My younger daughter started kindy last week, and I got to actually be there for the beginning of her first day. It was one of those moments only a parent can understand as I realised with both excitement and sadness that my little baby was not a baby any more.
But this is a maths learning blog, so as much as the above point really is all that needs to be said, I will make just one more: kindy is awesome!
Of course I already knew it was awesome — my wife is a kindy teacher and director and anything she is involved with is definitely awesome — but the true awesomeness of it was brought home to me once more as I stood there in my daughter’s own kindy.
I looked around, and everywhere I looked was something specifically designed for learning, and learning was actually happening there.
The activities chosen allowed each child to choose to learn in their own way: Some activities were quiet and some were loud; some required social interaction and some were individual; some involved running, some hand-eye coordination, and some sitting still; some needed deep thought and some creativity — and every activity was encouraging learning.
The free-form structure allowed each child to choose what to learn at their own pace: children decided what to do as the whim took them, and didn’t need to wait for anyone else to tell them it was ok, and didn’t need to wait for everyone to be ready. They just started playing, and therefore just started learning straight away.
The staff were in the thick of it helping learning to happen: they moved from one place to the next, talking to the children and turning ordinary moments into teaching moments. It was clear that at some point they would move to the “group time” areas and help the students draw together the ideas they had encountered in their play. And finally, they were also constantly setting up and re-setting up the environment so that new children could keep learning there.
I was in total awe of the whole thing, and it made me wish again that we could make uni more like kindy — a place where the staff choose learning environments and materials that students could interact with in their own way and still learn, but where staff are always ready to help make learning happen.
I have been accused in the past of making the Maths Learning Centre too kindy-like. But in my mind, I could never make it too much like kindy.
Because kindy is awesome.