5 tips to meet Quality Area 5

Quality Area 5 – Relationships with Children… Sure we all like children, it is what we got into the sector for. But this is more than liking children and thinking they are cute and fun, this is about meaningful relationships that will support development. Here are 5 tips to help you with quality area 5…

1

Get to know each child –There are children who make themselves known, who are very outgoing, who are constantly chatting to educators and stand out as the enthusiastic children. There are the children who we say their name countless times a day because they do everything at full force and there is no caution or consideration involved. These children are easy to get to know. They make themselves known. How well do you know the shy children, the introverted children or the children who are happy just engaging in solitary play? If you don’t know these children, how can you include them and their interests in your program?

2

Understand how to support children’s behaviour – Children often act out to gain attention, to test limits and boundaries, or out of boredom or frustration. By identifying why children are acting out we can often support their engagement with the program and therefore rectify some behavioural issues. By playing alongside children you can step in and role model appropriate behaviour and support their understanding of how to react in future disputes.

3

Support children’s dignity – Put yourself in the children’s shoes… would you like to be laughed at when you do something wrong, when you didn’t know any better? Would you like to be yelled at from across the room instead of having someone come to you and speak to you personally? Would you like to be stripped off in the middle of the room to be changed while other children watch? Would you like to be shamed for wetting yourself, or eating slowly? If you have answered no to these then perhaps consider how you treat the children in your service and whether you maintain their dignity at all times.
4

Understand developmental needs – To build relationships with children and develop the trust to support these relationships it is helpful to know each child’s developmental needs. Infants need to build trusting and supporting relationship through constant interactions with key educators. Toddlers needs a secure base to return to as they start to explore, they will make mistakes, they will make messes, they will not want to share, so don’t put pressure on them to be something they can’t.

5

It’s ok to just chat – When was the last time you sat down and just chatted to children? Not taught, not pushed for an observation, not held a mini Q&A, but just chatted? It is amazing to really be present and listen to the children, discover more about them and build on relationships. By just chatting as well the children are going to build trust, while learning a range of different skills like turn taking, patience, vocabulary, new knowledge and feeling secure and safe.

 

If you would like support with anything in your service please feel free to get in touch through http://www.rare.support

This post is available for free download as a PDF from http://rare.support/resources

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5 tips to meet Quality Area 4

Quality Area 4 – Staffing Arrangements… This is an area about you, the educators. If there isn’t harmony in the team then the children will suffer because we all know when we are stressed or unhappy we don’t do our best. Here are 5 tips to reflect on to help you meet quality area 4…

1

Understand the ratios – There are a lot of services that combine age groups at different times of the day for different reasons, early mornings, late evening etc. Do you realise that every time you have a younger child in the group the ratio drops? It is not only unfair for the children’s needs, but it is illegal to combine groups together for the benefit of the educators. If there is only one outside play area only one age group should use it at a time or ensure that safety is maintained as it the primary function of supervision.

2

You are role models  – If you expect children to be respectful of each other, value each others’ ideas and be ethical and equitable in their approach to children who differ from themselves then as educators we must role model this. We cannot be gossiping, rude to each other, snappy in comments, and insulting of those who are different to us, and expect children to not pick up on this. Remember children learn more from what they see than what they hear.

3

You are not alone – If you want to reflect on your practices, improve your knowledge and learn new skills then look to your colleagues. What a valuable resource we all have in our services, or schemes. People who can relate to what is happening and help discuss this and share ideas and contribute to solutions. Add up the collective years of experience your colleagues have… What a resource, right there, at your finger tips!
4

Be a professional – Everything you do as an educator reflects on who you are a professional. Would you like to walk into the place you pay people (a LOT of money) to look after your precious children and see people standing around chatting, people with their phones on the floor, people dressed unprofessionally, people on facebook. Would you like to find out that the educators in your service have taken pictures of your child on their personal phones without your consent? These parents have entrusted you with their children, signed a business contract and in turn you need to behave professionally.

5

Be positive –Educators, typically, put others first. We are hard on ourselves and doubt our abilities. Therefore we need people around us who value us, highlight our strengths, make us feel successful. If it isn’t constructive, and it isn’t positive, don’t say it. Our jobs are hard enough, we need to support each other and highlight each others’ skills and abilities.

