Delivering a children’s program in a family day care service Introduction

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Delivering a children’s program in a family day care service


Family day care educators’ work is important. When they support children’s learning and development, educators are helping families to lay the foundations for children’s lives.

Family day care is recognised as a professional education and care service, along with centre-based, preschools (kindergartens), long day care, and outside school hours care services.

Although each education and care service is different, there are some important guiding documents that highlight that all services have a lot in common.

Three approved learning frameworks guide the work of family day care services and individual educators in Victoria:

  • the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework (VEYLDF)

  • Belonging, Being & Becoming: the Early Years Learning Framework for Australia (EYLF)

  • My Time, Our Place: Framework for School Age Care in Australia (FSAC)

A brief description of each of these approved learning frameworks follows.

The VEYLDF guides all early childhood professionals, including those in family day care, who work with children birth to eight years in Victoria.

The EYLF is a national framework document for early childhood educators who work directly with children birth to school age in education and care services. Since the EYLF uses the term educators to refer to anyone who works directly with children in education and care services, this is the term that will be used in this Guide.

The FSAC is a national framework that guides the work of educators who provide before and after school and vacation care to school age children.

Services receiving funding from the Commonwealth are required to use the EYLF or the FSAC. Services funded by the Victorian Government are required to use the

VEYLDF. Most services will use both the Victorian and the appropriate national Framework.

All education and care services including family day care services and each family day care educator must meet the requirements of the National Quality Framework including the National Quality Standard (NQS). The NQS provides details of all the requirements for providing a quality education and care service to children in Australia.

Although there are some differences in the three approved learning frameworks, the main ideas are similar and they fit well together. They share the same five learning outcomes for children. This Guide offers advice about program decision- making that is consistent with all three approved learning frameworks and the NQS. Throughout the Guide there are links to particular parts of the NQS and some quotes from the approved learning frameworks.

The three approved learning frameworks are useful resources for you to refer to over and over again as you complete your self-assessment against the National Quality Framework and you develop your Quality Improvement Plan. They will also assist you in meeting the requirements of the National Quality Framework and to reflect on ongoing quality improvement.

The approved learning frameworks and the NQS can be accessed on the websites listed in the back of this document.

Purpose and structure of this Guide

This Guide has been written to help family day care educators to think about, plan for and deliver a program that helps children progress in their learning and development in five learning outcome areas that are in the approved learning frameworks. These learning outcomes are central to the NQS. [See next sections for a brief description of each of the learning outcomes.]

The Guide contains a number of different sections. Before focusing on areas of practice, there are sections on:

  • • the concepts of belonging, being and becoming

  • • the five learning outcomes

  • • educators’ practice and the VEYLDF

  • • some of the particular strengths and challenges of family day care

  • • a brief look at the image of children that it is important for educators to adopt and use in their work with children and families.

The main focus of the Guide is to provide information about the range of areas to consider in relation to offering a program to children, including:

  • the curriculum or program

  • • play and other learning opportunities

  • • daily living experiences (routines)

  • • organising time and structuring the day

  • • assessing and recording children’s learning

  • • planning and recording the program

  • • the indoor and outdoor environment

  • • relationships between educators and children, children and other children and with other adults

  • • helping children learn positive behaviour

  • • partnerships with families

  • • the importance of having a strong and relevant statement of philosophy or vision statement to guide your practice.

• These areas overlap and connect with each other, and you will think of them together as you go about your work.

The final sections of the Guide are about what it means to be a professional educator and the relationships between co-ordinators and educators.

At the end of this Guide is a list of selected resources that are easy to access and some organisations that can provide you with useful resources for your work.

For each topic there are some questions to reflect on and discuss with others as a basis for taking action and improving what you do. Hopefully you will think of other questions and things to think about.

Family day care includes children from very young babies through to children in primary school. As you read this Guide and think about and discuss its contents, keep in mind that the NQF and the ideas in the VEYLDF and the EYLF apply to all children including very young children – that is, babies and toddlers – as well as children over three years of age.

Belonging, being and becoming and the Learning Outcomes


Moya invited families

to bring a family photo. She placed them at child height, and she notices that the children often look at them.
The title of the EYLF – Belonging, being and becoming – is a vision for childhood and describes three broad areas of the important learning that happens in childhood.


