Foundations for success guideline for extending and enriching learning for aboriginal and torres strait islander children in the kindergarten year

Documenting and reflecting for children’s learning

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3.4 Documenting and reflecting for children’s learning
Documenting and reflecting refers to the ways educators gather evidence about children’s learning. It is part of the process described in the EYLF as Assessment for Learning. When evidence of children’s learning is documented, it forms the basis for individual records and planning, and can provide rich information about learning and teaching (Gowrie Australia 2010, p. 3).
To document and reflect for children’s learning effectively, all members of the teaching team observe and listen to children to learn more about what children know, can do and understand. They gather rich and meaningful information that depicts children’s learning in context, describes their progress, and identifies their strengths, skills and understandings (Commonwealth of Australia 2009a, p. 17).
The planned learning outlined in Section 4 of this guideline provides key reference points about the expected knowledge, skills and dispositions for children across their Kindergarten Year against which evidence can be gathered. Learning is not designed to be taught or ticked off one by one. Instead, educators gather rich pictures of children’s learning as they participate in a kindergarten program.
Educators implementing the Foundations for Success guideline will create individual folios to record each child’s learning journey. This will make the process of learning visible to children and their families, educators and other professionals. Each folio will be unique and reflect the process of learning that is particular to each child as they participate in a kindergarten program.

A folio might contain observations and stories of children’s learning; photographic images, drawings or recordings; samples or artifacts of children’s ongoing projects, investigations and representations; individual and collaborative works; and contributions from families.

A folio can take many shapes and forms and could be a display folder, loose-leaf folder or digital record. Regardless of its form, it is important that children maintain ownership of their own folio. This means that they contribute their ideas about what is to be included and have access to their folio at all times. Families may, from time to time, take the folio home to read or contribute comments and new information.
Over time, a folio will include a range of evidence of children’s learning from which assessments can be made about their learning.

3.4.1 Making informed and consistent assessments
At particular points in time, educators will be making assessments about individual children’s developing knowledge, skills and dispositions to communicate and share with families and colleagues. These assessments focus on the ‘distance travelled’ by children across their Kindergarten Year.
The EYLF advises: '… such processes do not focus exclusively on the end points of children’s learning; they give equal consideration to the ‘distance-travelled’ by individual children and recognize and celebrate not only the giant leaps that children take in their learning but the small steps as well' (Commonwealth of Australia 2009a, p. 17).
In making assessments about children’s learning, educators refer to Documenting and Reflecting in Section 4 of this guideline.
For each learning area, examples of children’s learning behaviour are provided across three contexts.
In the familiar contexts of family and community — learning should reflect the rich cultural, linguistic and conceptual skills children may bring to their Kindergarten Year.
In new and unfamiliar contexts of kindergarten — learning children may demonstrate as they respond to new and unfamiliar situations across their Kindergarten Year.
In the familiar contexts of a culturally secure kindergarten — learning children may demonstrate as they become confident and active participants across their Kindergarten Year.
Educators use this information to validate what children know and can do; look for and see children’s learning in new ways; build learning bridges from what children know and can do to new learning; determine the level of individual support required to progress children’s learning; and engage families and other educators in conversations about children’s learning.
Each child’s learning journey may start at different points and continue along different pathways. Their learning is not always predictable and linear. At the end of the Kindergarten Year, individual children may demonstrate learning described in any of the contexts as described in the following exemplar.

3.4.2 Following learning over time

To support their assessments educators focus on documenting significant aspects of learning gathered over time. This will provide the basis for making decisions about each child’s future learning, and for sharing information with families about their child’s progress. In the following exemplar, educators follow aspects of a child’s confidence and resilience from the learning area Being proud and strong (confidence and resilience).

