Transcript of The Early Years learning framework - belonging, being, becoming

Transcript of The Early Years learning framework - belonging, being, becoming podcast

Jacqui Ward:

Welcome to the Early Learning podcast. My name is Jacqui Ward. I'm the Early Learning Coordinator and I am here today with Sheree Bell, our Preschool Advisor. And we're here talking about The Early Years Learning Framework and this episode is about the overarching themes. So I'm going to just start the conversation off by talking about the theoretical foundations of those three big ideas of belonging, being and becoming. I think they're strongly underpinned or strongly rooted in socio-cultural theory, particularly Bronfenbrenner's theory about the idea that a child belongs to a family, a neighbourhood, a community, a culture, all of those sorts of things. I think that's really important to understand. And again, lots of educators often talk about, 'where do I, how do I link in with theoretical perspectives?' I think understanding theory as it relates to things is important. I think they're fundamental ideas that we need to think about. I also like to link here with the three big themes to Maslow's hierarchy of needs as well, thinking about children having those basic physical needs and the next level being those social and emotional needs for security and safety and things like that. And I think the belonging, being, becoming really kind of slot in there. Over to you, Sheree, your thoughts.

Sheree Bell:

I think it's really important what you said there about drawing on those theoretical perspectives and considering those, because The Early Years Learning Framework, the belonging, being, becoming is more than just a have to do. It draws on those theoretical perspectives and I guess challenges and supports educators to critically reflect on those. Because as you said, those three overarching themes, belonging, being and becoming, really underpin everything else that then goes on.

Jacqui Ward:

Yeah, definitely. You can't do anything else until you've got those sort of fundamental ideas covered. Y,ou can't focus in on children's learning and the learning outcomes unless you've got children who do feel like they belong to a space that they feel comfortable to learn, they feel like their culture, their identity is reflected in what's being taught and what's being covered.

Sheree Bell:

That's right. It's not just a catch phrase. It's actually part of the title of this whole document and it kind of sums up everything about early childhood and everything that it's about and everything that you are going to see in early childhood services.

Jacqui Ward:

I think one of the things that I've done over the years in professional learning is unpacking those three ideas and what they mean for children. What does it mean for a child to feel a sense of belonging? Because I think educators really need to critically reflect on what does it look like, what does it feel like for you? We'll talk a little bit more about that later, what it means for educators. But in order to ensure that you're creating that sense of belonging. I think belonging, we kind of think about that in the early stages when children first start at their preschool. I think that for me, the initial stages of planning and observations and what not, should be all about creating a sense of belonging for children and also for families, which we'll also talk about those a little bit longer. As I said, I think educators really need to think about, sometimes children present with a whole lot of issues and challenges and sometimes it can come back to the idea that they don't necessarily feel that connection. They don't feel that they belong, they don't have enough time to be. Being is all about allowing children time in the here and the now, to focus in on what you're doing, allow time for conversation, for sustained shared thinking, all of those sorts of things. And becoming, I think is one of the B's that educators are way more familiar with because they're always thinking about what's next. But I think for me, the becoming B, is really about focusing in on what kind of people we want children to be. So it's not just about 'we want them to learn these skills and we want them to progress in their learning outcomes', but we're actually supporting children in the early years to formulate who they're going to be as adults and who they're going to be throughout the rest of their schooling and all those sorts of things, we're supporting them to become the adults that they're going to be.

Sheree Bell:

Yeah, that being, I think all three of these themes, even though we kind of talk about them separately, it is very important to kind of pull them back together and see how they support each other. And that being, it's important for the children in our context, they're four years old, to be four, for the year, in order for them to become and have those learning paths, and that learning trajectory then throughout their lives.

Jacqui Ward:

Yeah, definitely. And I think it is important to see them and balance your time. How much time am I spending on creating a sense of belonging? How much time am I spending on being with children and allowing children to be and enjoy their world and play and all those sorts of things?. And how much of my time and my program is focused on becoming? So there's a balance, because you wouldn't want one to overtake the other. I think that three of them need to be in a nice sort of mix.

