Transcript of An integrated approach to planning and learning

An integrated approach to planning and learning video (44:16)

Narrator – Hello, my name is Ruth Garlick and I welcome you to the session: An integrated approach to planning and learning. I acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which this recording takes place, the Darug people, and the lands that all participants are learning on. I recognise Aboriginal peoples' continuing connection to land, water and community. I pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging.

This course addresses the Australian Professional Standards for teachers 6.4.2 to undertake professional learning programs designed to address identified student learning needs.

And during this session, learners will: Identify the unique needs of young learners in both the home learning environment and the education setting. Will be developing plans for teaching across settings and strategies that acknowledge a holistic view of young learners. And critically reflecting on approaches to teaching in both the home learning environment and the education setting.

Let's start by setting the scene. In planning for children enrolled in preschool or early years classrooms, it's recently become necessary to blend our approach is between settings. That is the home and the regular education setting. Or some children have been attending at preschool or school in the early years of school.

Others have been kept at home and are continuing their learning remotely. So this session promotes a continuity of learning for children learning at home, which will support their transition back into the setting. And while this session is mostly aimed at preschool educators, the information is also relevant to early years teachers. An integrated approach is important because research and theory stresses the importance of the early years in laying those firm foundations for later learning, and long periods of absence can impact on children's progress towards outcomes. Also were required to provide learning assessment for every child educated in our settings. An integrated approach across home and preschool is supported by partnerships with families and these partnerships facilitate an integrated approach.

I also want to acknowledge that there are challenges to this. And this professional learning has been developed in response to those challenges that preschools have faced recently, and also inspired by the solutions that teachers and educators have been applying to their work with children and families. So there are challenges in blending our work between learning environments and with every challenge comes a possible solution. So I encourage you to come up with your own solutions because it is a requirement that we support children's learning, even if they are at home. There are some suggestions here about what some of these solutions might be, such as working in both contexts. Then we need to be creative in our timetabling, and open to flexibility, having effective communication between everybody that's involved and blending that learning between the settings. Also, there are complexities in families and we need to acknowledge that they have to shuffle between a work life balance, and recognizing that they may have everyday challenges that we have little knowledge of, or concept of. And also being responsive to children. It's much easier to be responsive to children that are attending at the preschool, but we can also be responsive to those children at home. So how might you connect with home and what provisions are being provided? What might stimulate their interest in engagement in learning at home? and what provocations may entice the learning? The challenges around requirements under regulation and policy is still going to be there, so we need to make those expectations for children's learning, and be able to articulate our response to these challenges. Disruption, confusion and anxieties are there for all groups, so again, being flexible is so important here, and being responsive to what's going on for other people. Being understanding and supportive, and being an active listener is an important aspect in this.

Some preschool educators have shared their stories of how they found solutions, and integrated the learning in both the home environment and the education setting. Here's a story from Hillary. She's from Busby West preschool and she shared that parents have been sharing comments, photos and videos on seesaw, and that they're able to share these with the other families with permission so the children could see their friends. The friends that they established relationships with in Term 1. Monique from Hume preschool shared that they've been providing continuing learning through the school's learning hub, with weekly learning ideas, and they provided packages with a range of resources to their families. And most importantly, they've stayed connected with their families through phone calls, keeping in touch and just checking in on their well being and also through a Facebook platform. And Lauren from Orange Grove preschool. Lauren's shared how families have started this thing where they go to the local park and hide painted rocks near the red bridge for others to find. Sounds like a lovely activity for families to connect their children with their friends and also get out and exercise in the great outdoors. This park is important to the community. It provides space for outdoor exercising and it's local to families as well as educators. And I like the way that Lauren and the team are planning on ways to extend it and to connect with something that families have led, by doing a park scavenger hunt, with photos from inside the park for families to find. So this is a really great examples of what some people in our preschools have already started doing, and finding innovative and creative ways to integrate the learning between both the preschool and the school, and the home setting.