Children belong from the time they are born, and even before birth. They belong to their family, culture, community and heritage. Belonging reminds us that relationships are the foundation for learning and living. Children learn about belonging as they participate in their families, in the community and in the family day care service.

You support children’s sense of belonging when you:

  • • encourage children and families to express their cultural heritage

  • • use their first language, even a few words

  • • make sure that the environment and some of the experiences you offer relate to children’s lives in the family and community

  • • welcome children and families

  • • show that you value children and families for who they are and for what they contribute

  • • talk about a child who is absent

  • • help children learn how to get along with each other

  • • involve every child in meaningful ways in real tasks such as preparing a meal, packing away, welcoming a new child or comforting a baby.

Children’s sense of belonging to their family is strengthened when they see and hear you showing respect for their family.

Children’s sense of belonging to the community grows when you take part in it with them – for example, by going to the library or a nearby park.


Being is about who we are now and who we were. For children it’s closely related to developing a strong sense of identity.

Being refers to valuing children as human beings in the present, rather than for who they will be in the future. It’s also about focusing on their strengths – what they do know and can do – rather than what they don’t know and can’t do.

Being also reminds us that children’s learning is valuable and meaningful for the present as well as for the future and that the best way to prepare to be three years old is to be two years old for a whole year and do what two year olds need and want to do. The best way to prepare for school is to have a great year of learning that matches who you are in that year before starting school.

Being also reminds us that educators need to help children hold on to those wonderful capacities that they are born with – for example their passion for learning, the confidence and drive to be creative, the capacity to lose themselves in the present, their sense of wonder and awe about many things. Educators don’t have to teach those things – they just need to help preserve them.

Educators acknowledge children’s sense of being when they show that they trust them and respond to children telling them what they need to do.

The idea of children’s being reminds us to sometimes just let children be – give them space and time to dream, to relax and enjoy themselves.

Belonging and being are closely related. Who you are is in part about who and what you belong to.


Children’s becoming refers to all the learning and development that happens in childhood.

Becoming is also about the unique individual that each child is from birth.

Awareness of children’s becoming reminds us that although there is no point pressuring children to learn things earlier than they would without the pressure, it is important to provide challenges and to build on children’s interests.

Educators who appreciate children’s becoming pay attention to children’s progress, celebrate it and share the appreciation with families.

Billy, who has been in family day care with Sally since he was a baby, is a very physically active child. Now three, he loves nothing more than kicking

a footy, throwing a ball, or shooting hoops. Fortunately for Billy, Sally has a teenage son who also enjoys these activities and is very skilled at them.

He and Billy have built up a strong relationship over the years, and Billy’s skills are outstanding for his age.

The Learning Outcomes

Each of the three approved learning frameworks includes the same learning outcomes for children, and these Outcomes are a focus of the NQS.1 [Element 1.1.1]

These learning outcomes describe the areas or categories of learning that matter. Educators need to be very familiar with these areas of learning and be able to describe each child’s progress in these areas. The learning outcomes also help educators plan as they think about the best kinds of equipment, materials and experiences they can offer to encourage progress in these areas for all children, including young babies. The learning outcomes are that children:

  • • have a strong sense of identity

  • • are connected with and contribute to their world

  • • have a strong sense of wellbeing

  • • are active and involved learners

  • • are effective communicators.

Under each Learning Outcome is information that gives more detail and explains how learning in that area looks and how educators can support that learning. It is important for educators to understand the detail about the learning outcomes, not just what the headings are.

The learning outcomes describe a broad idea of learning. They help us see that important learning includes much more than what is thought of as cognitive or academic learning – for example learning shapes, colours, numbers and letters.

Also, emphasis in these Outcomes is much more on children making progress than it is on reaching certain milestones. This idea is referred to as the ‘distance travelled’.

Children’s learning and development may occur in all of these areas at once. In other words, any example of learning in one Outcome area is likely to be an example

of learning in one or more other areas as well. Belonging, being and becoming weave throughout discussions of the learning outcomes.

A brief general description of each Outcome follows. Remember that the specific behaviours that are evidence of children’s learning depend on children’s experience, abilities, skills and understandings.

  1. 1. Regulation 73


Mali makes a point of letting each of the

children, even the baby and toddler, know

when she sees them helping another child or even making someone else smile or laugh, which the baby does often. She believes

very strongly that it is important for children to learn that they

can make a positive difference in other peoples lives.

