It is such an interesting time, the start of a new year, be in an school overseas or at home.
As my new children join the class with limited English levels or are often very shy, I take a lot of time initially observing and trying to have short conversations or moments of shared interests together in the first week.
As I stood back today and watched how my multi-lingual class were using the environment I could learn so much. There is a level of productivity and exploration in the unit which I hadn’t seen in my previous two classes.
Whilst my previous classes initially would seek out provocations mostly and want to work with me, my new co-hort were keen explorers, pulling out toys and learning equipment my prior class hadn’t been interested in. I have already noted how we need to move the loose parts to a more central area, as the children explored through the cubbies and drew these out.
I could tell loose parts were a great choice in the kitchen, whereas last year when they were not part of my provision, they were bearly touched. This year whole meals were being created and these ingredients well thought out. The links were taken from the small construction area to make spaghetti. I marveled at how they found resources from all over and made them their own.
Circle time though is the most challenging. This year, with now a 15 week break due to closure and the summer holidays, I am aware of how much we need to explain in dual language, ensuring there is a lots of opportunities to bridge across the languages. Our early shared books are chosen for this reason, such as Eric Carle’s ‘From Head to Toe’, to embed language in an active way. Alongside the good old ‘Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes’ and ‘Mrs Gosling (Simon) Says’. And a bit of stickers on body parts is always abit of silly fun!
Reflecting upon last year, I am mindful that in an international setting that my powers of observation and non-verbal cues I see from the children are extremely important in developing the correct environment for them.
The added difficulty this year is being mindful of Covid restrictions, with spacing, resourcing, and games. Yet, some restrictions create new opportunities.
For example, although my heart sank when I was told there would be no playdough permitted, I adapted this table to be a permanent painting table, which the children love and have used everyday. All painting resources are open and easier to access that a trolley with a shared table we used last year. They have really enjoyed taking out rollers, exploring with liquid and solid paints. For the kids needing sensory, their own little palette where they can put in their hands and fingers has been a hit too!
All in all, it’s another great start. Now that we are back in school homelearning is a memory, it will be another great year of learning together. Long may it last!