It was also great to read some comments from parents in these preschools, on how much they love getting the video messages and the general guidance, because the young Jay is desperate to be like his older brother. How much they loved the story reading and easy craft. And I did see some of this story reading online from one of the preschools, and I can just imagine the joy that the children would have been experiencing as they see their preschool teacher on the screen. Also, parents have commented that this structure helps them and they want to see this model continuing Term 2. And I love this comment by a parent. The parent of G, how G managed to do some of the activities that were suggested and that he helped teach his older brother. The fact that he could read the instructions is such empowerment for that child to be able to get himself going, and to learn independently, and a big thank you and a shout out to the teacher that was providing that.

So we need to identify these unique characteristics of young learners, because young learners do learn differently to older children. With the image of the child, I'm sure you thought this through in other professional learning or in your professional reading, but we do know there are certain things about young children. In some cases it's the same about older learners and even adults. But particularly for young children, when you think about young children, how they learn you're drawing on your own perceptions and your experiences, your knowledge of early childhood pedagogy, and your understandings of how young children learn best. You might be inclined to add to this list, based on the children that you work with. And your image of children as learners informs your approach to teaching. Young children do have unique learning characteristics that will support their learning, and educators need to be attuned to these. A lot of these aspects of the child have been drawn from the Early Years Learning Framework. You might see some things that you're familiar with, such as capable learners, and learning through their sense of identity, and in being active contributors to their world, and that children are confident, connected, creative. That they learn through play. They learn through context. That things for young children need to be dynamic, complex, holistic. And as I said, you may have other things that you would add to this list, and I would always encourage you to do so, as you work with children in various contexts.

Also, it's important to recognise that young children do not exist in isolation. They exist within social relationships, and family identity. And first and foremost of any relationship for the young child, is that of their family. Where children engage in their immediate interactions and social contexts of home and family. The preschool contributes to this. And that supports children in beginning to understand the social context of environments outside of the home. But also communities contribute to children's self identity and well being. And educators within preschools in the early years of school need to ensure that they work within that child immediate community. This will include honouring children's religious and cultural backgrounds, and recognising the strengths in children's indigenous heritage.

And there are teaching strategies that are going to support learning for young children, not only in the education setting, but also in the home. And what we're going to be talking about here is how to integrate these learning environments.

And considering the unique characteristics of young children, we really do need to focus in on who is the child as an individual, and knowing about their learning styles, their interest, their capacities, their strengths, and their needs. The dispositions that individuals have for learning. The stages of development for each child. And that context of family and community. So teachers have a role in this and they need to use this information to differentiate and plan for individuals. So teachers have knowledge of children's learning preferences and styles, and they plan accordingly. They're aware of children's interests, and engage them in their learning. Teachers and educators have knowledge of the capacities of the young children, and they plan age appropriate pedagogy. They're also aware of children's strengths, and they know of children's needs, so that they can either build on the strengths, or make adjustments for the needs. Educators linking with children's dispositions of learning, for example activity levels you may have in mind. That young boy who tends to be more active and doesn't also always want to sit down to listen to a story, but likes to be active. So how do you engage that child in story learning, installing, hearing stories, but still by being very active? That's just one example. And also educators are knowledgeable of child's development. And they know of the home contexts, the dialects and languages, for instance, and they incorporate these into planning.

And considering the unique characteristics of young children, we can look to practices that support young learners across both the home sitting and the education setting. We need to develop our strategies that are going to support learning across both settings in an integrated way and plan for the integration of learning.

In understanding the unique characteristics of young learners, we help children to experience continuity in their learning, and I've highlighted words and phrases here out of the Early Years Learning Framework that are particularly relevant to an integrated approach across settings. If you look at this paragraph, it brings to light that places and spaces had their own purposes in expectations. This is particularly relevant when we are focusing on the learning in different spaces. And building on children's learning experiences in the different spaces keeps them connected to their learning, and toward is important to them. Which are those familiar people, places, events and understandings. Familiarity supports children's sense of security and this is needed for learning. Note also that different places have their own purposes, expectations, and ways. This is important to acknowledge as we provide access to an integrated approach across settings.

The concepts represented here as summary of a continuity of learning straight out of the Early Years Learning Framework, and they show that integrated approach of everything that we do. All of these points highlight the importance of reciprocal relationships, and that partnerships are not one way. They represent the coming together of families and educators to achieve a combined purpose. I would suggest that the challenges of our current situation provide opportunities for more genuine partnerships with families, and we will talk about that in more depth later in the session. And also if you look closely at the role of educators, you can see what might what might guide our teaching strategies in terms of a continuity of learning.

