MANSW K-8 Primary Maths Association Conference

Yesterday I presented a session on Number Talks at the K-8 Conference for PAM. I love this annual conference as I always come away with new inspiring ideas and learn many new things to assist my delivery of quality mathematics lessons.

The Keynote was delivered by Di Siemon – What is multiplicative thinking.  This was a great session and very interesting to see the impact of intervention through the middle years numeracy project.  Report can be read here.

The Learning and Assessment Framework is organised in terms of 8 zones from initial explorations with concrete materials through to the confident use of a wide variety of multiplicative structures and symbolic forms. More information at each of these links below.

My session was a reflection on how I have used Number Talks in my classroom after my inspiring session at NCTM in San Francisco last year.  This is exactly 1 year ago I began my scholarship tour in Denver CO, April 1st 2016.  I attended a workshop with Sherry Parrish ( below) who has written 2 Number Talk books.

I recognised a couple of people in my session from TEN training over the years which was nice.  Also attending the workshop, which was just a little intimidating and nerve wracking for me, was Professor Janette Bobis.  Janette is a mathematics educator and researcher in the Sydney School of Education and Social Work at the University of Sydney. She teaches in the areas of primary and early childhood mathematics education – Janette is highly regarded in her field and published many books and journal articles. I admire her work and use her paper on visualisation in the TEN training.

For my number talks I use a variety of resources.  I have made dot pattern cards and dot plates using John A Van  de Walle’s research.  I have made a flip book ( purchased from Officeworks)  to make copies of the Number Talks from Sherry Parrish’s book – Mental Maths and Computation Strategies.

I have included the Year 1 question stings of the dot pattern, ten frame and addition and subtraction questions. I also use my bead string  and my hundreds chart.

an example of a string is

Making Tens: Number Sentences

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9+ 3+ 1

9 + 5 + 1

Doubles/Near Doubles: Number Sentences

2 + 2

2 + 3

3 + 3

3 + 4

38 Teachers attend the second Talking Transition Network !

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The first Transition to School network meeting for 2017 was held today at Pymble Turramurra Preschool.  

Thank you to Melanie and her staff for hosting.

Attendance was again above expectation.

38 teachers from 2 local Public Schools and 17 Preschool’s   discussed expectations and routines in the first few weeks of students entering school and Kindergarten.

Many  asked questions and together  we shared ideas to best support students and families when starting school.

 

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One point of discussion was how teachers in schools use the Transition to School Statements they receive from preschool services in addition to personal conferences between educators and school teaching staff.  It was agreed communication is vital for successful transition for many students and families.

We then talked about how polarising our environments ( inside and outside ) are between prior to school and school.  One concern was the difference in  adult to student supervision and security of school sites.  Playgrounds are large and often students are lost at what to do.  We shared strategies we have to support students in both Pymble Public and Wahroonga Public to assist students them in the playground.

Discussion moved onto our indoor environments – One question was do we need to have a designated seat for every child in Kindergarten?  There are times we all do sit, however during literacy and numeracy group work  children are given the freedom of movement and a sense of agency inside the classroom.

Using the outside environment during lesson times in primary schools is one area Kindergarten teachers could consider more often.   Learning about Prior to school environments can assist Kindergarten teachers to re think their classrooms, particularly in Term 1, which may assist during this transition period.

Kindergarten classrooms often have less space for designated permanent block, art, play centres or space to leave construction up for periods of times.

Thank you to the entire Kindergarten team from Wahroonga Public School  and Jane from Pymble Public School for supporting me in presenting and answering questions. We aim to ensure all children and families have a happy transition and a great start to school.

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In attendance was staff from –

  • Wahroonga Public School
  • Pymble Public School
  • Pymble Turramurra Preschool
  • Balamara Preschool
  • Earth Kids Nth Turramurra
  • Wahroonga Beehive Preschool
  • St Ives Beehive Preschool
  • Turramurra Beehive Preschool
  • Only About Children,  West Pymble
  • Only About Children, Turramurra
  • Three Bears Kindergarten
  • Pinjara Preschool Pymble
  • KU South Turramurra
  • KU Fox Valley
  • KU Wahroonga
  • Little Wallabies Early Learning Centre
  • Birdhouse Hornsby
  • Christ Church St Ives Preschool
  • Explore and Develop,  Waitara

 

Topics for discussion are sort for our next meeting in Term 2. 

