Early Learning staff at Melbourne Girls Grammar share their responses to the most pressing questions parents ask about Early Learning Centres (ELC).
1. What are the advantages of an all-girls Early Learning environment?
From three years of age, when girls join the MGGS Early Learning Centre (ELC), they are given the space and freedom to explore a wide variety of play-based activities. They learn that girls can do anything and that they can be as active and adventurous as boys! Play-based activities include things like digging in sandpits, moulding mud and constructing with blocks.
In this environment, leadership skills begin to develop as educators encourage open, free-flowing communication where girls voice their opinions and share their thoughts. The ELC is a nurturing space that works to build on social interactions, enabling inclusive and supportive friendships to flourish.
Girls are empowered to expand and experiment with concepts, projects, games and designs —frequently revisiting or modifying their original plans, which can sometimes be challenging for girls in a co-educational setting. In an all-girls environment, opportunities are embraced across all aspects of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program. The ELC’s ‘intentional teaching’ structure ensures girls are given access to a range of STEM stimuli to pique their curiosity and provoke further questioning and investigation.
2. How is the day structured at an ELC?
At MGGS, families begin to arrive from 8.00am for an 8.45am start. The program may be conducted indoors or outdoors, depending on the day’s schedule of ‘purposeful play’.
It’s important to note that all of the day’s activities are designed as learning experiences. From sensory experiences including water-based activities, through to visual arts activities such as painting and drawing, ELC educators put much thought into tailoring and layering the day’s learning, appropriate to each early learner’s developmental stage.
Specialist lessons in Italian and Music are also available. Meanwhile, girls’ gross motor skills are developed through a range of activities including ball games and obstacle courses aimed at developing hand-eye coordination and locomotor skills.
Morning teas and lunchtimes are communal occasions where girls can socialise, and after lunch, they enjoy a relaxation session accompanied by soft music and storytelling.
The learning program concludes at 3.15pm and after-school care is available on site until 6pm.
3. What are the qualifications of the ELC team?
All lead educators are qualified kindergarten teachers, having obtained a Bachelor of Education.
Powerful interactions between educators and children are assured, thanks to small class sizes. In each learning studio, two educators guide and facilitate the girls’ learning programs.
4. How do you prioritise literacy and numeracy within a play-based environment?
‘Intentional teaching’ methods are tailored so that play ignites children’s interest in literacy and numeracy. Each studio has a literacy centre, furnished with a range of writing materials, papers, picture books and display boards designed to spark young learners’ interest in ‘mark making’ – the precursor to writing.
Girls are exposed to mathematical concepts daily at the ELC. From interacting with the calendar and creating patterns for their artworks, through to using scales and rulers to measure weight and length, girls are introduced to a wide range of numerical concepts.
Within these contexts, educators closely observe how the girls participate in and engage with activities. Educators pose questions and draw out responses to help girls’ grow their understanding of a topic. All ELC educators are continually identifying ways to build upon concepts and layer learning progressively throughout each term.
5. How does the ELC prepare girls for Prep?
The Melbourne Girls Grammar Junior Years Program (Prep to Year 4) is based at Morris Hall, just footsteps from the ELC in South Yarra. Four-year-olds enjoy a seamless transition to Prep, thanks to frequent visits to the Morris Hall campus where they begin to build relationships with teachers and acquaint themselves with the learning studios and welcoming surrounds.
ELC educators are very familiar with the Prep learning program and this ensures four-year-old girls are being prepared exceptionally well to step up to their first year of schooling. At the ELC, girls develop the confidence during their Early Learning experience that is fundamentally important to succeed in the early Primary Years when challenges in literacy, numeracy and the broader curriculum emerge.