Fostering positive dispositions across literacy and numeracy in early childhood
- explore how positive dispositions in early childhood supports children's learning trajectory in literacy and numeracy
- identify the evidence and practices within the Early Years Learning Framework that promote and nurture the development of positive dispositions for learning in literacy and numeracy.
Early childhood educators, supervisors and leaders.
Mode of delivery
Watch Fostering dispositions (38:51)
Fostering dispositions video (38:51)
Welcome to fostering positive dispositions across literacy and numeracy in early childhood. I would like to acknowledge the Aboriginal people who have for thousands of years been the custodians of the lands, where you are listening to this presentation from and acknowledge their strong continuing connections to the lands and waterways across New South Wales. I pay respect to Aboriginal Elders past, present and emerging and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are joining this session.
The Australian Professional Standards for Teachers Standard 2: Know the content and how to teach it. 2.1.2, Apply knowledge of the content and teaching strategies of the teaching area to develop engaging teaching activities.
Session outcomes. In this session, learner will understand how positive dispositions in early childhood supports children's learning trajectory in literacy and numeracy and identify the evidence and practices within the Early Years Learning Framework that promote and nurture the development of positive dispositions for learning in literacy and numeracy.
Our views of literacy and numeracy shape how we teach and learn. An important first step for educators is to reflect on current research of literacy and numeracy teaching and learning in early childhood and evaluate our views that inform our planning, decision-making and practices. The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia has a specific emphasis on play-based learning and recognises the importance of communication and language, including literacy and numeracy and social and emotional development. We have a quote here from Community Childcare Victoria, which states, "Literacy and numeracy are a part of everyday life. Walking along the street and noticing the traffic lights. the leaves on the ground, the shapes and colours of cars. Literacy and numeracy is meant to be a meaningful and relevant part of everyday life for young children. We want them to build positive messages and attitudes about literacy and numeracy. We want them to participate in rich play learning experiences that support and promote literacy, numeracy, and all other aspects of their learning and development." The challenge for the early childhood educator is to provide a rich range of opportunities that do not just use formal and structured literacy and numeracy experiences, but expose children to the key aspects of literacy and numeracy through intentional play-based learning.
And so our views of literacy shape how we teach and learn as well. Our view of literacy may take into account the complexities of children from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds growing up in a range of social and cultural contexts. Literacy may be viewed as multiple literacies within people's local, social and cultural contexts. A social-cultural view of literacy is multicultural and multilingual and recognises that the home lives of children and the early experiences that children have provide a strong foundation for later English literacy development. Literacy numeracy is so much more than the narrow view that many have of writing, reading and counting or recognising numbers and reciting the alphabet and our own views influence our understandings. In fact, literacy and numeracy, a far broader and richer than that definition and are in just about every aspect of life.
Similarly, our views of numeracy shape how we teach and learn. The concept of numeracy provides a social and cultural perspective for discovering and thinking about mathematical knowledge and applying it to fulfil the purposes of our everyday lives. The work of Dianne Siemon et al suggests that our view of numeracy impacts the way we teach it. For example, some people may view mathematics as a body of universal truths that teachers transfer or impart to their students as a set of facts and skills, while others may also view it as a social-cultural practice, that is a product of reflective human activity. Numeracy emphasises the context, purpose, and usefulness of a particular approach in solving problems in everyday life and the flexible, negotiable and meaningful applications of mathematical concepts. Often the terms mathematics and numeracy are positioned to separate from one another. However, in early childhood numeracy and mathematics can be viewed as being interconnected with each building upon and informing the other. As educators, we should think of children as confident and competent learners in literacy and numeracy.
Literacy and numeracy are a priority in early childhood education. In fact, they are a priority of the New South Wales Department of Education. The New South Wales Department of Education Strategic Plan states that all children should make a strong start in life and learning and make a successful transition to school. Literacy and numeracy form the basis of all our learning and they are needed in order to learn other skills and participate in everyday life. Literacy and numeracy capabilities are important aspects of communication and are vital for successful learning across the curriculum. We have a quote there from the New South Wales Department of Education Strategic Plan, 2018 to 2022. And it highlights the importance of growth in reading and numeracy. Literacy and numeracy are important because they form the basis of learning as we said. They are required to learn other skills as well as participation in everyday life. Literacy and numeracy skills, underpin workforce participation, productivity, and the broader economy, and can also impact on social and health outcomes. This is why the strategy focuses on the quality teaching of literacy and numeracy in all New South Wales schools and settings. The strategy has been informed by the best available evidence on how to improve student outcomes in literacy and numeracy.
