What is the Foundation Classroom?
Marie Clay (distinguished researcher in the field of emergent literacy) says: “The more formal the school’s instruction (engineered by the teacher to meet the education system’s requirements), the more bewildered some new pupils can become. The teacher and the system must take into account that the child’s prior learning may not have prepared him/her for many new experiences such as:
- How to work with a large group of children
- How to obey institutional rules
- How to meet the minute-by-minute demand of the teacher
- How to compete for her attention with other children”
Every child is unique and different. When they arrive at school it is expected that they are ‘ready for school’ – this expectation is unfair, as not all children are ready to read and write immediately. Children’s sensory and physical development affects their ability to remember what they see, hear and do. Therefore it affects their ability to learn and achieve.
Think of your child’s brain as a ‘bucket’ with holes in it – if these holes are not plugged then formal learning can be lost. The plugs are the Foundation Skills for Formal Learning. Therefore these skills are the ‘plugs’ that fill the holes in the bucket!
In our bucket we have Reading, Writing and Maths at the top. However, if we focus entirely on these skills at the top of the bucket the holes in the lower areas will undermine our efforts. To achieve in the classroom a child needs to be physically and developmentally ready. This in turn will have an effect on a child’s ability to be able to remember what they see, hear and do.
We need to make sure that children have the Foundation Skills to be ready for formal learning. We need to allow children to develop these skills so that when they move into formal learning situations they will find success more readily and be more ‘switched on to learning’. We want children to enjoy early success in school and provide the best possible start to school life.
Everyday children need to participate in a wide range of important movement activities. These movement activities can improve the way the brain functions to help prepare a child for learning success.
Time also needs to be taken to develop auditory and visual processing and memory skills. The ability to remember what we see, hear and do are learned skills. When the brain has been provided with a wide range of movement patterns, sensory activities and language, the brain will develop a rich network of nerve patterns and literally be ‘wired for learning’.
The development of Foundation Skills for formal learning is sequential:
7. Reading, Writing and Maths
6. Visual Skills
5. Auditory Skills
4. Oral language Skills
3. Motor Development
2. Sensory Integration
1. Reflexes Integration