Quality Area 5 Discussion

This page is a transcript of the video Quality Area 5 Discussion with Leanne Gibbs, Fay Gowers & Marc De Rosnay.

15 July 2020

Duration - 19:23

Quality Area 5 Discussion with Leanne Gibbs, Fay Gowers & Marc De Rosnay


Transcript

Leanne:
We're talking about Quality Area 5, relationships with children. So, Fay, I'd like to start with you and hear about what's happening in the space around where the people are meeting or exceeding Quality Area 5, in the National Quality Standards.

Fay:
It's interesting, Leanne, because over the last, oh... Since reporting with the data started back in 2013, we've had quite an increase in that stat, from up to 96%. Are either meeting or above the standard of Quality Area 5. So, that goes to show us that there's a real genuine understanding around the importance of relationships in the early childhood context, both between educators and children, children and children, but also that partnership with families as well.

Leanne:
So, this is great news really to think that educators within early childhood settings have a much sounder understanding of Quality Area 5 and early childhood education is built on relationships, as we so often say and have come to understand. And now, we've reached a stage in COVID, where children are now returning to early childhood settings. So, how can that knowledge that we have in Quality Area 5, help us to understand that return to early childhood settings.

Fay:
Cause we have such strong foundational understanding around the centrality of relationships in children's lives. When we welcome them back in, we may have children showing us something a little bit different to what we've seen before because of the disjointed experience of early childhood, this year for children. So for some, they may have started and then very quickly, their early childhood experiences being whisked away. For others, they've been coming for a long time in long daycare and settings such as that where a central part of their life was no longer something that we're going to. So, as we welcome the back in, we may have to adjust our routines, we may have to adjust the way that we engage with children and families to ensure that we can get a sense of where each individual child is at, and then each individual families that because the experience is actually not going to have been equal amongst everybody in the community. And I think that's something that we need to really understand As we move forward to bringing children back in,

Marc:
It is a good time to remember the foundations of our practise. You know, because the world has, you know, given us something disruptive, hasn't in COVID? And as Fay said, some kids are gonna have to restore a sense of safety and security in that environment. And some kids are gonna have to establish it for the first time. And some kids are gonna have parents who have, you know, very mixed feelings about what's happened and where their child is up to. And you can't miss that step in early childhood, can you? You need those relationships to be solid. You need those foundations to build good practise. You know, we have a system that privileges relational, and intentional pedagogy. Those things need to be in place. So, even though we're halfway through the year, it's about coming back to those foundations and getting those things right. And that takes time sometimes.

Leanne:
Yeah. So, in thinking about that you both talked about children having different experiences of this period of time where there may have been away from their early childhood settings, what my children be experiencing as they return? What happens when seeing children?

Marc:
Well, all the things that we're used to seeing in transition, and transitions are always more challenging. There are also opportunities.


Transitions are always more challenging because the things that children depend on, and then that they've got used to and now in flux. And young children in particular, but all humans need to be able to understand how to know what to expect in the environment and in their relationships. So, then you add to all of that. You add to that the sort of additional stresses in the home. A lot of families have lost work, the tensions that people have felt over this time, and also the lack of experience for children, many children have had in socialising with other children. So, all that's in the mix. And, you know, we need to be cognisant of that. We need to reflect on where kids are up to where the parents are up to. And start from that, that foundation to bring them back into that collaborative environment where the relationships can support the interactions and learning.

Leanne:
So, children have had a range of experiences. Some may have had really strong connections at home because there has been more time. They might be in situations of stress, or however, like usual in early childhood settings, we see that full range. So, what would, as an educator, what would be the experience that they can bring to that? You've talked about the individual understanding of children. How else can an educator work in this space?