Learning Outcome 1: Children have a strong sense of identity

Having a sense of identity is knowing who you are and being comfortable with who you are. Our sense of identity comes largely from our belonging. Relationships are the foundation for building a sense of identity – ‘who I am’, ‘who I belong to’ and ‘what effect do I have on others’.

Relationships and connections give us powerful messages about who we are and who we might become.

Signs of children’s developing sense of identity include:

    • • showing that they feel safe, secure and supported

    • • becoming more independent, making choices and decisions

    • • talking about their family, culture, community

    • • sharing information about themselves – what they are good at, what they are interested in, their feelings

    • • learning to interact with others with care, empathy and respect

    • • have strong positive relationships with others, both children and adults.

Educators help children develop a sense of identity when they:

    • • build strong relationships with them

    • • talk to them about their families and cultures

    • • let them know that they value and respect them

    • • make sure that they have many successes and positive experiences.


Toby, age two, gets very frustrated easily, and often this results in temper tantrums. His educator tries to help him when she sees him becoming frustrated and before he loses control. She

talks to him about how he is feeling and helps him to recognise these feelings. Rather than just distracting him, she asks him if he would like to do something else, and if he doesn’t have any ideas she makes suggestions

and helps him find something to do where he can be successful.

Learning Outcome 2: Children are connected with and contribute to their world

Signs that children are making progress in this Outcome area include:

    • • showing that they feel a sense of belonging to the group

    • • gaining understanding of their own and others’ rights and responsibilities

    • • learning to be comfortable with and respect diversity and difference of many kinds

    • • increasing understanding of fairness

    • • learning to take care of the environment

    • • making new relationships

    • • communicating and connecting with others

    • • showing care and empathy.

Educators help children learn to connect with and contribute to the world when they:

    • • show children respectful ways to relate to each other

    • • include all children as valued members of the group

    • • talk with children about fairness and respect for diversity and difference, and plan experiences that support that learning

    • • show respect for the environment and involve children in experiences and everyday practices that help them to learn to take care of the environment

    • • help children to have positive interactions and experiences with other children

    • • help children learn to identify and accept their feelings and deal with them in constructive ways.



Bella accepts only one new child at a time, unless siblings are coming together. She believes that it is important to focus

especially on children who are new to help them settle into family day care. She says that the reward is that once they feel secure and settled, they are more independent and


Learning Outcome 3: Children have a strong sense of wellbeing

Signs that children are making progress in this Outcome area include:

    • • beginning to take responsibility for their own health and physical wellbeing

    • • showing confidence

    • • being resilient, able to cope with everyday challenges and setbacks

    • • persevering, trying hard

    • • developing physical skills.

Educators help children develop a sense of wellbeing when they:

    • • show that they respect and value each child

    • • build warm trusting relationships

    • • help children feel secure and safe

    • • let children know that they can get help when they need it

    • • show empathy when children are distressed

    • • encourage children to do things for themselves and develop self-help skills.

Learning Outcome 4: Children are confident and involved learners

Signs that children are making progress in this Outcome area include:

      • • developing dispositions for learning such as curiosity, confidence, creativity, enthusiasm

      • • demonstrating a range of skills such as problem solving, experimenting, seeking help

      • • transferring learning from one situation to another.


The children in Margaret’s family day care service often do projects. They decide together on something to work on over a few days or even weeks. They make a plan, decide who will do what, and each day they review the plan. They are currently preparing a small area in Margaret’s back garden and will plant

a vegetable garden. Margaret sees that these more complex longer-term projects give everyone a chance to be involved and offer many challenges and problems to be solve.
Educators support children’s learning in this Outcome area when they:

      • • help children feel secure

      • • offer many chances to try out new ideas, explore and experiment

      • • connect family experiences with those in family day care

      • • encourage children to initiate their own learning, play and exploration

      • • actively support children’s learning whenever and however they can identify children’s interests and build on them.


Con, age three and a half, is currently

learning English. His educator can see that he understands much of what is said, but he is not talking much.

She gives him lots of opportunities to draw and paint; activities that he enjoys and is very good at. She has learned to read’ his work and sees that the colours that he uses and what he draws or paints are an indication of how he is feeling.

Learning Outcome 5: Children are effective communicators

This Outcome focuses on verbal and other kinds of communication.

Signs that children are making progress in this Outcome area include:

    • • interacting verbally and in other ways with others for a range of purposes

    • • engaging with a range of texts and gain meaning from them

    • • expressing ideas and making meaning using a range of media

    • • beginning to understand how symbols and pattern systems work.

Educators help children progress in this Outcome area when they:

    • • initiate conversations and respond to children’s efforts to communicate

    • • show that they value children’s and families’ home language and they encourage them to use it

    • • offer a variety of literacy and numeracy related experiences

    • • set up a language-rich environment.

Questions for reflection, discussion and action

How can you use the ideas of ‘belonging, being and becoming to think about each child in your service? How can you use those ideas to plan for childrens learning?

Which Learning Outcome areas do you think you pay most attention to currently?

Are there Learning Outcome areas that you need to pay more attention to in your planning and practice?

How do you strengthen childrens belonging

to culture, family and community?

What do you know about each childs sense of identity?

What more can you do to make sure that you are using the Learning Outcomes to guide the experiences that you provide for children?

Educators offer children opportunities to learn in all of these areas. In general, all children need opportunities to:

    • • learn who they are and who they belong to – their identity

    • • learn about their culture and community and those of others

    • • develop a strong sense of belonging to groups and making a positive contribution

    • • strengthen their relationships with family, culture and community

    • • be physically active

    • • use their hands, large muscles and whole body

    • • create

    • • communicate in various ways

    • • play

    • • think, experiment, explore, solve problems, figure things out

    • • learn how to get along with others

    • • learn to respect and value many kinds of diversity

    • • find out about the world around them, learn to respect and take care of it

    • • gain some skills that allow them to take some responsibility for their own health and safety.

It is important to think about how the learning program you offer fits with the learning outcomes, whether it is balanced, how appealing it is to children and how it helps them to progress in the Outcome areas.

The more familiar you are with the approved learning frameworks, particularly the key components of the learning outcomes, the more they will become the way you see children, families and learning. The ideas in the approved learning frameworks become a kind of lens or

frame of reference that informs all aspects of your practice.

Educators’ practice and the VEYLDF

Educators’ practice – what you do – is the most important consideration in making family day care a good experience for children. The basics and essentials are:

    • • ensuring that children feel secure and content

    • • creating and maintaining a safe and healthy environment

    • • supervising children at all times

    • • helping children avoid hurting themselves and others.

The key to good quality, however, depends very much on educators’ interactions and relationships with children.

The VEYLDF lists eight Practice Principles for Learning and Development that describe the best ways for early childhood professionals to work with children and families to advance children’s learning. A number of these Practice Principles link directly to interactions and relationships with children.
The Practice Principles include the following:

Family–centred practice: Educators collaborate and work in partnership with families and children. They make decisions about the program that take into account each family’s values and expectations about their child’s learning and development. This includes, among other things, talking with families to understand what is important to them about their child’s experience and using this information to make decisions about the program. [Standards 6.1 and 6.2]

Partnerships with other professionals: Educators work collaboratively with other professionals and organisations in the community that support children and families. This might involve encouraging families to see a maternal and child health nurse, sharing information (with the family’s permission) with another service the child attends, such as a kindergarten, finding out more about an organisation in the community or being part of a community network of educators and/or other professionals. [Standard 6.3]

High expectations for every child: Educators operate with the idea that every child has the ability to learn and develop. They recognise that children learn every day, from all their experiences, from birth. Educators who have high expectations for children don’t pressure or push them,

but neither do they limit or set low standards for what a child may be able to achieve. Educators make sure that they provide a program that includes every child and takes account of their abilities and interests. [Standard 1.1 and 1.2]


for reflection, discussion and action

Which of the Practice Principles are most important to you in your work?

Which Practice Principles do you need to pay more attention to?

What support do you need to use the Practice Principles more to

guide and inform your work? [Discussing these with your co-ordinators would be a good first step].

Equity and diversity: Children’s previous experiences, their family and culture help to shape their learning and

development. Educators need to acknowledge and respect diversity among children and families and build on what children know and can do. They also support children to learn to respect and be comfortable with various types of diversity, including cultural background.

