“Our pre- literacy or early- literacy program is designed to try prevent children from experiencing reading difficulties while providing them with skills that are needed in Year K,” says Glynnis De Klerk, educational leader and room leader at Masada Cottage Early Learning Centre (ELC). Both Glynnis and Lianne Shuan, teachers of the Masada Cottage four-year-old group, recently attended the PreLit PD Early Literacy Preparation Program at Macquarie University. The course, which was a whole-day workshop, showed teachers how to use and implement a pre literacy kit designed specifically for the ELC classroom.
“The kit gives tools and resources to teach children phonological awareness; to break up words into sounds which in turn enables oral language skills,” says Glynnis. However, Glynnis stresses that the classes are not aimed at teaching children to read, but supports their literacy skills. In addition to the pre literacy program, Masada Cottage also implements the “Pencil Case Program” whereby all children are given their own pencil case with a variety of writing materials inside. These are used to introduce the children to tools like pencils and scissors, while encouraging responsible behaviour by looking after their own belongings. “It’s important to note that all our programs and classes allow children to practise school-readiness in a creative and play-based manner. It’s not prescriptive; we simply want our students to be giving their best and functioning at their own developmental level,” says Glynnis.
Masada Cottage students who are going to Year K the following year get oriented to “big school” by going into the Year K classrooms in the fourth term. They get to experience a full day in a Kindy class, which ensures a smooth transition from preschool to junior school as well as creating a great sense of excitement for the children. During this time they also get to have lunch with their “buddies” and the Year K students, which means they’ll recognise some familiar faces when they start school the following year. “Our aim is to give all the children the skills required to be comfortable in a classroom environment,” says Glynnis.
“Our students get particularly excited to go to the weekly Junior School assembly where they are also given merit awards just like the big children,” says Glynnis. “This really makes them feel integrated into the whole school and enhances the community feel of Masada College.” Masada Cottage students are also given specialist lessons from primary school teachers in sport, Hebrew and music and participate with the rest of the school in celebrating chagim and special days like Yom Haatzmaut. “Our aim at the ELC is to develop the skills that will eventually enable our student to read, write and cope with formal schooling,” says Glynnis. “Introducing the Pre Lit and Pencil Case programs are additional ways that we enhance school readiness in a fun way which builds our children’s confidence and provides them with the nurturing they require to grow and learn.”
To find out more about Masada Cottage ELC, go to hiveofpotential.com.au