The Kindergarten program is designed to help children build on their prior knowledge and experiences, form concepts, acquire foundational skills, and form positive attitudes to learning as they begin to develop their goals for lifelong learning.
Learning expectations are given for six areas of learning – Personal and Social Development, Language, Mathematics, Science and Technology, Health and Physical Activity, and The Arts.
Programs based on the learning expectations must take into consideration the widest possible range of children’s life experiences and situations. The expectations represent a range of ways of thinking at certain stages in young children’s development, and they contain a continuum of concepts and skills that are appropriate for Kindergarten children, including critical thinking skills.
Kindergarten programs need to consist of a balance of investigation or exploration, guided instruction, and explicit instruction. Kindergarten children need many opportunities to investigate and explore. These experiences allow children to build on their existing knowledge, create and clarify their own new understandings, and experience a variety of approaches to a problem or question. Assessment is the key to effective teaching and is the starting point for instruction in the Kindergarten program. A well-planned Kindergarten program provides teachers with many opportunities for ongoing observation and assessment of children’s strengths, needs, and interests. On the basis of this ongoing assessment, teachers should plan instruction to help children build on what they know and extend their thinking.
Most children are naturally curious about their surroundings. They have an interest in exploring and investigating to see how things work and why things happen. Children have an innate sense of wonder and awe and a natural desire for inquiry. Kindergarten programs can capitalize on children’s natural curiosity and their desire to make sense of their environment. However,
curiosity on its own is not enough. The guidance of a thoughtful teacher is essential to enable children to learn through inquiry. Teachers should use inquiry-based learning to build on chil- dren’s spontaneous desire for exploration and to gradually guide them to become more focused and systematic in their observations and investigations.
Using real-life contexts in which to develop activities for the Kindergarten program is a highly effective way of motivating young learners. Children grasp ideas more easily and more effectively and maintain their interest in school when they have an educational program that enables them to connect their learning to their own lives and the world around them. Kindergarten programs should emphasize the interconnected learning that occurs when children are exposed to real-life situations and activities in the classroom, home, school,
Effective integration of arts activities across the Kindergarten program helps support the learning styles, interests, and strengths of individual children. Integrating the arts with other areas of learning allows children to make meaningful connections between program areas, and can be highly motivating.
Young children actively explore their environment and the world around them through a process of learning-based play – for example, manipulating objects, acting out roles, and experimenting with various materials. Play is a vehicle for learning. It provides opportunities for learning in a context in which children are at their most receptive. Play and work are not distinct categories for young children, and learning and doing are also inextricably linked for
them. It has long been acknowledged that there is a strong link between play and learning for young children, especially in the areas of problem solving, language acquisition, literacy, numeracy, and social skills. Play, therefore, has a legitimate and important role in Kindergarten and can be used to further children’s learning in all areas of the Kindergarten program.
Oral language is the basis for literacy, thinking, and socialization in any language. All young children need learning experiences that help them understand, acquire, and build on oral lan- guage. The foundations of language development and literacy begin to be established at birth
and continue to be built through interaction and communication with adults and other children at home, in child care, in the community, and at school. To foster the language development necessary for literacy, Kindergarten programs should be rich in language-oriented activities and resources that build on prior knowledge, that are relevant to the lives of young children,
and that provide opportunities for thinking, problem solving, and experimenting.
Learning to read and write is essential to enable a child to succeed in school and in later life.
Teachers should become familiar with the stages in the process of learning to read and write, and should use this knowledge when planning literacy programs and when assessing children’s acquisition of literacy skills.
Learning Through Explicit Instruction
In the Kindergarten classroom, teachers provide clear, direct, purposeful teaching and modelling of specific concepts, skills, and strategies in a variety of settings, including large and small groups and individual activity. In explicit instruction, the teacher explains what a strategy is, why it is used, and when to use it; models how to use it; and guides children as they practise it.
Most young children come to school already knowing a great deal about mathematics. Children bring with them an intuitive knowledge of mathematics, which they have developed through curiosity about their physical world and through real-life experiences. Teachers should use this prior knowledge as a starting point in developing the critical foundational learning of mathematical principles and concepts that supports achievement in mathematics in later years. Teachers can create an effective environment to support young children’s learning of mathe- matics by planning daily hands-on experiences that focus on a particular mathematical concept and by identifying and embedding significant mathematics learning experiences in play, daily routines, and classroom experiences.