In thinking about the sorts of strategies that you can put in place around the continuity of learning, I have some questions here that I'd like you to consider. So how might you working partnership with families to facilitate the continuity of learning? And what might you do to assist children's understandings of traditions, practices, and routines? And these are going to be new things that you're going to be developing. And how do you overcome the challenges of combined classes, where children attend as usual or others are attending remotely? So I've just noted a few of my ideas here. Remember there's no one size fits all here. You'll have your own ideas according to your own context, but I'll share some of the things that I can think of. For instance, developing processes where you've got regular contact, and a two way conversation about children's learning. Providing regular routines for children to be in contact, so that they can reflect with you on their learning experiences. And introducing new traditions that are going to connect children with their preschool and with their friends. And those challenges of combined classes, well, what are the connection points that you can be developing? In whichever setting children are in, they've got some sort of connection. And keeping those lines of communication open for all educators, including parents and perhaps other teachers in the school, when classes are being combined, for instance. And also, we just need to really be flexible in our delivery and know that we are finding different ways through this, and that there is no one right answer.

In thinking about another practice, intentional teaching, this is also really relevant in this time, around continuity and how we integrate both aspects of where children are learning from, through our intentional teaching. As you look at this quote from the Early Years Learning Framework, that educators move flexibly in and out of different roles and draw on different strategies as the context changes, can you see some words or phrases that are relevant to an integrated approach where all children are taught intentionally? I've highlighted some here. This highlights the importance of being flexible, and recognising the different roles with play, especially when children are learning from home. It emphasises the importance of drawing on different strategies due to the context, and we're certainly faced with changing contexts right now. Sometimes things change daily. And now should look at the infographic of Intentional teaching. This is a very short summary of what the Early Years Learning Framework says about it. But as you think of these in terms of both the home and preschool or school setting, which ones work best in which setting, and why? I would suggest that all of these elements occur in homes, and with creative approaches to integrated learning, educators can further support the learning at home, through their intentional teaching.

Thinking about strategies for intentional teaching, how might you incorporate problem solving strategies for both groups? Or how might your conversations with both groups be an aspect of blended learning? And in what ways might you model, demonstrate, speculate with both groups of children whether they're at home or at the setting? And how we connect with all children socially. So just take a moment to pause the session, and jot down some of your thoughts and thinking. I've provided some examples here. Again, no one size fits all. These are examples, they're not answers. But you might use some projects for learning and set up a challenge for both groups. Or you might set up online meetings, where children can see what's been done in the preschool, and have conversations with their peers about it. You may be able to film an interaction where you're modelling, demonstrating or speculating, and share this with the children learning from home. Or vice a versa, things from home can be shared with you. We'll set up regular meeting times with other children through telephone or online.

So let's move on to play. The theory and research base for play is strong, and leads to educational outcomes in home, preschool and school settings. Play's a powerful motivator for children, and leads to higher order thinking skills. As you read of the value that play brings within the graphic, again, can you distinguish where this only occurs at preschool of school? Do these elements of play occur equally in children's homes? So the challenge for educators in the current environment is to plan strategies that are relevant in all settings. But I would argue that all of these things do occur in homes, and some have their strength in homes as well. So while play provides a supportive environment where children can ask questions, solve problems, and engage in critical thinking and promotes positive dispositions towards learning, we know that adults have a role in that play, to extend the play and extend children's thinking. It's also important to recognise that play has immense value when children can be immersed in playing and just be, and that means no interference, or not even having an adult nearby. I'm sure you remember your own childhood and the hours that you spent in your favourite form of play. Personally, I remember as a five year old spending hours in a willow tree in my front yard, talking to my make believe dragon. No adults were in sight. I was happiest I've ever been. My dragon was my best friend. I'm sure I was doing a lot of risky things like climbing the tree and making swings out of the leaf fronds. It was so great for my well being, and even remembering it now is good for my well being. And I suggested home environments is really strong in providing that, and that's one of the things that the Early Years Learning Framework does draw out. You can see in the summary here. However, as adults, we know that there is a need at times to structure play in certain ways in whatever the learning environment children are in. And I'd like us to think about it in terms of the balance that's needed between child led, child initiated, and teacher led play opportunities. So as educators, we do structure play for children, whenever we interact, guide, suggest, offer feedback, engage in questioning, and even the way we create the environments for children to play in. So how much we structure or lead the play depends on the professional decisions we make at a point in time. The challenge with remote learning is to decide how much to structure play in the home environment, how much to stand back and see the learning, and once the learning is brought to the fore, you can decide what more can happen to extend or acknowledge in conversations with families and children. And as we engage in any of the strategies listed above, we are indeed having some role in structuring the play.