Sheree Bell:

Well that's right. All three of them are integral to identity, which again is the core of The Early Years Learning Framework as well. We're looking at, shaping, promoting, guiding and supporting children's identity through those three themes in our early childhood services.

Jacqui Ward:

Yes, and you make a nice connection there that all the learning outcomes do link indirectly or directly to those three core ideas. So that the belonging, being and becoming are those big scale outcomes, but the learning outcomes then sort of trickle down from there. And one that stands out for me, you've talked about identity, I think about wellbeing too. Wellbeing is really strongly connected, I think to especially belonging, but also being. I think children are very rushed in our modern world, rushed all the time. I remember reflecting on my parenting, I was thinking, my catch phrase was 'hurry up', so I think children at preschool can even experience that, 'it's time to do this, it's time to pack away here'. It's time always. There's always lots of change. And as we know, some children don't cope very well with even the smallest of transitions. So it's all things to think about.

Sheree Bell:

Well I think that allowing that time to be, also supports building those relationships and those partnerships with the children. They're allowed to be in that space. You're with them. You're allowing them just to be themselves. Learn about them in that space, and that's a really integral part of building that relationship to get to know the children really well, as well as their families.

Jacqui Ward:

I think we always need to be thinking about belonging, being and becoming more broadly than our work with children. I know The Early Years Learning Framework is very focused in on those concepts and how they relate to children, but I think we need to think about them for families. In particular, we have a strong role in supporting families to be the best parents that they can be, they look to us for advice and guidance on a lot of different things. But most importantly, to support them in the way that they can support their child's learning, which will be fundamentally important throughout their child's whole schooling career. So I think that's really important to think about what it means for a family to have a sense of belonging at the service and what opportunities are there for them to be at the service and be involved and spend time with educators if they need to, if they need to have those conversations. It often happens in a time that we're busy doing other things and we think it's a bit inconvenient to have a long conversation with someone, but sometimes that's what families need, to just be with an educator and talk to them. And again, as I said, supporting them to become an advocate for their child, to become a facilitator of their learning. That's a tricky thing to learn how to be as a parent, and we as early childhood professionals I think, can start them on a really good path there or support them on a really good path.

Sheree Bell:

Absolutely. And I think it does go both ways as well when we're thinking about that sense of belonging, being and becoming. Absolutely, we're supporting our families and children. But we're also learning from them as well, our families. It's really important to acknowledge the knowledge that the families are bringing in about their community, about the diverse cultures, the linguistics, everything like that, that supports them to belong and be within the community. We want them to bring that in and share that as well, so that we can absolutely use that to support the children and families when they're in our context as well. So I think it's that two way partnership.

Jacqui Ward:

I couldn't agree more. I know we're a bit off topic there, but it's a nice link into that first principle, isn't it? Secure, respectful, reciprocal relationships is two ways. It's always two ways. And how are we going to know how to create a sense of belonging for children if we don't actually know what it means for that child to belong? We get that information from families, don't we? And we get it in an authentic way rather than being tokenistic. Rather than saying, 'oh, this child's country of origin is India, so we do all these sort of tokenistic things', as opposed to saying, 'how does that family celebrate it? How is it relevant for that family's context?'

Sheree Bell:

I think it just kind of showcases really about The Early Years Learning Framework and how interrelated all of the parts are. Like you said, we've got these large overarching themes of belonging, being and becoming. Three fairly simple words that have a lot of meaning attached to them. And then with that, the principles, practices and outcomes, you said that before, none of those are separate, they are all integrated and it's very difficult to separate them.

