Doing Course 2: A Learning Story

Doing Course 2: A Learning Story

At the end of 2016 I finally completed Course 1, Playcentre’s introductory course for recently enrolled parents. Ambitiously, I had signed up to cram Course 2 into the last week or so of the summer holidays. Now it had arrived I wondered what on earth I was thinking, giving up precious child free time to learn. Why didn’t I just go to the movies and eat two chocolate covered icecreams? Actually, I love learning and I love Playcentre. Who am I kidding?

Playcentre provides free education for parents by offering them the opportunity to study towards the NZQA approved Playcentre Diploma in Early Childhood and Adult Education. Course 1 is focused on getting to know your centre, while the next step, Course 2, is about making sense of the Playcentre philosophy and this is just the beginning. Completion of the diploma requires undertaking a number of courses.

Our course got under way on a warm Thursday morning with a Pasifika music play workshop. In a play workshop the focus is on a specific area of play and the structure of the workshops is always similar: learn about and then apply the principles of the play by doing it yourself.

The play workshop was also my first encounter with the twelve or so women that would be doing Course 2 with me. They were a cross-section of Playcentre parents, enthusiastic, diverse and caffeinated. Many were able to juggle the workshop with looking after their children. We laughed together as we performed our Pasifika songs to the group.

It wasn’t until Sunday, however, that we got underway with the bulk of the course workshops. We were introduced to our main course facilitator, Alex, for the first time. A marathon seven hours of learning followed.

We got stuck into the course content quickly, beginning with a discussion about communication styles. The focus was on ourselves and relating to the other adults at our centres, crucial to any Playcentre succeeding. I really enjoyed this. The chat was lively and friendly as we sat in a relaxed circle. As a group we bonded quickly, each sharing anecdotes and reflections. Later in the day we covered positive parenting, celebrating culture and te ao Maori. Every aspect was engaging, we always found something meaningful to discuss, and the hours passed with ease.

The interesting and relatable content ensured that we didn’t feel like we were stuck in a drab old classroom with a bossy teacher, waiting impatiently for the bell to ring. Everybody’s previous experience was valued and relationships were central to the learning; absolutely true to the Playcentre philosophy. Despite the relaxed atmosphere and enthusiastic discussion, Alex was able to rein us in to keep on schedule. While the theory side of things was based on academic research, it wasn’t difficult to get our heads around. It helped that the course book provides accessible summaries of everything covered. There’s even plenty of further reading suggestions for the bits you’re most interested in.

Occasionally we took a break from the discussion to tackle the assessments. These were easy to complete following guidance from Alex. The writing requirements weren’t huge and there were templates to follow.

The following Thursday involved another play workshop. This workshop again invited children, so we learnt waiata against the usual backdrop of snack requests and the occasional grizzle. My son desperately wanted me to participate in his tea party but loved the singing when it began.

All too suddenly it was the last Sunday of the holidays and I faced my final seven hour learning session. These workshops were about play at Playcentre learning stories, adult’s role on session and session requirements. Again, we reflected, pondered, discussed, laughed, and the time passed quickly. We then made a start on the final assessments, practical activities that needed to be completed when we returned to playcentre.

What did I learn? A lot, even more than I expected. Firstly, the course added depth to ideas I was already beginning to understand by attending Playcentre and having completed Course 1. I can certainly see why Alex insists that Course 2 is essential learning for all Playcentre parents. I also found that a lot of what was covered in the workshops was relevant to my parenting world beyond Playcentre. As for Course 3? Well, I start in a fortnight.

If you’re interested in doing any of Playcentre’s courses start by chatting with the education officer at your centre or contact the Canterbury Playcentre Association directly.

Frances Martin

Posted: Tuesday 7 February 2017