What guides what and how children learn in the early years 

Parent episode 2 – What guides what and how children learn in the early years  (minutes seconds)

Jacqui WardWelcome to the learning every day in every way through play podcast series for families. My name is Jacqui Ward, I’m the early learning coordinator at the department of education, and I am here with my colleague, Sylvana CHAM.

Sylvana ChamHi everyone. My name is Sylvana and I'm the preschool advisor with department of education.

Jacqui WardThis episode that we're focusing in on today is all about talking about what guides, what and how children learn in the early years, ‘cause it’s a little bit different to what happens if we think about the education continuum, it's a little bit different as to what happens in school. So, today's podcast we're going to be discussing the early years learning framework as it is the mandatory curriculum for early childhood education. And we're going to be exploring how the framework supports teachers to deliver programs which improve learning outcomes for children and support learning in the early years. And obviously we're also talking about how families can support that type of learning at home, and also connect with the learning that's happening, at your child's preschool or early childhood setting. So, we're also going to look at how this sort of connects in with what happens before children attend school and then how that leads to a strong start in school and how that connects to the learning at school. So, I guess a really good place to start here is exactly what the early years learning framework is and I'm going to throw over to Sylvana to tell us a little bit more about that.

Sylvana ChamThanks Jacqui. That is really a great place to start. The early learning framework is actually a national curriculum which was designed to ensure quality and consistency of learning programs for children from birth to five and through to transition to school. It guides and supports teachers to make decisions about how to set up learning experiences and to carefully consider what to teach and how to teach it. The framework has a strong emphasis on play based learning recognizing that play, itself provides the most stimulus for brain development. And it is actually the best way for children to learn. It is a set of guiding principles and practices and most importantly, it outlines a set of five learning outcomes for children, much like the outcomes which are part of a syllabus document that guide teaching in a school setting. The outcomes reflect and understanding that identity, wellbeing and connection to people and places are important for success in learning. They support social and emotional development and have a strong focus on communication and language including early literacy and numeracy.

Jacqui Ward Awesome. Well that's a very good summary of the early years learning framework, Sylvana. Thank you for that. And again, I think it's really important maybe as as a parent or someone who cares for young children, you might be saying, well how does that, why is that important to me? The research shows that when children are, when families are engaged in children's learning, children experience better outcomes. So, it is important to know a little bit about that. So that's kind of the next point I guess that we're going to be moving on to is why the early years learning framework is important in children's lives, but also for families to know about it. As Sylvana mentioned, in early childhood settings, it's important to have a guiding framework to guide learning much like school. There's that curriculum or syllabus that helps ensure learning is focused and consistent for all children and again, it's important for families to have a bit of an awareness of both of those, to know what learning is happening. I know that there's often a lot of interest from families to support children's learning but often a bit of sort of, I guess uncertainty as to how to do that. So hopefully we'll unpack a little bit of that in this podcast series.

Sylvana ChamAbsolutely. Jacqui, as you said, the framework recognizes the importance of educators working in partnership with families to ensure the best learning outcomes for children. This is really a recognition celebration of families as children's first and most influential teachers. And for me as a parent and a teacher, it is something that I always draw on when I'm working with families.

Jacqui Ward Yeah. And I think you know, another good point to point out there too is that these outcomes of the early years learning framework, are really important in terms of lifelong success too. So they're not just outcomes that are focused in on learning in those early years, but they're focused in on that idea that there is a creation of positive dispositions, and skills, for children to be learners for life too. And I think that's really important if we think about the outcomes as Sylvana is going to unpack them a little bit now- they're not just relevant for you as a, you know, a two year old, a three year old, a four year old or five-year-old. They're actually great skills for life.

Sylvana ChamThat's right. Jacqui, just as you have eluded to, it is really important to recognize those outcomes as lifelong learning outcomes. And that's because learning is so complex and it's ongoing and we are always learning and continue to learn throughout life. Early childhood educators plan experiences, thinking about these five outcomes all the time and families may be thinking about how to support learning at home every day in every way through play. I'll give you an example with the focus on literacy, learning. Learning to read and write starts at home with families as everything else does. Children need to hear words before they speak them, say words before they read them and read words before they write them. Each time family members talk and listen to their children and when they share stories with them, when they dance around and sing songs and talk to them about the things that they see, like for example, when they're out shopping or walking through the park and having conversations through day to day play, children are learning and developing skills for future reading and writing.

Jacqui WardYeah, that's a really good point here. I guess this point of this whole series learning every day in every way through play is really about helping to make learning the learning that's happening in those early years a little bit more visible to families, or to the broader community I guess. And, and seeing that children are doing more than just, I guess messing around in the sand pit or splashing in the bath is actually a lot of learning that's occurring in brain development that's occurring. And it's really important that we focus in on opportunities to foster that learning. Some of the other areas that I just wanted to draw out too, cause I know you've touched on there Sylvana you know, some literacy skills there that are happening in play, but some of the other learning areas within the early years learning framework include things like knowing yourself and being resilient and being in charge of your emotions, your wellbeing and your learning, so those ideas about concepts of self and, and how you create opportunities to solve problems and all those sorts of things. Knowing that unique ways that you learn and experiencing success as a learner, that those are all really important things to do in those early years. And they're all things that are happening all the time in those play situations at home and children are often doing that, you know, automatically by themselves as well. But when we're aware of that, we can foster that learning. Another one that I've forgotten to mention, there is, is also you know, that focus in on learning about being able to move to be active, learning some of those fundamental skills for sport like running, jumping, catching, bowling and skipping just to name a few. There's a whole lot of learning that happens in those early years that is this the foundation if you like, for learning that happens. The more, I guess that's more visible learning that happens later on in a, in a child's, schooling years and whatnot.

Sylvana ChamThere certainly is, Jacqui, as you've just referred to those skills as foundational skills and sometimes we as educators like to think about laying foundation for future learning and how important it is that the foundation is really strong. Just like any foundation of, of a house, for example. The skills that you've just spoken about are things that parents are working on with children at home just through play, not even thinking about it, they’re the things that early childhood teachers continue to build on when children are in an early childhood setting, and also areas which teachers focus on when children go to school to ensure that they continue to develop skills in different areas of the curriculum. So when you talk about things like fundamental movement skills that aligns with the learning outcomes in PDHPE syllabus, it's the same with the example of being aware of what makes you healthy, happy, and safe. In the early years learning framework, we'll refer to the learning outcome of children having a strong sense of identity and then it continues at school and it's also closely connected with the early learning objective in PDHPE. These are great examples of the lifelong learning that we have been talking about throughout this series, learning at home through to early childhood settings and the learning that continues to school and moving beyond.

Jacqui WardYeah, well, I hope that's been interesting for everybody to hear a little bit about the early years learning framework and how it guides learning in the early years. We are developing some resources that will be available on the department's website that unpack this a little bit further. So if you are a little bit interested to see what those five learning outcomes are and how they relate to, a child's learning, you know, in those early years, but also how it connects into the later years, keep your eye out for those. In the next episode we will be looking at play based learning how to children learn through play. So unpacking that idea of how the learning is happening in play and how it's happening in an integrated and holistic kind of a way when children are playing. So, look out for the next episode and thank you Sylvana for our chat today.

Sylvana ChamThanks, Jacqui, it was great to have a chat about learning through play every day in every way.

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