Early Learning is located within the new Junior school which opened in 2020. The outstanding facilities are supported by highly qualified, experienced staff and an innovative curriculum.
Children are grouped into four classes: two classes for three to four-year old’s (Early Learning 3) and two classes for four to five-year old’s (Early Learning 4). Children generally commence at the beginning of the school year, but Early Learning 3 children may join the class throughout the year, once they have turned three. Small class sizes allow teachers to develop and maintain genuine relationships with each child, and for children to develop socially and emotionally within a supportive environment. Children usually attend Early Learning for two or three years before starting Prep.
The Geelong College Vision for Learning and the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework underpin all our programs. Teachers and children develop projects together which incorporate all aspects of children’s learning. Creative arts, STEM, early literacy and numeracy are all embedded in the play-based program.
Weekly specialist classes are offered in Music, Library, Languages, Yoga, Mindfulness and Fundamental Motor skills. Children can see and experience their future learning at school, and easily access outstanding facilities and specialist staff in these programs.
Outdoor learning is an important feature of our program, allowing children to learn to appreciate nature and care for our environment. Children frequently access the many natural environments around the school, as well as regular visits to our Bush Connections site at Dog Rocks in Batesford.
Geelong College Early Learners have priority entry into Foundation, with a seamless transition provided by our Early Learning and Foundation teaching team.
Children at Early Learning explore learning in these areas through an integrated play-based program. Specialist classes are spread throughout the week and interspersed with long periods of play where children work collaboratively with peers and teachers on many different projects. Children are encouraged to make use of all the indoor and outdoor learning environments to support their investigations.
Meeting times gather learners together for discussion, collaboration, planning and sharing. Throughout the day children work individually or in small groups as they explore materials and practice skills. Children use drawing, painting, music, movement and clay sculpture to demonstrate their learning. Teachers document this in order to share, reflect and plan further learning.
Early Learning children participate in a weekly library session in the Junior School Library where they borrow books to enjoy with family members. Through story-reading they are introduced to the joy of books and reading. Beginning reading strategies such as predicting, identifying rhyming words and the conventions of books, e.g. left-to-right print, finger-pointing at words, are introduced.
Early Learning music aims to lay the foundation for future musical development, and a love and appreciation of music. The program integrates both the Kodaly and Orff approaches to music education. Children develop a sense of beat and pitch and respond creatively to musical dynamics. Music experiences include singing, moving, games, dancing and playing percussion instruments.
Learning a second language teaches children about different cultures, as well as developing an understanding of how languages work. French is introduced from EL3 and Chinese is added from EL4, where children experience one semester of each language. Language teachers work with Early Learning educators to include children’s interests, and games and songs promote fun language learning.
The Early Learning Fundamental Motor Skills program aims to give children experience in seeing, hearing, touching, processing, making perceptual judgements and reacting. This is achieved through carefully sequenced activities, using a variety of common and specially designed equipment. Activities include running, hopping, skipping, jumping, balancing, crawling, climbing, throwing and catching, all of which children really enjoy.
The outdoor environment is considered equally important in supporting children’s learning. Teachers intentionally plan experiences which foster children’s physical and social development as well as ecological understanding. These include sand, water and mud play, climbing, swinging, block building and woodwork. Outdoor learning may occur in the Early Learning playground, the Nature Play area, the ovals and Enviro garden.
Each term Early Learning children visit the nearby bush. This complements our regular outdoor learning and allows children to become immersed in the smells, sounds and textures of nature. Activities include cubby building, log and rock climbing, insect observation, and walking through the bush. In this environment children build many skills which enhance their communication, collaboration and resilience.
The Geelong College wellbeing program, TripleR, stands for resilience, reflection and relationships. In Early Learning, TripleR incorporates social and emotional learning, including the Respectful Relationships program. Through stories and play children learn to recognise, express and manage a wide range of feelings. Guided play supports children to develop resilience, impulse control and an understanding of the impact of their behaviour on others.
Practising yoga with young children can have many benefits. These include improved coordination, balance, concentration and emotional control (self-regulation). At this age yoga is taught through story and creative movement, and thus incorporates elements of drama and dance. Children may tell a familiar story through yoga poses, learn breathing techniques and each class finishes with relaxation.
Children participate in regular mindfulness experiences at Early Learning. Mindfulness gives them the skills to calm themselves and slowdown in the flurry of activity at Early Learning. By incorporating mindfulness in a simple, playful and interactive way, we give young children the tools to equip themselves for their future in both the school setting and the world beyond.
The Godly Play program explores the stories of the Christian tradition as presented in the Bible. This approach introduces the stories to the children in a way that allows them to freely explore and ask questions about the Christianity in a way that makes sense to them. They are introduced to prayer through word and song that connect with the significant celebrations throughout the year.