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A peep into Prep at Haileybury

The Prep year at Haileybury is all about emotional, social and academic growth

NEWS 27 Mar 2023

Drop into a typical Haileybury Prep classroom on any day of the week and it will be a hive of activity.

Children may be learning through singing songs that help them remember different letter sounds or maths concepts, writing the letters of the alphabet and related words, or creating a work of art.

They might be exploring the outdoor spaces and learning about the seasons and why weather changes, or how planes fly, or why the sun looks close when it’s actually further away than young minds can imagine.

Or Preps might be sitting at their tables, quietly working on a task that they have learned using the school’s renowned Explicit Teaching Model where teachers break down complex skills into clear, manageable and sequenced steps.

“Prep is a big step up from the ELC and from the start of Prep to the end of the year we see massive differences.”
Michele McGill, Head of Junior School.

Explicit Teaching is based on an ‘I Do, We Do, You Do’ approach with teachers demonstrating a task and then the teacher and children do that task together. The final step sees the children completing the task themselves. It embeds learning, skills and confidence from an early age and the model has been shared with teachers across Australia and internationally.

Other programs that help Preps on their learning journey include Jolly Phonics to teach letters, sounds and grammar, the Haileybury Reading Program to help children understand different texts and become better readers, and the spiralling mathematics curriculum that teaches different numeracy skills on a regular basis.

“Initially, children are dependent on the teacher to tell them exactly what needs to be done. By the time they leave Prep, they show initiative and have gone from the concept of learning to write on lines to writing page after page of stories. They read beautifully and have learnt many new concepts in mathematics that they start to apply when problem solving. Prep is a huge year in a child’s development.”

More than 90 per cent of children who are part of Haileybury’s Early Learning Centres remain in the School and join Prep. So, they continue to build on the academic skills learned in ELC, and also continue their social and emotional growth with two programs – Bucket Fillers and Zones of Regulation.

“Bucket Fillers teach children about being kind to themselves and others,” says Michele.

“Every person has an invisible bucket they carry around with them which gets filled or dipped into as they interact with each other. It’s important to fill other people’s buckets but we can’t rely on other people to fill our bucket so we must develop perseverance, resilience and confidence to fill our own bucket.”

The Zones of Regulation program is based on four zones that represent emotional states: blue (bored, sick, tired), green (calm and learning well), yellow (silly, excitable, anxious) and red (angry, worried.)

“We teach students that it is okay to be in any of these zones but it is how we deal with these emotions that is important. The program helps students recognise what they are feeling so they can use tools, such as deep breathing, walking away or seeking help, when they find themselves in different zones,” explains Michele.

Haileybury has been recognised nationally as Non-Government Primary School of the Year multiple times. Grenville Green, Deputy Principal (Junior School), says leaders and teachers living the notion that ‘every student matters every day’, the Explicit Teaching model and a focus on evidence-based practice have been key in this recognition.

“Students moving from ELC to Prep benefit from a carefully planned transition through to Junior School and the skills developed in ELC flow smoothly into our Prep program.”
Grenville Green, Deputy Principal (Junior School)

Throughout the year, preps mark their progress with their teachers and families. A key Prep milestone, the 100 Days of Prep, is one of the highly anticipated events in the Junior School calendar, we are going to have our 100 Days of Prep on Friday, 28 July 2023. This celebration recognises the children’s achievements during their first formal academic school year.

Michele says the Prep program aims to ensure Preps reach the highest standards, scaffolded by the School’s academic and pastoral care programs.

“Parents are incredibly grateful for the growth their child makes throughout the year and they can’t believe the learning that is achieved during that time,” she says.