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Foundation Classroom

What is the Foundation Classroom

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 Foundation Skills

Body awareness is the internalised understanding of what the body is, it’s shape, size and what it looks like. Children learn best when their whole body is involved in the learning process.

Gross and fine motor coordination is the control of large and fine muscle movements. Control of large muscle movements develops before fine. The pencil grip is an example of a fine muscle movement.

Integration of the left and right brain hemispheres is important so that the whole brain is involved in the thinking and learning process. Getting both sides of the brain working together helps to develop the nerve pathways between the left and right hand side of the brain.

Baby (Primitive) and Postural Reflexes: Automatic reflexes that bring about involuntary postural movements. Usually inhibited or integrated during the first 12-18 months of life.

An important thing to understand about reflexes is that if a child’s baby reflexes are still strong, and their postural reflexes are under-developed, then this may impede development in other areas.

The vestibular system plays a role in balance (inner ear) and it also plays a crucial role in the child’s emotional and muscular development, as well as the development of vision, language and the ability to learn and concentrate.

The necessary skills for comprehension and understanding of new material, to be able to correctly form letters, numbers and shapes, and for seeing differences in letters and words. It is the essential skill for reading, writing and working with numbers.

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

Foundation Class FAQ’s

Every child who turns five and enrols in Te Anau School will start their schooling in the Foundation Class.

The length of time your child stays in the foundation classroom depends on their needs and level of development. The minimum length of time is 4 weeks as every child still needs to adjust to primary school. The teacher also needs this time to ascertain the child’s “readiness to learn”.

The Foundation Classroom is designed to make the transition from early childhood to primary school as smooth and enjoyable as possible. Friendships are an integral part of this however, each child’s length of time in the Foundation Class depends on the level of foundation skills they have when they start school. Depending on the individual needs of the child, some children may progress through to the next class before their friend/s or visa versa.

The decision to move your child through to the next class is done through consultation with the parents. The teacher will develop a clear picture of the child’s readiness and will make the recommendation to the parents.

Mrs Dawn Hansen is the teacher of the foundation classroom. Once the child is ready, they will progress through to Mrs Lynne Smith who is the teacher of the new entrant/Yr 1 class. Students who move through later in the year they will move through to Room 7.

The Foundation Skills include:

  • Vestibular System (Balance)
  • Left and Right Brain Integration
  • Body Awareness
  • Reflexes
  • Visual and Auditory
  • Fine and Gross Motor Skills
  • Smooth transition from ECE to primary school
  • Tailored programme to meet the individual needs of each child
  • Organised and directed play
  • Hands on, active learning
  • Prepares the child for formal learning situations
  • Great academic success
  • Improves confidence
  • Builds relationships and interpersonal skills
  • Children enjoy learning and school in general
  • Parents are an important part of the process and included in decision making
  • Each child will start formal learning when they are ready for formal learning

Move to Learn is a “PMP” programme which stands for Perceptual Motor Programme. “PMP aims to teach a child perceptions and understandings of him/her self and their world through movement and motor experiences”. (Bulluss and Coles).

There are 4 aims of the programme.

  • To assist each child in acquiring efficient movement patterns
  • To promote improved sensory motor functioning
  • To develop a positive self image
  • To develop interpersonal skills.

‘Move to Learn’ aims to give the child experiences in seeing, hearing, touching, making perceptual judgements and reacting through carefully sequenced activities which they enjoy doing. These include running, hopping, skipping, jumping, balancing, crawling, climbing, throwing, catching, bowling, sliding etc.

Yes, it is legislated that every child who starts school must be assessed and reported against the National Standards after 20, 40, 60, 80, 100 and 120 weeks of school and after 4, 5, 6, 7 & 8 years of school.

Absolutely! All learning areas of the NZ Curriculum are taught and assessed as part of their normal schooling

The priority of the foundation class is to prepare the children for formal learning by developing the body awareness, balance, fine and gross motor skills they require to learn in formal learning situations. Therefore the children will participate in a regular ‘Move to Learn’ Programme which builds and consolidates these skills. Move to Learn is an active and fun way of building these skills.

All subjects of the NZ Curriculum including Reading, Writing and Maths are still taught daily, however lessons are structured to be in a slightly lesser duration of sitting and listening. More emphasis is put on active learning through movement.

Orbell The Takahe

Orbell represents the five core learning dispositions we believe are important for a Te Anau School Learner
Orbell is wearing a greenstone necklace (pounamu) representing Fiordland/Milford Sound, the Te Anau School uniform to show our uniqueness and pride and a friendly and welcoming smile just like a Te Anau learner.

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