn about and apply different mathematical strategies for solving problems.
We embrace and foster the natural curiosity and creativity of children. Inquiry based learning introduces our Prep students to problem solving activities and inquiry-based tasks that requires them to think deeply about new ideas. Students are encouraged to take initiative, develop their own questions, overcome challenges and alter their prior thinking with new knowledge. Ultimately, we aspire for each of them to be interactive creators, disseminators and evaluators of information.
Our students are creators rather than consumers. STEM is introduced from Prep, where we provide rich, inquiry based activities derived from science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics. Inspired by Stanford’s User-oriented Design Process, a STEM based education program, called the ‘Tinker Train’ provides a framework that aims to enhance student creativity, critical thinking, communication, collaboration and problem solving. The ‘Tinker Train’ is teaching our students to generate original ideas and solve problems in new ways. The Tinker Train is creating a culture that is curious and discerning, willing to embrace difficulty and complexity to create new perspectives and ways of working.
Being able to collaborate with others is essential. Prep students are encouraged to listen to the ideas of others and contribute their own ideas and opinions confidently and with sensitivity/awareness of their audience. The power of play is also a crucial component of the Prep curriculum. Students acquire new skills through hands on activities that involve exploring. Play provides active exploration that assists in building and strengthening brain pathways and engaging students in the learning experience in a non- threatening way. It allows them to explore, identify, negotiate, take risks and create meaning whilst learning at the same time.
Resilience is not a ‘buzz’ word. Resilience is a disposition that we know empowers our students to face challenges and the unexpected with self-confidence and self-assurance. Our Outdoor Education program focuses on developing each student’s life skills including emotional resilience, persistence and organisation. All students in the Junior School take part in carefully sequenced, planned outdoor activities that specifically test, challenge and develop skills that will be required as they progress through the Junior School to Senior School both in the classroom and beyond the school gate
Our students belong to a community. We support each student to understand and articulate their feelings and know how to seek out support when necessary. Our pastoral care philosophy centres around developing a strong sense of personal identity and having empathy towards others. In partnership with Swinburne University, students across all year levels take part in Aristotle Emotional Intelligence programs. These programs provide activities to foster better relationships, social abilities, academic success and enhanced wellbeing. The Aristotle Program also promotes student voice and frames mistakes as learning experiences as opposed to a sign of personal failure.
We establish and maintain strong partnerships between home and school. We are committed to a front footed approach to communication where regular information exchanges ensure our parents are informed of their child’s learning progress, their social and emotional development and their overall well-being. Junior School staff provide timely communication and feedback via a range of mediums including face to face contact, through Schoolbox and formalised reporting.
We believe that Prep at Strathcona is the beginning of a journey that inspires joy and empowers student to be brave, faithful and happy.