for reflection, discussion and action
What do you plan that helps children feel a sense of belonging to the group?
Do you plan intentionally to encourage children to work together and learn from each other?
How do you make sure that children have a choice about being together as a group or doing something on their own or with one other child?
Kym is aware that Emma and Katherine, two four year olds, want to spend as much time as they can with
ten-year-old Polly. They love her to help them with craft activities.
Polly enjoys doing this sometimes, but Kym can see that she gets frustrated at times when the two younger girls won’t leave her alone. She spoke to Polly about this and together they decided that Kym would plan a special activity just for Emma and Katherine several times a week to give Polly a break
Relationships between children and other children and with other adults
[Standards 5.1 and 5.2]
Children enjoy being with other children and learn a lot from each other. One of the most important experiences you can offer is the opportunity for children to spend quality time with other children who are older, younger or similar age.
Learning to be with each other is one of the challenging areas of learning for young children, and they will need your help to be comfortable together. Positive interactions are more likely to happen when children have a choice about being together.
When children are different ages, try to create times and situations when children can be safely on their own, with one other child or with children their own age. This is especially important for school-age children. Too much forced togetherness can be a recipe for unpleasant interactions!
One advantage of many family day care services is that children get to spend time with members of the
educator’s family. It is important that their interactions and relationships are respectful and positive.
Helping children learn positive behaviour
Elements 5.2.2 and 5.2.3
One of your most important tasks is helping children learn to manage their feelings, behave in positive respectful ways and guide their own behaviour. This is one of the most challenging areas of learning, and if you think
about it, it takes a lifetime. Some adults still struggle with managing their behaviour! Children need a lot of understanding and help to learn these things.
You help children learn by:
talking to them
allowing them to express their feelings and opinions and listening to them
setting rules and limits
modelling the behaviours you want children to learn
helping them in learning to look after themselves, others and the physical environment.
Responsiveness and respect are particularly important for the many times when you help children learn behaviours that are positive and valued.
One of the most challenging areas of learning for children is learning how to get along with others, control their behaviour, respect others’ feelings and rights, resolve conflicts and care for themselves and the environment.
It is to be expected that children will sometimes hit, bite, leave other children out of their play, swear, hurt other children’s feelings, not take turns, refuse to wait, run away, not share, not co-operate and damage or break things in the physical environment.
Many of the ways that educators help children to learn to manage their feelings and guide their behaviour are the same as the ways that they help children learn in other areas.
The clear aim that educators need to have in mind is that children will eventually learn to control and guide their behaviour (self-discipline in the old language). To do this well, educators need to have in mind what they know about teaching and learning.
The approved learning frameworks include discussion of preventing, minimising and responding to negative or destructive behaviour as one area of teaching and
learning. The ways educators teach anything – for example the names of shapes, how to climb safely to the top of a climbing frame, washing hands, what a rainbow is, baking cupcakes, how to keep paint from dribbling down the paper – are exactly the same as the ways to teach children to look after and care for themselves, others and the material world.
The most powerful ‘teaching tool’ that educators have is a respectful relationship with each child, one based on knowing the child in context, one that communicates always ‘I know you, I trust you, I know it will be difficult at times to get along well here, I’m here to support you’. Educators communicate messages such as ‘I expect the best of you and I’ll help you when you mess up’.
The approved learning frameworks adopt a strengths- based approach to supporting children’s learning.
Some guidelines for dealing with challenging or ‘undesirable’ behaviour include:
• Keeping in mind that often this behavior is the child trying to express a need or a want – a need for attention for example. The need is reasonable, but they may try to communicate that need in inappropriate ways. Help them learn to communicate what they need in positive ways.
• Having reasonable expectations about children’s behavior. It takes a long time to learn to get along with others. Take care to avoid labeling behavior. It is helpful to keep in mind that most of children’s unacceptable behavior is them acting their age and trying to figure out how to get along.
• Thinking about the developmental stage of the child. Some behaviors are normal for the child’s age – for example, it’s normal for some two year olds to bite, and it’s normal for some ten year olds to tease others. Even if it is normal you need to deal with it, but it helps to understand it and respond more effectively when you put things into perspective. The developmental stage
of the child affects their understanding of what they are doing. A baby who pulls someone else’s hair has no understanding that he is hurting someone, while an older child would understand this.
for reflection, discussion and action
Look at your service’s statement of philosophy and your individual one if you have one. What guidance does it give about how to deal with challenging behaviour?
How closely aligned is the statement of
philosophy with ideas in the Frameworks and the NQS?
How do you incorporate helping children learn to respect and care for each other, themselves and the physical environment into your planning and practice? Should it be more prominent, more visible?
Most importantly, what more can you do to support children to learn positive behaviour?