So I'm thinking about strategies as children learn through play. I've got some things here for you to reflect on. I'd like you to pause the session and just write down some of your ideas before we move on. Now again I'm going to show you some possible strategies that are based on the context that I've worked in. And they're relevant to my understanding of how children learn. They're simply examples. They're not answers. Your solutions to these challenges are suited to your context, and I encourage you to find solutions of your own. However, this is my thinking. So how might we incorporate teachable moments through play in both the home and the education setting? By having that regular contact with families, you'll be in a position to provide feedback to children that's based on their play. Also, having joint projects, providing those, and the results that are compared, and expanding on all children's thinking in both settings. And what strategies could be utilised creating that balance? I suggest that we need to be responsive to both homeowners and those in your setting, to bring about child play scenarios. And they will be different in the home, to what's going to be provided in the setting. Supporting families to create those stimulating environments, we might be providing encouragement, ideas sharing, modelling to support the families, including families in your social get togethers online or via telephone, can really support how they're going to provide those sorts of play environments. And helping families to see learning when children are immersed in play. This is about having a conversation about the importance of being in the moment, and not always feeling the need to be engaged in the play. Allowing children to be engaged in the play. Just from the point of view of a place of being, and a place of immersion in the play.

We're going to move on to another aspect of practice that supports integrated learning in various settings. That's the learning environment. The learning environments of the physical spaces made available to children. I will be going into detail later about the broader aspects of this term, but at this point I'm referring to those physical provisions that we make available to children in their play. I'd like you to have a look at the elements around the infographic, which are summary from the Early Years Learning Framework and which of these elements are going to be supported in the home environment, and which had their strengths in the preschool? So again. I would argue that many of these points are met in homes, such as reflecting identities. I think homes can do that with a lot more strength and we can do in the preschools, because they are about children's identities. Also, children's familiarity with materials. Sometimes natural environments can occur in homes, in lots of different ways. In backyards or as families may be heading out to parks, or going for walks in the local environment. Also within homes, children can respond to interests. It's all there. And families know what their children's interests are, and often by equipment or toys or resources that respond to that. Also around families contributing ideas, and families contributing to learning styles because they know their children intimately, and they can cater to their learning styles within the home. So these are all possible strengths of the home environment, and they can be well reflected in the preschool. They're also hopefully things that we're doing in preschools, because we know that they are elements of learning environments that we need to capture as we're designing them.

And I have a question here that I'd like you to take a moment to pause and jot down your thinking. How do you create links with the environments being offered at home, and at the preschool? And I've got an example here from one of our settings, but I'd just like you to take a moment to jot down your thoughts before we get into that. So some of the examples I've got here. Well, first of all, I'd just would like to acknowledge Lauren Tinsey from Orange Grove preschool. Lauren's provided families with ideas in pictorial form, that can be integrated in both settings, and many children have Lego at home and we have Lego in the preschool, so she's organised a code project where children can have a challenge and compare results. But some other ideas that I've got here are that you might read with a child on the couch, while you read the same book at group time and be connecting with that through telephone or some sort of online process. You might have a child show you their backyard or local park from photos or from an iPad or description by telephone call and as the children go out into the outdoor area at preschool, you could compare the yards and play opportunities. And you could be engaging with pop culture through show and tell, or interviewing a child at home about their favourite toy and having children in the preschool also talk about their favourite toys at home. Or comparing equipment such as Lego where children, compare their creations in various ways. Again, these are just ideas and hopefully you came up with your own. I have another question for you to just pause and think about quickly. How might links add value to the to the environment of either the home setting or the school setting? So some of the examples here could include, families could link in with projects, and be given ideas through resource packs or learn at home resources. The sorts of things that are happening in the home environment could be incorporated into the preschool. For example, family routine activities like washing the clothes. If you know that child's supporting mum or dad in washing the clothes at home, perhaps you could get a clothes washing experience happening in the preschool or outdoor play like climbing a tree or making mud pies, or the use of pop culture or everyday items. As we can see here, Orange Grove again, Lauren has provided an activity with cushions. Which most families would have access to. Or educators and families could model their provisions for each other. For example, how drawing's done home might be different to that done in school, and you could try and do that in schools, like drawing on the pavement, or drawing on a large card on the floor.

