WelCom June 2019:
Learning Through Play sessions, which put students at the centre of learning, are a big success at St Benedict’s School, Khandallah. The sessions provide students opportunities for conversations and skills around thinking and encourage them to make decisions around special needs learning activities and the way they engage with others.
With growing educational evidence around Learning Through Play as best practice, dovetailing with the school’s values and vision, Principal Michael Hinds, Deputy Principal and school SENCo (special needs coordinator) Cheryl Taylor, and Sarah Wood, specialist ORS (resource) teacher, have been keen to include the twice-weekly sessions into their school’s curriculum.
The programme supports the school’s values and strategy, as well as realising the vision of the New Zealand curriculum by providing opportunities to develop confident, actively involved, connected, life-long learners, says Michael Hinds.
‘Through play-based learning, our students are developing both their social and cognitive skills. They are gaining self-confidence for new experiences and environments. Their oral language is also being enhanced through the authentic learning opportunities provided.’
Sarah Wood says, ‘The programme is based around the needs and interests of the students and enquiry-based learning. We’ve seen students happy in themselves and communicating naturally with others, which fosters relationships, inclusion and equity. We embrace parents as partners and they are welcomed to the sessions to be a part of their child’s learning.’
Cheryl Taylor adds, ‘The learning sessions are positive for all the students involved. We are expanding the range of activities and resources every day and providing everyday life skills in a play-based environment. The students are excited about coming to the sessions and we are excited about the way they are flourishing. They are becoming more independent and able to interact more freely with their classmates. We have always been determined to be inclusive at St Benedict’s School and these sessions are definitely providing the students with the skills to be able to better access the curriculum, at their level.’
Michael Hinds says ‘The school’s vision of “Developing our Children’s Minds, Growing our Children’s Hearts” links perfectly in to this initiative and it’s really evident providing opportunities for the students to experience success remains at the centre of all decisions’.