NOTE: To download a full copy of our comprehensive 'Parents Handbook' in Adobe Acrobat format, click here.
A high priority is safe and hygienic equipment and facilities. Good manners and common courtesies, with lots of hugs and one-to-one contact by caring staff, are equally important.
Well qualified and experienced staff spend paid time researching and preparing appropriate resources and plans for the children in each age group. Staff recognise that young children learn through participation and that every play situation presents an opportunity to extend a child's thinking, logic and problem-solving skills, choices and decision-making, vocabulary, science and math knowledge.
These skills are learned through sand and water play, building blocks, puzzles, the home corner, dramatic play, the library shelf, woodwork and other manipulative materials.
Language is learned through listening and reading and is expressed through speaking and writing. A strong emphasis is placed on verbal communication and listening.
The day's program takes into account a balance between indoor and outdoor play and quiet and boisterous activity. During wet weather gross motor equipment is set up inside, so that children can continue their large muscle development.
Visiting community workers, artisans and craft experts, senior citizens, and ethnic workers add another dimension to your children's experiences. In all age groups staff actively encourage use of home languages of children from various ethnic backgrounds.
Outcomes are not seen as a measure of specific levels of social/emotional, physical and intellectual development but rather they are planned to be a foundation for success from the very first year of primary school and as a basis for life skills.
Joeys & Possums
Activities for babies under 2˝ years (Joeys & Possums) concentrate on physical coordination (gross and fine motor), social/emotional development and cognitive skills, with constant verbal interaction and frequent expressive storytelling in order to stimulate language. As for all children in Harmony, there are many willing arms to hold, comfort, and rock. Staff will work along with parents’ wishes for successful toilet training.
The pre-kindy 2 to 3 year olds (Koalas) continue to participate in a balance of indoor and outdoor activities and quiet and active play, using music and movement, arts and crafts, table games, storytime and discussion, climbing and running, etc. Again verbal communication and listening are very important for the building of self-confidence and expression of needs and feelings of the young child.
The Harmony Child Learning Centre at Doubleview includes in its learning program a full-day Preschool curriculum for 3 to 6 year olds. The group is staffed by a tertiary qualified Educator and Assistants experienced in early childhood development.
The program runs from 9.00 a.m. to 3.30 p.m., Monday to Friday. As well as the excellent staff:child ratio in the group (1:10), advantages include before and after program care (opening hours are from 7.30 a.m. to 6.00 p.m.) and continued operations during other schools’ staff development days, early closings and school vacations). During end-of-term vacation periods Harmony runs a special Holiday Program, with a number of low-cost excursions to places of interest.
The Preschool years are non-compulsory years of schooling. However, this period of transition from the home environment to school is important for development of:
These years of informal learning allow children to gain skills while having fun, before the more structured pressures of Primary school.
- Independence (e.g., toileting, dressing & undressing, caring for own and others’ property)
- Attitude (e.g., confidence, cooperation, sharing, listening, following instructions, staying on task)
- Concepts (e.g., abstract, spatial, pre-reading and pre-math skills)
Areas for Preschool learning include language, numeracy, thinking skills, decision making, problem solving, value forming, sequencing, pattern recognition, individual expression, and acceptable social adaptation. These are learned through discussions, sand and water play, building blocks, puzzles, the home corner, dramatic play, the library shelf, arts and crafts, woodwork and other manipulative materials. The children’s social development is especially enhanced at meal times and during discussion sessions when children learn to talk openly to others and to appreciate others’ points of view by carefully listening to each other.
Additional learning sessions at Harmony teach children:
- family and society values (such as helpfulness, respect, creativity) through the Virtues Project book and practices, especially written for young children
- sorting, sequencing, matching, memory, etc., through educational computer programs
- to care for animals, such as fish, chickens, hermit crabs
- French as a second language
- the sounds and form of the alphabet, using Letterland tapes, songs, and worksheets
- Kinda Dance music and movement (optional)
French as a Second Language
The 3 to 5 year olds are offered a foreign language and culture (French at present) through songs, games, poetry, cooking, stories, mime, conversation, pictures and simple instructions.
The aim of the French program is to expose children at an early age to another culture, while they are receptive to a foreign language. The children learn that there are other ways of speaking, eating and living. This is an important concept to understand in multicultural Australia. Learning any other language enhances development of the native language. French has been chosen because it is a universal language like English, is the language of the arts, and can be found sprinkled throughout books and daily English conversation.
Activities are built around the concepts preschool children have already acquired in their first language. When introducing new words, children are encouraged to say them as much as possible in any relevant activity (e. g. eating, cooking). French becomes alive and meaningful for children when they associate it with familiar objects they can name and handle, or with events in their lives (e.g. shopping). Therefore, language sessions may be carried out in the playroom or outdoors.
At the end of the year parents will be given a written summary of their child's progress.
An optional extra for preschoolers is a weekly program of learning and discovery by a dedicated visiting educator, Computer Gym. The 4 and 5 year olds will become familiar with the use of a computer and appropriate software for pre-math and pre-reading skills. The computer sessions are conducted on a one-to-one basis on a dedicated, safe computer at Harmony. This is a fun way for children to learn matching, pattern differences, counting, logic, etc. Currently Harmony has over a dozen multimedia learning programs.
Children enjoy the challenge of technology, the feeling of control at the keyboard, and the visual and auditory feedback from the monitor. They learn the names of the hardware, how to load and unload software, and to operate the keyboard with the correct touch and pressure. Parents are encouraged to participate in these sessions and training is available.
Letterland is a phonetic way of teaching young children the beginnings of reading. Harmony preschool children have lots of fun learning the sound of each letter of the alphabet through audio tapes and catchy songs, worksheets, and actions.
Once a week, for a small charge, a qualified creative dance teacher visits Harmony to run a specialised movement, music and wellness program for the preschool children. With colorful props, guidance, and great enthusiasm the children learn self-confidence (e.g. under the large parachute) and many creative actions they have not tried before. Each optional, half-hour session begins with a body warm-up and finishes with a cool-down.