Starting school is a big step for children. They do not just transition from home, childcare and kindergarten to school, but also from small-scale to large-scale interactions, from highly personalised to less personalised relationships, and from small environments with a limited range of ages to a large institution with children of many ages. It requires enormous social adjustments and greater independence, which many children find challenging.
In addition, the current global pandemic has had a significant impact on children’s social and emotional learning and “school readiness” generally.
School readiness is a measure of the knowledge, skills and behaviours that enable children to participate in school. This “readiness” is often mistaken as being able to read, write and do basic mathematics. However, research shows that every child needs a strong foundation of social, emotional, physical and communications skills in order to have the ability to take in academic information that they will receive in school. Quite simply, children cannot thrive at school if they haven’t yet developed the skills to manage things like getting along with other children, following instructions, communicating their needs and being able to wait and take turns. Success in school, as in many aspects of life, is about relationships, as well as what is known and the skills one has.
How well children are prepared for the start of schooling life is extremely important as it impacts their long-term educational and behavioural outcomes. Every year at Play Therapy Melbourne we see an influx of children referred for therapeutic support who have simply not transitioned well into formal schooling.
Our School Readiness Program is specifically designed to support children with the readiness and social and emotional skills they require to transition into Primary School. The Program is facilitated by experienced educators and mental health clinicians and the program has been devised with input by our occupational therapists and speech pathologists. Facilitators draw on the therapeutic powers of play and employ evidence-based practices to assist children with emotional, social and behavioural challenges.
Our curriculum integrates both intentional teaching and child-led approaches and experiences and is based on the needs and interests of the children attending. These experiences are all facilitated through play and include art, craft, construction, movement, music, stories, role-play, games, mindfulness and relaxation. Children are also supported to be more independent and confident in their learning, emotional and social regulation and self-care. Self-regulation helps children and teenagers learn, behave well, get along with others and become independent. Self-regulation begins to develop rapidly in the toddler and preschooler years, it is key to a successful start at school and will ensure that children continue to make the most of their educational experiences.
Class sizes remain small and we ensure a high ratio of clinicians to children to ensure that each child can benefit from close therapeutic support and scaffolding to practice their skills amongst their peers and gain confidence within a dynamic “real-world” social learning environment. And of course, it is fun!
The program also acknowledges that every child is unique and develops at their own pace with their own strengths, interest, temperament and approach to learning.
We are committed to ensuring your Child has the best possible experience in our Group Program.
An initial parent consult via a phone call will be conducted prior to group allocation and payment. This will be an opportunity for us to gain a deeper understanding of your child and ensure that we are placing your child in the most appropriate group to support your goals. During this time we are happy to answer any specific questions you may have relating to our group program. We will also ask you to kindly complete an intake form and an Assessment tool (SDQ) to help us identify goals and measure outcomes.
At the conclusion of this program, parents/carers will receive a personalised report for your child and recommendations to support them moving forward into their formal education.
Children will have opportunities for social play, practicing turn-taking, valuing and respecting each other through similarities and differences, and promoting kindness in communication. Children will have the opportunity to practice transitions through a range of activities to promote adaptability and resilience within school environments.
Children will be supported to regulate their bodies and emotions in an appropriate way and practice strategies for managing themselves in various circumstances. Children will learn to identify emotions and empathy in responses to various social settings through stories with characters and experiential group activities. Self-regulation gives your child the ability to sit and listen in the classroom. … become more independent – because self-regulation gives your child the ability to make appropriate decisions about behaviour and learn how to behave in new situations with less guidance from you. A child that is able to stay regulated in their classroom is a child that is going to be better placed to engage with their learning.
Sense of self:
Children will work through multifaceted activities in identifying who they are through verbal and visual expressions, expressing favourite colour, favourite food, their family, pets, hobbies they enjoy, and how to communicate that. Children are given opportunities to self-reflect and understand their abilities through their achievements, celebrating successes and building confidence, and developing a positive mindset while reflecting on daily learning.
Relationships to Self and Others:
Children will have opportunities to develop and build relationships through embodied and conceptual experiences with peers, understand how to be together harmoniously in a group, how to work together as a team, develop strategies for dealing with challenges and conflict, build confidence, and embrace differences, strengths, and diversity. Children will engage in stories of empathy and friendship, explore what makes a good friend, and how to communicate effectively with others.
Developmental and Educational Learning:
Children will experience a range of activities with shapes, colours, numbers, movements, words, and songs, and practice fine motor skills and pencil grips. Children will engage with developmental movement patterns to support cognitive function, regulation, spatial perception, and visual perception skills required to support handwriting.