10 May
Braiden watched and listened attentively to a traditional story being told by an Elder. He mimicked the actions modelled by the Elder, who was pointing to each body part using traditional language names. He later participated in doing the actions of songs using traditional language, and attempted to sing the unfamiliar traditional words to the song. When asked to do corroboree, Braiden was reluctant to participate, however he followed instructions modelled using a combination of Yarrie Lingo and traditional language by the Elder, and watched quietly as the other children did the corroboree.
Assessment — Braiden is demonstrating his interest in, and understanding of, traditional aspects of his culture. He chooses to respond to directions non-verbally, following directions in both Yarrie Lingo and traditional language. He shows caution in tackling new tasks and watches carefully before imitating their actions.
Focus for new learning (confidence to try new and challenging tasks) — provide Braiden with time and space to tackle new tasks. Build on Braiden’s interest in mimicking and modelling actions through action rhymes and songs in Yarrie Lingo and SAE. Continue to provide Braiden with opportunities to interact with Elders and community members.
17 July
Braiden has been absent from kindergarten for a few days, and today he was asked which experience he would like to do after the group session had ended. He appeared undecided as he quickly glanced around at what the other children were doing and pointed to the blocks. He was asked if he wanted to play with the blocks with his cousin who was already in the block play area, and he nodded. Braiden was reluctant to talk about what he was going to make when asked. He nodded and went to collect some of the play wooden furniture near the block shelves.
Assessment — Braiden demonstrates that in unfamiliar situations he requires adult direction and support in approaching tasks and exploring the kindergarten environment.
Focus for new learning (confidence in approaching tasks, people and situations) — continue to support Braiden in his play by making suggestions that build on his ideas and interests, e.g. adding new resources to the block corner. Seek opportunities to build Braiden’s confidence in approaching tasks, people and situations through his friendship with his cousin. Use the support of Indigenous educators to assist Braiden’s attempts to become part of the group.
21 September
Braiden played at the play dough with a small group of children. He appeared happy as he laughed at jokes with his peers and said that he was ‘Dad’ and the others were the ‘sister’ or ‘brother’. Braiden decided he wanted to make a birthday cake as part of the negotiated play planning for the ‘class party’, so he collected a plate and some craft sticks for the cake. He molded the dough onto the plate and stuck the sticks into it. Using a combination of gesture and SAE he said to the educator ‘I made it for you. A birthday cake. Look all a candle on. I go roll it an’ put it on ‘ere an’ den I go put all dem candle on.’
Assessment — Braiden shows he is confidently exploring the environment and engaging with others across a range of learning contexts. He initiates and contributes to play experiences, sharing with others how he completes tasks in Yarrie Lingo.
Focus for new learning (enjoyment in sharing successes and achievements) — provide opportunities for Braiden to share his successes with others, e.g. finding a place to display his creations or asking Braiden if he would like to take a photo using the digital camera to display or put into his folio. Scribe Braiden’s words. Continue to strengthen Braiden’s use of FL and support his awareness of SAE as an additional language.
From this exemplar, it is possible to see how educators use the example learning behaviours to analyse their observations and make assessments about Braiden’s learning.
In further reflecting on Braiden’s learning, educators refer to the planned learning to identify focuses for new learning, and the intentional strategies that best build on and extend aspects of his confidence and resilience. At the same time, families and SAE- and FL-speaking adults can work together to plan opportunities that support his first language, as well as his awareness about and use of SAE.
When educators view learning in this way, children are supported to become two-way strong. Their learning in the context of family and community is not left behind or replaced, but built on in ways that do not compromise their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander identities.
There will be many other ways children demonstrate their learning. Educators will make provision for learning that is relevant to each child, their family and community.
For all children, educators make intentional, purposeful and thoughtful decisions that extend and enrich learning in relation to each learning area.

3.5 Supporting the transition to school
Transition as children move into the first year of school is a dynamic process of continuity and change. The process of transition occurs over time, beginning well before children start school, and extending to the point where children and families feel a sense of belonging at school and where educators recognise this sense of belonging (Educational Transitions and Change (ETC) research group 2011, p. 1).
The transition to school is a time of opportunity, aspiration, expectation and entitlement for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, their families and their educators. As children start school, they are enthusiastic learners, keen to build on and extend their learning. They hope that school will be an enjoyable place which supports their developing autonomy and their active engagement in learning (Educational Transitions and Change (ETC) research group 2011, p. 2). Families, too, will aspire for their children to be happy and successful in school. They will have expectations that they are respected as partners in their children’s education.
An effective transition will occur over time. It is a time when the roles of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children will expand to include, not be replaced by, their journey beyond a kindergarten program and across school. This also means their identities will change.
Children will need to feel secure and confident that school is a place where people care about them and where they can succeed (Department of Education and Early Childhood Education 2009, p. 33). It is important to listen to their perspectives. They and their families will require support to manage changes in their physical surroundings, changes in social interactions and expectations, changes in the type and structure of learning environments, and changes in how they feel about themselves as learners.
By building relationships through conversations over time and planning collaboratively with others, educators support children to gradually understand expectations, interactions, routines and practices associated with new social and physical learning environments. They attend to the wellbeing of all involved, and support children, as well as their families and communities, to feel secure, valued and successful in school.
Planning for positive transitions involves collaboration. When educators and professionals across early childhood settings and schools work collaboratively with each other and with children, families and communities, everyone will develop a sense of belonging at school and a positive transition will be ensured.
A successful transition will support children in continuing to shape their identities, while at the same time expanding their experiences as participants in different relationships and communities. It will acknowledge and value children’s entitlement to be actively involved in decisions and actions that affect them, and be respectful of, and responsive to, children’s existing competencies, cultural heritage and histories (Educational Transitions and Change (ETC) research group 2011, p. 3). It will involve respectful relationships and partnerships between families and educators that strengthen and support children’s learning and development; promote continuity of learning through connected curriculum, purposeful pedagogies and meaningful learning environments; and reflect policies and practices that are strength-based, inclusive and equitable.

