TENDING to injured “pets” is all in a day’s work for Emmanuel Christian School kindergarten students, who are proving skilful hands as veterinary surgeons.
However, the pets in this instance are of the fluffy toy variety, with students busy diagnosing ailments, organising treatments and even booking return appointments in their specially set up animal hospital.
While students have found their ‘vet adventure’ great fun, there is a serious side to the play, said Emmanuel kindergarten teacher Amanda Sargent.
“Our animal hospital is a fantastic way for children to develop rich oral language, not to mention a range of literacy and numeracy skills, as well as problem solving
and decision making,” she said.
“It is all part of an innovative teaching method – The Walker Learning Approach – which is popular on the mainland but has only recently been adopted by a handful of schools in Tasmania, including Emmanuel’s kinder class.”
Ms Sargent said the early learning approach harnessed the interests of the children as a springboard for learning.
“The children’s interests underpin what we teach in class, and it has been found that by doing this young students are far more engaged and focused,” she said.
“In fact there have been some amazing results from schools which have adopted the Walker Approach, including big drops in absenteeism, for example.”
Each term the “Dramatic Play Area”, which houses the current veterinary hospital, is transformed into a real life business of the students’ choice.
“This term it has been the animal hospital, but we have also had a pizza shop, where the children write menus, take orders, even count out the profits, just like the real thing, and they love it and it helps their learning so much,” Ms Sargent said.
Emmanuel has recently introduced a “Try our Pre-kinder for Free” initiative, where parents of children starting school in 2017 are invited to come along to join in this year’s kindergarten class.
“We pride ourselves on providing a quality education by opening young minds to life’s possibilities,” Emmanuel principal Scott Winkler said.
“When people visit our school near beautiful Ralph’s Bay and see what we are doing here – including, of course, our innovative work with the Walker Approach, there is no doubt they will love it as much as we do.”
Caption: From left, Emmanuel Christian School kindergarten students Millie, Jesse and Ruby ready to diagnose and treat pets in their animal hospital.