So I have been here for a week now and have very much settled in! The trip to Charleville on the bus was nice and relaxing… and then very bumpy. A local started talking to me on the bus and thoroughly explained to me about the atmosphere of the town, which was really insightful and helpful!
I arrived in Charleville late on Sunday night, with a public holiday on Monday and my first day of prac on Tuesday!
I visited the kindy on Monday and fell in love with it! The atmosphere reminds me of the kindy that I went to when I was a child and that allowed me to feel very comfortable in the environment. I also felt more comfortable because of the staff who were all very lovely, friendly and nice.
This atmosphere is very different to my last practicum so I can’t wait to see the differences between them in the next couple of weeks.
And then the first day of prac arrived! There are two groups of 20 children each that alternate at the kindy each week. Therefore there are 40 children names that I have to know…as well as there parents/guardians!
My first day was lots of fun as I learned so much about the children, kindy and the local community. I had 'Group B' on my first day and two other days this week. The children in this group are very vibrant which keeps all of the staff busy! There is never a dull moment in 'Group B' as every child is learning through play which can involve you or not involve you. With this group I found myself playing tennis, digging in sandpits to find dinosaur bones, building shelters, painting the cubby houses, building rivers and islands and much more hands on activities.
I also had 'Group A' for one day this week. The staff were right when they told me that there was a difference between the two groups as 'Group A' learns through play much quieter than the other group. In doing this they are still having fun and doing many similar activities to 'Group B'. As I spent more time with 'Group B' this week, I know all of the children’s names and some of the parents names.
In saying this, I know most of the children’s names in Group A and some of the parents names!
With both groups, I have found that children are very imaginative, therefore they are capable and knowledgeable as they can imagine everything. The children are inspirational as to them anything is possible! Being around the children has encouraged me to look for the different learning experiences and intentional teaching that I can do so that children can keep learning. I already have so many ideas of how to initiate the learning in a play based environment from what the children have already shown and talked to me about.
There are a couple of children between the two groups who have behaviour difficulties or other disabilities. It has been a challenge for me to come into the environment and being presented with the challenges, not knowing entirely how to handle each situation. But from subjects that I have studied, and from intuition, I know that the children and I have to follow their interests and solve matters professionally to facilitate their learning.
Apart from the children, I have also learned many things from the staff. For example about the community that I am a part of, the management of the kindy, different teaching and behaviour management styles and much more.
The staff have been wonderful in including me into the kindy and offering to pick/drop me off wherever in the town. This just shows the niceness of country people as they are opening their lives and hearts to a complete stranger. They have also allowed me to be a part of many community events that are coming up that I will volunteer in, including the primary school fete and races!
I am also learning a lot from the town. Simple things like saying hello or smiling to someone as you pass in the street is not only a nice gesture but it makes you and the other person feel appreciated. It is a different lifestyle compared to the city as it is very hot and dry, it is quiet/peaceful and the majority of the cars are utes and 4WDs! I have also learned that people in small towns have a lot of trust in each other, even if they do not know them. For example I can go into the grocery store and leave my bicycle outside, only to come back outside half an hour with it still in the same spot! I feel very safe in this town even though I am living by myself, I do not know the people and I do not know much about the community. Yet the atmosphere of the town has made me feel very welcome and comfortable!
Therefore it is fair to say that I am having a fantastic time in Charleville. I am learning a lot about local community and the children at kindy!