Mary-Ann Rizzo has recently come on board as the director of PLC Sydney Preschools. She shares her approach to early childhood education, plus some ideas on entertaining small children at home during lockdown, including her favourite play dough recipe.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
I am an early childhood teacher with a passion for education. I have worked in the education sector for more than 20 years. My experience includes early childhood, primary and tertiary education. In this time my drive has always been to facilitate learning that is life long for all who are engaged.
What do you love most about what you do?
The moment a child really connects with the learning, that very second where you can see the environment is making sense for the child. Early childhood is about supporting, nurturing and guiding the child to be the best version of themselves. A partnership not only with the child but also their family and their community. My personal pedagogy is all about making a positive impact on those I work with and knowing I have supported them in making a difference.
What path led you to choosing this career?
Education has always been an area of interest for me. Understanding how a child’s mind works and being in a position to help facilitate learning in an individual yet inclusive way. Empowering children to be involved and resilient learners.
Is it beneficial for children to move from childcare to pre-school for a year or two prior to starting school? If yes, why?
The environment at PLC Sydney Preschool supports a clear transition to school. Whilst the curriculum allows for a Reggio Emilia approach, the structure of the day lends itself to a primary setting. Children are encouraged to have a sense of independence and autonomy as they care for their belongings and engage with the routine. Both small and large group meetings allow the teacher to work with the whole group and present an opportunity to embed smaller concepts with children in smaller groups, allowing for an individualised approach to learning.
What advice would you give to the parents and carers at home with young children during the current Covid-19 lockdown?
My advice would be to breathe, take a moment to appreciate the space and the people you are around. Use the everyday tasks as teachable moments. An example of this may be to encourage your child to help fold the washing. This simple task supports their cognitive development of matching and also supports fine motor and eye hand coordination skills. While getting your child involved in this task may take longer than usual, the beauty of lockdown is we have nothing but time.
Any go-to activities you can recommend for a day inside with a preschooler?
Making playdough. There are endless hours of fun in this activity. Play dough is versatile to any age group and affordable. This is my favourite recipe:
1 cup salt
3 cups plain flour
60ml vegetable oil
Mix all the dry ingredients together then slowly add the wet ingredients. Knead until the mixture combines.
PLC Sydney Preschools run a pre-school for boys and girls in Ashfield, with new campuses opening in Lane Cove soon. To find out more visit: preschools.plc.nsw.edu.au