Literacy and numeracy are across all Stages of learning. Our core documents support this continuity of learning and educational excellence. The School Excellence Framework or the SEF and the National Quality Framework, the NQF are both designed with the highest standards of educational excellence in mind. Each shapes the other, calling all Stages of schooling to continuous improvement for the benefit of all children. The School Excellence Framework states that "All New South Wales public schools are committed to the pursuit of excellence and the provision of high-quality educational opportunities for each and every child." The National Quality Framework, similarly aims to raise quality and drive continuous improvement and consistency in children's education and care services. Again, we can see continuity of literacy and numeracy learning, sitting across key documents, the National Quality Framework and the School Excellence Framework.
The framework in particular recognises the role preschool plays in the development of literacy and numeracy skills for young children. In particular, Quality Area 1, suggest curriculum decision-making includes supporting children to take on roles that use literacy and numeracy in their play. The SEF states that "In our schools, young people will develop foundation skills in literacy and numeracy." And we can see an alignment with standard 1.1.1 in the NQF and an opportunity for those schools to also collect evidence against the school excellence framework around literacy and numeracy.
So, how do we define literacy and numeracy, and where is it in the Early Years Learning Framework? How does the EYLF define literacy? Literacy is the capacity, confidence and disposition to use language in all its forms. Literacy incorporates a range of modes of communication, including music, movement, dance, storytelling, visual arts, media, and drama, as well as talking, listening, viewing, reading and writing. It's also important to note that contemporary texts may include electronic and print-based media. So, in an increasingly technological and modern world, the ability to critically analyse text is a key component of literacy. Children benefit from opportunities to explore their world using technologies and to develop confidence in digital media.
How does the EYLF define numeracy? Numeracy is the capacity, confidence and disposition to use mathematics in daily life. Children bring new mathematical understandings through engaging with problem solving. It is essential that mathematical ideas with which young children interact are relevant and meaningful in the context of their current lives. In addition, educators require a rich mathematical vocabulary to accurately describe and explain children's mathematical ideas and to support numeracy development, spatial sense, structure and pattern, number, measurement, data, connections, and exploring the world mathematically are the powerful mathematical ideas children need to become numerate.
Dispositions are embedded in the outcomes, evidence and practice of the Early Years Learning Framework and support literacy and numeracy learning. So, what are the positive dispositions? Dispositions are characteristics that encourage children to respond in particular ways to learning opportunities. They are enduring habits of mind and actions and tendencies to responding characteristic ways to situations. For example, maintaining an optimistic outlook when willing to persevere and approaching new experiences with confidence.
The EYLF specifically refers to positive dispositions and recognises their significance as a learning outcome. In doing so, it demonstrates their importance and is a shift away from an emphasis solely on knowledge and skills. Outcome 4 of the Early Years Learning Framework identifies nine dispositions for learning, curiosity, cooperation, confidence, creativity, commitment, enthusiasm, persistence, imagination and reflexivity. By observing how children show and apply their positive dispositions for learning during exploration and investigations, educators can gather meaningful information that identifies children's strengths.
Understanding which dispositions children show and which dispositions need to be strengthened enables educators to partner with families and children to develop individual goals for positive dispositions. When goals are set educators intentionally plan for experiences and environments that will promote specific dispositions for learning. Collaboration with families is so important. Through ongoing conversations with families and children, educators promote the lifelong benefits of positive dispositions for learning, especially in literacy and numeracy. We want everyone to understand how the dispositions for learning supports children to be confident and capable learners.
Children's innate dispositions or individual characteristics do vary. And we need to intentionally plan for individual children to foster positive dispositions. To understand how individual children show and apply dispositions of learning, we need to get to know each child over a period of time observing children as they play and interact. Through the assessment and planning cycle educators develop individual child goals around positive dispositions. Through observation of children's learning. Educators continue to reflect on their practices to promote and nurture specific dispositions.
So, how do we plan for those positive dispositions for learning? Educators promote and nurture positive dispositions when they plan for experiences and learning environments where children can develop positive dispositions for learning, when they are responsive to individual strengths, differences and preferences. When they follow the child's lead, notice what they are interested in, expand and extend on statements and respond to queries. When they intentionally guide children to explore and apply the toolbox of positive dispositions to their learning experiences. When they observe what dispositions the child is showing and consider if the disposition is helpful to the child at this point in their learning. If not, identify which disposition would be most helpful to the child's learning and show that you valued that disposition as a useful tool. When they explicitly model dispositions, including what it sounds like, what it looks like and what it feels like. When they model the language of thinking for each disposition, such as thinking aloud, making statements and asking open-ended questions. And finally, when they know that dispositions develop over time and some children will need consistent support and encouragement.
