Meaningful Engagement with Families

One of the Exceeding themes of the National Quality Framework is that practice be shaped by meaningful engagement with families requiring educators to actively seek input, guidance and feedback from families. This input should be used to shift thinking, shape ongoing practice and foster a culture of inclusiveness and belonging for all.

Larraine Brown explores how families are unique and that we must welcome, value and accept their differences. Building relationships and engaging with families is pivotal to children feeling welcome, valued, accepted, happy and self- confident.

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Growing Connections

Children begin to form emotional and social connections with the adults who care for them in the first moments of life. Early relationship experiences with adult carers form the basis for the child’s ideas about themselves and connections with others.

Dianne Enks explains the importance of the connections and relationships children form in the first years and the critical role of adults in supporting children navigate the social world.

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Connecting with Families in Infant and Toddler Programs

The privilege of being an infant and toddler educator requires a dedicated commitment to fostering authentic connection with children and their families. It requires divergent skills and intuitive and communicative competencies. It lends itself to being present, taking notice and keeping track of the unique details of each day.

Read more from Fran Bastion and Caitlin Burns as they explore the importance of honouring child and family and creating opportunities for sustained reciprocal relationships.

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Critical Reflection on Practice

The National Quality Framework highlights the importance of critical reflection on our work with children. But what is the difference between “reflective practice” and “critical reflection”? This article explores a definition and provides ideas for what it takes to engage in an authentic process of critical reflection.

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Planning For Your Professional Development

A commitment to lifelong learning is part of being a professional, no matter your occupation. However, it has special significance when it comes to being a professional in an early childhood service. Characteristics we try to encourage in children are an eagerness to learn, a curiosity to discover and a willingness to try new things. These same characteristics apply to our best early childhood educators and to them professional development is a must. When educators participate in rich professional development, they are better able to contribute to the ongoing growth of their own practice and the practices within their service.

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A Pedagogy of Friendship

Are children’s friendships undervalued in early childhood education? Is there a preoccupation with individual journeys of learning that may dismiss the importance of peer culture as an imperative to the development of the whole child inclusive of identity and wellbeing?

National Children’s Week begins on 23 October with the theme being UNCRC Article 15: 'Children have the right to choose their own friends and safely connect with others’. In this feature article, Fran Bastion addresses the above questions and challenges us to think deeply about relationships and friendships as a pedagogical pursuit.

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Amazing Babies

The late Jim Greenman (1950 – 2009) once told me that all newborns are born to be cute so that as a species our natural instinct to love and protect is activated. This powerful urge can be witnessed in humans and animals alike. It is primal and purposeful; a protective factor to ensure the vulnerability of newborns is mitigated. Because infants lack maturity and sophistication, we have a tendency to only see vulnerability and protection and underestimate how truly amazing they are.

Lynn Farrell shares her thoughts on how we mustn’t undervalue the power of infants and toddlers to be more than passive recipients of protection.

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Reflecting on Assessment and Rating

As an early childhood community, we are acutely aware of the need to ensure that the rights of every child to enjoy a rich and positive early education experience is an imperative. The process of Assessment and Rating can however be daunting, overwhelming and often challenging.

We thought it might be nice to begin a different conversation about A&R and hear about a positive and affirming experience of process shared by Yuki Moyle and the Team at KU Sunbeam Preschool.

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Rituals and Relationships

Throughout time rituals have been used to connect people together and create a sense of community. Not just religious rituals or ceremonial rites of passage, although these play an important part in society. It is also the rituals of family and friendship – the traditions and customs that are unique to our clan.

Jan Faulkner shares her perspectives on the value of rituals in early childhood communities.

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Community Connections

Young children develop in an environment of relationships, with a child’s community providing a vital relationship context for their learning and development. For children, a sense of community brings significant connection to people and places both in the community within the Centre, as well as the wider community around us. These connective threads of experience occur as part of a quality early learning experience.

Fran Bastion writes eloquently about the way in which children’s connectedness and belonging with people, country and place helps them to learn ways of being which reflect the values, traditions and practices of their families and communities.

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Is This Typical? What Concerns a Speech Pathologist?

Connection and communication are closely linked in children’s development. Early communication such as eye contact, smiling and copying facial expressions typically happen during times when we are close to a baby, face-to-face and engaging in back-and-forth communication. These are also the prime conditions to foster connection with a child.

Speech pathologist Rebecca Manning gives us wonderful insights about children’s speech and communication and what to look out for.

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Communities for Sustainable Environments

What comes to mind when you think about sustainable environments? Perhaps a discussion within the team might identify things like having gardens, compost bins and worm farms. On further reflection you might also add, harvesting rainwater for use and conserving energy, possibly reducing waste and eliminating single use plastics, while also thinking about the resources we use and reducing toxins.

These activities are worthy but only part of the big picture in creating sustainable environments.

Deb Watson shares her insights into the values, perspectives and opportunities for building a community of sustainable practice within our early childhood centres.

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The Early Childhood Book Nook

Do our ‘book nooks’ communicate visible signs of tenderness, care, and a considered collection of literature?

Do we design spaces that honour the rich learning potential of each encounter with quality children’s literature?

Fran Bastion writes about these questions and more as she shares her wonderful insights about the space we create in our centres for children’s literature.

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