When kindergarten students arrive at St Joseph's Primary School, Wingham they're invited to take part in an innovative learning project, Successful Foundations, which provides an opportunity for young learners to showcase the breadth of their abilities through play.
The Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle's Catholic Schools Office developed Successful Foundations on the back of years of research. The program assists teachers to understand each student's unique learning style and with this knowledge, form collaborative relationships with the child and their family.
As part of the project St Joseph's kindergarten teacher, Melinda Rego, regularly invites students to take part in a variety of open-ended, play-based learning scenarios such as florist shops and vet surgeries, building sites and dinosaur habitats, particularly in the first few months of school.
Ms Rego says that encouraging the children to play it helps them to transition to school and allows educators to take a step back and see all their capabilities.
"Taking a step back to listen and watch the children as they take part in open-ended, play-based learning is so important," Ms Rego says.
"We can observe the different ways they learn and identify their strengths, which we can then draw on when engaging the students in more traditional modes of learning."
The Principal of St Joseph's Primary, Melissa Hunt, says that Successful Foundations aligns with the school's ethos, which is to celebrate students' strengths and support their individual learning needs.
"St Joseph's values individuality and strives to develop a love of learning in each student by providing them with a variety of opportunities to excel in all areas of school life. Successful Foundations allows us to get to know our newest students and understand their unique needs.
Ms Hunt says the school community has embraced the project, with parents buoyed by the results they are seeing in their child's academic progression and teachers' knowledge of their child.
"St Joseph's is an inclusive Catholic educational community which fosters a sense of family. Every child is known and valued by staff, and we work closely with families to ensure that we cater for all children.
"Successful Foundations is just one way that we are working in partnership with families to help build a positive and engaging experience for our students."
To find out more about St Joseph's Primary School, Wingham or to enrol your child click here.