about their child’s daily experience?
Does the way you record your plans help you to reflect critically on all parts of the program/ curriculum?
How does the record of your plans link to the approved learning frameworks and the NQS?
Does the record of your program help you to reflect? How do you use your reflections about what has worked and hasn’t worked in the past to make improvements?
What changes can you make to the ways you record your program to show that it links to the approved Frameworks?
Most importantly, does it contribute to your good practice and to continuous improvement?
Regardless of how you record or write up your program, it’s important to keep in mind that the plan:
needs to cover all parts of the child’s experience, not just ‘special activities’
can be recorded in many different ways– it doesn’t have to be in the form of a timetable or schedule
can be organised under different kinds of headings
– belonging, being and becoming, the five learning outcomes or different components of the curriculum (physical environment, routines, etc.) or a combination of those
– rather it can focus on changes or additions – not what’s always there or always a part of the day.
Most importantly, the plan needs to reflect:
your assessment of previous program decisions
your knowledge of the children you are planning for
input from families and children.
Ongoing evaluation of the program can feed into future plans.
Plans need to be intentional; that is, they need to have a purpose and reflect your goals. These purposes or goals usually take the form of what you want children to learn, as reflected in the learning outcomes. This is a major reason that plans need to link to your documentation and knowledge of children. Plans also need to reflect the statement of philosophy.
You will benefit by having:
a longer-term (maybe fortnightly) general plan
a more detailed plan for the day.
In addition, it may be useful to display a ‘big picture’ daily plan that highlights the main features of the program for that day for families and older children.
Delivering a children’s program in a family day care service
Moira noticed that the entrance to her home was becoming
cluttered with children’s belongings. It meant that if more than one family arrived at the same time it was very crowded. She talked with the children about what they could do
to make arriving and leaving more pleasant. Two five year olds suggested that if they all had a recyclable shopping bag from
the supermarket and Moira put up some hooks in the laundry they could make name badges and could store their belongings in
the laundry. They also added (without being asked!) that if the sign- in book wasn’t near
the entrance it wouldn’t get so crowded. Moira took up the suggestion and is surprised at
the difference a small change has made to arrivals.
The indoor and outdoor environment
The physical space and everything in it, both indoors and outdoors, makes a big contribution to what and how children learn and whether or not their experience is positive. One of the important roles of the educator is to set up environments that are engaging and flexible and
that allow children to have an impact. In addition to being safe, environments should:
respond to children’s interests and spark new interests
encourage children to do things for themselves
include enough space so that children can be together or spread out.
In planning the overall environment think about the following points:
Look at the overall environment and ask yourself how interesting it is for children. A rich environment has much more than activities set up on tables and toys for children to play with. Ask yourself what there is for children to play with if you took all the toys away.
Most family day care residences give children access to a variety of indoor and outdoor spaces.
Divide big spaces into smaller spaces, whilst still ensuring good supervision. Smaller spaces help children concentrate and allow them to interact with one or
two children at a time, or be safely on their own. Use furniture or portable barriers for times when older children are doing something that isn’t safe for babies or toddlers. In other words, set up your space to encourage children to have a choice about being close to each other. This will help them learn to get along with each other and reduce the amount of redirecting you have to do.
Be aware of the noise level. Use music and TV for a purpose and for children’s learning, rather than as background that does little more than add to the noise level.
Think about how inviting and peaceful the environment is. The physical environment can play a big role in helping children concentrate and feel relaxed.
Understand that when children play and get very involved in their learning, the space that they are in will become somewhat messy and disorganised. A very tidy environment isn’t always a good learning environment. Try to keep a balance between having an organised space and materials so that children can find things and concentrate, and accepting the messiness that happens when children play and learn. [Element 3.2.1]
Change things around occasionally, but not too often and not too much. How often and much you change things depends on children’s needs and interests. Children can become bored if nothing ever changes, but at the same time there is security for children when things stay the same and become familiar, especially for younger children. If the space seems to be working – that is, children are playing, settled and getting along well with others – then you probably don’t need to make changes. Keep in mind that a little change can make a big difference, especially for young children.
Try to create an environment that reflects the communities and cultures that the children and families come from. Ask yourself if the children and families feel at home in the environment.
Outdoor spaces offer so much more than just a place to run around and use energy. Even small outdoor spaces can be excellent environments to offer many of the kinds of
experiences you offer indoors. As well, think about how you can use whatever outdoor space you have to help children learn to appreciate nature and learn how to care for the environment. Something as simple as a few plants in pots for children to take care of, setting up a bird feeder, checking a rain gauge or thermometer and recording the weather, looking for insects or picking flowers can interest children of different ages. [Element 3.3.2]
Some important points to consider in relation to the equipment and play materials include:
Be sure that a variety of materials and equipment for play and learning, including toys, are accessible for children to choose (keeping safety in mind of course). Keep in mind that natural and ‘real’ objects are just as valuable and interesting, often more so, than commercial toys. Some examples of natural materials include seashells, pinecones, gum nuts and smooth stones. Real objects from around the house could include a set of keys, handbags and other dress-ups and kitchen equipment and utensils such as small saucepans and plastic containers.
