Monday, October 31, 2016

And now for something completely different - Early Childhood Education

I left my full time job back in April and took a break from design. In the break I thought I'd fill the time with trying something completely different for a while. I took a short 6 month course in Earlychildhood Education and Care at Nirimba TAFE close to home.

It was interesting and informed me about how to care for children under the age of 6 years. Every Thursday I had play group at TAFE where the students got to put theory into practice by organising play experiences with the children. I'd never really interacted with young kids like this before so this was a little scary for me. Although we were only with the children for part of the day it gave us a glimpse of what working in a day care would be like. We observed three different children in the different developmental age groups: 0-18months (baby), 18months-3years (toddler) and 3-6years (preschoolers).  

The first child I observed was Lauren and she was 4 years old and was at a craft activity. She was very happy making an autumn tree collage. There were lots of different materials for her to use and it extended on her fine motor skills. From this observation I decided to set up a craft making and planting seeds experience for her. I used cotton balls instead of soil, small tongs, cupcake paper cups, water, quinoa seeds and coloured markers. I was happy to see Lauren be the first to my activity on the day so I was able to guide her in what to do. She was able to do the entire activity where she coloured the cup, wet the cotton balls and put them in the cup and then placed the seeds on top. A lot of other children of various ages visited my activity and had fun playing with the different things, not necessarily in the right order but that was okay. 

The second child I observed was Alexis who was 1 year and 3 months. Alexis was playing with prams and baby dolls at the time. From this observation I thought I'd extend on her fine motor and cognitive skills by creating a ball and coloured holes activity. I took a large cardboard box and coloured the holes in four different colours. I then had a bucket filled with coloured balls. Alexis was able to do the activity with guidance as she was still a bit young to recognise the colours went in certain holes. She clapped her hands when she was able to put all the balls into the holes and I congratulated her on her efforts with verbal praise and some high fives.

The last child I observed was Vihann who was 2 years and 2 months. He was using a small tricycle at the time and I noticed he was pushing himself along with his feet rather than using the peddles. So I thought I'd focus on his gross motor skills by having a soccer and goal activity to strengthen his leg muscles and his leg coordination skills. He was a little shy at first but with a little encouragement he was able to kick the soccer balls to their goals.

I even made some finger puppets for one of the TAFE subjects. I chose to do 5 little ducks and a mother duck. They were a language prop that we could use on our four week compulsory work placement at the end of the course. The song I chose was 5 little ducks went swimming one day...
These ducks were made by hand using coloured felt and craft wadding for stuffing. I used them in work placement which proved to be very popular with the children.

At the end of the course I did my compulsory work placement at a long day care centre in Blacktown. It was interesting and the ladies who worked there were nice and supportive. I got to interact with the children and do a couple of play experiences which were different to my TAFE activities. 

One of the activities which I enjoyed making was a cityscape and car activity. I used a cardboard box and toilet rolls to make the cars. My focus child Yash was 2 years old and had an interest in cars. He enjoyed playing with the activity in the sand pit. Unfortunately the cars didn't last long though as the wheels fell off after the children played with them for a while. But the children enjoyed the activity even though the cars were falling apart. It attracted children of all ages which was fun to see.

Another activity I did was for Ashvata who was 4 years and 4 months. She enjoyed craft activities and had an interest in dinosaurs. So on this particular day I did a craft activity where the children could make a dinosaur habitat using different materials. She is a very smart girl and knew what a habitat was and began making a collage right away. Some other children joined in and made some really interesting collages.

One other activity I did was water play using a trough which was a very popular indoor activity. The children really got into it by splashing and playing with the water using their hands and buckets.

Another activity I did was for Cameron who was 10 months old. I set up a milk bottle and duplo lego activity where he could practice his fine motor skills by taking out the pieces and putting them back in again. He used the bottles similar to a rattle and the pieces would fall out. He also reached into the holes to grab the duplo. Some of the older children used the bottles as sorting containers and placed the coloured duplo in the same coloured bottle.

Making these activities was fun and it was good being outdoors away from the computer for a while and interacting with the children. I'm not sure if it's for me but I did enjoy doing the course and received some really positive feedback from the ladies I worked with. I'm sure it will prepare me for motherhood one day. 

In the meantime, I've turned to more traditional art and craft, you can follow my creations on Instagram at @artynor. Contact me via my website if you're interested in anything you may find there or on Instagram. Thanks for stopping by.

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