Though you might not always see it day-to-day, the early years of a child’s life are bursting with learning and growth. Up to 90 per cent of a child’s brain development happens in the first five years, and a child is making 700 neural connections every second!
Setting kids up for a lifelong pathway of successful learning – both in higher education and into adult life – the Pre-Kindy, Kindergarten (Pre-Prep) and Prep years are critical for every child.
But what can parents do to ensure these first years of education are a success for their child?
To help their littlest students learn best, Caloundra City Private School (CCPS) has adopted an integrated approach to learning across the entire campus.
“We find that a high-quality transition program between year groups is of huge benefit for students,” says Mrs Gabrielle Frisby, Head of Junior School at CCPS.
“This way, babies can start as early as six weeks old at our Pelican Nest Early Learning Centre, and happily move through the early learning years and into school without any interruption or disconnect.”
Every child is fully integrated into the school, all set in a stunning natural landscape.
“Students can visit the permaculture garden, feed the chickens, collect the eggs, enjoy the outdoors and playground equipment, while our curriculum also embeds early numeracy and literacy skills into each of our programs. We really emphasise the importance of play based learning, but still ensure our students receive the best early education,” says Mrs Frisby.
By ensuring that students have an established sense of belonging when transitioning between critical year levels such as Kindy to Prep, they hit the ground running every new school year. Rather than feeling nervous and wondering about the little things such as where to hang hats and hang their bags, students are confident and happy to begin their new year, already accustomed to the classroom and wider environment.
The process starts at the Pelican’s Nest. Understanding that all children are unique, the educators at the Nest nurture an atmosphere where children feel secure and happy, catering for every child’s individual needs and interests.
“As an accredited Nature Play provider, Pelican’s Nest offers a Bush Kindy program that embeds outdoor learning into its daily activities,” Mrs Frisby says.
“Another huge benefit is its location within Caloundra City Private School, meaning our little learners are happily integrated into the day-to-day life of the greater school.”
Also on the grounds of CCPS, City Stars Kindergarten is a school-based Kindergarten where early literacy and numeracy skills are encouraged, valued and developed through a wide range of learning experiences.
“Our City Stars Kindergarten program is based on the developmental needs of each child,” says Mrs Frisby. “Learning experiences are carefully planned and reflect a time in the lives of students when they are growing and learning rapidly.”
The technology-rich environment still has play at the heart of the program.
“The importance of play as a partner to a child's development cannot be understated,” says Mrs Frisby. “Current research has validated positive relationships between the frequency and complexity of young children's play and IQ, problem solving, creativity, language and literacy, and social competence.”
With access to the many facilities of CCPS, City Stars students can visit the Dame Elisabeth Murdoch Library and enjoy the many collaborative learning experiences the wider school campus provides.
The Prep classroom at CCPS is well-resourced with hands-on materials, air conditioning, interactive whiteboards and iPads.
“Our highly-qualified staff are dedicated to ensuring that every child has the best possible experiences during their time in the Junior School,” says Mrs Frisby. “We have an emphasis on providing high quality programs with a strong focus on developing literacy and numeracy at this level.”
However, with an open-ended curriculum that encourages students to develop independence, social skills, confidence and organisational skills, the overarching Prep program is designed to assist in a smooth transition to Year 1. “By developing these critical life skills, our Prep students are completely ready for the additional independence that the primary years require.”
With a solid sense of belonging at school, transition between primary year groups are again well integrated at CCPS, ensuring a child can instead focus on the essential foundations of literacy and numeracy and growing a love for learning.
“The School sets high standards in literacy and numeracy and students are encouraged to reach their potential in a supportive caring environment,” says Mrs Frisby.
“CCPS offers a unique setting with one-on-one experiences that nurture your child’s individual potential from the beginning, and throughout their time at the school,” said Mrs Frisby.
“As students make the transition into Senior Schooling they have strong foundations for learning, established friendships and a sense of belonging within the Caloundra City Private School community.”