The National Quality Framework asks us to look at each child as an individual and meet their individual needs in the program. It is reflected in many areas:
Element 1.1.2 – Each child’s current knowledge, ideas, culture, abilities and interests are the foundation of the program.
Element 1.1.3 – The program, including routines, is organised in ways that maximise opportunities for each child’s learning.
Element 1.1.5 – Every child is supported to participate in the program.
Element 1.1.6 – Each child’s agency is promoted, enabling them to make choices and decisions and to influence events and their world.
Element 1.2.2 – Educators respond to children’s ideas and play and use intentional teaching to scaffold and extend each child‘s learning.
Element 1.2.3 – Critical reflection on children’s learning and development, both as individuals and in groups, is regularly used to implement the program.
It is also reflected in the Early Years Learning Framework
So why, with all of this information telling educators to look at “each child” do many take a one size fits all approach? What about a whole-room-doing-the-same-activity-at-the-same-time approach is meeting the needs of the children who aren’t developmentally ready to comprehend what is being taught? Or are too anxious being in a large group situation to pay attention? Or are too frustrated having to stop what they were working on to engage fully?
Doesn’t it make more sense to get to know each child and find out what makes them tick, what their interests are, what their needs are? Then it becomes magical to use our training and skills to find a way to make that child reach their full potential confidently and capably.
Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t the easy option, this isn’t the most time efficient option. This concept takes time and effort and a commitment to keep trying new ideas until something works. After all, why did we get into childcare? To make a difference to the children and provide them with the best outcomes we can? Or to make our lives easier and focus on documentation and paperwork?*
Have you ever called a child over from the block area to do a drawing or some craft and they give you a 20 second unenthusiastic attempt? Imagine what would happen if you took paper and pencils to the block area and started to draw a road, adding in buildings from blocks, cars, and drawing road signs and trees. The likelihood of that same child voluntarily picking up a pencil and joining in, to show you their true abilities and skill level would be much greater. Why? Because they are interested.
Then you have the child who lives in home corner, playing with dolls, imaginary food, and isn’t developmentally mature enough to sit for a long group time and participate in a lesson about classifying. If you then were to set up a shop in home corner with their help, I am sure they would show you their skilled classification knowledge when they sorted the bakery, deli, fresh fruit and veg, and dairy sections. The would probably even help make signs for the shop. Why? Because they are interested.
This isn’t to say that children do not need to learn to sit in groups and attend to a task, but they are not developmentally capable of doing this for extended periods. You are also more likely to see a child’s true abilities when you observe their skills in an interest based activity.
I’d love to hear about a time you have managed to reach a child through recognising their interest and working with them within that interest area.
*If you would like to see how it is possible to do less documentation to free up your educators to spend more time with the children, and still meet the NQS requirements contact me, I can help. I have been there, done that.
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