Relationships and interactions
High quality early learning and care is underpinned by the relationships educators build with children and families. Positive relationships assist young children to feel safe and secure, and this is a critical foundation for children feeling confident to explore their environments and to learn.
Whether the relationship is with a baby, or a five-year-old, relationships should be genuine, responsive and respectful. Relationships are formed through educators and children getting to know one another, over time.
Predictable and stable staffing arrangements and routines are important to getting relationships off to the right start. High quality services spend a lot of time in securing the right people into their teams.
As well as being qualified and knowledgeable, high quality services have educators who genuinely enjoy working with young children and building great relationships.
When visiting centres, look for educators who are engaged with children and families, are welcoming and show delight in being with young children. Interactions should always be respectful, and consider the age and development of the child.
High quality interactions are not just about the business end of things, such as directing children or asking children to do things. High quality interactions provide space to have conversations with children about their interests and discoveries; even with infants who are non-verbal, high quality interactions include these types of sustained genuine interactions.
Early Learning programs and play-based learning
We know children learn best through play; however, many parents wonder how is play-based learning different to play at home or just simply having fun.
Play-based learning is much more than simple fun, although fun should never be undervalued! Play based learning is an approach where children learn about academic concepts, the world around them, independence and relationships with others through experimentation, imagination, testing, rehearsal and practice.
Just about everything important to a young child can be learned through play. High quality programs support a play-based approach because it works best with young children.
That’s not to say it’s not a planned and purposeful approach; just the opposite. High quality programs strike the right balance between; educators intentionally initiating and guiding children’s play and, acting on and extending the play the children have initiated themselves.
In both instances, the educator working in a high quality program, has a deep understanding of the children’s current level of development, emerging strengths and interests so they can plan to support their individual learning.
High quality early learning programs are always developed with individual children in mind. While some whole-group experiences can be seen in older rooms such as the 3 to 5-year-old children, the foundations of a high quality early learning program are a deep understanding, and response, to the individual learning and development needs of each child.
Even when larger groups of children are working collaboratively on a project for example, highly skilled educators nuance the individual learning goals and educational focus for children within the larger piece of learning.
This approach highlights the importance of the relationships that are developed between educator and child. The educators’ deep knowledge of individual children is critical to the quality of the overall program.