Let's look at Outcome 4, Children develop dispositions for learning. Let's take some time to explore the evidence and practices through the lens of the EYLF principles and practices. So, looking at the principles, secure and respectful reciprocal relationships, we can see this aligns with the practice educators promote dispositions for learning when they recognise and value children's involvement in the learning. It is important to remember that positive dispositions develop through educated child interactions and relationships that explicitly and intentionally unpack and scaffold the learning. The practice ‘responsiveness to children’, enables educators to respond to children's displays of learning dispositions by commenting on them and providing encouragement and additional ideas. These are only two examples and you may like to pause the video to explore further how the principles and practices align.
Dispositions are not only evident in Outcome 4. Dispositions are actually embedded across all of the outcomes. Positive dispositions are important for learning in literacy and numeracy, but are just as important for other areas of early childhood learning such as wellbeing and development. Individual dispositions may not be immediately evident when looking at evidence of learning and educator practice. Unpacking the examples of evidence and practice and aligning to specific dispositions, deepens educators understanding of the characteristics of each disposition. When educators identify the characteristics of specific dispositions shown by children in both spontaneous and planned learning experiences, they build on strengths and intentionally nurture the dispositions children are still developing.
For example, motivate and encourage children to succeed when they are faced with challenges is a practice that promotes persistence. Persistence is not specifically mentioned, but the educator recognises this practice aligns with the persistence disposition. Educators continue to strengthen their knowledge of effective practices to promote positive dispositions for learning through engagement with the assessment and planning cycle. In particular, reflecting on practice. We can see further examples of how the practices align with the dispositions. In this example, on the slide, we can say that increasingly cooperate and work collaboratively with others and recognise their individual achievements and the achievement of others, and begin to initiate negotiating and sharing behaviours as well as the educator practice of providing time and space for children to engage in both individual and collaborative pursuits aligns with the cooperation disposition.
It is also important to remember sometimes children apply positive dispositions for learning, but observations show the dispositions drawn on by the child are not useful for that particular learning. Through our responsiveness to children, intentional teaching and interactions embedded in sustained shared thinking, educators can deepen children's understanding of dispositions most useful for the different learning experiences. We can see that some practices from Outcome 1, children have a strong sense of identity align with the disposition for confidence. We can see, for example, when children openly express their feelings and ideas in their interactions with others, when they initiate interactions and conversations with trusted educators, when they confidently explore and engage with social and physical environments through relationships with play, this evidence aligns with the confidence disposition. We can also say that educators’ practice when acknowledging and responding sensitively to children's cues and signals and responding sensitively to children's attempts to initiate interactions and conversation also aligns with this disposition.
Let's think about the nine dispositions in Outcome 4. Children develop dispositions for learning, such as enthusiasm, curiosity, commitment, persistence, confidence, cooperation, creativity, imagination and reflexivity. In this outcome, the evidence and practices reference the characteristics of individual dispositions. The practice of reflect with children on what and how they have learned aligns with the disposition of reflexivity and the practice provide opportunities for children to revisit their ideas and extend their thinking aligns with the disposition of commitment. Educators draw on the evidence and practices to make intentional and purposeful decisions when planning for experiences and flexible learning environments to actively promote positive dispositions. Children need to see themselves as confident and capable learners and positive dispositions influence how children respond to learning opportunities, problems, and challenges encountered in everyday lives. So, how do children show and apply these positive dispositions? They do this when they engage in investigations and inquiry-based learning experiences. When they trial different solutions to problems in order to achieve a positive outcome, demonstrating persistence. When they are willing to take risks in exploring the unfamiliar and are able to ask questions of, and form relationships with adults and children demonstrating confidence. When they are able to work in groups, sharing, taking turns and listening to others while engaging in collaborative problem solving. And when they celebrate their own successes and the successes of others demonstrating cooperation.
Positive dispositions developing conjunction with children's acquisition of knowledge, skills, and attitudes all are interconnected. For example, a group of children constructing a bridge from wooden blocks and loose parts are developing the motor skills of grasping, placing and stacking, and are learning about shapes and sizes, while at the same time developing the positive dispositions of enthusiasm, curiosity and creativity. Children show and apply positive dispositions when they actively initiate and engage in interactions and investigation and are keen to try new things, demonstrating enthusiasm. When they explore, ask questions, problem solve, as they make their sense of the world, demonstrating curiosity. And when they are focused and engaged in experiences that interest them and are committed to revisiting an experience over a period of time and expanding on their learning, demonstrating commitment.