Questions for reflection, discussion and action
Look at some of the dot points beside and use them to reflect on
the environment in your service. What points reflect the way the environment is set up currently?
What are some points from the list above that you could work on?
What is there in the environment that relates to the cultural, family and community lives of the children and families who participate in your service?
Display materials in an organised and attractive way. Use shelves instead of piling everything in baskets or boxes, so that children can choose. Place materials in interesting combinations that suggest possibilities, for example, toy animals with blocks or toy cars and trucks in the sand pit.
Provide lots of open-ended materials that can be used in different ways by children of different ages and with different interests. Some examples of open-ended materials include blocks, Duplo and Lego, construction toys, balls, blank paper with crayons or Textas (instead of colouring in books), and materials for dramatic play
such as dress-ups. Children enjoy single-use toys such as jigsaw puzzles, but they are usually interesting only for children in a particular age range.
Invest in play materials that engage the child, give them something to do, rather than those that simply entertain.
Offer active large motor experiences for all children. Some examples include a simple obstacle course, appliance cartons to sit in or crawl through, cardboard boxes or baskets to throw soft balls into, chances to run outdoors, catching and throwing games with balls and going for walks.
Have a good supply of picture books accessible for children of different ages, including sturdy ones with cardboard pages for babies and young toddlers.
Guard against having too much or too little available. The aim is a rich and interesting environment that isn’t too overwhelming. You can judge whether there’s too much or too little available, or whether it’s just right, by how engaged children are. It can be a good idea to put some toys away and swap them over from time to time.
Aim to offer each child opportunities for both easy successes and challenges.
Of course the most basic concern is that the environment is safe and supports children’s health. [Element 3.1.2] Beyond those concerns though, the environment makes a big contribution to the quality of children’s experience. If the children can choose, play and engage on their own in a rich and varied environment, then educators are free to interact and talk with individual children.
Kylie has figured out that three-year-old George, upon arriving, likes to be greeted and then left alone to find something he wants to play with. He will then say goodbye to his dad, separate easily, and play on his own for a while. He will then be ready to talk with Kylie and interact with the other children.
Relationships between educators and children
[Standard 5.1 and 5.2]
Responsive respectful relationships help children feel secure and create a sense of belonging. These relationships are crucial in order for children to feel confident to explore, play and learn. [Quality Area 5]
Educators work to establish warm and respectful relationships with every child and to build trust. They do this by:
being friendly and welcoming
responding positively to children’s efforts to communicate
showing interest in what children are doing and saying
comforting children when they are unhappy.
The better you know a child the stronger the relationship can be.
Talking with, singing and playing with children, even young babies, are good ways to build respectful relationships.
You can talk to them about what’s happening and about the things they like. It’s just as important to encourage them to talk by being a good listener and responding to what they are saying or trying to communicate (even when you’re not quite sure!).
Meaningful conversations between educators and children are one of the most important parts of any good program. And talking to children on a one-to-one basis is much better than talking to a group. Educators in quality services take advantage of every opportunity to have a one-to-one interaction with a child, even if it is brief.
Talking with children, even young babies, is important for many reasons. It:
helps children learn language and how to communicate
builds your relationship with them
adds to their feelings of security
helps them learn about the world around them.
for reflection, discussion and action
Do you give priority to interactions and relationships?
How do you make sure all children feel safe and secure?
What do you do to begin building a relationship when a child first starts coming to your service?
How can you strengthen the relationships that you have with the children in your care?
Lorna makes a point of getting down to the children’s level, sitting with them on
the floor, at a table or outdoors and having
a conversation or just being available to them.
Supervising children is critical, which means ensuring they are safe and content. However, quality family day care goes far beyond keeping children safe and happy. The most important part of a good experience for children in family day care is the relationships and interactions between you and children, children and other children and you and the children’s families.
Every family and child needs to feel welcomed and to know that you will do everything you can to ensure that the child has a good experience. The child’s family needs to know that you will work closely and respectfully in partnership with them and the child. Children need to feel respected and to have a warm, caring family day care educator who will look after them. Relationships with children and their families are built on the interactions and conversations you have with them.
Helping children settle in and make the transition from being with their family to being with you is particularly important when they first come to you, but it continues to be important as long as they come. Sometimes both families and children will need help from you to separate
from each other and to reunite and leave at the end of the day.
It is important to plan so that you can give priority to interacting with children by talking with them, reassuring them, helping them play and learn and generally being there for them. Building relationships with each child over time is a priority. This occurs through getting to know the child, showing pleasure in the child’s company and being responsive to and respectful of the child.