Fay:
I think it's really important as we welcome children back into maintain predictability for children. So, whether that be within the educators themselves, being consistent, but also within the routine. So, not too much changing cause again, too much change can really destabilise that sense of security for children. I think educators need to take this as an opportunity to observe and listen to what the children are telling us through their behaviour because they will show us how they are actually responding to these challenging times. If they have been challenging all these transitions back into the centre, so we could see children who were just so excited to back into their early childhood setting and diving straight back into those experiences. So, they're fully engaged in those moments, but we might see children who are reluctant, who are actually more disengaged. And so, we need to stand back and actually have a look at where children are sitting, and what they're showing through our behaviour and then tailor our pedagogy to respond to those individually. And what is can be curious about these, these that, you know, some of the children that we actually think we're really doing so well in a particular area, this may have turned a little bit off course. So, they may be having more emotional moments and might have a pre-COVID normal for that. And they might be a little bit more clingy to educators having more separation. We might see regression in behaviour. So, we can't just assume that pre-COVID development is just gonna seamlessly come back in. So, I think educators need to stand back and observe and just see the lay of the land, because we have had children have that sort of, I guess relationship poverty. So, the lack of engagement with children and those social experiences is where, you know, in a very sort of power balanced way, children can negotiate, learn those skill sets. When we've had that period of time away, we might not succeed actually see the deficits around that, that will we'll need to step in and really underpin or support...

Leanne:
Or, on the other side, we may see changes in growth as well.

Fay:
Absolutely. Again, depends on the experience that children have had in the home.

Leanne:
So, I want to talk about the term social referencing, may you talk to us about that Marc.

Marc:
Your children, as we know will know from research and from a long period of research, most of their information about the social world through two sources. One is direct observation and the other is social referencing. So, that is mediated information through other people. And it's a very rich source of information for children. And what children do is they sort of use information coming from others as a sort of, to help them make sense of what's going on, but also to inform their own behaviours. So, children learn from us whether the social environment is a scary place. They pick up on their signals. They learn how to do all the things that we call social skills, by watching people doing it and then practising it themselves in reality. So, kid's eyes are open, they're taking in information and they're using it to inform their own behaviour, especially when they're uncertain. And we are always sources of information for children. So, we need to be really cognisant of how we talk to each other the respect in which we hold each other and how we discuss things, how we create room for others to express themselves is because children see this and then they mirror it. And they use that in developing their own capacity to be with other people.

Leanne:
So, Fay, what does this tell us about practising in this space?

Fay:
It's about educators recognising potentially their own regulation and their own feelings around the situation of COVID-19, what it's meant for them personally, walking in children back here, you know, where they, where they're feeling in their regulation and making sure they understand that when they're entering into an interaction with children, because we can't so much from nonverbal as well as verbal communication. So, ensuring that if children are looking to us on how to make meaning of being back in the centre that we are actually projecting that this positive place to be, it's a safe space to be, but I'm here for you. So, particularly that social referencing is really strong when there's an attachment figure that's involved in that social reference. So, we put more emphasis on the person that we have that attachment with. We're gonna take more from those particular people. And so, I think that educators need to recognise that they have a very important and influential role around that. And so, entering into what might be a tricky situation, making sure we feeling as educators regulated, so we can go in and help the child to mirror that. They look to us to say, OK, this is OK, I'm safe. And so, then they can move forward and, you know, have that very strong base in which to go out and continue to explore the learning.

Marc:
We're talking about security and trust. Yeah.

Leanne:
Yeah.

Marc:
Children feel secure in their environments when they're familiar with the environments and there're safe people around them and they know that they can get what they need when they need it. And that's what a secure base does for a child. It gives them their point of reference. But also, as Fay points out, a person provides all sorts of other information around the world. That's where perhaps the notion of trust is better than the notion of security because you can have trust in a relationship, but you can also have trust in the way something's done with the information, the quality of the information that's given. And there's pretty good data to show that, you know, when children trust a person, they're much more willing to take on new information to learn from that person, and to benefit from what that person can offer in a relationship.

Leanne:
So, children are in this kind of rich ecology, really, we're talking now about early childhood settings, but never before really have we really been sort of driven to reflect on this connection between centre and home. What about this ecology that children live in and how do we, you know, pursue relationships and develop relationships so that it's a partnership with families cause Quality Area 5, doesn't just sit alone, doesn't it? There are all the other cosy in the areas as well.

Fay:
We have to re-establish relationships with families as well after a period of separation, whether or not things are taken up that opportunity to remotely connect with this inter... Will be vary across settings. And I guess it's about educators taking the time to reconnect and actually ask and find out what is that individual experience in line for them, because that will then tell you how to respond to a child when something might be a little off or a red flag might be flying behaviour type thing, and educators and parents often have a really special relationship and, you know, really feel as though they can have that information, sharing opportunity for the good of the child. Marc?

