Our philosophy at Possums' Den.

 

The core of the Possums’ Den philosophy is building trusting relationships with children and their families.

We believe this forms the foundation of positive social and emotional skills and consequently ongoing learning and development. 

We are committed to the principles of Belonging, Being and Becoming outlined in the Early Years Learning Framework for Australia.

Belonging

is about young children knowing where they belong and with whom. Children’s relationships with others are integral to their development of identity.

We place great value on developing respectful relationships with (and between) children, families, staff and the broader community.

 

A nurturing, caring and consistent atmosphere is maintained to create a sense of belonging for all. Our regular attendance pattern for educators ensures continuity of care for children, and we actively promote children’s feelings of safety and security by being available and attentive. Our educators are sensitive to the needs of the children and they model the behaviours they wish the children to acquire.

 

Furniture and materials are arranged in ways that encourage interactions between children, and we work with the children to promote and model positive ways to relate to others. Friendships between children are fostered and they are encouraged to appreciate the efforts and contributions of others. We actively support the inclusion of all children in play, help children to recognise when play is unfair, and offer constructive ways to build a caring, fair and inclusive learning community.

 

The powerful influence of the family on learning and development is recognised, and we strive to develop partnerships with parents by encouraging active two-way communication. Family events provide opportunities for informal contact between families and staff.

 

Staff respect each other’s unique strengths, talents, interests and perspectives. We view ourselves as fellow learners, working collaboratively with children, colleagues and families. Staff engender respectful relationships between themselves and children.

 

We acknowledge that our Centre mirrors our larger community, composed of people who are diverse in many ways.

 

A culture of inclusiveness exists in all aspects of the centre. We recognise that every child, like every adult, is unique with strengths in some areas of development. We accept that child rearing practices and priorities in families, as well as children’s backgrounds, health and development all influence the skills and knowledge that children develop. Experiences are planned to respect diversity of ability, family structure, language and culture and to break down barriers. Children are introduced to the strengths and interests of staff, families and the broader community.

 

We believe that the Centre environment is a major contributor to the wellbeing, respect and experience of children and adults within the Centre.

 

The environment is planned to give children a feeling of security and mastery, a feeling that they can be successful and comfortable at the Centre. A lot of careful thought and attention is given to the aesthetics of the indoor and outdoor areas, with an underlying order in the design and organisation of spaces, materials and equipment. Resources are selected for their visual appeal, with an emphasis on natural materials. Spaces and furniture are provided for adults as well as for children.

 

Materials for children are presented in attractive, inviting and appropriate ways to encourage respect for the materials and the surroundings. Trees, plants and natural ground surfaces in the playground create a pleasant play area with separate areas for small and large groups and quiet and vigorous activities.  

We believe that when children learn to respect the wider environment they become more responsible world citizens.

 

Strategies for promoting energy saving, waste minimisation, water saving, and sustainable food practices are embedded in the program, and children are encouraged to care for and respect the natural and made environment.

 

We believe that striving for excellence requires a commitment to commonly shared professional standards.

 

Adults working at the centre take pride in their profession. This pride is reflected in their interactions with families and children and their personal presentation, as well as in their daily practice and commitment to professional development. The centre recruits early childhood educators for their training, experience, positive manner and commitment to best practice. As committed professionals they set the stage for a learning community where children have genuine opportunities to think, act and create.

 

We believe that for the centre to be a good place for children it must also be a good place for the adults who work here.

 

The centre aims to provide working conditions that attract staff and encourage them to stay.

In addition to award wages and conditions, professional and personal support, care and compassion are emphasised, and staff members are valued as individuals. Over-regulation staff numbers allow for more satisfying interactions as well as time for reflection and documentation.

Being

is about the importance of the experiences of childhood for their own sake, not just as preparation for later development or adulthood.  It is about engaging with life’s joys and complexities, and meeting challenges in everyday life.

At Possums’ Den we respect childhood as a meaningful period of life (rather than as an apprenticeship for adulthood) and as an important foundation time for future learning and development.

 

Therefore we embrace current knowledge that children learn best through play. It is through play that children discover, create, improvise, imagine, develop new understandings and build relationships. We acknowledge that, as well as enhancing children’s desire to know and learn, play also enables them to simply enjoy being.

 

We recognise that learning happens in social contexts, and that interactions and conversations are vitally important for learning. Our educators actively promote children’s learning through worthwhile and challenging experiences and interactions that foster high-level thinking skills. They use strategies such as modeling and demonstrating, open questioning, speculating, explaining, shared thinking and problem solving to extend children’s thinking and learning. They plan opportunities for intentional teaching and knowledge-building. Provision is also made for periods of peace, quiet and reflection.

Educators gather and analyse meaningful information about each child’s interests, play patterns, playmates, interactions, skills and understandings. This information is documented in a comprehensive individual portfolio. This process allows us to plan effectively for children’s current and future learning, to communicate with families about their child’s learning and progress, and evaluate the effectiveness of the learning opportunities offered.

is about the rapid and significant changes that happen in young children’s identities, knowledge, capacities, skills and relationships. It emphasises learning to participate fully and actively in society.

Becoming

We value children as competent and resourceful contributors to their own learning (rather than as “empty vessels” that need filling with adult knowledge). 

 

Our educators avoid preconceived expectations about what children can do and learn. Rather,  the unique qualities, interests, knowledge, strengths and skills of each child guide program planning, so every year at our centre is different. Children’s ideas and family interests are explored as well as community events, visiting shows and the interests of educators.  Planning is a continuous on-going process, with changes made to plans and the materials provided in response to the changing interests and skills of the children.

 

A balance is provided between child led, child initiated and educator supported learning. Rather than providing adult-designed models for children to reproduce, children are encouraged to use their own ideas while adults are available to scaffold the development of the skills needed to achieve success. Through having their ideas validated and experiencing success children develop a sense of themselves as capable and valued individuals.

 

An uninterrupted indoor and outdoor program is offered for much of the day, enabling children to choose where they want to play, for how long, and with whom. This element is fundamental to the program, and has a positive influence on the way children engage with experiences, with each other and with educators.

 

Educators create learning environments that encourage children to explore, solve problems, create, construct, engage in critical thinking and develop a positive attitude towards learning.

Experiences are provided for extended periods of time (rather than, for instance, being changed on a weekly basis) to allow children sufficient time to engage with and master the use of materials and equipment. Children are empowered to choose what is meaningful to them and to use materials creatively.

 

We believe that the best way to prepare children for tomorrow is to give them a good today. In our rapidly changing world, flexible and creative thinkers will be vital. Children who are confident to experiment through trial and error and who persist when they find something difficult in their play experiences are likely to apply these same learning strategies and dispositions in school and beyond.  While we do not view children’s time at preschool merely as preparation for school, we believe that a strong sense of identity and well-being, effective communication and social skills  and an enthusiasm for learning developed in the early years all contribute to a successful transition to school, as well as setting children up with valuable and lasting life tools.