Recently appointed local kindergarten teacher Kathryn Rothacker, not only brings over 23 years’ experience in early childhood education to our Frankston Early Learning Centre, (16 years in a council run kindergarten), but the promise of a ‘ground-breaking’ evidence based educational program designed to help young children reach their full potential.
You may not have heard of it – yet - Abecedarian, also known as 3A in Australia. This approach prioritises language development in young children, which research shows is key to a child’s early learning and school readiness.
Ironic isn’t it, that this tongue twister of a word represents the most powerful approach in developing language.
“Language not only allows children to organise their thoughts and explain their ideas, it gives them the ability to express their feelings and the tools to make strong connections with those around them, and this program builds on that”, said Ms Rothacker.
Developed by American Professor Joseph Sparling in 1972, Abecedarian has 4 core areas of focus
Whilst the centres overall kindergarten program still focuses on play based learning, the added element of the Abecedarian evidence based approach provides a formal assessment of each individual child across the four focus areas, using the ages and stages questionnaire.
This formal assessment immediately highlights areas of strengths in a child’s development and areas that require further support, this informs and allows educators to plan intentionally for individual children. This ensures that the educators’ planning is precise and purposeful. This allows the child to continue along their learning journey. In other kinder programs, this would normally take 6 months to identify and then action.
The abecedarian approach is embedded into the Early Years Framework and whilst play base learning is the best form of learning, the children at the Frankston Centre have the added benefit of their learning being tracked and individualised, allowing them to reach their full potential.
“The 3A areas are the absolute key to a child’s development, and most importantly, to be school ready”, said Ms Rothacker.
Kathryn acknowledges that children and families are all different, and her experience gives her an uncanny ability to adapt and recognise the diverse and individual needs of each child in her kindergarten class and under her care.
“It is important to make sure we are sending our children to school ready, so they are not experiencing failure before they even begin. Learning can be really challenging when a child loses their self-esteem, and the Abecedarian approach is key to ensuring that any learning or developmental gaps are picked up and worked on immediately”, said Ms Rothacker.
In a few short months Kathryn has made a tremendous positive impact on the children; walking into her classroom you immediately sense this and the affection the children have for her.
Kathryn balances the Abecedarian program by incorporating theories of learning through play, experimentation and discovery, making learning fun. With a particular interest in music and movement, she creatively uses puppets to teach social development, and encourages engagement of the learning environment using natural and recycled materials; as well as the outdoors.
The evidence based approach supports the learning outcomes of individual children through intentional and deliberate planning, so that children develop improved language and literacy skills. The centre’s innovative approach to early childhood education supports all children in achieving their full potential.
Windermere’s Early Learning Centre in Frankston is the only long day care centre and kindergarten in the south east offering the Abecedarian approach. Due to its success, the ground breaking program is on its way to being embedded into the curriculum across the whole centre, giving our children the best start in life.