3.5.1 Transition statement
As part of the transition process, educators from kindergarten settings and schools commit to sharing information about each child’s knowledge, skills and dispositions so learning can build on foundations of earlier learning (Commonwealth of Australia 2009a, p. 16). Towards the end of the year before the child starts school, a transition statement is created.
A transition statement is a summary of each child’s learning across their Kindergarten Year with contributions from the kindergarten teacher, parents and child.
Based on information gathered throughout the year, each statement will identify the child’s developing knowledge, skills and dispositions in relation to each learning outcome; summarise the ‘distance travelled’ across the Kindergarten Year; and describe the level of support required in new and unfamiliar situations. It will communicate a family’s knowledge about their child and use positive plain language. It will include information contributed by the child, and information about the kindergarten service and relevant contact information (see example formats in Appendix 4).
Completing the transition statement in collaboration with others will provide an opportunity for children, families and educators to reflect on children’s attainments and share responsibilities for future achievements. With the support of FL-speaking adults, information, concerns, expectations and aspirations can be shared both ways between educators and families.
A printed copy of the transition statement is to be made available to each child’s family. Families are encouraged to pass a copy of the transition statement on to the school on entry into their child’s Prep Year. For this reason, it may be necessary to provide families with two copies.
It is important that the statement supplement, not replace, the wide range of strategies educators implement in partnership with families and children to support the transition process.
All children will benefit from thoughtfully planned transitions to school which respond to their differences, similarities, strengths, interests and skills. Educators across different contexts bring professional knowledge and experience about children’s learning and development. When this information is valued and shared, in collaboration with children and families, specific ways to support positive transitions for all children can be identified.
Successful transitions require collaboration from and with everyone involved. The aim is for all involved to feel that they belong to the process and belong in the school.

3.6 Bringing it all together
Children’s learning is integrated and interconnected — the knowledge, skills and dispositions developed in one learning area will often be used by children as they learn across the others. Using the decision-making process outlined in this guideline, educators make intentional, purposeful and thoughtful decisions that draw on their professional knowledge, including their in-depth knowledge of each child, in partnership with families, to guide planning for children’s learning as demonstrated in the following example.
3.6.1 Story of learning: Wednesday 3 April – Badu Island
Allan chooses to spend most of his time in the sandpit during outside play. He has learnt how to use the digger to move sand around and make roads. He has been doing this most of the term. He seems interested in discovering how he can use sand in different ways. Miss Julia was visiting pre-Prep today and decided to model other ways you can manipulate sand.
A small group of children, including Allan, began helping Miss Julia make turtles and shark sculptures out of the sand. Later, during outdoor play, Mr Michael noticed Allan sitting on a digger truck in the sandpit. Mr Michael approached the sandpit and began playing in the sand. He asked Alan if he could tell him what an elephant looked like so that he could make one out of sand.
Allan said ‘elephant e big’. Michael responded ‘Yes elephants are very big so I will need to make a big body with the sand … what else do elephants have ...’. ‘em got long nose’… Michael talked with Allan about how an elephant has a trunk and that it is long and what an elephant uses a trunk for. Allan said ‘em got big thangela’. Michael said ‘Wow! You do know a lot about elephants. I wonder why they have got such big ears’. Allan stated that ‘em too fat … I cant carry m’. During this conversation, Jaynard came over and watched and listened.
Michael asked Allan if he had seen elephants on Badu and Allan said ‘no but I bin see m on tv and I bin look m in book’. He then made a noise like an elephant and Jaynard began doing this as well. They ran off together pretending to be elephants.
Being proud and strong (confidence and resilience) means confidence to share experiences.
Being a learner (involvement in learning) means making simple comparisons (‘em too fat … I can’t carry m’) and experimenting with ways to represent ideas in imaginative play. Investigating environments includes labelling natural phenomena and living things in FL and SAE (‘elephant e big’).
Being a communicator (oral language) includes responding verbally in FL to simple questions.