Suggestions can be emailed to kristine.graham@det.nsw.edu.au

 

Outdoor Education – the third teacher

I attended an ECA workshop today at KU Ourimbah on the Central Coast.  The guest speaker was well renowned  Educator at Mia Mia, Janet Robertson.

The inaugural event for the proposed Central Coast branch of Early Childhood Australia, was an informative afternoon to expand our understanding of outdoor education.   We had the opportunity to explore the award winning environment at KU Ourimbah Preschool.

I was invited to attend by the director, Rosanne Pugh.  Roseanne  has set up Forest Schools in the UK and she knows Wahroonga has a unique environment at The Bush School.   I would like to learn from her and find ways we can use the bush environment at school for the benefits of the students.

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A great deal of research has been written on the positive impacts on the children’s resilience, confidence and wellbeing.

 

Sarah Blackwell writes in her paper ‘Impacts of Long Term Forest School Programmes on Children’s Resilience, Confidence and Wellbeing’

‘Resilience in children is demonstrated in a variety of behaviours, such strong sense self efficacy and self esteem, which is characterised by positive self regard, strong belief in one’s abilities and a positive attitude. Resilient children have well developed problem solving abilities and easily resolve issues pertaining to their interpersonal relationships with their peers and adults. In addition, they demonstrate a high level of self awareness and are capable of expressing their fears and other emotions without difficulties. Children exhibit these characteristics in form of easy going temperament, good self regulation of emotions and impulses and maintaining attention. In regard to their social competence, resilient children are emotionally responsive, demonstrating empathy and care to others, have a sense of humour and they increasingly portray behaviours that makes them appeal and relate well with others. In relation to their personal goals, resilient children demonstrate a strong sense of purpose, have realistic expectations, and are self motivated and persistent.

Long term Forest School programmes enhanced resilience in children by providing self directed learning opportunities, where children participate in making their own decisions and engaging in activities which they enjoy and those within their capabilities.

The programmes encourage children to develop positive relationship with educators, peers and family members, which further enhance the child social and cognitive competence.

Long term forest programmes improved the confidence of the participating children. Children with high self confidence are characterised by willingness to take calculated risks and try new 38 things. O’Brien and Murray116 opined that self confident children demonstrate a high level of self belief that comes about when they are given the freedom and opportunities to explore and grow independently.

Self belief in children is demonstrable in their personalities, which is characterised by high levels of positive attitude, resilience, persistence, independence and self control. Moreover, confident children are curious and seek new opportunities that will utilise their abilities and are also willing to learn new skills.

Educators play a critical role in promoting children’s confidence in forest school setting. Instead of directing the learners, the educators initiate the learners’ enthusiasm, sparking children’s engagement in the process. The educators also encourage and reassure the nervous and timid learners by initiating new ideas, and providing resources that would stimulate their creativity and participation.

Wellbeing in children and human kind in general is associated with good physical and psychological health. In children attending forest school programmes, wellbeing arises from an interplay of carefully designed activities and curriculum that focuses on holistic development of the child. Research has demonstrated that playing in the outdoors is essential for physical development of the child and offers ideal physical exercises that help in reducing obesity, promoting development of a strong body and also enhancing physical agility. Interaction with green space and a wide range of fauna and flora have been found to enhance psychological and ‘A marvellous opportunity for children to learn;

A participatory evaluation of forest schools in Wales and England’, 39 mental wellbeing of children. Exposure to nature has also been found to be an effective remedy for managing ADHD. From this study, frequent and constant visits to the woodlands enable the children to become familiar with the natural setting. It was noted that during the first Forest Sessions, children normally demonstrate some degree of discomfort and uneasiness but when they become used to the natural setting, they eventually develop confidence and they blend naturally in the woods.

