We believe that at kindergarten the best learning comes through play. We do that through songs, stories, fun themes and exploring our large play space. The outside play area is extensive, surrounded by large shaded trees, numerous sand pits, climbing frames, a cubby house, flying fox, slides, swings and even a boat. The equipment is intentionally ‘old school’ and allows the children hours of open play. There is also numerous bikes, hoops and balls to be shared. As a stand-alone kindergarten, the children are free to be outside at the best times of the day, early during the summer and whenever it isn’t raining in the winter.
There are vegetable gardens where children are able to plant, grow and eat their own produce. A rock water feature is the beginning of the nature play zone that brings another element to the children and community.
At Kindaimanna we encourage the children to not only learn about things from pictures and books but to get in and dirty, learning through doing.
In 2016, while learning that some things in our world are alive and some things aren’t, the children decided to plant a garden (under the guide of our amazing teachers). Complete with smelly chicken manure, which prompted lots of ‘YUCK’, the kindergarten kids prepared the soil, and planted their very own veggie garden. The garden managed to survive the first major storm of winter and has flourished since.
Each year, our kids have the opportunity to start their own garden and watch it grow throughout the year.
Building memories and life experiences
What memories do you have of your early childhood? Is it making up games of rescuing the good guy from the cave between the trees? Mixing up ‘cakes’ with sand, dirt, sticks and rocks? Zooming around on bikes making siren noises?
As parents that is what you will see your children do each day. They reenact what they see in their world, as they try to make sense of it while learning vital life and social skills.
Open-ended play allows children to express themselves freely and creatively, not bound by limitations. There are no specific problems to solve and no pressure to produce a finished product. This kind of play occurs with toys or materials that can be used in more than one way, like wet sand, boxes, blocks and frames.
There are many benefits to open-ended play. Imagination is enhanced, and the ability to think symbolically and abstractly builds creativity and intelligence. Social and emotional abilities are developed as children role-play with ‘what-if’ possibilities that strengthen their understanding of the world around them and consequences to actions. They also learn empathy, cooperation, problem-solving, and leadership skills through make-believe play. The creative nature of open-ended play also enhances cognitive skills, such as working memory, cognitive flexibility and self-regulation. Self-regulation is the ability to control emotions and behaviour, resist impulses, and exert self-control and discipline.
Kindaimanna is committed to allowing children to take part in such activities and does this through the resources it has available. At Kindaimanna you will find large wood blocks that have been used by hundreds of children over the past three decades (and still look amazing!) to create cities, farms, towers, forts, cars, kitchens and so much more.
Outside, children have access to water taps to make rivers, dams, mud pies, towers and so much more. The play frames are all movable and materials in the playground add an aspect of nature that can be used to enhance extended play time.
Kindergarten should be about learning new social skills and independence but also a time for fun! You only get to be four once! Wouldn’t it be great if the biggest thing we had to worry about was who got to drive the stationary car to the moon!
What about Mum and Dad?
Kindergarten is a rite of passage for children, the signal that they are now ‘big kids’, a movement from toddlerhood to a pre-schooler. It is eagerly anticipated and equally dreaded by parents. Purchasing school bags and new uniforms, packing lunch boxes and filling water bottles is the beginning of a journey that will last for nearly a decade and a half.
While hopefully somewhere over the years your child will learn to tie their own shoelaces and maybe even make their own lunch, those first few years of schooling your little ones will want you to be involved in their school life.
We love walking into a kindergarten classroom and seeing all of the children proudly showing off their latest painting to their parents. It is a wonder to see the blobs of paint change to recognisable symbols over the course of a few months. Being on fruit roster or sitting and reading with the children in the classroom can be incredibly humbling, to see all your hard work at home paying off as they sit and listen, or share the bike and make new friends. It may also allow another perspective and bring to light certain things to gently work on at home. Perhaps even more importantly, you gain a respect for the amazing teachers that give so much of themselves to our little babies we have entrusted to them!
Kindergarten also spells the start of being a ‘school mum’ or ‘school dad’. Not only do we have healthy lunches to worry about, but we are almost ‘forced’ to encounter a group of previous strangers numerous mornings a week and navigate our way through different personalities, expectations and cultures. It can be daunting for the most confident of us and anxiety inducing for many. In many ways it is like being back in school, but (hopefully) with the maturity and ability to walk away when you don’t see eye to eye with someone.
As the second term continues, look around you. Who is the mum who you haven’t said hello to yet? Who is the mum that gets to school in her PJ pants without her hair done? Who is the mum who looks like she just stepped out of a salon? Behind the kindy kid, the school bag and possibly a clingy toddler is another woman who is going through the same season as you are. The time of your life that is characterised by the drone of “I’m hungry” and a battle of wills between a mini version of yourself. Step out of your comfort zone and say hello. Ask someone to join you for a quick coffee after kindy drop-off. Put your hand up to organise a fundraiser for the school and ask someone to help. Better yet, become involved at your community kindergarten. Be a part of your child’s educational journey. Have a say in what they are learning and make friends with others along the way. It is often a joint cause that can help propel a relationship into being.
You might find your new best friend, you might find the parent you can call when you are running late and who can save the day for your kindy kid, you might decide that you just don’t connect and that is alright. Now, unlike in kindergarten, we actually don’t have to be friends with everyone but we can show a great example to our kids and respect each other. Being a parent is hard, some days it is brutal. Being ready to share the joys and the trials and to build each other up will only make the years of being a school parent so much more enjoyable.