Following on from our four Transition sessions (in the term prior to commencing school), a significant focus during Term 1 is supporting the new Prep students to become familiar with school routines, to develop strong social connections and foster student wellbeing.
Prep students are actively involved in a range of varied and engaging programs, with Literacy and Numeracy at the core of our teaching and learning and the framework on which other curriculum is based.
Our 2 hour daily Literacy Program focuses on developing strong phonemic awareness, alongside explicit, systematic teaching of synthetic phonics to support decoding (reading) and encoding (spelling) skills. Evidence based teaching strategies, incorporating multi-sensory techniques are central to our Literacy program, supporting a range of individual learning styles.
Initially, decodable reading texts enhance our Reading program, building early confidence and success in our students with transition to predictable/levelled texts as decoding skills develop.
Daily lessons focus on establishing automaticity in the recognition of letters/sounds, irregular words/high frequency words, guided practice to improve reading fluency as well as explicit teaching of comprehension strategies.
Early Writing tasks involve dictation activities where the children apply letter/sound and learned high frequency word knowledge to encode (spell) and record simple sentences.
Mano is a ‘VCOP’ school, using this program to enhance skills in writing, focusing on: Vocabulary, Connectives, Openers and Punctuation.
Handwriting, including the development of fine motor skills and letter formation practice is a fundamental aspect of our Literacy work.
Our Numeracy Program is experience based and covers the areas of Number and Algebra, Measurement and Geometry, Statistics and Probability. All students take part in a minimum of 5 hours of mathematical learning each week, where lessons involve many ‘hands on’ activities incorporating a range of concrete materials to support learning.
- Tuning in games and activities to assist development of counting, subitising and automaticity in basic number skills.
- Rich learning tasks, often linked to literacy texts and real life experiences.
- ‘Enabling’ and ‘extending’ prompts to scaffold or challenge students at their point of need.
- Open-ended problem solving tasks providing students with an opportunity to apply their thinking skills.
Inquiry topics and activities are integrated wherever possible with Literacy and Numeracy studies and may include investigating:
‘Where do I fit in?’ – students get to know new classmates, as well as learning about themselves and their place within their family, school and community.
‘History of toys, games and stories’ – a fun unit exploring old schoolyard games, board games and a comparison with modern toys, as well as a literature unit featuring fairy tales.
‘Science-exploring the world of minibeasts’- including an interactive session with a range of live spiders and insects.
‘How do I get around?’ which explores our local community, maps and also includes units on road safety and water safety to coincide with the annual swimming program.
Mindfulness: can help both teachers and students to reduce stress and anxiety, strengthen attention and focus, support social and emotional growth, and better resolve the inevitable conflicts that arise. At Mano, all students and staff participate in a range of activities to support wellbeing and acknowledge the importance of gratitude and empathy in our lives. The Preps participate in a range of activities including: breathing activities, guided meditation using apps such as ‘Smiling Mind’, ‘Go Noodle’, yoga-based activities, guided dance and mindful colouring activities among others.
Developmental Play: Each week, the three Prep classes are involved in a combined social play session in our ‘shared hub area’. This provides further opportunities to develop skills such as sharing, co-operation, and fair play. There are a range of toys, (construction, home corner, dress-ups and craft-based) for the children to engage in according to their interests.
Prep Barbecue: As an introduction to the Mano Camps Program, the Prep children participate in the annual Prep Barbecue in late Term 4. The day is lots of fun, and often involves a treasure hunt, games, bbq dinner and culminates in a mini disco.
Excursions, Incursions and Special Days: The Prep students participate in a range of excursions and incursions linked to the Inquiry focus running each term. Incursions/excursion may vary from year to year, but always have an educational focus. Recent activities have included a visit to Fairy Park to link in with an Inquiry focusing on the history of toys, games and stories.
We have enjoyed regular visits from a drama group (Carp Productions) who perform interactive performances with social messages including their ‘Proud to be Me’ show. This celebrates development of social skills and friendships and explores individual personal strengths. ‘Wildlife Minibeasts’ incursions have supported our Science/Minibeast Inquiry in recent years. Students have the opportunity to examine and touch a range of insects and spiders and learn more about their characteristics and habitats.
Special Days: Letterland Parade: Letterland is a phonics-based program to support the learning of letters, sounds and reading. It is based on a collection of colourful, friendly characters which represent each letter, including Hairy Hat Man, Quarrelsome Queen and Annie Apple. The characters and program offer a visual support for students starting out on their Literacy journey. At Mano, Letterland is one of a number of tools used to assist children to develop letter/sound knowledge. At the end of the program, we celebrate with a parade for the school community, where the prep children and staff choose to dress up as their favourite Letterland character.
Others days usually include our popular Grandparents visit held during our ‘History of toys, games and stories’ Inquiry. Grandparents are invited to come along and share interesting stories about the games and toys they enjoyed as children, as well as enjoying a yummy morning tea. This is a much loved and popular event at our school! Literacy/Numeracy/Stem and Book Week celebrations sometimes include themed dress-up days and open sessions for parents to join us in the classroom.
100 Days at School: this day signifies the 100th day of class in the school year. The 100th day marks a special opportunity to reflect upon and celebrate major milestones in our student’s personal, social and academic achievement and provides an opportunity to explore many numeracy and literacy concepts based around the number 100. The actual date of this event varies depending on term starting dates, pupil free days etc, but usually happens in early August.
Swimming Program: The Prep-2 children take part in a 9 day intensive swimming program during November/December. This valuable program which utilises the Geelong College pool facilities helps to develop water safety, basic swimming strokes and survival techniques, depending upon each individual child’s swimming level.
Life Education Program – Prep to Year 4 in alternate years. Life Education has been successfully supporting primary school drug and health education since 1979. Its comprehensive programs have been specifically designed to assist schools achieve their Health and Physical Education outcomes. Research shows that the earlier we encourage children to develop positive self image, self esteem and a feeling of uniqueness, the better equipped they are to make positive healthy choices later in life. Life Education assists students to acquire age appropriate knowledge to support informed health choices, develop and practice skills and strategies to act upon individual decisions, and recognise the values and attitudes that may influence lifestyle choices and behaviours. The students will meet Harold the Giraffe and will engage in a variety of fun interactive activities to reinforce learning. Highly skilled educators, utilising their experience and training, work with schools to develop programs/sessions to support the provision of drug and health education within the school. Sessions are designed to be age specific and sequential.
Transition – Mano offers a comprehensive Transition Program, designed to provide every child with the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the school, teachers and their future classmates. We currently run four sessions, from late Term 3 through till mid Term 4. Days and times vary to avoid regular clashes with kindergarten sessions. During the visits the children will engage in a range of activities, including stories, games, art/craft and a tour of the school and playground. During the third visit, the children will meet the year 5 buddy allocated to assist them with settling in during the first days and weeks of the school year. In November we also run a parent information session to provide information about getting ready for school at Mano and what to expect in the first few weeks. A second session is run in the first month of the school year which focuses on curriculum areas and how parents can support their children at home