Development of confidence, resilience and wellbeing as the children become familiar with the natural setting could be attributed to the fact that forest schools programmes are founded on the principle of positive psychology. This implies that the curriculum is child centred, and it focuses on enhancing the learners’ strengths, interests and capabilities. Wellbeing in children promotes their resilience and confidence. Physical and psychological health is critical components that enhance coping capability and self confidence in children as well as in adults. It is therefore important for educational stakeholders to put appropriate measures and policies that promote wellbeing, to ensure that children acquire self confidence and resilience. The measures that enhance wellbeing in school include application of whole school approach and strength based approaches.’

https://getchildrenoutdoors.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/impacts-of-long-term-forest-schools-programmes-on-childrens-resilience-confidence-and-wellbeing.pdf

Photos of the outdoor environment =

Photos of the indoor environment –

Connecting with Kindy in Partner Public Schools Network Meeting

November 25th 12:30-3:30pm we all met again – this time at Somersby Public School. This was a follow up on our last session at Great Beginnings at Kariong to share what has been learnt from visiting each others settings during our transition and orientation times.

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We shared many great new ideas and how we can take these from each other to improve our settings to assist in transition to school. One of the most common topic discussed was the school playground and classroom environments – particularly the outdoor environment.  I discussed meeting with the director at KU Ourimbah, Rosanne Pugh, in early 2017 in regard to her knowledge of setting up Forest Schools in the UK and now at Ourimbah.  It would be fantastic to utilise the unique bush environment at Wahroonga Public School – also known as The Bush School.

One activity together was to look at the role of dispositions when a child transitions to school.  The full article can be found here  in the newsletter from ACECQA.

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Dispositions support children to adjust to the school environment and develop new relationships. The ability to make meaning by applying what they already know will support children to develop their own learning strategies and successfully transition to school.
Our next meeting will be about outdoor environments- as agreed this will be of great interest to both schools and preschools.
One improvement to assist our Kindy’s I have done this term is to FINALLY get a sandpit in the school playground!  Now to shop for sand toys!

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Kindergarten Orientation 2016

Wahroonga Public School conducts two orientation sessions in November.  Over the two Tuesdays we meet our new kindergarten students and their families.  Some are new to Wahroonga and others are from our current school community.  We have an enrolment of 103 Kindergarten students  for 2017.

In preparation we ask parents to provide some background information about their child/children through a questionnaire along with the Department of Education school enrolment form.   We also send a short questionnaire to each child’s director or educator from their prior to school service.  This gives the opportunity for information to be shared between settings to assist in a child’s transition.  Some settings also send the NSW Transition to School Statements.

Before Orientation 5 of the Kindergarten and I, teachers visited a few of the local preschools to read the “I’m going to Big School” book I wrote in 2013. This gave us all an opportunity to meet many of the children.  It also gives the children the chance to see teachers who will then be familiar to them when they come in the next couple of weeks and next year.  Finally it allows for further information to be shared between settings about children to assist the best possible transition for families.

We visited – Fit Kids, Wahroonga and Turramurra Beehives,  Explore and Develop, Pymble Turramurra Preschool, and Wahroonga KU.

 

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This year I produced a new book for our new children  “What is School Like?” – It was a question and answer style, asking our current Kindergarten a few questions , offering advice to new Kindergarten children – such as “How do you know where everything is?” “How is school the same as Preschool?”   Each child’s answer also shows what preschool they came from – showing the wide range of centres we draw from.  I got this idea from Boulder Journey School in Colorado in April.  With illustrations by the children it is so cute. The last page is advice to parents.  I asked the Year 6 Prefect team to interview parents one morning as they were dropping off at Kindergarten classrooms.

Orientation –

The children are divided into the 6 groups to experience two mornings in the current Kindergarten classrooms. Parents remain in the school hall to hear from schools staff, Principal, P&C representatives, CBA Banking representative, After School Care Staff, School Canteen and many more.  A highlight was hearing from 6 Kindergarten Students.

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We provided a huge amount of information in our new bags with the school logo I had printed ( Thank you Simply Print Anything!).  In the bag we included the school handbook, Kindergarten information, a workbook for children, P&C volunteer forms, Road Safety information, and many more items.

