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Transformational Education - Early Years

Transformational Education - Early Years

Thursday, 27 October 2016  | Wendy - Early Years Coordinator
How do we deliver and understand Transformational Education in the Kinder?

Term 4 in the Kindergarten began by reflecting on our previous learning about God’s creation: we looked at the season of Spring and all of the wonders that happen around us during this time of the year. It is God who sustains the order of the seasons, giving good time to each for our provision. It was exciting to re-visit the bush, an integral part of our ‘learning through nature’ program, and notice the environmental changes that have happened! As described in one of the chapters of ‘Transformational Education’, Active learning is promoted using curiosity, inquiry, imagination and experiential activities. We wondered at the new life that Spring brings, from the growth of seeds to the miraculous change that occurs when a caterpillar changes to a butterfly. We used technical terms like ‘transformation’ to describe the metamorphosis that happens inside a chrysalis, and talked about how we might apply this to our lives living with Jesus. Transformative Christian Education is for the whole of life.

Our learning this term, or Overarching Story, that informs our kinder curriculum, (in fact every aspect of kinder life), moves on from the family sphere where we began looking into the community in which we live. We have looked at our surrounding suburbs, our city and some of the current and traditional aspects of our country. We learnt about what God wants of people, and that church is where people gather to learn about God by reading the Bible and praying together. Relational Community happens best where trusting relationships exist, and where people exercise their particular calling before God. We believe cultivating this atmosphere in the kinder provides the optimum learning environment for the children.

Nurturing Diversity is the acknowledgement that we all have differences. Through talking about our gifts and talents and using them in the community we help other people. In the kinder we look at how we can use what we are good at to help each other. Through looking at community helpers we can see how people use their own gifts and talents to benefit others. We have pointed the children’s attention towards our amazing creator God, who made diversity in the land and in people. People are His crowning glory of Creation (Psalm 8).

As we launch into our studies on ‘People around the world’ this term, we ‘travel’ around God’s big and diverse world, looking at aspects of different countries and people. Australia is made up of many cultures, giving relevance to the exploration of some of the cultures that are represented within our community. We hope to have some parents come and share their own cultural backgrounds with the children, as they have done in the past, to create further Rich Learning experiences.

One such country I hope to explore with the children and educators in the kinder is Cambodia. During our last term break, my daughter and I had the privilege of travelling to Phnom Penh in Cambodia, to partake in delivering teacher training with teachers from Christian schools from the surrounding provinces. This program happens each year, directed by Jo, our Education Support Coordinator in the Middle and Senior school. We took copies of ‘Transformational Education, A Framework for Christian Education’ and devised training from some of the chapters. There are many challenges associated with this type of work that are centred around cultural differences, such as choosing carefully how we explain things, as not all of the English language translates into Khmer (Cambodian language) successfully! Explaining small snippets of information takes considerable time, so we used games, discussion groups and story telling to consolidate many of the concepts. As we shared our ideas with the teachers, they also shared their understandings with each other. It was so wonderful to see Teachers in Teams, working together for mutual support, encouragement and growth. This is also the atmosphere we develop with the educators in the kinder. Together we collaborate and devise relevant experiences designed to maximise children’s learning, yet centred in Christ, such as described by the element Oriented for Students.

There’s nothing like teaching something to learn it! My teaching experiences of ‘Transformational Education’ in Cambodia have heightened my awareness of the core understandings of Christian teaching and learning in the kinder. As a staff we continuously learn and unpack the framework together. 
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