Advice for teachers

Continuity of learning: Supporting children and families during closure or extended absence

Research shows that quality education and care early in life leads to better outcomes later in life. The early years are critical for establishing self-esteem, resilience, healthy growth and capacity to learn. Quality education and care shapes every child’s future and lays the foundation for development and learning (ACECQA).

When a child is unable to attend preschool or early intervention class for an extended period, they may be missing valuable opportunities to learn and develop. The impact this has on their continuity of learning should be considered and the principle of best practice should inform decisions made by educators in this circumstance.

The Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) guides a holistic approach to curriculum decision making that does not have to be limited to the time that children are present in an education and care service. The learning outcomes of the EYLF are ongoing, life-long outcomes and the framework makes many connections to family, community and place.

The term pedagogy refers to the holistic nature of early childhood educators’ professional practice, curriculum decision-making, teaching and learning. Educators’ professional judgements are central to their active role in facilitating children’s learning and are influenced by their knowledge of children, families and communities. Educators also draw on their creativity, intuition and imagination to help them improvise and adjust their practice to suit the time, place and context of learning (Early Years Learning Framework, 2009).

Continuity of learning and transitions is an important practice of the EYLF. ‘Children bring family and community ways of being, belonging and becoming to their early childhood settings. By building on these experiences educators help all children to feel secure, confident and included and to experience continuity in how to be and how to learn” (Early Years Learning Framework, 2009, P19).

When children are absent from their preschool or early intervention class for an extended period, educators can support their continuity of learning in the home environment by engaging with families and supporting the important role they play in their child’s education.

Different places and spaces have their own purposes, expectations and ways of doing things. Building on children’s prior and current experiences helps them to feel secure, confident and connected to familiar people, places, events and understandings. Children, families and early childhood educators all contribute to successful transitions between settings’ (Early Years Learning Framework, 2009, P19).

The intention of the resources is for families to engage in their child’s progress towards the EYLF learning outcomes in the home environment, with the professional support of the preschool or early intervention educators.

When educators establish respectful and caring relationships with children and families, they are able to work together to construct curriculum and learning experiences relevant to children in their local context (Early Learning Learning Framework, 2009). The child’s culture and context of family should be central to decisions and suggestions made about a child’s learning during a preschool closure or absence. Educators should use their knowledge of Aboriginal students, families and communities to develop planned experiences.

Individualised learning plans will need to be considered to assess how a child is progressing in their learning and what you might suggest families build on during the child’s time at home. This would involve the child’s current strengths, interests and areas of focus to continue their learning at home and might influence the suggested resources you provide as a result. Considering a child and families unique needs and circumstances will be vital in this circumstance, for example children with English as a second language and those with disability. A variety of learning strategies should also be considered and discussed with families.

The suite of resources may not be appropriate for all children and families, but an educator’s knowledge of the child and their context should be drawn on to provide appropriate advice to families for their child’s time away from preschool or early intervention. For children with high support needs, other suggestions based on their current progress and plans may be more suitable.

Approved services under the NQF have a responsibility to work with families to best support children’s learning. Educators develop respectful, reciprocal and collaborative relationships with families to enhance inclusion, learning and wellbeing of all children. Education and care services support families in their parenting role, as well as providing accessible opportunities for them to share in decision-making about their child’s learning and wellbeing (Leading and Operating a Department Preschool Guidelines).

Using this partnership, educators can support children during an extended absence or closure by considering the child’s current learning journey and encouraging families to continue this learning in the home environment.

Educators should consider:

  • the reasons for the child’s absence, if not due to closure
  • the health and wellbeing of the child
  • the child’s current interests
  • the child’s current relationships with other children and educators at the service
  • the child’s relationships at home
  • the child’s current strengths and opportunities for learning.

Communication with families about the child’s learning at home is an important part of these resources and will also be key to the child’s successful return to preschool or early intervention. On the child’s return or when the preschool or early intervention class reopens, educators are encouraged to gather feedback from families about their child’s time at home. For example, what has the child been interested in, what learning has the family observed and what experiences have they engaged in with their child? This information should then be used to inform the child’s individualised learning plan moving forward, also considering educators’ own knowledge of how the child was progressing before the absence.

Early Childhood Literacy and Numeracy Building Good Practice Resources - cards - Australian government

Support for Literacy and Numeracy - Australian government

Foundations for success - resource hub - short, engaging videos capturing the knowledge and good practice of Indigenous leaders and educators from across Queensland

Get Up and Grow: Healthy Eating and Physical Activity for Early Childhood resources - Department of Health

Learning potential - Australian government

Starting blocks - Australian children's education and care quality authority (ACEQA)

Cool Australia - video clips, documentaries, images, articles, stories and news 

Play and children with Autism Spectrum Disorder - Raising Children Network 

Preschoolers - play and learning - Raising Children Network 

Be You - COVID-19 support for educators - support for teachers and their wellbeing in the early childhood education sector

Let's read - Families

Playgroup WA: Play-ideas

NT preschool STEM games

Easterseals School closure toolkit - includes visual supports for children with autism to use during the COVID-19 school closures.

Coronavirus social story - Flip snack

Autism hangout - YouTube

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