As parents dropped their little ones off at ‘big school’ for the first time earlier this year after much excitement and anticipation, with their shiny shoes, oversized uniforms and the promise of learning and new friendships, no one could have predicted what was to come in those first 100 days of school.
We chatted with some of our teachers and students to see what the experience of Kindergarten so far has been like for our youngest students.
St Thomas Aquinas Primary Springwood, teacher Elizabeth Bamford said it has certainly been an unusual start to the year for new students settling into school life.
“They only had a few weeks of formal schooling, and were only just beginning to get to know their teachers and peers when all of a sudden, they were learning from home,” said Elizabeth.
“Our Maths Assessment Interviews conducted at the beginning of the year provided us with insight to know our students as learners so that we could target personalised activities to do when they were at home and provide examples of modelled reading, writing and maths activities to help maintain the learning.”
Elizabeth said regular Zoom meetings with students made a big difference in keeping connected with the class and reminding students that it was school time. St Thomas Aquinas Kindy student Charlie said he found one particular upside to learning remotely.
“It was good to see my family at home at midday because I didn’t know what they did at midday when I was at school,” he said.
For Kindergarten teacher Tasmin Higgins from St Patrick’s Primary Guildford, the first 100 days has seen students asking a lot of questions about the COVID-19 pandemic.
“They are very aware of the changes happening in the world around them,” Tasmin said. “We prepared a child-friendly presentation explaining what coronavirus is and how it can be spread and the students responded to the new changes rather well.”
St Thomas Aquinas Principal, Marina Hardy said she has been particularly impressed with the students’ resilience throughout an unusual and unsettling situation at the start of their schooling. She paid tribute to the way teachers and parents have worked together to support the children.
“It has been powerful to see the ongoing and strengthened relationships built between our schools and parents with a real focus on learning,” said Marina. “We recognised that it was daunting and confusing for the students to come back to school when they hadn’t been there that long to start with so it was all about maintaining contact with the families and providing them with as much information as possible.”
And what did the Kindy students think of their first 100 days? Most agree it has actually been great!
“It was good to be home with my family,” said Henry about his experience of remote learning.
“I liked seeing videos of the teachers reading books,” added Bede.
Most of all, they said being at school, learning and seeing their friends was the best part about Kindergarten.
With thanks to Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta.