early learning centre
a place of EXPLORATION
By the age of 3½, most children are bursting with energy, enthusiasm and eagerness to learn about the world around them, and our ELC is designed to propagate their sense of wonder and curiosity.
The purpose-built Early Learning Centre provides a secure environment in which students are able to explore and discover in their own way.
Extensive research has demonstrated that children who regularly engage in nature play and outdoor learning have significantly improved academic, physical, social and emotional development. HILLS ELC has embedded nature play not only in practice, but also into the design of play areas and into the development of its curriculum. Outdoor learning and nature play experiences are a part of our daily routine. Our students love to explore the many fascinating natural elements throughout our school campus, which provides vast learning opportunities for children. There are many spaces where they can be creative, learn through inquiry, explore, take acceptable risks, think independently and develop their own sense of being.
We understand each family is different, as are the needs of each child. Our ELC therefore gives families the ability to choose how often their child may attend, ranging from 2 to 5 days per week. This program provides a positive introduction to a learning environment, along with building towards a seamless transition into Reception. The ELC provides a welcoming and safe environment, where we recognise the unique nature of each and every child, viewing them as capable, curious and intelligent individuals.
Our philosophy outlines the set of beliefs held by our learning community. It defines who we are, what we believe about children and how we create learning environments so children can thrive.
Our philosophy is built around the HILLS Positioning Statement – Planted in Christ, Growing with Nature and Nurtured to Thrive; and our understanding about the importance of Play for Learning.
PLANTED IN CHRIST
- Educators, actively committed to their faith, can authentically share Bible truths.
- The Christian faith sits at the heart of children’s sense of purpose and wellbeing.
- From a young age, children can build an understanding of the Christian faith to develop their God given strengths and gifts.
- Bible principles are the foundation of meaningful learning.
GROWING WITH NATURE
- Children’s sense of wellbeing thrives when they engage with nature.
- Children’s stewardship and care for the world around them comes from spending time in nature.
- First Nation ways of being and doing can enrich children’s understanding of nature and stewardship.
- As active citizens of the wider community, children can make meaningful connections and contributions.
- Natural contexts enhance holistic learning and development.
NURTURED TO THRIVE
- Children have the right to come into a safe, caring, supportive, equitable and inclusive learning space which reflects the culture and diversity of children’s homes, our school and the wider community.
- Secure, trusting relationships underpin meaningful learning and development.
- Strong connections between home and ELC is essential for children’s sense of wellbeing.
- Parents are children’s primary educators and are welcomed to contribute to learning inquiries.
PLAY FOR LEARNING
- Play is the perfect context for children to develop mastery of new skills and to thrive as learners.
- Children have a wealth of knowledge and understanding which, when valued, enriches learning for all.
- Children are competent, creative, capable and curious learners, instinctively drawn to real-world playful inquiries.
- Children flourish when their strengths are acknowledged as a starting point for inquiries.
- Every child can learn and develop to their full potential, in their own way and in their own time.
- Intentionally designed learning environments which offer multiple ways to explore and engage is essential. Some refer to the environment as the third teacher where children can share what they know using 100 languages.
- The role of educators is to work alongside children as co-learners and researchers, facilitating their ideas and wonderings with richly designed learning environments and making learning visible through meaning documentation.
PLANNING & PRACTICE
Central to all planning and practice is the children and understanding their interests, strengths, needs and next steps. We offer a balance of child-led and teacher-guided learning and inquiry opportunities.
Learning design is guided by the National Quality Standards and the Early Years Learning Framework: Belonging Being and Becoming. Additionally, we draw on best practice methodologies including Reggio principles and nature pedagogy to inform planning and practice.
Reggio Emilia Principles
Reggio Emilia principles provide a helpful lens for considering how we work with children and approach learning. In particular there are helpful considerations around our image of children, partnerships with families and the wider community, and how we prepare learning environments and document children’s learning. These principles have gained worldwide acclaim for their influence in shaping early years learning.
Early Years Learning Framework
Being Belonging Becoming
The EYLF principles practices and outcomes inform planning.
We draw inspiration from forest school initiatives in Scotland and Scandinavian countries to enhance our passion and commitment for learning about, in and with nature.
National Quality Standards
Early Learning Centres are assessed against the NQS 7 quality areas for best practice.
As a school, HILLS has chosen to make Nature Play opportunities a priority through the purchase of the adjacent Rivermont Property. The ELC is founded on providing meaningful learning opportunities for its students, so we naturally take every opportunity to bring nature into our program and venture forth into nature as often as we can! The ELC’s daily morning WILD WALKS around the School and Rivermont property allow the children to observe seasonal changes or look for something specific, as well as providing a physical activity that stimulates their brains for further learning throughout the day. Twice a week we engage in our WILD WORK, visiting the Property and venturing into “The Faraway Lands” for extended exploration and learning times in the natural environment.
Before and After
The ELC opens for Before School Care from 7.00am. We also offer After School Care until 6.00pm, supervised by an Early Childhood trained teacher. Parents may choose to collect their children before 4.00pm for a reduced fee. For more information about this service, please contact the ELC Director – Rosie Ferguson via email firstname.lastname@example.org
Our Vacation Care is open during school holidays. A program of activities is available leading up to holidays and can be booked directly through Rosie Ferguson on email@example.com or