As children explore, investigate and design their bridges, they are problem solving may also be learning. We do not always succeed. The first time we try out one of our ideas. When the blocks tumble or the bridge design isn't working as planned, then children begin to understand that we need to apply positive dispositions, such as persistence and cooperation to our learning.
Children also show and apply positive dispositions when they pursue their own ideas and investigate different possibilities and apply innovative thinking and play with possibilities, demonstrating creativity. When they reflect on their learning in relationships and review and consolidate the concepts, processes and vocabulary, they have learnt through inquiry-based play and shared discussions, demonstrating reflexivity. And when they use imagination to explore their own ideas, to make sense of their world and are open to possibilities through wondering and dreaming, demonstrating imagination. Developing dispositions such as curiosity and imagination enables effective learners to transfer and adapt to what they have learned from one context to another and to locate and use resources for learning.
So, we're now going to participate in our reflective task. This is step one in the task, and it's identifying evidence of children's dispositions for learning. Once again we are looking at Outcome 4 and the nine positive dispositions for learning. The focus of this task is to unpack the evidence of children's learning in relation to positive dispositions. Look at each example of evidence and consider the disposition it aligns with remembering the evidence of children's learning may not specifically identify a specific disposition. In fact, much of the evidence reflects the characteristics of particular dispositions for learning. It is evidence of how children show and apply positive dispositions to their learning.
You may like to use a hard copy of the Early Years Learning Framework and record the matching disposition against each practice. For example, R for reflexivity, P for persistence and Com for commitment. Go to your Early Years Learning Framework, Outcome 4, Children are confident and involve learners, page 37. Look at the evidence of children's learning. Align the evidence to individual dispositions. Consider if there is evidence of age disposition. To complete this task, you will need to pause the video.
For step two of the task, we will be adding evidence of children's disposition for learning. In this task, we are staying in Outcome 4 and the nine positive dispositions for learning. In the previous task, we identified children's evidence of dispositions in the Early Years Learning Framework. We noticed that the evidence did not necessarily clearly identified disposition, but instead evidenced characteristics of dispositions. Some may have also noticed that there was not evidence for every disposition. To assess and plan for children's learning, educators need to have a deep understanding of what actually is evidence of positive dispositions across all nine dispositions.
It is important that educators can recognise the characteristics of each disposition that children show and apply in their play and are able to analyse this learning to inform planning. So, now you want to consider the dispositions and add our own examples of children's evidence of learning. For this task, you'll need some paper or even some sticky notes to record your responses. Thinking of your own context, choose two dispositions and add evidence of children's learning. When writing examples of evidence for each positive disposition, consider children's learning in literacy and numeracy. To complete these tasks, you will need to pause the video.
Early childhood educators continually reflect on children's current evidence of learning in relation to positive dispositions. Effective educators draw on their knowledge of individual children and intentionally select and apply practices, which promote and nurture individual dispositions for learning. Educators understand how different practices promote the specific characteristics of each disposition. This enables educators to be responsive to children when they show and apply dispositions for learning during their play.
So, how do we do teach for positive dispositions? Educators need to be intentional, responsive, purposeful, and promote learning. And they do this by expressing enthusiasm themselves and being responsive when children share enthusiasm for learning. And when they ensure the environment has provisions that motivate children to try new things and explore ideas. When they sustain children's enthusiasm for learning, by promoting a child's sense of agency and participation in planning and decision-making, supporting enthusiasm. When they notice, tune into and are responsive to children's natural curiosity. When they provide children with opportunities for uninterrupted exploration. When they express curiosity and wonder and model this thinking out loud. When they tune into the child's play, knowing when to observe and when to engage children in conversation. When they model statements and ask questions to further stimulate children's curiosity, thus supporting curiosity. When they build children's commitment to learning by providing extended time for children to explore an idea without constant changes. When they plan for rich stimulating and flexible environments that entice children to commit time and energy to investigations. And when they ensure spaces are provided within the environment to store children's projects, so children can revisit their learning. Demonstrating commitment.