Literacy includes demonstrating interest in familiar texts (‘no but I bin see m on tv and I bin look m in book’). Numeracy includes recognising some comparative language (i.e. ‘elephant e big’, ‘em got long nose’).

Being healthy and safe (safety and security) includes participating happily and confidently within the environment. Physical activity includes demonstrating agility, strength, flexibility, control, balance and coordination of their body in space.
Being an active participant (listening and negotiation) includes respecting the ideas of others. Positive relationships includes taking turns, waiting, listening and joining in with others

3.6.2 Planning for children’s learning
Suggestions for extending and enriching learning include, for example:
1. spontaneous songs and rhymes, e.g. ‘Five grey elephants balancing’. (numeracy – number concepts)

2. translation through FL-speaking educators or family and community members. (language – awareness of SAE)

3. providing props or making with children, e.g. trunks out of stockings, big paper ears stapled to elastic to wear on heads. Asking children for their ideas – I wonder what we need to make a trunk? (involvement in learning) Do all children know about elephants?

4. revisiting the question Are there elephants on Badu? with all children — what animals do we have? Label in SAE and FL (with FL-speaking adult) (oral language). Using visuals to support understanding. Ask children how we can find out more — research using computers (investigating environments)

5. contextualising songs to include Badu animal names — ‘Five green turtles swimming’ — include children’s ideas. (literacy) Invite families to contribute local knowledge (identity and belonging).

6. revisiting Allan’s idea about noises animals make with all children, e.g. ‘Remember when ... (involvement in learning)

7. including books, pictures or models of elephants next to painting easels or clay table — provide children with repeated opportunities to revisit and refine their artistic representations (investigating environments)

8. drawing children’s attention to the shape of digger truck and shape of elephant’s trunk. Could the digger become an elephant? (numeracy — measurement concepts long, longer, bigger, heavy) Educators add complexity to children’s thinking

9. extending interest in sand play by incorporating sand sculpting. Mixing plaster with sand allows it to be molded and set and then it can be carved. Make moulds in the sandpit and fill them with plaster, like the elephant’s footprint or their own

10. do the children know that elephants can swim? What other animals swim? (investigating environments)

11. do the children know about the story – Horton Hears a Who! What other stories about elephants/other animals could we share? What are the children’s ideas? (literacy).

This section explores how educators use the decision-making process described in Section 3 to extend and enrich children’s learning. It has been organised according to the five learning areas:
1. Being proud and strong

2. Being an active participant

3. Being healthy and safe

4. Being a learner

5. Being a communicator.
Links to the outcomes of the EYLF are clearly stated.
Each learning area describes the expected knowledge, skills and dispositions for children across their Kindergarten Year (planned learning); the intentional teaching practices that promote this learning (pedagogy); and the ways children can demonstrate their learning across their Kindergarten Year (documenting and reflecting).
Educators use this information to plan for learning that is responsive to individual children, the group and the community context. Educators will select, modify and create other opportunities for learning and teaching as they remain open to the spontaneous experiences that emerge as the children, their families and the community, contribute to the program.

Planning for learning
Planning, including documentation and reflection, is ever present in a kindergarten program. It should be viewed as a collaborative process in which educators, children and families are active participants.
In beginning to plan for children’s learning educators, observe and listen to what is evolving in the kindergarten program at any one moment in time to learn about and from the children. This will inform relationships and the preparation of environments, experiences and interactions that engage children in meaningful ways.
A planning format is required that allows all members of the teaching team to make progressive contributions. Written plans underpin practice with children and families, and enhance the accountability and professionalism of a kindergarten program. Your planning will be a work-in-progress. It should be visible and accessible to all members of the teaching team, as well as children and families, at all times.
Educators will ensure that they maintain a balance of experiences across all learning areas, using all learning environments, including the inside and outside physical environment, the relationships of the social environment, and the full range of pedagogical contexts identified in Section 3. The value placed on play, relationships and collaborative decision-making will be reflected in the learning opportunities provided.
In considering planned and spontaneous learning directions for both individual children and groups of children, educators will refer to the planned learning (knowledge, skills and dispositions) outlined for each area.
In considering the intentional teaching practices that best support children’s learning and the participation of families and community, educators will refer to the pedagogy outlined for each area of learning.
In making assessments about children’s learning and considering the support required for individual children, educators will refer to the section documenting and reflecting.