 

If you would like support with anything in your service please feel free to get in touch through http://www.rare.support

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5 tips to meet Quality Area 3

Quality Area 3 – Physical Environment… A lot of people think they have very little control over the physical environment. It is already built and designed and there isn’t a lot that can happen. Well there are several ways you can influence the physical environment and reflect on how it is used in your service. Here are 5 tips to reflect on to help you meet quality area 3…

1

Consider the standard of your equipment –Would you like to play with toys that have had better days? Would like to have pieces missing from your equipment or not enough pieces to make anything good? Would you like to have equipment that is dirty, drawn on, has paint and play dough dregs stuck to it? How would that make you feel? Would you feel valued, important, and respected? Would you treat the other equipment that was left with care and respect if there was examples everywhere showing you that you didn’t need too?

2

Consider how the space is used –How do you use the space in your service? Do you consider the layout? Are noisy areas like block corner right next to quiet areas like book corner? Is play dough on the carpet so children will make a mess? Is there clear walkways or are children building with blocks through fire exits and walkways, creating trip hazards? Are there quiet spaces for children to retreat to if they feel overwhelmed or anxious? Are the spaces for big movements and risk taking and noise?

3

Do children have consistency? – If you think about your home, how often do you move things around? Do you go to work and come home and the kitchen is now where the bathroom used to be and your bedroom is now a study? How would you feel if this happened? Confused? Unsure? Possibly violated? Imagine how children feel when they come to the service and things are moved around.

4

Do children have choice? – Are the opportunities for children to select materials of their choosing? Are there opportunities for children to select whether they would like to be inside or outside? Are there “inside” activities outside for those children who do not feel confident in gross motor play and outside games? Do children know what is available and can they ask for additional resources or to have a different activity brought out?

5

Consider embedding sustainability –This is more than just having a vegetable patch. This is about caring for the environment. Recycling or  upcycling materials for loose parts play/craft, not wasting paper with 1 line drawn on it, use the back of the paper too, not allowing children to pull leaves/flowers/bark off trees and plants and explaining to them why.

If you would like support with anything in your service please feel free to get in touch through http://www.rare.support

If you would like to subscribe to my monthly newsletter for tips, ideas and upcoming events subscribe here http://eepurl.com/b7KQHT

This post is available for free download as a PDF from http://rare.support/resources

If there is anything you would like 5 tips on please comment below 

 

5 tips to meet Quality Area 1

Quality Area 1 – Educational Program and Practice… what does this mean to you? Is it about putting some activities out for the children to play with, or is it about more than that? Here are 5 tips to help you connect with Quality Area 1…

1

Think about “Each Child” – The words “each child” are used 10 times in this quality area. It cannot, and should not, be a one sized fits all approach. Each child should be allowed opportunity to engage with the program and this means that the program needs different elements to provide each child with these opportunities. Whether the children are different ages, developmental levels, temperaments, or just have different interests, there are ways to engage them all in learning.

2

Be meaningful – If you are doing things for the sake of doing them, and expecting children to gain knowledge, skills or awareness from them, they are not likely too. Everything you do in early childhood education and care services should be meaningful. It should have intent behind it. This is what intentional teaching is about, doing things with intent. This intent might be to see what the children do, to reflect on the current program, to challenge the children’s thinking. The intent should not be to get through the day with as little energy as possible.

3

Understand agency – Element 1.1.6 say “Each child’s agency is promoted, enabling them to make choices and decisions and to influence events and their world”. This allows children the opportunity to have a voice. This could be asking them for input on decisions, this could be noticing that they are not enjoying an aspect of the routine and changing it, this could be providing an opportunity for the children to create their own ideas without having a Google response thrown at them.

4

Understanding a cycle of learning – Element 1.2.3 says “Critical reflection on children’s learning and development, both as individuals and in groups, is regularly used to implement the program”. This is about reflecting on how children engage with the program and using this information to plan ahead. The program should not be a series of random events that are evaluated as random events, they should be linking to new activities that challenge children further, follow up on an interest or build on a skill. How will you know which area to follow up on? That is what the reflection is for.

