Brimbank Pre-school Association (BPA), an early years management organisation in Melbourne’s west, used innovative ways to make sure children could get the most out of their remote and flexible kindergarten learning, no matter their background.
Sarah, BPA Partnerships and Early Years Executive, said a key part of designing a remote learning program was thinking about how families would engage with the program. She noted that some of the families with children attending had limited access to online platforms, especially if they have school-aged children at home who also require the internet and data to access remote learning from school. While other families had limited data because of the cost involved.
BPA kindergarten services were encouraged to use technology platforms already in place or to introduce platforms that would really meet the needs of their families. For example, some kindergarten services chose platforms that could translate information posted by educators into a variety of languages.
Kindergarten services also gave families information about local resources, such as local libraries delivering books to homes. Sarah said that educators met regularly to plan how they could match resources lists to specific families and their needs, rather than providing a long list of resources to hunt through.
BPA also helped develop a number of ‘How to’ videos for families requiring more support, including those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Some of these activities include:
- growing a ‘Hairy Harry’ using stockings, lawn seed and garden soil, to support mathematical concepts as children monitor the growth of the grass, and language skills as children talk about their ‘Hairy Harry’ over time
- cooking Anzac biscuits to support literacy and numeracy skills, as children learn about following steps, cooking vocabulary and measurements
- scavenger hunts, where children might be asked to find 10 items around the house of a particular colour and describe what they have found and where they have found it, to support counting and language skills.
To ensure that children had access to materials for play-based learning at home, educators have made resource packs - including pencils and crayons, coloured paper, pipe cleaners, icy pole sticks, and a recipe for playdough - and dropped these at families’ homes.