Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Play Group: Day 1

This morning, I woke up rather early to go in to observe the children at the play group centre. I was quite excited, to be exact. I wanted to ask the administrator, WS, what I needed to do, or I could do when the children came in.

Now, if you were wondering what is a playgroup centre, it is basically a place where parents bring their children (babies, toddlers to about 5 years and older) to get acquainted with other parents who do the same. For this centre, they do it once a week, and on the same day each week.

Play Groups exist a lot in places like UK, Australia, and all these western nations. It also does exists in Malaysia, but very rarely heard of. Children at the age of 3 are expected to start learning to read the letters of the alphabet, and learn 3 languages before starting pre-school. I think it is ridiculous that Malaysian parents expect their children to read English, Malay and Chinese before starting Primary 1. The schools should just focus on learning to read and write English, and Chinese, and just speak spoken Malay.

Malay and English use the same Roman 24 letters of the alphabet, and I feel that it would seriously confuse the child, who has to differentiate between both languages, which has some similar words, and the pronunciation of the letters are different as well.

Anyway, before I start deviating from the main topic...

It was essential that I spent some time observing at the centre, as I really needed the time to get used to the environment, as I really do not know how the routines, or the playgroup is run. It was necessary, as I come from a learning environment which is heavily structured, and highly teacher controlled.

I did feel a bit at loss at the carefree freedom and freedom of choice allowed even as low as at playgroup level, as I didn't know what to expect from the children, or the environment itself. However, with this group, it was the children's own parents who looked out for their own children, so I really didn't have to much, except perhaps to just sit back and observe from a distance away.

I will be going in tomorrow again, so that I could acclimatize myself to the centre better. Yup. Acclimatize.

There are a few points in relation to the centre that I have to take note of in regard to the resource that I will create. Firstly, the children only come in once a week for he play groups. So, because of that, it would take a while before the children can get to know me. I could also see that the children knew that a newcomer was in their presence, and I could see that it was either they were shy, or hesitant to talk to me. Which I was not sure, nor could I tell.

As this is not a group of children that I would have under my observation for a long while, it would be not practical for me to prepare a resource (like a feelie/mystery bag) as I would not know what the children's prior knowledge,where or what kind of things that the chldren will

I have narrowed my options to make a board book. Out of the board book, I have narrowed it to about two options, being, either a "touch and feel book", or, a big book that talks about the different kinds of materials in the environment. (one of the Outcomes in the QSA guidelines).

It would also have to be taken note, the children's ages who come in to the Centre, so that it would be appropriate to their context, and that the board book that I would make is at least content relevant for their age, but still challenging enough that they could think about it, or relate something they know (like when they are doing something) to it.

My impression is that a book (or one in a storybook context) would be much more appropriate in a context where I am able to read to them, and leave it on the shelf so that they can take it and look at it without an adult's supervision. This would definitely meet the safety aspects of the resource.

The first day was not bad..I even managed (arranged by WS) to talk to one of the parents who told us all about HomeSchooling, and why she home-schooled all her 5 children. The parents were having morning tea, and I didn't know how to go in to the group, so the administrator did the initiating.

Yes, if you want to know too...we do have HomeSchooling in Malaysia as well. By law, children have to attend a normal elementary school for the first 6 years of elementary school. But families are allowed to homeschool their children after that for their highschool years. However, that's another topic altogether...

Seriously, I do just pray that my Blue Card would arrive soon. This whole issue about the Blue Card has really inconvenienced (and I am sure a lot of students are complaining about it) students who need access to children, as a lot of our courses are linked to practicals, and we need to test out these resources, in order to complete our assignments.

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