have with families even stronger?
Educators not only encourage families to share information, they use that information to plan the program. They also involve families in making decisions about the child’s experience. [Element 6.1.2]
Families need to feel respected and to know that you are not judging them.
The key to a good partnership is open informal communication.
Families need to know that they are welcome in the family day care service. Sometimes families and children need your help and support to separate from their child and again to reunite and leave together.
A strong relationship means that most times if tensions occur between you and families you can sort them out together. However, sometimes it may be necessary to bring in your co-ordinator to help if there is a conflict.
Educators can also support families by telling them about other resources in the community that they can access for help. [Element 6.2.2]
Nina wants very much for the children she has in her family day care service to know about sustainability and how to take care of the environment.
She has a vegetable garden that the children look after and she involves the children
in recycling. Nina’s statement of philosophy includes a statement about environmental awareness and sustainability.
The importance of a statement of philosophy
Family day care services are required by the NQS to have a statement of philosophy. As an individual educator you may want to have your own statement that builds on the service’s statement. [Element 7.2.1]
A statement of philosophy is the foundation for your practice. It sets out principles, values and beliefs about children and what you want to achieve in your work each day. Educators and co-ordinators base their policies as well as what they do every day on that statement. It is crucial that you are familiar with the statement of philosophy and that you are able to link your work with children back to what is documented in it.
Beliefs about children and their learning and development are the heart of a statement of philosophy. Some of
the most important ideas about children that should be highlighted include the following ideas from the approved learning frameworks and the NQS:
• Relationships are crucial for learning. In order for children to play, learn and enjoy themselves they must feel secure and care for and know that someone support them
when they need it. Educators’ relationships with children enable them to be more effective teachers. [Elements 5.1.1, 5.1.2, 5.1.3]
• Each child has strengths, interests and their own ways of learning, being with others and behaving. From a very early age children have different styles – for example, some plunge right in while others stand back and watch for a while. [Elements 1.1.2, 1.1.5, 1.2.2]
• Children make a big contribution to their own learning and experience from birth on. They need choices and opportunities to make decisions and exercise some control over their daily lives. They also need adults who help them to learn to guide their own behaviour. [Elements 1.1.5, 1.1.6]
• Children are capable teachers of other children and adults. [Elements 1.1.6, 5.2.1]
for reflection, discussion and action
Are you familiar with the statement of philosophy for your service? If so, how does it influence what you offer children and families – in other words, how does it relate to what you do every day?
Do you have your own statement of philosophy? If so, does it highlight what you think is important for children? Does it reflect what you do? How does it link to the ‘big ideas’ in the approved Frameworks and the NQS?
What action can you take to link your work as an educator more closely
to the service’s and your own statement of philosophy?
• Children are interested in interacting with and relating to other children from birth, and in their early years they learn ways of being with other children. Young children need a lot of help from adults to get on well with other children. [Elements 5.2.1, 5.2.2, 5.2.3]
• Knowing how children develop, and understanding that each child learns and develops in their own way informs the program decisions you make. [Elements 1.1.1, 1.1.2, 1.1.3]
• Much of children’s significant learning happens through their family life. [Element 6.2.1]
• Children learn many valuable lessons from play.
• One of the most important areas of learning in childhood is learning about yourself – learning who you are. Children’s identities are closely connected with their family, culture and community. They learn about
themselves through the messages they get from others. Developing a strong and positive sense of identity is crucial. [Elements 1.1.1, 1.1.6]
Aness keeps a journal that contains mostly questions – things
she wonders about – sometimes in relation to what a child’s behaviour means, at other times
in relation to the way she goes about her work. Currently she
is wondering about
a three year old who comes to her service who is very quiet and hardly ever initiates any interactions or conversations with other children. She is wondering if it’s just because he prefers his own company or if he lacks the skills and confidence to approach other children.
She enjoys very much the monthly discussion sessions with four other educators and
a co-ordinator. They take turns each month deciding on the topic. This month they are going to talk about how they celebrate children’s birthdays, and whether there is room for improvement. One of the things they enjoy about these sessions is finding out
how other educators do things, and how many different ways there are to do good practice.
What does it mean to be a professional educator?
Being a professional educator means accepting that your work is complex, and that every day you have to make important judgments and decisions about many things, including what is ethical.
Professionals think critically about what they are doing in an effort to improve. They are open to changing and keen to learn new things. They never believe that they know everything they need to know. They are able to identify what they need to know more about and areas where they need to increase their skills. They actively seek to learn. [Element 7.2.3] They recognise that change is inevitable.
In family day care one of the critical ingredients for quality is that positive mutually respectful relationships exist between educators and co-ordinators. [Element 4.2.2] Each is clear about their role. Co-ordinators are at least diploma qualified and often have a lot of experience in family day care and/or other education and care services. Their role goes beyond troubleshooting and safety checks. They
can be partners with educators in curriculum decision- making. [Element 7.1.4] Educators and co-ordinators can reflect together, always with a focus on providing the best possible experiences for children.
Critical reflection is something professional educators do both on their own and with others (see example).
Educators and co-ordinators benefit from being part of the broader education and care community, learning from professionals outside of family day care and beyond the education and care sector.
All the parts of the program fit together and interconnect to contribute to quality family day care. What matters most is that there is evidence in the program that:
• all families are welcome
• children feel secure and are engaged in worthwhile ways
• there are diverse opportunities that cater for all areas of learning and development
• there is a balance of child- and educator-initiated experiences
• children make choices and contribute to decisions
• interactions and relationships between children and educators are warm, inclusive and respectful
• children are encouraged and helped to interact positively with other children
• the environment is rich and organised to encourage children’s engagement
• the environment and experiences reflect children’s interests, as well as their families, cultures and communities
• you communicate with families, seeking their ideas and using them.
Families want their child to be safe, secure and happy. Supervising children at all times and staying aware of what is happening is essential. Learning about children, what they need and enjoy, being enthusiastic and committed, really paying attention to what’s going on and reflecting to make improvements will mean that family day care can do much more than keep children safe, secure and happy.
Where to find more information and resources
Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework Practice Guides
Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework 4 modules
Early Childhood Australia National Quality Standard Professional Learning Program
Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority Early Years Exchange
Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority
Family Day Care Australia
Victorian Professional Support Coordinator – Gowrie Victoria
The Department also has further information and resources available regarding education and care services on its website at www.education.vic.gov.au/childhood
Regional offices of the Department can be contacted for assistance. Contact details for Regional Offices can be found at www.education.vic.gov.au/about/contact
Furthermore assistance can be sought from the Children’s Services Regulations Enquiry Line on 1300 307 415 or firstname.lastname@example.org