Conducting chemistry experiments, making helicopters and operating a 400,000V van der Graaff generator are not the usual learning activities for under-fives. But at ACG Tauranga Preschool, the children get to experience all this and more thanks to a unique partnership with ACG Primary and College.
Each week, Senior School specialist teachers in science, dance, sport, and art, head across campus to the ACG Preschool, where they deliver dynamic and engaging lessons specially crafted for young minds. For IGCSE and A-Level physics teacher and general science teacher Brent Smith, these classes are an innovative way to develop children’s interests and expand their thinking.
“Senior specialists bring with them a wealth of experience in explaining things simply, and preschoolers are no exception,” says Brent. “They want to know why things are the way they are, and how things work just as much as their older counterparts. Specialist teachers can explain difficult concepts in plain language, whilst getting the ‘science’ right. We also have access to really cool equipment!”
Exploration is at the heart of all learning, and children are thriving in the dynamic and inspirational environment.
“One of the strands underpinning the early childhood curriculum Te Whariki is the idea of exploration – and in a science context, that opens up a whole world of excitement around young people. I enjoy watching the ‘light bulb moments’ when young learners discover the wonder of science, from a purely explorative approach.”
This specialist teaching programme sets ACG Tauranga Preschool apart from other early learning centres, by providing next level learning opportunities and paving the way for young students as they move into primary school and beyond.
Preschool Manager Raechel Thompson played an integral role in implementing the programme and says it’s a real drawcard for families considering enrolling at the centre.
“No other preschool that I know of delivers specialist teaching, and the benefits are just so huge,” says Raechel.
“The children absolutely love their classes, and each week they are filled with so much excitement and anticipation about what they are going to do and learn. Every teacher brings with them their own unique teaching style and variety of specialist experiences.”
Being part of a whole-school campus provides unrivalled opportunities for children, families and teachers to build strong relationships with the wider school community.
“We are so fortunate to be able to draw on the strengths and knowledge of our most senior teachers in a respectful teaching partnership while still holding true to our early childhood curriculum, Te Whariki. And for those children who transition on to Primary School here, it makes for a seamless pathway as they see familiar teachers on campus who know them well.”
Dance teacher Dani Miller couldn’t agree more.
“It makes the progression of those students who continue into our Primary School so much easier. When a student transitions from Preschool, I build on the strong connections we have already established, making the transition really smooth and easy,” says Dani, who teaches dance from Years 1 to 10 and delivers specialist classes at the Preschool twice a week. It’s a job she cherishes.
“I absolutely love teaching in the Preschool. The students are so responsive, enthusiastic and eager to learn.”
In fact, Dani says the children are so keen on her classes that they co-construct the lessons alongside her.
“They know exactly what they want to do and eagerly request exercises. The exercises are based around well-known tunes with a focus on movement, basic dance techniques and the use of imagination.”
Among their favourites are Sleeping Bunnies, and Red Light, Green Light.
And when class finishes?
“The children don’t want me to leave – they race to the door and playfully barricade it so I can’t get out! It is hard to imagine getting any more joy from a job.”