 

In the classrooms, the children played together and completed a variety of activities, many to take home to show all the family.

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The children toured the school, visiting the canteen, computer rooms and library.  Over  two weeks all the children learnt the song “Look at Me I’m Going to School”, which they performed for all the parents on the school hall stage. It was terrific!

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Best Start interview times have been sent out by post to each family.  It has become tradition, I started the year my son, now 15!, was beginning Kindergarten at Wahroonga PS, a date is selected for a Play in the Park  a week before school begins.  This gives the parents and children to connect and begin their longterm friendships.

We look forward to seeing them all in 2017

 

Wahroonga Network Takes off!

 

Today was the inaugural meeting of the  Talking Transition Network at Wahroonga Public School.

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The Kindergarten staff of Wahroonga Public School shared their knowledge of the Best Start Assessment, its links to the NSW Literacy and Numeracy Continuum, what information parents receive and how the assessment outcomes inform our classroom programming.

This is a copy of the presentation.  Click on the image below.

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In attendance :  6 Wahroonga PS Kindergarten teachers and 20 Early Childhood Educators from 9 local prior to school settings.  These included:-

KU Wahroonga, Turramurra Beehive, Wahroonga Beehive, Pymble/Turramurra Community Preschool, All About Children Turramurra, Twinkle Tots, Pymble Pinjarra, Explore and Develop Waitara and Christchurch Preschool St Ives.

I  received emails from other centres unable to attend on this occasion and hope to see them and other centres at future meetings.  We discussed the invitation being extended to other Kindergarten staff members from local Public Education, Catholic and Independent schools.

Everyone agreed meetings would be beneficial once a term next year. Finding a suitable day and date will be impossible to suit everyone.  However the more often we meet – the more opportunities we will have to attend.

Topics brainstormed for future discussions included :- EYLF, Kindergarten routines, Visiting each others settings, Loose Parts, Playground ideas, Student needs such as fine motor development, Buddy Programs, What are other centres doing for transition , etc

Dates and locations  for 2017  Talking Transition Network meetings will be advised shortly.

I’m excited to see we have finally begun and cannot wait for the 2017 meeting.

WAHROONGA NETWORK STEPS

Monday 12 September I was invited to join Mia Stott (P-2 Initiatives Officer),  prior to school service educators and local public school Kindergarten staff for a meeting about connections between settings.  This network opportunity aimed to connect staff together to set a date to meet again at each others settings.

Joining me was Ruth ( relieving AP at Wahroonga) and Sarah (Owner Director of Beehive Preschools).

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We met at Great Beginnings Preschool in Kariong, a short drive up the freeway from Wahroonga. Director Amanda Lester and educator Sara welcomed us into their lovely centre where we heard about the proposed project organised by Mia and funded through Laura Mackenzie – Central Coast Transition to School Coordinator Learning and Wellbeing Public Schools NSW and FACS.

After introductions we looked at Early Childhood resources such as the Early Years Learning Framework and DEC documents such as the Literacy and Numeracy continuums and The Wellbeing Framework.

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We were then taken on a tour of Great Beginnings – What a beautiful centre.  Amanda has been here since its build in 2010.  It has a lovely feel – open, light and welcoming.

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On our way home we discussed many elements of what we saw, heard and discussed. We made a date to begin our network meetings.  October 11th 2016 will be the inaugural Turramurra /  Wahroonga / Pymble  Talking Transition Network meeting.  Wahroonga PS will host and provide information on the Best Start Kindergarten Entry to School Assessment.

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Learning Walk to John Brotchie Nursery School

Today I had the opportunity to take a learning walk with the directors of two local preschools where many of the students of Wahroonga Public School go for their prior to school education.

We visited John Brotchie Nursery School in the Sydney suburb of Botany.

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John Brotchie Nursery School is a Department of Education school providing an educational program for children the year before they attend school. John Brotchie is a unique preschool that provides large indoor classrooms and a huge outdoor garden. Their award winning garden provides many and varied opportunities for the children to connect with nature, create and imagine, grow veggies and care for our animals. The schools indoor classrooms provide a wide variety of curriculum options, in well organised and resourced learning spaces.

