Prep teachers reflect on supporting our youngest school students to reach a significant milestone. This month marks 100 days of learning for preps in Victoria.
This year, most prep students have spent about half of their first 100 days of school learning from home.
But whether at school or at home, prep teachers at Cambridge Primary School in Hoppers Crossing say 100 days of learning is a milestone worth celebrating.
A different celebration
Last year, preps and teachers at Cambridge Primary School marked the first 100 days of prep by parading costumes inspired by the number 100.
This year, teachers transformed themselves into 100-year-olds to host virtual class celebrations. Preps showed off homemade hats with the words '100 days smarter' on the front and enjoyed bread sprinkled with hundreds and thousands.
Melanie McArthur, one of six prep teachers at the school, said teachers used the milestone as a learning opportunity, with preps continuing their daily count up to 100 days during remote and flexible learning.
'Counting to 100 gave our preps a stepping stone into place value and made it a little more fun every day to find out where we are up to,' she said.
Keeping preps engaged online
Melanie said teachers at Cambridge Primary School used fun and creativity to keep preps engaged while learning from home.
Teachers produced their own learning videos and pre-recorded morning messages providing an overview of the day and featuring a popular 'joke of the day' sent in by preps.
They also hosted small interactive online lessons to reinforce and practise learning for the week and offered one on one lessons for children who needed extra support.
Setting and meeting expectations
Lead prep teacher at Cambridge Primary School, Mariam Latif, said teachers worked hard to ensure preps continued their learning from home.
'We continue to communicate and meet regularly, use formative assessments, and analyse our data to drive and differentiate future planning to improve our prep outcomes,' Mariam said.
Melanie added: 'We have strategically looked at the curriculum and unpacked the areas we need to cover in order to achieve all of the foundation curriculum'.
The teachers said preps had exceeded expectations.
'Our prep students have shown tremendous resilience and a continuous commitment to their learning, even during this interesting time,' Mariam said.
She said a focus for teachers during remote learning was explicitly building on concepts learned, such as turning learning from the previous week into warm up activities to lessons the following week.
'There is a lot of incidental learning that happens in a classroom environment and as we are remote teaching, the incidental teaching is absent,' she said.
'Providing multiple exposures ensures our preps are receiving ongoing revision to enable them to continue to build connections.'
Partnership with parents
Mariam and Melanie said parents and carers had played a big role in supporting preps' learning at home.
'Our preps rely heavily on adult support to access our learning grids and resources,' Melanie said.
'We recognise and acknowledge the hard work our families have been putting in to support their child's learning, alongside us, and how far they've grown.'
Melanie said teachers felt more connected to prep families, who had in turn gained a better understanding of the curriculum and how it was taught.
'As a result, parents are now better equipped to support their child than previously,' she said.
Looking back on the first 100 days of learning
Both teachers hoped preps would look back warmly on their first 100 days of learning.
'We hope our preps look back on their first 100 days with fondness and gratitude, as they were challenged by learning in a different learning environment,' Mariam said.
'It hasn't been the typical prep year but we are fortunate enough that technology has allowed our students to continue to stay connected and flourish.'