Marc:
Yeah, I think parents have shown us again and again that one of the things they very clearly understand about early childhood education care, is the importance of that experience for children's social and emotional development. That's one of the areas that just has a sort of superficial, transparent understanding for everybody. And I think in early childhood, it's very common to experience parent's anxieties about how their child is getting on, who their friends are, and all that sort of stuff. And I think that's gonna be amplified a little bit. So, I think in our practise, being tuned into that, being aware that part of the role of early childhood is, is to scaffold as it were an understanding of how the child is developing those skills, not just for the child, not just for child-child relationships, but also in that richer ecology, as you said, for the parent. And a parent might become, for example, when this could go in many directions, but they might be very obsessed with the fact that their child needs to have a best friend or something. So, navigating that with a parent and giving them confidence that their child is, you know, picking up these skills is experimenting, perhaps with various people, and maybe what their child is doing doesn't necessarily conform to their idea. But nonetheless, you still understand the value of what the parent is expressing, which is his desire for the child to build up that confidence in a social environment. So, I think that's, you know, a lot of surfaces will have navigated that traditionally, in February. And then it does go on, of course, but to be thrust into that space, where you would traditionally be much more confident in your social environment of the children. It's gonna be hard in July, but I think that's the reality. And I think to try to skip that or fast track, it will be a mistake. I think that's where some of the real and most important work will be this year. And I think parents will get that because that is a part of children's development that they do tuned into.

Leanne:
Yeah. And it is some almost like saying, well, it's June, but we're pretending it's April and we're kind of moving forward in this space and giving everybody the opportunity to relax into it. I spare time to reflect, no better time to reflect on practise than then this one. What is the earliest learning framework offer us here?

Fay:
The overarching word of belonging has never been so much more important than it is right now. Being able to belong to a community and ensuring that we are able to convey that sense of that you are a member of this community and you're very valued member of that community. So, accepting. So, if children come back and they're excited and they just, you know, getting right back into it. So accepting that, but also accepting that they'll be potentially some children who are finding that a little bit tricky. But how do we create that sense of belonging in this new world? Because we can't or how can we can't do those things we might have done before that might have shown people that type of sense of belonging. So, finding new ways of being able to convey that. So, that might be, you know, that elbow bumping of hello and goodbye, all that jazz hands type thing, but coming up with that with children. Also, it might be that the children give a level of choice within what the environment actually looks like. And educators will have to gauge the children in their service and how much change they could cope with at a time like this and we'll be fine because their parents have managed COVID-19 situation, with a strong sense of stability and security are the children, the changing offerings of choice might just be need to be paid back. So, it could be that they get to redesign the whole environment in the service and have a real strong say, and their voices heard. Or it might be that they redesign one area. So, everything else is remaining very familiar and safe and predictable for children. So, educators will have to gauge that. But it's a way of children having their voices heard and respected, and a sense of ownership back over what that community will look like.

Leanne:
It's a great guidance. And I think what you are both talking about is keeping children at the very centre of practise. And probably this is a wonderful time to revisit philosophy and values of the centre and ensure that children are very central there.

Marc:
Yeah, I think, you know, the relationships between children and adults, I think about standard 5.1. They're inherently unequal and good early childhood, high quality of a childhood practise is wonderful at restoring that equality, giving the child the rights and recognising that for the child to discover themselves for them to form that identity, which is so much a part of the area's learning from recognition and acknowledgement that children are forming their identity and they need the space and support to do that. But it comes from them. And high quality practise. If you revisit those foundations, it rebalances relationships, so that as adults, we're able to work with children in a way that respects their autonomy, their independence, their views, their interests, and so on. And it makes them more equal in this relationship. And I think that's absolutely quintessential to good practise, you know, and it's there, it's in our guiding documentation. It's reflected in the fact that we do so well in this area as a country. But this time, we'll put an additional focus on that. It will be harder I think, to get that right. And but the way to get it right is no different to what it was every other year. It's the same things have to be achieved.

Leanne:
I think talking about equality is a great way to finish. So, thank you Fay and thank you Marc.

Marc:
Pleasure.

Fay
Thank you.

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