The Early Learning Centre is where we nurture and develop our youngest students, from Pre-Kindergarten to Pre-Primary. We deeply value the relationships with our littlest students and their parents. At Southern Hills the staff really take on the role of carer and guardian. They love and care for the students, treating them as if they were their own children.
In the early years the children’s physical and emotional needs are the priority.
When a child’s needs are physically and emotionally met, they will have the confidence to explore their environment and learn from their experiences. I believe we do this very well.”
– Jay Enright, Early Years Coordinator
Our aim is to ensure that students ‘Belong’, ‘Be’, and ‘Become’.
Belonging is having a sense of your environment. Classes in the early years are set up to make the children feel at home, giving them that real sense that it’s their space. That they belong in their classroom and have an identity with the place.
Being is about the children’s needs being met. They are big personalities in little bodies and ‘Being’ is developing that idea that “it’s okay to be me”. It’s about them learning what they can do; students come running up to us all day saying, “look what I did!” That’s being. Just their enthusiasm to learn and be children.
Becoming is all about the future of their learning. About them becoming confident to take on new challenges. Becoming confident to seek out new learning opportunities, and to resource their own learning. This sets them up for the rest of their life. The values and the attitudes that they develop towards learning in the ELC determines what type of learners they will be in the future.
In the early years, learning happens through play. Learning through play starts with staff setting up environments and points of interest for the children. As the children explore what is available, they interact with staff. They might make ‘a cake’ and coming running to show the teacher, which is the child welcoming you into their world. The teacher could then ask, “how many candles are on the cake?” which is the teacher adapting curriculum to the child and laying the foundations for literacy and numeracy through child-led interactions.
When a child welcomes you into their world that’s when you can start to scaffold their learning.”
– Jay Enright, Early Years Coordinator
The learning through play starts from the child first and curriculum is integrated. Staff have opportunity to take the children’s interests and grow them; learning happens, and the children don’t even know they’re learning.
Early Years staff members develop the curriculum themselves, and from this comes a great passion for what they’re teaching. Staff work together to develop a program that is child centred and develops the whole child. In bushland play the students get dirty, challenge themselves and learn a lot about self-management, decision making, and risks. The college is blessed with one of the largest outdoor learning areas in Western Australia, and there is a wonderful flow between the natural environment of the college grounds and the classroom.
We welcome parent involvement and treasure the opportunity to partner with parents in raising their child. Parents are invaluable to the Early Learning program, and we ask you to volunteer throughout the year as a Parent Helper. This includes helping with children’s activities, cutting fruit, packing up, and joining in the fun. Children enjoy having family members visit them. It is an important part of the transition from home to school and gives you a chance to participate in their learning.
Our early years program follows the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF), the WA Kindergarten curriculum and the WA curriculum (in Pre-Primary), developed by the WA School Curriculum and Standards Authority.