There have been a few changes in the curriculum choices this year and various parents have queried why.
At the end of each year, the teachers review what has happened over the year. We discuss our successes and also things that could have worked better.
As well as those evaluations there are outside influences that affect the curriculum choices and they range from children wanting certain things (options is one in particular), parents feeding back to teachers what was valued and last, but not least unfortunately, the constraints of the budget which has a direct correlation with the number of school fees that will be received.
Subjects such as performing arts, language studies and even library are best taught by specialist teachers, but many others such as STEAM, writer’s workshop and 5Rs can be run as part of the classroom program.
This year we decided to have the extra STEAM lessons with Sandy again, because although class teachers can and do cover many of the science and technology areas through their themes, the children are very motivated to have this extra focus, probably because Sandy is quite passionate about this style of learning and that helps capture the children’s imagination.
We’ve had many parents value this as well. The other three specialist subjects this year are library, performing arts and language studies.
Last year we had Mandarin as our language study and this year we’re having Korean, Yonny being the same teacher for both. This is a 45-minute lesson once a week and the emphasis within these lessons is to learn about the culture as well as the language.
The main rationale with the different languages is that the children become aware of different cultures not only around the world but within our own city. Over the years I’ve been at Village School the children have experienced:
- Italian, when we staged an Italian Wedding, and another time our own Carnival of Venice;
- Indonesian, when we made shadow puppets and bought and played the anklung;
- Japanese, when the children practised calligraphy and visited Japanese House;
- Auslan when the children learnt the sign alphabet and some of the common signs in order to communicate and understand quite a few different hearing-impaired; performers who visited throughout the program;
- Warrandgeri (only one term, unfortunately) where the children learned some words, dances, songs and cultural stories and most recently;
- Mandarin where we made our New Year dragon and learnt some calligraphy as well as some vocabulary.
This year Yonny would like to introduce her first language and culture to the children, which is Korean. And I noticed in the first lesson we had last week Yonny had brought in some clothing which had a special significance in her country. Last week she did cooking to celebrate the Lunar New Year.
For the last two or three years we had a subject called 5Rs, (taking the five words advertised as part of our ethos). The subject included learning to relax, (being mindful), writing a personal journal, discussing and sometimes role playing to resolve or learn about social issues.
The teachers incorporate the relaxation into their morning meetings using the singing bowls and we also have the children use it for a focus at the beginning of our whole school meetings.
They also use their daily meetings to address some of the social learning and in general, try to take a mindful approach across the whole day. In short, we consider that mindfulness is not something you turn off and on once a week, but it is something that should help shape the children’s time at Village School.
Sorry, Tanya’s note turned into Tanya’s essay again!
Just one more thing. We constantly weigh up the value of having these specialist activities against the time that we want to give to the children within their classrooms.
We want time for them to “think”. We want time for them to wonder (but not to wander!), to try something and fail and have the time to try it again; a time to develop a growth mindset within their learning.
If we keep them too busy, they never have that important time to process things.