Reflective practice and ongoing learning
The EYLF defines reflective practice as a form of ongoing learning that involves engaging with questions of philosophy, ethics and practice. Its intention is to gather information and gain insights that support, inform and enrich decision-making about children’s learning. As professionals, educators examine what happens in their kindergarten programs and reflect on what they might change. They regularly assess themselves, their attitudes, their interactions and the learning environment for cultural competence as defined by Elders and community members.
Since every community and every kindergarten program will be different, educators need to determine the appropriate ‘fit’ between their context and the practices outlined in this guideline.
Educators should refer to the following overarching questions from the EYLF to guide their reflection: What are my understandings of each child? What theories, philosophies and understandings shape and assist my work? Who is advantaged when I work in this way? Who is disadvantaged? What questions do I have about my work? What am I challenged by? What am I curious about? What am I confronted by? What aspects of my work are not helped by theories and guidance that I usually draw on to make sense of what I do? Are there theories or knowledge that could help me to understand better what I have observed or experienced? What are they? How might those theories and that knowledge affect my practice?
In addition, a series of questions — As you reflect on your practices ask yourself — is provided for each learning area to ensure educators continually engage in the process of reflecting on the ‘cultural fit’ of their decision-making in responding to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, their families and the community.
Being proud and strong has a specific focus on identity and belonging, and confidence and resilience. Kindergarten children build a knowledgeable and confident identity. They develop pride and strength in personal and cultural identity and share a sense of belonging and connectedness. They build a sense of belief and confidence in themselves, delight in making decisions and choices, and develop courage and resilience to persevere and manage change and challenge. The EYLF outcome is that children have a strong sense of identity.
Being an active participant has a specific focus on listening and negotiation, and positive relationships. Kindergarten children broaden their sense of belonging to groups and communities. They become aware of the reciprocal rights and responsibilities necessary for active community participation, and explore their own and others’ cultures and the similarities and differences among people. They become aware of bias and stereotyping, respond to diversity with respect, and become aware of fairness. They become increasingly independent and interdependent. They interact in relation to others with care empathy and respect, and explore ways to understand and regulate their emotions. They become socially responsible and show respect for environments, ad explore interactions between people and environments. The EYLF outcome is that children connect with and contribute to their world.
Being healthy and safe has a specific focus on safety and security, and physical activity. Kindergarten children become strong in their emotional wellbeing. They feel safe, secure and supported, and take increasing responsibility for their own health and safety. They become strong in their physical wellbeing. They gain control and strength for manipulating objects, tools and equipment with increasing complexity, and develop confidence, coordination and strength in large movement skills and challenges. The EYLF outcome is that children have a strong sense of wellbeing.
Being a learner has a specific focus on involvement in learning, and investigating environments. Kindergarten children become confident and involved knowers and learners. They build dispositions for learning such as curiosity, cooperation, confidence, creativity, commitment, enthusiasm, persistence, imagination and reflexivity, and apply a range of skills and processes such as problem-solving, enquiry, experimentation, hypothesising, researching and investigating. They explore, investigate and connect with people, land, place, time and technology. They transfer and adapt what they have learned from one context to another and from one time to another. They resource their own learning through connecting with people, place, technologies, and natural and processed materials, and use information and communication technologies to access information, investigate ideas and represent their thinking. The EYLF outcome is that children are confident and involved learners.
Being a communicator has a specific focus on oral language/s, literacy and numeracy. Kindergarten children explore and expand ways to use language. They interact verbally and non-verbally with others for a range of purposes. They engage with multiple forms of literacy, and with numeracy concepts, that build bridges between family and community contexts and new learning. They engage with a range of texts and gain meaning from them, express ideas and make meaning using a range of media. They explore symbols and patterns, and build confidence and interest in exploring reading and writing behaviours. They begin to understand how symbols and pattern systems work. They build confidence and Interest in counting, and explore mathematical thinking, concepts and language. The EYLF outcome is that children are effective communicators.

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