Transcript of School of the Air – supporting families with learning from home

Jess Townsing – What are the most important aspects you teach the families when they begin working with School of the Air and their learning journey?

Jan Schorn –Firstly is not to think about school/preschool as a classroom or a room. So we find a lot of, well it depends on their age, but because we've all been in the classroom, in our own school life, a lot of your Mums will be like, oh no, I haven't got a spare room, I haven't got an area.

So the biggest thing we try to tell ours is that their whole environment is the preschool. It may be all on the back veranda, the cubby house is the play area, the sandpit, well our kids use the creek as the sandpit. You may do your songs and rhymes and things while you're in the car travelling (not that we'll be doing a lot of travelling) or outside playing, but mainly don't think you have to have a classroom, use your whole environment. And the more the kids are outside the better, so what activities you can do outside. We also have said not to panic because a lot of the activities, like I said, songs and rhymes can be done in the car or when you're just out having a cup of tea and a lot of the activities you could be hanging clothes on the line. So your four-year-old is playing with the peg basket, well there you can do colours, fine motor. So a lot of the activities that you can do, even pegging the clothes on the line with you is fine motor.

Cooking, all the activities you do at home, making beds. So it doesn't always have to be a separate activity. And if you've got lots of kids in the classroom, sometimes you can do the same activity at all different levels and they can get something out of it. Got to remember that it's child-led, so we don't want to see worksheets or go and buy booklets and have them just tracing booklets. When we mean child-led, that is which we will talk about when we set up the environment. So we set up areas where the children can create and come up with their own ideas.

Jessica Townsing – Fantastic. Thank you. And it's really interesting, isn't it? Because in a classroom environment, we're always trying to make it homelike. So now these children are going to be at home.

Jan Schorn – And another thing we do always tell our parents is that, remember your attitude. We know as teachers that if we walk in the classroom and go, 'well, let's do some playdough' with that attitude, the kids aren't going to want to do it. So we do tell our parents that, some of them don't like getting messy and getting the paints out and whatever, put it outside on the grass so you can hose it.

But make sure your attitude comes off with them. So you're like, 'Oh cool, we're going to do some painting'. That will help. Because if you are like, 'Oh, I don't want to do it', they will not want to do it. So attitude is also very important to express to mums and the people that are looking after the kids.

Jessica Townsing –Yeah, that's a great point. Thanks Jan.

Okay, let's continue with this theme Jan. What do you teach the families about setting up their environment?

Jan Schorn – Firstly, we do actually have a booklet that goes out and it's the first week of school in the year and it teaches them how to set the environment up. But the main thing is we get them to make provocations. Now, don't have a heart attack because whenever you first hear the word provocation, everyone's like,' I don't know what it is'. That's what your mums will do. You'll say to them, we're setting up provocations and us as educators go, 'oh great'. But as a Mum, so we just say it means provoke.

It's very much like in the olden days when I was first at preschool, we used to set up a table, so it was the dinosaur table or the maths table. So we explain to them that's all it is, an area to provoke learning. But we also stress that the preschool is provocations set up everywhere, but if you don't have the room, because you may not have a good yard that you can leave stuff out or you might have a dog that'll chew it or you might not have a big house, we turn the provocations into tubs instead of tables. So you'll have a construction tub, a reading tub, a maths tub or literacy tub or science tub, art tub. And then we will do a timetable, suggested timetable and they'll say, it'll be like 'get your maths provocation out’.

So they'll get their maths tub out and that's what they're doing in their learning space, and they may decide that learning space is in a room or is on the lawn or is on the mat. So that's how we try to get them to set their environment up so that they don't go, 'oh, I've got to quickly find the maths things'. They set it up so their tubs are already done and then it's all there.

Jessica Townsing – Fantastic. Thank you.

So as you were saying, Jan, there's different times in the day where they might get their numeracy kit out or literacy. What do you teach families about a timetable for the day?

Jan Schorn – We do have a suggested timetable, but it is actually up to the individual family. Some of them are very little, they still have afternoon rests. So they do choose to do it all in the morning before lunch. Some choose to do some before and some after lunch. It all goes on the child. But we do say to them being term one, we try and do at least an hour, hour and a half a day.

As I said, that could be all 30 minutes or it may not be, and that's including hanging the washing out. So that activity with the pegs is that half an hour of colour coding, grouping, fine motor. So we do say, first term we're a bit lenient because they're just getting used to it, an hour and a half. And then after first term it leads to, as again depending on the child and the day, two to three hours each day. We also do suggest that if they are doing say three activities in the morning, after one activity to do a few brain breaks.

So you can do yoga, rhymes, actually some of ours just say go outside and jump on the trampoline and they use a timer a lot so they give them a timer and go 'when that goes off you can come back in', they're on the trampoline, run around the house block. Just little brain breaks, if you do Google or pin interest ‘brain breaks for preschool’, you come up with lots of ideas, which we do suggest to our parents a lot to use Google and Pinterest if they want ideas for provocations and little ideas. But brain breaks, we do heaps of and also if you've got the space for the day, you can leave that up, so if you're playing with your farm table or farm provocation and you're finished with it, if you've got the space, leave it there for the day because they can come back and forth and play with it. Don't pack it up unless you have to because if you have a look at children in a preschool, they go back and forth to the activities a hundred times. But then it all goes on your house and your home, like whether you're in a flat or a house. But yeah, definitely brain breaks.

Jess Townsing – Great advice, thanks Jan.

End of transcript

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