Our philosophy and approach

The Northern Nursery School Philosophy underpins everything we do.

Our vision for children is to create a nurturing environment where children learn how to learn within a upportive, collaborative culture.  This inspires creativity and intellectual engagement, growing confident, caring and capable social beings that are respectful and valuing of their own and other’s uniqueness.

Our vision for families is to build a spirit of community, grounded in rich relationships, partnerships and connections that shape and inspire our creative and educational program. We are committed to continuous improvement within a supportive, nurturing and beautiful environment for all children and families.

Our vision for our team is to strive for excellence, with a commitment to professional, respectful partnerships, valuing staff development, supporting the philosophy, ideals and teaching practices of The Northern Nursery School.

Competence

We are committed to continuous improvement, which involves our whole community. Our children are involved in all aspects of our program and the vision for the preschool. We work with children as a team of capable and competent learners who are eager to explore and engage in learning. We value their uniqueness and individuality and embrace their meaningful contributions within our educational program. Children learn in many different ways: they are experimenters, scientists, researchers, artists, collaborators, explorers and observers, each with 100 languages and more to explore. We value and encourage all of their learning styles, processes and contributions in their quest to make sense of their world. Our program builds on their strengths, interests, abilities and skills; their well-being is at the core of our work.

Relationships

Our spirit of community is grounded in rich relationships, partnerships and connections that shape and inspire our creative and educational program. We value social relationships as the foundation for creating potential and possibilities within a supportive, nurturing and beautiful environment, for all children. Relationships and relatedness are at the heart of our preschool. We create a culture where children and families can feel they ‘belong’. We encourage an inclusive culture, where children, parents and staff communicate effectively and respectfully. We believe that learning happens during social interactions and collaborations with others. While developing relationships, children learn how to express themselves, listen to others, sharing and debating ideas to create new learning. Children learn to be open and empathetic to differences and diversity by engaging together, sharing joy, sadness, anger and laughter. In acknowledging that parents are the most important people in their children’s lives and have the biggest influence on their child’s learning, it is our priority to work closely and collaboratively with parents and children. We support this relationship through our interactions with families; in developing social capital we involve parents in all aspects of our service operation, including the Management Committee, the Social Club and Room parents, building a strong foundation that reflects the identity and needs of our community.

Equity

Every child has the right to be protected from being hurt and mistreated in body or mind. Equity and inclusion are key values of the Northern Nursery School. One of our most significant practices is mutual respect and understanding towards others. We believe each child has the ability and potential to be responsible and become active citizens of the world. As citizens of Australia we acknowledge, respect and value the traditional custodians of the land and believe that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their history are unique. In our work with children and families we aim to instil knowledge and appreciation of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage, founded on understanding and respect, valuing of their history past and present. These values in being pro-active against bias and inequity influence our program of inclusion and our teaching practices. Each child and family’s uniqueness is valued, as are their strengths, abilities, culture, lifestyle choices and beliefs, which contribute to the rich fabric of our community. We have a priority of inclusion for children with additional needs, supported by high staff ratios and a special education teacher that works closely with children, staff and families to ensure each child has the best opportunity to grow in all aspects of their well being and development.

Aesthetics

The beauty of our aesthetic environment and approach to curriculum planning is inspired and influenced by the Reggio Emilia Approach; we regard the environment as the ‘third teacher’.  Our environment and resources reflect our vision in providing children with creative and self-expressive learning experiences that build an appreciation and understanding of art, nature and environmental sustainability. The environment is powerful in its effect on children’s behaviours and responses towards learning. The environment is shaped by its teachers, children and parents who contribute their ideas to create relevance and meaning, underpinned by principles of environmental sustainability, light and natural and recycled resources. A child’s thinking and learning is made visible through the displays, documentation and presentation of their artwork, interactions and materials. Respectful and careful consideration is given to the selection and arrangement of materials and their qualities including colour, texture, smell and sound.

Teaching Programs and Transitions

Our teaching program is underpinned by our philosophy, policies, ‘the hundred languages of children’ (Loris Malaguzzi, founder of the Reggio Emilia Approach) and the National Quality Framework, National Quality Standards and the Early Years Learning Framework. Our philosophies, frameworks and practices all support an emergent, play based teaching program that is inspired by children. Our project work grows from the knowledge children bring, the interests and ideas they explore and the diversity and richness of our families. Our program builds children’s abilities to learn how to learn together, engaging children in a dialogue full of questions and possibilities, creating a rich foundation of education for life. Our culture is unique, as is the quality of the aesthetic experience we provide for children and the beauty of their environment. Our image of the child influences the flow of each day, where time to learn and plan together is essential to their learning. Children’s work reflects creative expression, intentional teaching and collaboration with their community. Our documentation and visual displays show us images of children thinking and making sense of ‘belonging, being and becoming’ in their world. It shows us how adults and children learn together and that non-verbal languages reveal thoughts and feelings that provoke further expression. It also challenges us to reconsider our view of children’s capabilities. Our documentation is significant in our work with children; it makes children’s learning and the reflective practices of educators visible. Our documentation is a celebration of what is possible when children are given the opportunity to take responsibility for their own learning in a real and meaningful way.

