In this edition of our blog, current student Siobhán Goodwin describes how the children of Coolkidz Montessori play an active role in the community that they live in.
Coolkidz Montessori is a small pre-school in Knocklyon, Dublin 16. It is situated in the heart of Knocklyon within close proximity to St Colmcille’s Primary School, the community centre, St Colmcilles Church and the local shops. As an early childhood teacher for the past twenty years, I understand the importance of involving key elements of the community into our curriculum. Most of the children attending Coolkidz live in the Knocklyon area and will eventually attend St Colmcille’s Primary School. With this in mind, we decided to incorporate a monthly community walk in our diary. Every year we order hi-vis vests from the RSA for all the staff and children in the setting. In September we teach the children: the rules of the road, the role of the lollipop person, the role of the zebra crossing, the role of traffic lights, and the pedestrian crossing. Garda Pat, our community policeman makes a visit too. We practice road safety in the garden for a couple of weeks and by October we are ready for our first outing. The children have a buddy system where they hold hands with a friend, and the staff usually hold hands with the youngest children in the group if needed. These community walks teach the children so much about who they are and how they can play an active role in the area they live in.
While out walking, the children can see each season evolve before their eyes. In Autumn they can watch the leaves falling from the trees, they can the see snow and Christmas decorations in Winter, and the buds coming back on the trees and flowers starting to bloom in Spring. In Summer, they can listen in wonder to the birds singing and the bees buzzing by the school fruit trees in the sun. The route we walk with the children is very safe as we do not cross any main roads. It is a 25 minute loop passing through the primary school, past the community centre, the church and then back through a housing estate. We try to find a couple of the children’s homes by going through a different housing estate each time. When we do find one, the children all sit on the wall or fence for a photograph which makes them feel very important and proud. They are active members of the ‘litter bug army’ and pick up rubbish with litter pickers as we walk along, we then bring this rubbish back to the pre-school to be disposed of. A lot of the elderly neighbours out for their morning walk engage in conversation with the children and tell them what a great job they are doing keeping the community litter free.
In May and June each year we use our walks to help the children with their transition to primary school. We show them the school yard, the bike stands, the door they will enter and where they will line up with their parents each morning. We sometimes bump into a teacher, pupils engaging in sports, the school grounds keeper or the librarian from the mobile library and stop for a chat. This helps them to be more comfortable with the size of the building and hopefully makes their transition a little easier. I know we are very lucky to be able to collaborate with the community in this way and hopefully this blog will encourage others to try it if they can.
The LINC Programme would like to sincerely thank Siobhán for contributing to our blog, if you would like to write something for LINC please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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