The program is based on the Early Years Learning Framework. At Netley Kindergarten we use the Early Years Learning Framework so all children can experience play based learning that is engaging and builds success for life. The Early Years Learning Framework describes childhood as a time of belonging, being and becoming.
Belonging is the basis for living a fulfilling life. Children feel they belong because of the relationships they have with their family, community, culture and place.
Being is about living here and now. Childhood is a special time in life and children need time to just ‘be’ – time to play, try new things and have fun.
Becoming is about the learning and development that young children experience. Children start to form their sense of identity from an early age, which shapes the type of adult they will become.
Play is very important for children. Through play young children explore and learn to understand the world around them as they come to communicate, discover, imagine and create. When children play they are showing what they have learned and what they are trying to understand.
By working together parents and educators can enhance a child’s learning and wellbeing.
Since 2014 we have been working with real purpose and direction for Netley Kindergarten. Our vision statement “that all children engage in a flexible and enriched natural learning environment in order to flourish and become confident lifelong learners” underpins and guides our practice.
“Be Explore Grow” is the phrase that sums up the culture of Netley Kindergarten. Children are given every opportunity to have the time to just ‘be’ and to make meaning of the world around them. Exploration of their world, the environment and themselves is encompassed in ‘explore’, and ‘grow’ is symbolic to the growth of each individual child, both academically and within their emotional intelligence.
In 2015 the kindergarten was assessed under the National Quality Standards and received an overall rating of ‘Exceeding’ for the next three years. Educators and the Netley community worked together to achieve the priorities of the Quality Improvement Plan. Two overarching goals are in the QIP and are to develop and maintain meaningful and purposeful relationships with children, families, educators and the wider community, and to build a community of learners who will work collaboratively to improve children’s learning outcomes.
The Outdoor Redevelopment Phases 1, 2, and 3 are now complete and have been instrumental in providing an array of learning experiences that some children may never have the opportunity to participate in. The Bushland, Produce area and Butterfly Garden are well known and used daily with the children. We are using the ponds in the Bushland area as an opportunity to educate our children about biodiversity and have released the frogs that we reared from tadpoles into this area. We are also using the produce area (garden beds and chickens) and butterfly garden to educate our children about their role in caring for the land and their responsibility in looking after the environment. In September 2015 we had a grand opening of these outdoor spaces with representatives from many of the local community groups such as West Torrens Council, The Kaurna people, DECD, OPAL, Netley Residents Association and NRM. This opening celebration was captured on film and shared with our families and children to celebrate the beautiful spaces that we now have. This first fire lighting film also inspired the creation of a short film about Netley Kindy, its values and philosophy, and the way children learn when interacting in the environment of Netley Kindergarten.
In 2016 children and educators embarked on experiences ‘beyond the fence’ which was named by the children as ‘The Bridge’. This wilder space is located 900 metres from the kindergarten and children walk to and from this space and spend regular time in this natural environment as part of their preschool program.
Netley Kindergarten is part of the Collaborative Childhood Project – a state wide project based on the Reggio Emilia principles. The research project is about how the context and uniqueness of Netley Kindergarten (nature play and nature pedagogy) can be combined with the Reggio Emilia principles to create an environment for all children to experience a quality education. Part of this project is the redevelopment of the Joe Wells Reserve next to the kindergarten where the Netley children of 2016 have designed the new playspace ‘by the children for the children’. The children of 2017 will be involved with West Torrens Council in the construction of the natural playspace, recognising children as competent and active citizens with rights.