• Thinking about the reasons for the behavior. Is the child bored? Is the child frustrated? Is there too much going on
– too much noise, too many people in too small a space? Is the child saying he wants me to spend time with the child, to pay attention?
• Giving brief explanations, even to babies, even when you’re not sure they understand what you’re saying.
• Talking to children and show them how to resolve conflicts with words, how to negotiate and compromise.
• Setting up environments that are engaging and that give children choices about being close to each other or being safely on their own.
• Getting in the habit of reading moods. Defuse situations before they become conflicts.
• Helping children accept their feelings and learn positive and effective ways to manage them.
• Setting reasonable rules and limits. Involve children in setting them. Help them to stay within the rules and limits and be consistent about requiring children to behave within the rules and limits.
• Preventing conflict or undesirable behavior when you can.
• Being sure that you are modeling the kinds of behavior you want children to learn. For example, it doesn’t make sense to shout at children for being noisy!
• Helping children learn to ‘read’ and respect others’ feelings by talking about them.
• Keeping in mind that knowing what you should and shouldn’t do does not always mean that you have the self-control to do it. There will be many times when you have to step in and help children.
• Avoiding over-reacting.
• Discussing issues with children and families. Families differ greatly in their approaches, values and attitudes towards children’s behavior. The more continuity there is between what is allowed at home and in family day care the more readily children will learn positive behavior. It is important for there to be absolute consistency on important issues – for example that a child is never allowed to physically hurt others. It may not be possible to have total consistency between what is allowed at home and in family day care. When that is the case it is important to know about the differences and to help the child understand them. It will take longer for a young child to figure out the ‘right’ thing to do when there are differences in rules and limits at home and in family day care.
Inaya gives simple explanations even to babies when she re- directs their behaviour. For example, she might say in a very gentle way to a baby ‘Touch her hair softly – pulling hair hurts’. She knows that babies may not understand the words, but she thinks it’s important to start
early and through her manner and expression to help even very young children begin
to learn good ways to interact with others.
• Staying calm and in control of your own emotions. Children may at times make you angry. If you feel that you are about to lose control, walk away until you calm down, whilst ensuring that children remain safe.
Keep in mind that the aim is that eventually children will:
• be motivated from inside to behave in positive and respectful ways
• have the skills and control to behave that way
• need less help from you and other adults.
These ways, which use the caring respectful relationship that you have with a child to help children learn, are a stark contrast to ways of responding to children’s behaviour that can be described as punishment.
• Never use physical (sometimes called ‘corporal’) punishment – hitting or physically restraining a child.
• Never use time out – putting a child in a room by her- or himself or making them sit in a ‘naughty chair’ or the ‘naughty corner’ for example.
• Never humiliate or embarrass a child, either on their own or in front of others.
• Keep in mind that at all times what is most important is the dignity and rights of the child.
Fatima sees helping children separate
from their parents and engage with what is going on as one of her most important jobs. She makes a point of welcoming each child and parent, and either holds the child or takes the child’s hand to make contact.
Partnerships with families
Respectful relationships with families are an important part of quality family day care. There are several reasons for this:
• You have to know a child really well in order to provide them with a quality experience in family day care. In order to know a child really well you need information from families about the child.
• Families are the child’s first educators and the people who have the greatest influence on the child.
• Families can benefit from knowing how you see the child, just as you benefit from knowing how they see the child.
• Children learn best when there are connections between their experience with their family and their experiences in family day care.
Sharing information and concerns, encouraging families to tell you what they want for their child, and making
decisions together contribute to families feeling secure and respected and children having a good experience.
Partnerships begin the very first time educators and families meet or even before they meet. When the enrolment process and settling in procedures are thorough, with lots of time for families’ questions and a real interest from the educator and co-ordinator in their questions
and what they want for their child, this sets the stage for partnerships. When educators are welcoming and when there is two-way sharing of information families are more likely to feel valued and respected.
Educators tell families about the experiences the child will have when in family day care and encourage families to share what they know about their child – interests, likes and dislikes favourite toys or activities and personality for example. Educators encourage families to share information about their family life and child rearing practices, but without pressuring them to share more than they are comfortable sharing.
The relationship builds on this sharing at the beginning. When educators let families know that they are getting to know the child and that they value having the child in the group, families feel more secure about leaving the child. Families want to be reassured that you are doing everything you can to make sure the child has a good experience. [Standards 6.1 and 6.2]
Questions for reflection, discussion and action
What are all the ways you help families feel welcomed?
How do you help families and children settle in when they first begin coming to your service?
What are examples of decisions that families make about their child’s experience in family day care?
How do you encourage families to share information about their child and to ask you questions?
How can you make the relationships you