In Bracken Hill we have developed a creative curriculum, which nurtures and respects the individual personality of each child in an interactive, friendly and learning environment. We pride ourselves on awakening each child’s delight in their environment, a love of nature and love for themselves. We strive for each child to reach their full potential and engage with the world around them with confidence, curiosity and compassion.
We follow and are guided by 'Aistear' - the new early childhood curriculum
framework for children from birth to six years in Ireland. Aistear utilises four
guiding themes rather than subjects and curriculum areas which connect with
most, if not all, of the subjects in the Primary School curriculum. These are :
Well-being, Identity and Belonging, Communicating and Exploring and Thinking.
Within our curriculum we allow the child the opportunity and flexibility to achieve their potential, feel safe and secure, develop strategies to build resilience, make choices, learn self expression and stimulate a sense of identity and belonging in a caring, fun environment. We are happy that on their departure Bracken Hill children are confident, articulate and eager to learn as they further their education. Our Curriculum firmly encompasses the Aistear themes in the following ways -
Experiential Learning -
We believe that children learn best through active experiences with people, materials, events and ideas as well as teacher based activities. We plant our own flowers, bake our own cakes, and go on nature walks. We take great pride in our surroundings and the beautiful scenery and we use this as a source of inspiration which we bring into preparing our daily plans.
Self-Guided Learning -
Children are encouraged to make choices about materials and activities throughout the day. As they pursue their choices and plans, children explore, ask and answer questions, solve problems, and interact with classmates and adults. In this kind of environment, children naturally engage in "key experiences" - activities that foster developmentally important skills and abilities.
Interest Areas -
The space and materials in Bracken Hill are carefully selected and arranged to promote active learning. The rooms are divided into "interest areas" organized around specific kinds of play. For example, each room includes separate areas for block play, art activities, house play, small-toys, books and writing materials, and sand play. In each area materials are organized so children can access them easily and put them away independently.
Literacy and Numeracy -
In promoting the development of literacy and numeracy skills we provide experiences and materials that help children develop the broad language and logical abilities that are the foundation for later academic learning. For example, to encourage children's beginning reading and writing skills, teachers create a print-rich environment and provide opportunities throughout the day for children to listen to stories, explore books and other print materials, and work with writing tools and materials. To promote math abilities we provide materials that enable children to use beginning skills in counting, comparing numbers.
Positive Interaction -
We emphasize positive interaction strategies: sharing control with children, focusing on children's strengths, forming authentic relationships with children, supporting children's play ideas, and adopting a problem-solving approach to social conflict. The teacher’s dialogue with the child avoids questions that the teacher knows the answer to. It is authentic dialogue, aimed to support the child in his or her learning and development as a person. Bracken Hill staff use several methods of observation techniques to gain a holistic assessment of your child’s development, assessing their Physical, Intellectual, Language, Emotional and Social development.
Physical Development and Fitness -
We believe children’s physical development is as important as intellectual development. In a world where tablets and computers have become part of all children’s playtime, the outdoor space is a vital part of developing their potential and we have developed fitness regimes which we feel are fun and get the children to love the outdoors. These fitness regimes can also be carried out indoors during inclement weather and incorporate running, balancing, ball games, yoga and mindfulness among many more.
External Environment -
We feel that the world we live in contributes a lot in the way we educate our children. In Bracken Hill, outside events have a strong bearing on what is taught in class. We incorporate topical events and encourage the celebration of international cultural festivals to broaden children's appreciation of the world around them. We built volcanoes during the Icelandic volcanic eruptions and made replicas of the Titanic and learned her history to mark her centenary. We also encourage children, with the help of their parents to follow up on classroom discussions by bringing in relevant information particularly newspaper articles, books etc or by collecting natural history specimens for the nature table.
teach each child about sharing and being part of a group.
offer each child the most suitable stimuli for their stage of development.
teach children about their five senses and how to use them.
help children recognize and identify shapes, colours and sounds.
provide a greater understanding of other parts of the world and different cultures from their own.
teach children to respect themselves and others, as well as their background.
instill in each child the skill and co-ordination required to control writing tools and basic literacy.
encourage each child to persevere, without fearing being wrong.
encourage each child to be kind and compassionate to others.
encourage children to control their emotions and learn to express themselves appropriately.
allow each child to learn through fun and pleasurable activities.
Music at Bracken Hill -
Every Wednesday we are joined by our Music Teacher Joan who encourages movement, language development, and the joy of expression through song.
Children are introduced to the seasons, how to play instruments and famous composers and the day 'Mrs Joan' comes to visit is a favourite time of the week for many.
* A full copy of the Curriculum is available in each of the separate classes.