Grade Prep Information for Parents
Thank you for taking the time to read this information sheet. Hopefully it will give you some ideas about how the curriculum will be covered and some of the teaching strategies used next year. Our first term is a settling in time where we try to put in place appropriate work habits, routines with the classroom and to develop an understanding of school rules and procedures.
Grade Prep is an amazing and exciting year at school, as your child’s formal education begins. As educators, it is important that we are aware of your child’s learning needs, and to this end each child in the first few weeks of school will be individually assessed in both the areas of literacy and numeracy. The results of these assessments enable us to group like children to ensure that their learning is based on their individual points of need. As in all year levels, we want the students to enjoy school and to find it both challenging and exciting.
The following is a brief overview of how each Curriculum area will be covered.
► The Early Years Literacy Block
Two hours each day are devoted to the teaching of Literacy which includes; reading, writing, listening and speaking.
During reading sessions at school, your child will be grouped in a ‘like’ group to read. These groups change from time to time to meet the individual needs of the students as learning rates vary. Books are very carefully chosen by the teacher to successfully build on the group’s skills. The daily teaching focus is then reinforced with independent learning activities that the children complete as a follow up. Big books are used as a whole class focus to explore grammar, punctuation, and specific reading strategies as required. We do language activities that develop word recognition skills, language structures and comprehension.
Take home readers provide the children with the opportunity to practise the skills that they are taught at school. These books are NOT meant to be challenging. They are an opportunity to develop fluency, confidence and to practise reading strategies taught at school. Nightly reading at home should be an enjoyable and happy time together. Always praise your child for the attempts they make. Please refer to the reading hints sheet that will be in their covers for more tips, but remember reading is about meaning and sounding out is not always the best strategy for your child to use to work out unknown words. We always welcome any questions you have about reading at home and can discuss this with you individually if needed. An information evening is held at the start of each year to provide parents with skills and hints on how to assist your child read at home.
The students will be given the opportunity to write every day. Most students begin by drawing pictures and dictating their stories to us. This is usually followed by their own attempts to write by doing ‘string’ writing, which is a lot of letters/numbers/shapes and they ‘read’ their writing to us, then we write down what they say.
The next stage usually has the students writing the initial sounds of each word that they want to write and eventually they begin to hear and write the final and then the middle sounds. Through reading, games and class word lists, we build up a bank of commonly used words like: the, here etc., which the children will need to be able to spell. We also do ‘modelled writing’ where we write an interest sentence one of the students has had for morning talk that day. This allows us to focus on such things as capital letters, full stops, the direction of writing and the way in which words are written.
We will also do other forms of writing during the year, such as poetry, story writing, list writing, letter writing and reports.
You are welcome to have a look at your child’s diary at any time. Encourage your child to write at home. This will give you a good indication of the stage of writing your child is operating at.
This is also called spelling or word study. It is very important that students in their first year of school learn the ‘sounds’ of the alphabet. This then enables them to have a go at sounding out words they wish to write and in some instances, in reading. It is always stressed to the students that not all words can be sounded out with single sounds and some words such as ‘the’ and ‘one’ have to be learnt by the way they look,, i.e. their shape. Later on the children will learn that they often have to blend sounds together, e.g. ‘th’ , an ‘e’ can say ‘u’, etc.
Cued Articulation is used to help the children develop a greater awareness of how and where sounds are produced by using a hand sign.
At the beginning of Prep we concentrate on correct pencil grips, and sitting positions. The students do hand/eye coordination activities such as tracing, drawing and colouring between lines. We also begin to look at letter formations on small whiteboards particularly in relation to the ‘sound’ we are focussing on at that time.
► Early Years Maths
All children in the Prep to Grade Four area are involved in Early Years Numeracy. The children are given the opportunity to understand how their maths will help them in every day life. Many of the problems presented to the children are in the ‘open ended style’ which challenges their thinking and problem solving and provides them with a better understanding of how maths works. Many of the daily maths session involves sitting on the floor and using materials to count, sort and group. We play number games such as, Bingo and Buzz. At this early stage, we like to make sure all of the students are confident with their concepts such as up/down, top/bottom, hot/cold, fast/slow, under/over, etc., and colour recognition. A large part of the number work is done using numbers from 0-10. This may seem quite basic to some of you, but it really is so important to make sure the students have a very good understanding of these areas, before they move on.
As the year progresses, we will move on to simple addition, subtraction and numbers from 11 to 20 and then beyond. Counting patterns are dealt with daily, as these are the basis of understanding Maths concepts. Measurement areas will include length, volume, capacity, mass, time and money. Please don’t expect your child to always bring home a worksheet. Most of the learning occurs during hands on work and the sheet is often a quick follow up to the intensive session and is sometimes not required as we have recorded our work in other ways.
► Inquiry Learning Units of Work
Each term a unit of work is included in the daily sessions. Term one we will work on Safety at a school, home and community level. Each term our unit of work has a specific learning focus, e.g. Science, Study of Environment and Society (SOSE), Technology, Art, Health, etc. However within our studies we integrate many of these areas so as to provide a more comprehensive and relevant study of the topic.
We use an inquiry approach to learning where we encourage children to ask their own questions about the topic and then we work as a team to research and explore that theme.
We are incredibly fortunate to have such an exciting and stimulating library for our student’s use, which has such a large number of up-to-date books, puppets, dress-ups and technological facilities.
The library is open before school and lunch times. We encourage our students to utilise the library as much as possible.
One library session per week is conducted with the Preps to develops library skills such as borrowing, research, reporting etc.
► Physical Education
A PE teacher will be taking these classes. Ball handling skills, gymnastics, minor games and dance are worked on during the year.
We have our athletics day late in Term One. A cross country run is also held in the first part of the year.
In Term Two and Three we introduce the PMP (Perceptual Motor Program) program to the Prep class for a ½ hour a day on fours days of the week. This is an exciting program that develops coordination, balance and spatial relations. Parent helpers will be greatly appreciated to help with this program!!
The Preps participate in a music session once a week. They mainly focus on developing skills of rhythm and movement with the use of percussion. Children will be able to explore a variety of music and sound.
In keeping with our school Arts priority, the children will have a one hour visual art session each week. During these sessions they explore colour, different art mediums, construction and art appreciation.
The students also participate in an ‘Arts’ session each week. These sessions will include the development of drama, movement and relaxation skills.
► Wellbeing: You Can Do It! Program
This is an important program that has been introduced to our College right across the P-12. The ‘You Can Do It’ program is seen as an opportunity to provide all children with the foundations for achievement, and the development of social and emotional well being in the school, work and in the world of tomorrow. It will assist the children in developing their full potential by teaching them about the five foundations:
- Getting along together
We have a term focus and in Term One it is ‘Getting Along Together’. At a Prep level however, we talk and role play all of these five areas constantly in our daily programs.
► Religious Education
We have a ½ hour Religious Education lesson each week with fully Accredited Christian Education teachers. These sessions reinforce the values at our school.
In the early years, homework should not be seen as a chore. Homework will mainly consist of:
- Daily reading to or with a parent/caregiver or older sibling;
- The extension of class work by practicing skills or gathering information or materials.
This will generally not exceed 10 minutes per day.
If in the future, you have any questions about your child or the programs that are offered, please feel free to contact me to have a chat. It is always better to seek clarification, even if it may seem trivial, rather than worry or feel unsure.
At Terang College we are looking forward to working as a team with you and to have a great year with your child.