Within each day and over the year we use transitions to support children with change. We believe children are capable of managing change and challenges, especially if supported by adults early in their lives, building emotional intelligence and resilience. Planned and spontaneous transitions at preschool, as children flow from one activity and or experience to another and in preparing children for school, create valuable learning opportunities for children in embracing change and building capability and confidence.

Imagination

Young children are given the time and space to extend their imagination and creative intelligence through expressing theories and ideas. Time is an essential part of a child’s experience, bringing focus, depth and thoughtfulness to their work. Children are encouraged to enjoy being children, working together through a play based curriculum, to experience the wonders and delight that stem from their imaginings and ideas. Our educators value, respect and build on these experiences and together with the children, document and reflect on the conversations, interests and possibilities that arise, which inspire and stimulate further learning.

Documentation is more than a record of what has been done; it is a way of making the 100 Languages of children visible. Our curriculum is founded on the development of relationships that involve children in discussion, exploration and collaboration, supported by rich environments, a wide range of open-ended resources and creative experiences. These include music, movement and dance, the visual arts, language and literacy, numeracy, science, nature, food and nutrition, environmental sustainability and health and safety. Our teaching is intentional and focused, valuing the uniqueness of each child, providing children with opportunities to develop a wide range of skills and knowledge. Through active involvement and meaningful engagement, children build understanding of the role creativity and multi-literacies play in their lives as powerful forms of expressing their imagination.

Values

Children’s values are shaped and guided as they experience day-to-day life within their family, preschool and community. We encourage children to think critically and be advocates for others and themselves, using their skills to recognise stereotypes and bias. Our collaborate discussions provide children with opportunities to consider others points of view when forming their own ideas and expressing their opinions. We promote values that support children in becoming active contributors and participators within society. Our educators create environments where children can happily and constructively work together, knowing they can make a difference to their world. Children are encouraged to develop a positive self-esteem, which respects the differences and similarities within society, demonstrating empathy, care and regard for each other. We believe that children can express their ideas and challenge others without inflicting emotional and physical hurt and we support children in understanding which forms of expression are appropriate and empathetic to others. Our children are involved in caring for and enjoying our beautiful physical environment and through this and ongoing discussions, they learn respect for nature and grow in their understandings and actions in practicing environmentally friendly, sustainable practices.

Image of the child

Central to our vision is the powerful ‘image of the child’. We do not see children as empty vessels that require filling with facts; we see them as full of potential, competent and capable in building their own theories and acknowledge. Our pedagogical approach is underpinned by the theorists Loris Malaguzzi, Dewey, Piaget and Vygotsky who have transformed the perspective of and practice in early childhood education. Children are powerful contributors to their own learning and accordingly they play an active role in choosing the day’s investigations and topics. The role of our educators has changed from instructors to co-researchers; co-constructing and researching knowledge together with children and families. We explore ideas and interests and form decisions through planning and collaboration, scaffolding children’s learning through dialogue with others. Through our pedagogical documentation and shared reflections we are able to learn more about children. This in turn provides valuable research on the learning of both educators and children, building on the quality of our program.

Training, In-Service and Pedagogical Documentation

The NNS is committed to our staff team and prioritises professional development as a key to building the quality of the curriculum for children and the work environment. It recognises that professional development not only benefits the individual staff member but through sharing with others it also benefits the team and the organisation as a whole. Through ongoing provision of professional development opportunities for all our staff, the team is kept current about contemporary research, legislation and early childhood qualifications. Our early childhood educators are specialists in their field and we recognise and value their professionalism. We employ well-qualified and experienced educators, who are motivated and inspired in creating our program and making children’s learning and development visible through their reflective pedagogical documentation. Evaluation of each child’s progress and development is a combination of continual reflection and discussion with families, using the Early Years Learning Framework to guide our practice and shape our long term goals for children. In our commitment to supporting our educators and children in their work, we provide 3 educators for each group of 20 children, in line with current research on best practice and quality outcomes for children.

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Since the 1930s, the Northern Nursery School has educated preschoolers through the application of best current pedagogical early childhood practice and a commitment to continuous improvement through self assessment. Our voluntary Management Committee of parents provides a strong vision for the preschool underpinned by financially responsible practices and adherence to all Regulatory obligations. They are advocates for children and have commitment and vision in the early childhood field. They are committed to providing high staff ratios, staff development and training, and investing in the physical environment as contributing factors in providing a quality early childhood service. Our strong connection to the Mosman community is demonstrated through our initiatives in reaching out through our social functions, community garden, Alumni, website and Facebook; we also have representation through Councilors from Mosman Council on our Management Committee. Our commitment is to children and families currently within NNS, but our vision is also for those children and families that will attend our wonderful preschool in the future.

Ratified by the Management Committee on 9th October 2013