Early Years Learning Framework
Our programs are based on the Early Years Learning Framework – Being, Belonging and Becoming. The aim of this document is to extend and enrich children’s learning from birth to five years and through the transition to school. The framework forms the foundation for ensuring that children in all early childhood education and care settings experience quality teaching and learning. It has specific play-based learning and recognises the importance of communication and language (including early literacy and numeracy) and social and emotional development. The framework has been designed for use by early childhood educators working in partnership with families, children’s first and most influential educators.
The EYLF provides the context for our curriculum here at Co-op. Curriculum encompasses all of the interactions, experiences, routines and events, planned and unplanned, that occurs in an environment designed to foster children’s learning and development (p. 9) All of our planning and daily practice is done in relation to the framework. We plan for each child by observing their interests, abilities and needs and document this in their portfolios. We then relate this back to the framework which you will read throughout their portfolios.
The framework also encourages reflective practice and assists educators to think about other ways of doing things. Reflective practice helps us to become increasingly thoughtful about our work and motivates us to look deeper and explore new ideas and approaches.
An important principle of the framework is Partnerships: Working with families and community. A key element of Co-op’s philosophy is families: forming partnerships, open and clear communication and active participation. Learning outcomes are most likely to be achieved when early childhood educators work in partnerships with families. Partnerships are based on the foundations of understanding each other’s expectations and attitudes, and building on the strength of each other’s knowledge (p. 12)
The framework provides an opportunity for educators across Australia to work towards:
a clear focus on children’s learning and wellbeing
a shared language for curriculum in the early childhood field
a base for planning, promoting and assessing learning
improved quality in early childhood settings
cultural security for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their families
including families and communities in children’s learning.
Clifton Co-op’s 3 – 5 year old kindergarten program operates on Monday to Friday 9 am – 4.30 pm with the exception of school holidays. Children enrolled in our kindergarten program that is integrated with our long day service can attend the centre during our usual operating hours 7.45 am – 6 pm. To qualify for the Government funded kindergarten program children need to be enrolled in 15 hours per week which is a minimum of two days per week.
Our kindergarten program is play based (which is mandated by the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework), encompassing all of the VEYLDF principles and outcomes. Within our ‘play based program’ educators are responsive to every child, attuning to their age, abilities, individual needs, and learning style, at their developmentally appropriate level.
Our program is designed so children may work at their own pace and practice their skills repeatedly if they wish. Young children need long periods of uninterrupted time to practice their skill routines. The children’s play is mostly child centered and observed, supported and supervised by the educators. Some activities such as circle games, group time and music and movement are educator directed and occur intermittently throughout the day.
Children can make choices about their learning experiences and ‘through hands on’ involvement, pursue their interests. Children will be encouraged to engage in learning experiences that have come from their own ideas. The rationale for this is to foster an intrinsic love of learning.
Children can practice ‘self-direction’ which is an important element of being a successful learner. Educators respond to this by scaffolding and helping the children to extend and develop their ideas with individual and group responsiveness. This can happen by engaging in discussions with the children, giving direction, additional resources and guidance when required.
‘Scaffold’ is an early childhood teaching term which means the educators decisions and actions build on children’s existing knowledge and skills to enhance their learning. Structure and responsibility is embedded in the program within all learning experiences and daily routines. Educators are responsive with scaffolding, by guiding and supporting children in adapting to the expected disciplines and responsibilities within every aspect of the program e.g. waiting for a turn at the painting table that has been set up for two children or practicing a transition routine such as each child taking their turn to leave group time and go inside to wash their hands for lunch.
Our teaching approach is based on ‘intentional teaching’ style as opposed to rote learning. Intentional teaching involves deliberate and purposeful decisions and action and individual responsiveness. This is opposite to teaching by rote to the group or continuing traditions simply because things have ‘always’ been done that way. You will see a mix of child-initiated and intentional teaching projects with our documentation. Our projects, both individual and group, are written up on the whiteboards and within your child’s and the room journals.
The program is based on ‘open ended’ learning experiences as opposed to ‘adult directed’ or ‘product oriented’ experiences often seen previously in traditional kindergartens as evidence of the children’s engagement and learning. Teachers ‘scaffold’ with demonstration and role modeling during activities. They do this within the children’s zone of potential development and capability and guide them into their next skill level knowing their capabilities. Children can always succeed in open – ended experiences regardless of their stage and ability, free from competitive pressures.
