Grades 00 and 000
These grades are situated in Little Saints, a large house that has been renovated to provide bright, airy classrooms in a warm, familiar atmosphere in which children quickly settle into the daily routine.
Activities are planned to provide a holistic education that caters for every aspect of a child’s development: physical, social, emotional, creative, intellectual and spiritual. An interactive emergent curriculum allows the teachers to plan projects and topics of enquiry based on the children’s interests and observations.
The daily routine provides a balance between periods of closed-plan methodology, spent exclusively in the classrooms with class teachers, and periods of open-plan methodology which are facilitated by the use of inter-leading sliding doors between classrooms. The children are free to choose where and with whom to play, and decide independently in which activities they wish to participate. Each teacher is responsible for planning activities to stimulate the social interaction, play and enquiry of all the children who enter a particular area.
The fantasy area provides opportunities for social and emotional development. Equipment such as domestic or hospital furniture and dress-up clothes is designed to stimulate imaginative play and dramatisation. The dramatisation is often found to link with projects or topics being discussed.
The cognitive area caters for intellectual development. Puzzles, board games, pegboards, manipulative toys, problem-solving or computer-based activities are made available daily. A quiet corner for looking at books and a large area for block play are set aside in adjacent classrooms to complement these activities.
The library is an oasis of quiet for children wanting to look at books away from the bustle of activities. Children in the Grade 00 classes choose books to take home on a weekly basis from a wide range of excellent, beautifully illustrated children’s books.
The creative hub of Little Saints is the atelier, where our specialist art teacher or atelierista is to be found. Here the children express their thoughts and ideas through visual media. They use materials such as clay, paints, crayons, pastels, chalk and felt tip pens to express their creativity and are invited daily to design and make collages by using recyclables. A variety of activities are set out for the children to explore, they are given the time and space to develop their technique and their creations burst with imagination.
The children discover the joy of making secondary colours through experimentation with primary colours and ways of using watercolours to encourage colour blending. They are also exposed to the basics of photography by being encouraged to take their own photos and manipulate them using the computer in the atelier. Teachers make innovative use of simple equipment such as light tables or overhead projectors to stimulate creative and critical thought and observational skills and the children are encouraged to become little explorers and catalysts of their own learning. For this reason, teachers help them to develop technical skills but do not provide models for them to copy or pictures for them to colour.
The garden divides naturally into a playground and a smaller garden for quieter, fantasy play. In the playground, the cycle track winds between sandy mounds, indigenous shrubs and open grass patches. The “stage” offers opportunity for the children to perform shows and dances, or simply to gather for a quiet chat. Art easels are dotted around the perimeter for those children who would prefer to paint and often children pause to swing across the monkey bars as they run from one activity to another. The centrepiece of our natural playscape is the tree fort and rope net. Its design ensures the children’s motor planning and gross motor skills are challenged as they clamber over and crawl through it. In the fairy garden children become explorers and adventurers in the lush flower beds, the vegetable patch and herb garden. An obstacle course is frequently set out and opportunities to explore interesting, robust musical instruments are provided.
The Grade 00s have the opportunity of further developing their gross motor skills with the support of the sports department. Fun activities are designed to promote age-appropriate gross motor development. The children hop, jump, run, climb, throw, catch, do wheelbarrow walks, splash in the pool and engage in a myriad other exercises.
Little Saints is a caring environment where the child is nurtured in her/his entirety and encouraged to become an independent, creative thinker and researcher and an agent of her/his own learning.