Respectful relationships and responsive engagement: Positive relationships are the foundation for children’s feelings of security from birth. Strong positive relationships provide a secure base that helps children to feel safe and confident to try new things and to learn. Positive relationships and interactions between educators and children, children and other children, and educators and families form the foundation for a good program. Building a relationship with each child over time is

a priority in a good service. Building relationships involves getting to know the child well, showing pleasure in the child’s company, showing respect and using your knowledge of that child to offer meaningful experiences that build on strengths and interests. [Quality area 5]

Integrated teaching and learning approaches: Children’s learning benefits from having both opportunities to initiate their own learning and take the lead, with an educator responding, and having some educator-led experiences that build on their abilities and interests. Providing children with many different kinds of materials that can be used in a variety of ways and giving them time to play, explore and create in their own way encourages them to initiate their own learning. Building on children’s interests and skills by offering new or more complex learning opportunities, asking them questions that make them think and introducing new ideas are all ways to promote learning.

Most good learning experiences are like a dance, with both educators and children leading and following, initiating and responding.

Assessment for learning and development: Educators collect information about children’s learning and development continuously and in a variety of ways to identify what the child knows, can do and understands in order to plan opportunities to help them build their knowledge, skills and understanding. Educators assess children’s learning with families and children. [Standard 1.2]

Reflective practice: Educators can improve their professional practice by reflecting critically – that is, thinking about what works well, what doesn’t and how they can improve. Reflective practice isn’t about being negative but rather about always aiming to learn more and do better. [Element 1.2.1 and 1.2.3]


Aisha has been doing family day care for 12 years. Over that time there have been four families who have had more than one child coming to Aishas service. She says that she has of course come to know those families very well over the years, and that although that is an important positive, she has to be careful to

maintain a professional relationship with those families and not to show any favouritism.
Questions for reflection, discussion and action

What are the particular strengths of your family day care service? What challenges do you face in working as a family day care educator?

What are some examples of ways that you take advantage of the strengths?

In areas where your practice is good quality, what can you do to make it even better?

What are some positive changes you can make in the ways you work as a family day care educator?

Strengths and challenges of family day care

Providing a good experience for a group of children is always challenging, whatever the type of service.

Family day care has many characteristics in common with other types of education and care services. Family day care also has some special characteristics, some of which are strengths or positives and others that offer challenges.

These include:

    • • Many educators work alone most of the time.

    • • Generally groups are smaller than in centre-based services.

    • • There may be a broad age range of children in the group.

    • • Educators may be raising their own children while providing family day care.

    • • Children may be in the same family day care service over many years, and strong relationships may develop with the educator and the educator’s family.

    • • The flexibility of family day care and the inclusion of the educator’s children and children attending school means that the size, age range and composition of the group may vary from day to day and during the course of the day.

    • • The program may take place in a home, a physical environment that must cater both for the educator’s personal and family life, and the family day care service.

    • • The program may occur alongside the educator’s family life.

Providing quality family day care demands that educators are aware of what quality looks like in any type of education and care service, take full advantage of the strengths of family day care and working to overcome or minimise the challenges.


Soula has two toddlers in her family day

care. She is mindful of their desire to do

things for themselves. Even though it would be quicker for her to pick them up and put them in their chairs

for lunch, she allows time for them to do it themselves. She has also recently introduced the idea of letting them select pieces of fruit from a platter rather than serving them.


for reflection, discussion and action

What is your image or picture of children? How does it fit with the image in the Frameworks?

What are some of your practices that show that you see children as capable?

What opportunities do children have in your service to teach each other?

What has a child taught you recently?

What more can you do to acknowledge and support childrens sense of agency?

The ways we see children

The approved learning frameworks and the NQS are based on a particular image or picture of children. The image educators have of children affects the ways they interact and talk with children and the learning opportunities they provide.

This image comes in part from the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Child, which states that:

All children have the right to an education that lays the foundation for the rest of their lives, maximizes their ability, and respects their family, cultural and other identities and languages. The Convention also recognises childrens right to play and be active participants in all matters affecting their lives.2

The VEYLDF adds to these ideas that children are ‘full members of society’.3

Educators who offer quality services base their practices on an image of children as human beings who deserve dignity and respect and who are:

    • • capable and competent as well as vulnerable

    • • active contributors to their own and others’ experiences

    • • teachers as well as learners.

The concept of agency is particularly important for educators to understand if they want to practise in ways that fit this image. Agency refers to children’s capacity and need to make choices and decisions and influence the physical and social world around them.

    • 2. EYLF page 5. 3. VEYLDF, page.5

Questions for reflection, discussion and action

Do you think about and plan for all

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