Through open ended experiences children build confidence in their individual self-expression and experience intrinsic rewards. The older children can develop open ended experiences to complex levels and the younger children develop their skills through observing and participating with their older peers. Open ended experiences within the program include construction, investigative imaginative play areas with natural materials, collage and construction with re-cycled materials, various forms of art media including water colours, ink painting, drawing and sensory activities such as sand, water, playdough and clay.
The indoor and outdoor area and program operates as one complete learning space apart from rest time with appropriate clothing and sun protection required and excluding extreme weather conditions. This is to accommodate children’s individual needs and learning styles and all the developmental areas.
There is a fundamental focus upon social skill development based on the understanding that maturity in social and emotional development is the most important aspect of school readiness. The ability to become confident, caring, accepting and eager to try new challenges and adapt to unexpected changes is possibly the most important aspect of learning that takes place in the kindergarten year.
Being part of a large group of peers helps children to respect others by sharing, talking and working together. Throughout the day children learn to co-operate with others in many different situations. They learn to communicate with both adults and peers and they learn to problem solve by working together to find an answer contributing to a joint solution. Social skill development happens in all aspects of the children’s play particularly small group play.
Educators support social skill development by observing the play and assisting and guiding the children when it is necessary to achieve equitable and inclusive outcomes. Conflict resolution may be assisted with collaborative learning techniques such as open ended discussions between educators and children to achieve solutions with shared responsibility. Positive behaviour guidance is always implemented by educators.
Fairness, Equity and Respect
We work to maintain and consolidate an ‘anti-bias curriculum’ with regard to all issues regarding social justice. Responsibility for fairness, equity, respecting diversity and inclusiveness are addressed in democratic ways within the group. Collaborative discussions involving decision making and boundary setting related to equity and fairness are discussed and implemented between educators and children. The aim is that with supervision and guided discussions, over time the children internalise these principles and assist in perpetuating the philosophy and expectations themselves. These approaches support responsibility and leadership within children’s peer groups building upon their social development, preparing them for school. This approach has worked successfully and is particularly suited to mixed aged group settings where peer influence can be influential in developing pro-social skills.
Literacy and Numeracy is embedded within all aspects of the program in accordance with the frameworks. Literacy in the early years includes a range of modes of communication including music, singing, movement, dance, storytelling, visual arts, media and drama as well as talking, reading and writing. Dramatic play with props provides opportunity for children to be exposed to numeracy in real, relevant and meaningful ways. Numeracy includes, numbers, patterns, measurement, spatial awareness, as well as mathematical thinking, reasoning and counting.
Our teaching is intentional in embracing the ‘whole child.’ This means considering that social, emotional, linguistic, cognitive and physical aspects of the child are of equal importance to literacy and numeracy. Awareness of developmental domains enables us to plan appropriate experiences based on the stage of maturity of the children.
Aboriginal Culture and Multi-cultural Perspectives
We aspire to embrace multi-cultural perspectives particularly Indigenous culture and work toward a non- tokenistic representation of Aboriginal culture and multiculturalism so that it is embedded within our daily program. This aspiration is based on the belief that culture is central to our feelings of being and belonging and children’s sense of identity. Respect for diversity is deeply held within in our program. Our philosophy states that promoting a culture of inclusion and celebrating diversity is of the utmost importance. This means valuing and reflecting practices and beliefs of families, to create a sense of belonging for each child and family and their unique family background.
We will engage in ‘reflective’ and ‘family centred’ practice. Partnerships with families are integral to the program and our philosophy. A flow of dialogue and information will be reciprocated between educators and families and this will be incorporated within the planning process. This means integrating community events into our program and involving parents and their talents and contributions.
We are continuing to aspire toward maintaining an aesthetic homely environment which is positive in tone, colourful and stimulating. We endeavor to captivate the children’s curiosity, investigations, creativity, and to most importantly impart a sense of belonging and security. This will enable our children’s self-esteem, learning and development to flourish.
Smith L: Kinder information articles
Walker K: Play Matters. Investigative Learning for Preschool to Grade 2.
Walker K: Ready, Set, Go? How to tell if Your Child’s Ready for School and prepare them for the best start.
Walker K: What’s the Hurry? Reclaiming Childhood in an Overscheduled World.
Kindergarten Parents Victoria Pamphlet. ‘Welcome to Kindergarten’
The Victorian Early Years and Development Framework
Belonging Being and Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework