Updated: Feb 22
As educational practitioners we place so much emphasis on the curriculum and on the experiences we provide for children, but I sometimes wonder, does our curriculum have a timeframe? Does our curriculum continue for our full operating hours? If not, I ask why?
What does the end of your day look like, sound like and feel like in your centre? To support your reflection on this, take note of the parent’s faces when they arrive to greet their children, do they seem shocked with the noise level? Do they hang around or rush out the door? Do they ask about their child’s day and if so, is this hurried or is it calm?
What would or could your curriculum look like at the beginning and end of the day? I know as a parent after 5pm at home, we are beginning to settle down and our time is usually spent with me cooking dinner and my children playing independently and usually individually or in parallel play. This time is usually quiet with a few opportunities to check-in with one another. Both my children tend to choose experiences such as Lego, small-world creatures and figurines, puzzles, or they might read a book. It’s like they go into their own little world and just ‘be’ for a while in the lead up to dinner. The other thing I notice is that they really seek me out, they want me to sit and cuddle them and they want to know that I am there for them.
Does your service environment reflect the ‘slow-down’ time children need at the end of the day? Do the children in your service have opportunities to settle into the afternoon? Are these opportunities intentional and part of the curriculum?
Below are just some ways you could extend your curriculum right to the end of the day and re-create a family style end to our children’s day:
Re-think timing of family-grouping
When planning for family grouping, what are our considerations? Are decisions made purely around staffing arrangements? Are decisions made to reflect he changes in attendance levels each day? Consider what this looks like, sounds like, and feels like for parents, children and yourselves. Do you sometimes feel like you are in no-mans-land at this time? Do you have intent at this time or are you focused on the end of the day? Consider with your colleagues if there is as much value placed in this time of day as there is in every other moment.
To support your reflections on this, consider the conversations between you and your colleagues, are you sharing information about children’s learning and interests? How could that be incorporated into your hand-over dialogue?
Could you allow children to stay in their separate rooms (their place of belonging) to ensure the curriculum continues and children have space to choose relaxed play.
Continue to plan experiences and be intentional right through to the end of the day
These experiences should be age appropriate and planned by the educators from the child’s room in collaboration with the family grouping room
Ensure that some educators are facilitating these experiences with intent and engagement while others greet families
Consider the type of experiences provided to children at this time, and encourage relaxed play
Remember the moments you share with children at the end of the day, the closeness is as important within the curriculum as all other opportunities offered earlier in the day
Plan a family grouping curriculum
Think about opportunities, such as a big cushion area where children can settle and read books, drawing on clipboards on pillows, a throw rug on the floor with a box of interesting trinkets or consider cooking or making a snack together.
Children like investigating details at this time of the day, ensure you offer opportunities for this.
Imagine for a moment if some of the conversations at this time of the day were documented to share with families and deepen our knowledge of each child. I know my children tend to ask poignant questions in the mornings and evenings and often the conversations are deeper than during the middle of the day when they are really active.
Work out who is available to talk to families
To ensure the curriculum continues right throughout the day, communicate with each other about who will engage with families and all other educators should be able to engage with children. If families would like to talk with a particular educator who is engaging with the children, they should be made to feel comfortable to approach this educator.
Prepare for home
This might look different in each setting, but one way to prepare children for home is to take the time to wipe their faces and hands with a nice warm washer, do their hair and put their jumper and shoes on. What about taking all the older children to their lockers to re-pack their bags and get their belongings together – this can certainly be part of your curriculum.
Our day is not over when family grouping begins.
Please consider a conversation with your team about how you can ensure both ends of the day at your centre is just as intentional as the rest of the day.
Make the most of every moment with our children and with our teams.