Dispositions are not fixed and are encouraged and strengthened when knowledgeable and skillful educators are intentional, responsive, purposeful and plan for learning environments and experiences that nurture dispositions. Again, educators are intentional, responsive, purposeful, and promote learning when they encourage children to try all different solutions, to problems during investigations and inquiry-based learning experiences by modelling, thinking out loud. And when they convey expectations that effective learners persist in trying several solutions in order to achieve a positive outcome. Demonstrating and supporting persistence. When they show responsiveness to children's contributions and encourage children to build on their interests and findings by asking questions and building relationships with peers. Supporting the disposition of confidence. When they model working together with children to show how an outcome can be achieved. When they celebrate successes with children and tune children into the success of others. When they provide opportunities for children to express ideas and listen to the ideas of others. And when they model the language of cooperation, such as let's try this and I need your help too. Supporting cooperation.
So, effective educator practices include strategies and interactions that help children to acquire the literacy and numeracy skills and knowledge they need while also developing positive dispositions that will benefit them now and in the future. Educators are intentional, responsive, purposeful, and promote learning in this way when they understand that creativity can be expressed in many different ways. When they encourage children to pursue their own ideas and explore answers to questions by investigating different possibilities, promoting creativity. When they recognise that children will engage with learning based on their current understandings of their world. When they understand the richness of imaginative play, and will use this as the foundation for exploring children's evolving ideas and developing the conceptual understandings, promoting imagination. When they anticipate guide and extend children's learning through open-ended questioning that challenges thinking.
And finally, when they respectfully enter children's learning experiences to stimulate thinking and enrich learning, promoting reflexivity. It's important for educators to reflect on the role of sustained, shared thinking in co-constructing with children, deeper understandings of the positive dispositions. Educators use statements and open-ended questioning to clarify thinking and extend and expand children's understandings as they explore the different dispositions for learning.
For example, if the goal is to foster the disposition of creativity, then educators use statements such as, 'So, we want to get the cars across the river, and you've told me we need a bridge. There's no bridge here, but we can solve this problem.' We can design and create a bridge ourselves. Let's look at the materials we have. I wonder what we could use. Educators can also use question stems to intentionally guide children's experiences with positive dispositions for learning such as, is there any other way to make the bridge? Or what would happen if we use these materials instead?
So, we're now up to step three of our reflective tasks and we're identifying educator practices that promote dispositions for learning. Once again, we are looking at Outcome 4 and the nine positive dispositions for learning. The focus of this task is to unpack educator practices that promote children's dispositions for learning. Look at each individual practice. Which disposition does it align with? It's important to remember that the educator practice may not explicitly identify the disposition a practice promotes. You may like to use a hard copy of the Early Years Learning Framework and record the matching disposition against each practice. For example, R for reflexivity, P for persistence and Com for commitment. Go to your Early Years Learning Framework, Outcome 4, Children are confident and involve learners, page 37. Look at the examples of educator practice to promote children's learning. Try to align each practice to individual dispositions and consider if there's evidence of each of the dispositions. To complete this task, you will need to pause the video.
So, continuing on to step four of our reflective tasks, we're going to add educator practices that promote dispositions for learning. We are continuing to look at Outcome 4, children develop dispositions for learning. In the previous task, we identified educator practices that promoted children's dispositions. We noticed that the practice did not necessarily explicitly identify disposition. Some may have also noticed that the practices listed did not align to all nine dispositions. Intentional educators are purposeful and deliberate in their decisions and actions, and must be able to identify and apply practices that promote dispositions for learning.
For example, to promote the disposition of commitment, educators would provide opportunities for children to revisit ideas and extend their thinking. Ideally, educators would have examples of practice that promotes learning within all nine dispositions. For this task, you need some paper or even some sticky notes to record your responses. Thinking of your own context, add examples of how educators might promote dispositions for learning. When writing examples of practice to promote positive dispositions for learning, consider educator responsiveness to children and intentional teaching in literacy and numeracy. To complete this task, you'll need to stop the video.
And finally, we've come to our key messages of our presentation. These messages summarise the key points of the session. Literacy and numeracy is a priority and sits across both the National Quality Framework and School Excellence Framework. Our views of literacy and numeracy shape how we teach and learn. A sociocultural view of literacy and numeracy is multicultural and multilingual and recognises that the home lives of children and the early experiences that children have provide a strong foundation for lifelong literacy and numeracy learning.
The EYLF specifically refers to positive dispositions and recognises their significance as a learning outcome. Positive dispositions develop in conjunction with children's acquisitions of concepts, skills and attitudes and all are interconnected. Educators need a deep understanding of the evidence and practices that promote and nurture positive dispositions for learning. Educators plan for experiences and environments that encourage children to explore, solve problems, create and construct, collaborate and engage with others. All of which underpins the development of positive dispositions for learning in literacy and numeracy.
This brings us to the end of our presentation. There are some references listed on this slide. You may like to pause the video to note any references down that you may need.
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