So just in summary, we've spoken about continuity of learning, intentional teaching, learning through play, and learning environments. There's a very brief summary of what they are there, and where we might start. So we're going to be connecting children's learning to build familiarity and security. Around intentional teaching, we're going to build on children's learning through our interactions across settings. Through play, we're going to build on children's play experiences across settings. And in our learning environments, we're going to link the learning environments in both settings.

And to do this we need to be able to develop a plan, or begin our planning around how we introduce those teaching strategies. Something to think about in our planning is this family engagement partnerships. And as we think about the comparisons between home and education, can you see any comparisons here? And which statements can be easily visualised in an integrated approach? and are any unlikely to be achieved? So again, I've taken this straight out of the principle of partnerships, in the Early Years Learning Framework. I've created a summary. If you look around this circle, I would suggest that all of these statements are relevant to an integrated approach to learning in the home and preschool setting. For example, it gives us a great opportunity to acknowledge and build on the strengths offered in the home and community that support children's learning. It provides opportunities to collaborate about curriculum decisions. So all of those things here are really going to be, possibly, more available to us than usual, as we integrate learning across the settings.

So integrating learning opens opportunities for families and teachers: To collaborate on the learning, and how it's going to be implemented. To sharing the learning that's evidenced; To planning collaboratively for future learning. To contribute to the learning and assessment cycle. It's a consultative relationship. As the parent knows, they child intimately. The teacher, or the educator, knows of learners in a collective sense, and what supports learning for children in general, and what the curriculum requires. So in bringing this together, children are going to be very well supported in their learning. You would already incorporate this into your planning for children attending preschool, in an integrated approach, you will include the children that are learning from home.

All of these components that we've discussed come together to provide for the broader learning environment. And partnerships are pivotal to our approach in integrating the learning across settings. So from the infographic here, you can see that all of the practices of the Early Years Learning Framework come together, to provide for that broader learning environment and that partnerships are pivotal to that. And there are three things we need to consider in our planning that is: The social aspects of this broader learning environment; The physical aspects of it, and how we support families to provide those inviting learning spaces, and how we might mirror, and acknowledge the learning that's happening, within families, in homes; And also the temporal aspects of the learning environment, those around those expected routines, schedules and incorporating routines into the preschool day, and into the day for children at home.

The learning environment is a combination of provisions being made available to children across all settings. And creating a balance of how the learning environments are provided, how they merge and complement each other; Shifting expectations and providing insightful feedback; Listening to families and children and incorporating their ideas. It's going to take a lot of flexibility on your part, and I suggest you be kind to yourself, and considered of the challenges to yourself and to children and families. You'll be drawing on the knowledge you have of children and families, and you'll find ways to build on that knowledge when children are not attending. There are some examples here of the sorts of knowledge that you have of children and families. Well, that you will be developing over this time. And also in planning the learning environment, we need to consider the equipment resources and play provisions that are available, and acknowledging the value of children's toys and games and pastimes, even if the different to those that we provided preschool. We can think about mirroring the sorts of things at home, into the preschool setting, or vice versa. I'm providing packs and other resources into the home. The sharing of ideas and the suggestions that you might get from families around their planning. And the soft entry points for families such as a closed Facebook page, or other familiar platforms are. There's a story here from Hillary, where families have shared videos of the children playing at home. So just have a quick read of that.