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Sarah Armstrong, owner/director of Beehive Preschools in Wahroonga, Turramurra, St Ives and Castle Hill and Melissa Puckeridge, director of KU Wahroonga Preschool, joined me today to visit  John Brotchie Nursery School and meet the schools Principal, Rebecca Andrews.

Historically an industrial area, Botany’s factories are being replaced by high-density housing, in which many of the John Brotchie Nursery School children reside. The preschool’s focus on natural living and environmental awareness offers students the backyard they might not otherwise have.

According to John Brotchie Nursery School Principal, Rebecca Andrews, the children are learning to be environmentally-conscious citizens, while following the prescribed curriculum and having fun at the same time. “We have veggie patches, herb gardens, egg-laying chickens, tadpole ponds, compost bins, worm farms, water tanks and recycling bins — all of which the children have a role in,” Rebecca said. “The children help plant and harvest their veggies, care for the chickens and collect the eggs, follow the life cycle of new tadpoles and, above all else, continuously recycle everything they can. “Our Environmental Education Program teaches children the value of waste reduction through effective recycling, which we hope will lay the foundations for a greener future.”

Rebecca Andrews was the winner of the Australian Early Childhood Teacher of the Year Award in the 2012 Australian Awards for Outstanding Teaching and School Leadership. Rebecca is the Principal at John Brotchie Nursery School, NSW.

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Her study – Risk or Benefit: Using the Outdoors to Educate Children in the Early Years

Rebecca used her sabbatical to explore international approaches to Early Childhood pedagogy and explored how different strategies could be incorporated into an Australian context. Rebecca participated in a study tour of the Reggio Emilia region in Italy, visiting schools and meeting with experts. She investigated the ‘Forest Schools’ approach in Denmark and the United Kingdom to challenge her own practices of using the outdoors to help children achieve and learn.

Our visit gave the opportunity for Sarah and Melissa to ask questions, discuss centre similarities and differences, share documentation  processes for programming and informing parents.  They discussed traditional folders /dividers with jottings and digital  platforms to record observations and leaning stories such as Storybook and Leap.  Rebecca was equally passionate about the educators being with the children in their learning rather than behind a camera capturing the learning – hard for educators to find the balance I am sure.

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The John Brotchie Nursery School garden has won previous awards, including first place at the 2011 City of Botany Council Garden competition and the NSW Early Childhood Environmental Education Network Sprouts Sustainable Practice Awards. The school also won first prize in the 2012 Keep Australia Beautiful Sustainable Cities Award for Metropolitan Schools.

Both Sarah and Melissa reflected on the visit –

An inspirational journey with passionate educators to an amazing progressive preschool.  It was wonderful to share and discuss the different environments and possibilities for improving transition to school processes for children, families and educators.”   – Melissa Puckeridge

Thank you for the opportunity to see a wonderful centre where the  environment is a credit to their philosophy of quality outdoor education.  The play spaces inside and outside were inspiring and the children were totally engaged in quality play based learning.  I loved the kitchen. ”  – Sarah Armstrong

 

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Thank you Rebecca for your time today sharing with us such a wonderful environment for children, families and educators.

 

Places I stayed and things I saw on my trip

Denver

 

View from my room over to the golden domed city hall. Arrived at 6pm and went straight to see Bruce Springsteen in concert – best way to keep awake and on local time.  He was awesome.  Boy was it cold in Denver waiting for a taxi home- brrrrr.

 

Breckenridge –

A great place to spend the weekend and recover from the jet-lag!  Plus the skiing was excellent. I had most runs to myself.  Jet lag meant I was up and on the first lifts of the morning. I did however find the altitude made me feel dizzy and light headed.

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Houston

Uphouse Manor B&B https://uphousemanor.com

I could not have asked for a nicer place to stay- My host Katrina was delightful.  She has a warm and welcoming home in historic Houston Heights.  Her home is beautifully styled with a wonderful collection of paintings.