Jacqui Ward:

Well that's the good thing I think for educators is that you don't need to separate them, because when you're doing one thing well, you kind of often then are doing the other things as well, even if you don't necessarily realise it. Which also is a nice segway into the idea of belonging, being and becoming for educators, and I think about some of the workplaces that I've been into and when you start somewhere new. I'm sure everyone can think back to a time where you started somewhere new, when you felt so out of place, if you were like me, being a bit proud and not wanting to ask too many questions. So how do we create a sense of belonging for our educators? And particularly relevant I think is what I've come across, is making sure that it's a culturally safe place for educators as well. So that educators can also bring some of their own identity and their own experiences, because children love it when we share ourselves with them, and families do as well. I think lots of things to think about, like professional development plans and all sorts of those things in a really formal way. but I think if we think about becoming for educators, what does it mean? You can try and get to a little bit more of the core about what does it mean to be a great early childhood professional, all those sorts of things. I think these words help you bring it back to real authentic things.

Sheree Bell:

Oh, absolutely. When you're considering becoming as a team, you're looking at your journey as a team together, you're looking at what role you together, can play in the children's learning. I always keep coming back to the centre of that triangle in The Early Years Learning Framework where it really places children and families and their learning right at the centre, and having that belonging to the team as educators, really supports that journey for the children as well as the team. I think that sense of belonging as part of the team; educators, leadership, whoever might be in that space as part of that team, it's not only important for health and wellbeing, but like you said, it brings out a respectful and connected environment amongst themselves so then they can share.

Jacqui Ward:

Yes, and it's absolutely fundamental to high quality practice. A well synchronised team that works together, communicates well, all has the same focus on values and philosophy and all those sorts of things and quality practice, amazing things can happen for children's learning. So it's a really important thing I think to unpack as a team as well. Not that we are enforcing this or anything, but it would be great I think, if after you've listened to this podcast, you might think about doing a little exercise at your next staff meeting about what does belonging, being, becoming mean for children, for families and for educators? And thinking about how does that influence your next year's work to come, your quality improvement, all of those sorts of things.

Sheree Bell:

Absolutely. It's a very interesting task to do that. I've seen a couple of services who have taken that on board and thought, 'what does belonging mean for us as educators?' and just really tussling with those ideas and collaborating and thinking about what it does mean for them as well as the children.

Jacqui Ward:

Yeah, and I think sometimes we can be a little bit fine grained in our work. We can really focus in on very specific things or very specific outcomes or very specific elements of the National Quality Standard. Whereas I think when we take a step back and look at bigger picture things, we can often see there's lots of opportunity for connection, integration, all those sorts of things, innovation, all sorts of things. I think there's also an opportunity when you do that, to then look more broadly at how belonging, being and becoming, those concepts are integrated across the National Quality Standard. Also, with things like the Code of Ethics, when you're thinking about those big picture things, how are those ideas represented in those core guiding documents?

Sheree Bell:

I think the National Quality Standard, the belonging being, becoming is just, again, it's integrated, it's throughout the National Quality Standard in each of those quality areas. From supporting children's agency in Quality Area 1, to health and wellbeing in Quality Area 2, selection of resources and setting up learning environments in Quality Area 3 etc. These overarching themes provide that lens for educators to select the pedagogical practices and make decisions, all with the common goal of supporting children's learning.

Jacqui Ward:

Yeah, definitely. And we've kind of pointed out, we've already made some links to Quality Area 7, with the professional development plan and the relationships with families and also with children. Again, the Code of Ethics is a really great one to reflect on when you're thinking about big picture items. Because I think if you are questioning yourself as to, 'how am I incorporating the Ethics, when I think about how I'm supporting children to belong?', you're likely to look at those ideas again with another lens or from a different perspective, which I think is also great.

Sheree Bell:

I think that document too, really supports the advocacy work that you talked about before. Not only advocacy for the children, for families and community, but also for the profession, which again brings everything together.

Jacqui Ward:

Definitely. Well, I think that's it for me, anything else to add from you Sheree?

Sheree Bell:

No, thank you. It's been very interesting. It's like you say, sometimes we can be quite finite, so to really look at the big picture and go back to those overarching themes was great.

End of transcript

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