And mirroring the play opportunities that can happen across settings. So the things that are happening in home, again they might be different, and there might be more Barbie dolls or cartoon characters, McDonald's toys. All the sorts of things that homes often have easy access to, may not have high value in education settings, but children do play with them. So think of the learning that you can access through that popular culture. The sorts of things that happen in backyard play. The favourite activities of children, such as building cubbies or making mud pies. Use of everyday cushions. And the sorts of things that can happen during storytime, singing and drama, that can be introduced into the home. So trying to find ways to mirror activities between the two settings. And there's an example here from Lauren from Orange Grove preschool, where, you know these are all things that can be easily adapted into a home. Most homes would have egg cartons in buttons, and some other small loose parts. So, get creative and be flexible in the sorts of things that are being provided.

And the need to engage in a two way communication. So it's not just us telling families what they can be doing, but finding out what families are doing, and drawing conclusions with families about that learning that's happening at home, when children are just in that place of being. So there is a child in that willow tree, talking to a pretend dragon. What are the learning opportunities that are happening there? And how can you bring that about in your conversation with families? Providing feedback to families and children, and just making that time to interact with children while they're learning at home.

And it's important to acknowledge those strengths that happened in families through play and those everyday interactions. Now these are things that are an important part of children's worlds. These social practices are incorporated into children's learning and contribute to their understanding of key learning areas and concepts. For example, what's the learning happening when children are helping to make the bed? When they're wiping down the table? By hanging clothes on the line, baking a cake, or riding a bike around the backyard? How can learning towards outcomes be drawn out, and brought to light with families? So think of the opportunities to incorporate mathematical understanding, scientific concepts, relational concepts, creative arts, early literacy understandings, into these everyday routines and events that occur in families. You can also incorporate some of these into the preschool routines and jobs that are occurring.

Also, the Department of Education has developed a number of resources for teachers, educators and families to support the learning from home. These include projects for learning, for teachers or educators, and family resource booklets and family resource cards. So you'll find those on the Early learning at home page of our website.

An example of the way the family resource booklets link with the Educator Resource, the projects for learning can be seen here on this slide. So you'll find that each project has an accompanying family resource booklet which is more family-friendly and is something that families hopefully can engage with.

I've got a task for you now where I'd like you to write down a scenario of this child here, pictured at play in his backyard, and what might he be learning through the play? What's the role of the adult? The parent at home? The educator teaching remotely? Plan how you can communicate the learning to the parent, child, and what might come next? And plan how can this learning be utilised with children who are coming to preschool, and others who are learning from home? And does this approach promote the continuity of learning? So just pause this session for a moment here, and take some time to do that.

The final part of our session is to reflect on your approach across both settings. So we've established the continuity of learning between settings enhances children's outcomes. That learning through play is sound pedagogy. Learning environments in both settings engage children in learning and play. That educators continue to teach intentionally and so will families. That we can share our understanding with families through effective partnerships that promote children's learning and engagement. So let's now consider ways that we can adapt or improve our practices to integrate learning across both the home and preschool setting.

I just would like you to use this Y chart to put yourself in a moment in time in your preschool. It might be a routine, a learning session, an interaction, can be anything you like, and I want you to think of it in terms of the learning occurring in both settings. How it can be mirrored or reflected in both settings, both home and preschool, and imagine what this moment may look like at preschool as well As for the children learning at home. So again, you might like to pause the session so that you can engage in thinking about this. What it might look like, sound like, or feel like.

So as you reflect further on this moment in time, considered these questions. As an educator, are you aware of what outcomes the children may be working within, as they engage in the learning experience through the day in both settings? How are the ideas shared in a two way interaction with families and children, both those at face to face in the setting, and those that are at home? And are the children actively encouraged to play both at home and in the education setting?

And is there continuity of experiences for all children? And how do you plan for this? And as a final task, as you thought about that moment in time, what might you do to facilitate more integrated learning across the two settings? So write down three ideas to plan for learning that enhances the continuity across both settings.

So we're coming to the conclusion of the session now. I've just provided some extra resources that can support learning from home through the virtual staffrooms. There's a K to 6 one, and there's an early learning staffroom. So I encourage you to have a look on Teams, and be involved in professional learning and discussion with your colleagues.

We would love to hear your feedback about this professional learning, and provide suggestions for future professional learning. So I encourage you to use the camera on your smartphone to access the Microsoft Form through the QR image. We look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you for joining us for this session on integrating planning and learning across settings. I hope you found it helpful, and I wish you well on your journey.

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