The neighbourhood is abundant with beautifully restored historic homes and fabulous little shops  (Debbie Dillar and I had a successful morning shopping)  restaurants and coffee shops on 19th street.  My favourite shops were Casa Ramirez,  Big Blue Whale Jubilee and Man Ready Mercantile.  Debbie and I had lunch at Torchy’s Tacos – which were DAMN GOOD!

I stayed in the aptly names Learning Lamp Room.

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I would highly recommend staying here if you come to Houston – I will certainly rebook if I return.

Seattle

How lovely it was to stay on the water – waking to the harbour noises was soothing.  The Edgewater Hotel was a delight.

Resting atop Pier 67 on Seattle’s sparking Elliott Bay, the four story 223-room Edgewater is Seattle’s original waterfront hotel. Originally built for the 1962 World’s Fair, The Edgewater Hotel remains as Seattle’s only waterfront hotel and has become a beloved local landmark.

In 1964, during their first world tour, The Beatles stayed at our Seattle hotel, newly completed for the World’s Fair. At the time, no other hotel in the city would accept The Beatles as guests; however The Edgewater happily welcomed them.

During their stay, the band famously fished from the window their suite, the photo of which has become legendary.

All rooms feature gas fireplaces- a cozy feature I made the most of.

Seattle was fun to explore after my school visits – I’d not been here before.  I visited the Nordic Heritage Museum being of Norwegian ancestry.  It was unfortunately closed – however I was allowed to have a look through and ended up being an ‘extra’ in the filming for Norwegian television show ‘Alt for Norge’. I spent the late afternoon exploring the Pike Place Markets and having coffee at the original Starbucks cafe.  I had dinner up the space needle in the revolving restaurant Sky View, arriving before sunset to see the city views in daylight and at night.  The next day I explored Queen Anne Hill, Fremont and visited the amazing Chihuly Glass museum.

San Francisco

Probably my most ‘ordinary’ hotel the whole trip – however the location and price was good for my 5 night stay for the NCTM conference.  I have been to SF before so sightseeing was not on the top of my list after long days at the conference.  It was nice however to visit friends who use to live in Sydney for dinner on the Friday night and spend Sunday in Napa Valley.

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Boston

Another city I have been before – so it was great to do new things.  Arriving on Monday 18th was good and bad. Being a public holiday and the Boston Marathon meant the taxi could not get anywhere close to my hotel without heavy traffic and many road closures.  I did manage to catch the end of the marathon as the finish line was around the corner from my hotel.  Tuesday was the anniversary of the start of the American Revolution with the battles at Concord and Lexington.  Darci and I had a great day visiting the revolution sights, Walden Ponds and the Alcott’s family home. A game of baseball at Fenway park with Darci was a must again after 20 odd years.  I also thoroughly  enjoyed seeing Boz Scaggs in concert. My last night in the United States was dinner with good friends.

Los Angeles stop over

I had a 10 hours layover in LA -so I caught a taxi to the Getty Museum and then on to the Santa Monica Pier to meet my good friend Juliana.  We had a bite to eat and a catch up before headed home for a quick shower and back to the airport for the last leg home.

Home Sweet Home

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More interesting readings and videos

 

Finnish Kids Don’t Learn To Read In Kindergarten. They Turn Out Great Anyway.

Schools in the Nordic country prioritize play in early education.

“Play is a very efficient way of learning for children,” Arja-Sisko Holappa of the Finnish National Board of Education explained to Walker. “And we can use it in a way that children will learn with joy.”   – read more here

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Some interesting studies on school entry delay here :-

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‘Lesson Study’ and reflection time for teachers in Japanese preschools “so they develop their professional development competencies and raise the capacity of the school”

The Japan’s pre-school system is known for its quality of education. Children learn through play and teachers are well-trained to manage large class sizes. However, the current challenge lies in improving the transition from pre-school to primary education. In the national curriculum, the authorities have recently included suggestions such as school visits and activities for the graduating class to smoothen the transition process.
Nevertheless, educators noted that the large classes in Japanese pre-schools give them an advantage.

And the best preschool environment- I have watched this video so many times – I love it.

Meet: the world’s cutest kindergarten, designed by architect Takaharu Tezuka. In this charming talk, he walks us through a design process that really lets kids be kids.