Building Powerful Learners … From the Pre-School Years
As schools wrestle with how to best prepare their students for a rapidly changing world, there has been growing awareness that young people need more than traditional basic skills to prepare them for the world beyond school. We need to be helping our children develop an understanding of how they can learn effectively and have confidence in their capacity to embrace new challenges.
A recent project at the St Luke’s Bayview Campus showed it is never too early to start helping a child to learn how to be powerful learners.
Shirley Meares, one of the early childhood educators at St Luke’s Bayview Campus uses everyday situations to help pre-schoolers see that they are capable of solving problems and taking on new challenges.
Twice a week the Cottage Pre-school class at St Luke’s Bayview Campus go to the library to borrow books. One day, two children decided they wanted the same book, part of the well-known Hairy Maclary series by Lynley Dodd.
‘I wonder whether you could find some other books like this you could borrow?’ their teacher asked. A quick scan of the shelves showed the pair that there was, indeed, others like it. More little learners gathered to see what had gained the attention of the group. Soon all the books in this collection had been borrowed and the students were comparing the stories they had found.
This was the start of a learning journey through the works of Lynley Dodd. Together the students identified all the picture books written by the author. They knew how many books there were about dogs, how many about cats, about cats and dogs and books about other animals. They noticed that Scarface Claw often appears in the background of many of the stories, even when he is not a featured character.
They delighted in the magical language that characterises the stories. ‘Cacophony’, for example, became a favourite word for describing the noise in the classroom whenever play became over-enthusiastic.
Class representatives presented a proposal for the purchase of new books for the library. They developed an outline of the books they would like added, having confirmed these titles were currently available for purchase and with details of how much the order would cost.
The students wrote and illustrated their own books about their favourite characters, sharing them with family and friends during an open afternoon.
This inquiry showed the little learners what is like to dive deeply into an area of interest. Each step in the journey was driven by a desire to know more. Most of all, they saw a purpose for developing core skills. They wanted to learn to read and write so they could develop and share their own stories. Surely, a love of learning and a sense of confidence that they can ask and answer questions are the foundation stones that will equip our learners well into their schooling journey.
Jodie Bennett, Head of Junior School, Bayview Campus