“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” Fred Rogers
When a child feels free to explore, imagine and create, their memories will be wondrous, and we believe our program and learning areas at Small Friends allow all children the freedom to create these memories. We recognise the importance of play for a child’s cognitive, physical, emotional and social development, and that all forms of play, individual and shared, facilitate learning.
Our centre is a reflection of the child’s home with Small Friends being a space where they can feel secure and comfortable. While at Small Friends they feel respect and have ownership of our house and backyards, making choices for where they play, and what they create within learning areas.
Each child is seen as an individual and we encourage them to make choices in play and learning throughout their day. Our program reflects the individual needs of all children, and is reviewed and revised if the needs of children change. Staff observations of children and reflection and evaluation of our term programs are ongoing, so that themes and concepts included in learning activities are kept up to date with regards to changes in our local, national and international communities.
Children work on open ended activities within learning centres, and all resources and materials are accessible to encourage the children to problem solve, make decisions and creative choices to enhance their ideas. There are times for group and individual activities and private and group areas to allow time for reflection, and even though we have a timetable, it is flexible, allowing time for a child to finish or extend on the activity they have chosen to engage in.
Our outside space reflects our ideas within a variety of learning areas that can be extended and modified during the course of the day. A child’s senses are the foundation for the creation of learning areas, using plants, trees, our pets, textures and sound to inspire a child’s imagination.
Children are encouraged to care for their centre and join in the organisation of activities and learning areas. We invite families to participate in centre activities, incursions and outings so that they may understand the process of their child’s learning, and encourage them to feel that the centre is theirs as well.
Role play is a major focus for a majority of our learning areas, with support for program themes and extension of learning being made by including community involvement with the planning of centre incursions and outings.