5

Decide what works for your service – There is no one way to implement the program in a service. Understand the regulations, the NQS and the skills of your staff and design a program that works for you. There is no requirement anywhere for portfolios, specific numbers of observations, day books, weekly programs, inside programs, outside programs, electronic documentation, or photographs with observations. Consider your stakeholders and consider whether what you are currently doing is meeting their needs, exceeding their needs, creating stress, creating confusion or creating a disconnect, and documentation is just being done to be done.

If you would like support with anything in your service please feel free to get in touch through http://www.rare.support

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This post is available for free download from http://rare.support/resources as a PDF

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5 tips to meet Quality Area 2

Quality Area 2 – Children’s health and safety… sounds simple enough right? Feed them well. Ensure they have rest. Give them exercise. Make sure there’s no germs. Simple. But how often do you really and truly reflect on what this quality area really is asking you to do, and whether you are meeting the elements? Here are 5 tips to reflect on to help you meet quality area 2…

1

Explore “appropriate opportunities to meet each child’s need for sleep, rest and relaxation” – In a lot of services rest time has always been a time where each child is put on a bed and either sleeps or lays there getting told to “LAY STILL” for rest time while the educators clean up after lunch, or write the program etc. Each child’s needs for sleep, rest and relaxation is going to differ, so is having beds for everyone meeting this  requirement?

 2

Explore “Children are adequately supervised at all times” – Supervised means that children are prevented from injuring themselves. It does not mean that educators need to stand around like statues watching the children play and barking instructions occasionally, the best way to supervise is to be playing alongside the children and keeping them engaged and busy. The other side to supervision is making sure that if you are engaged with a small group of children you constantly scan the area nearby, not assume that others are doing that. Reflect on your current supervision practices and see whether you are supporting children’s play while ensuring their safety.

3

Explore “effective hygiene practices are promoted and implemented” – We all know about hygiene but here’s some reminders for you to reflect on… Washing children’s hand before meals, updating policies on illness and ensuring cross contamination is minimised, ensuring gloves are worn when preparing and serving food, ensuring when gloves are worn they are not used for anything else (and are replaced if they are), children sleeping on beds are not placed with heads facing each other to avoid spread of germs.

4

Explore “physical activity is promoted through planned and spontaneous experiences and is appropriate for each child” – A lot of educators seem to have the idea that inside is for learning and outside is for playing. Or that inside is for teaching and outside is for supervising. How much learning occurs outside a your service? Is the set up inviting and challenging that changes regularly based on the children’s interests? How do you make sure it is appropriate for each child – do you engaging with the children to support the nervous and challenge the confident?

5

Explore “healthy eating is promoted and food and drinks provided by the service are nutritious and appropriate for each child” – Reflect on whether this is holistically embedded into your service or whether this is only for the menu. When doing cooking with the children do you promote healthy and nutritious foods or do you bring in cupcakes and pancakes and sugar laden “fun” foods? Do you tell the children they need to drink water when you are drinking a bottle of soft drink in front of them?

Hopefully these tips have given you a few things to think about and explore whether you feel that they are suitably met in your service. It would be good if you can say you meet all of these, but it would be great if you find out you could do better and plan to do this in your service. If you would like support with anything in your service please feel free to get in touch through http://www.rare.support

This post is available for free download from http://rare.support/resources as a PDF

If you would like to subscribe to my monthly newsletter for tips, ideas and upcoming events subscribe here http://eepurl.com/b7KQHT

If there is anything you would like 5 tips on please comment below 

 

5 tips to being a confident Educational Leader

The Educational Leader role is a lot of responsibility. The program is yours to control. So I have put together some tips to try and help support Educational Leaders in their role and make their job a bit more clear. These are just suggestions, but hopefully you will find them useful…

1

Do your research – Know what you need to be doing in relation to the NQF and understand what options are out there for you. Be clear in your mind about the compliance side of the program. Understand how to support children’s development.

2

Have a plan – Come up with a clear plan of what you would like the program to look like. What will the program achieve? How will the educators implement it? What will it look like in the different rooms?

3

Know your educators – What are their strengths? What skills do they have that they can support you with? How do you ensure that everyone can engage with the program without feeling frustrated, yet keep the more skilled educators motivated?

4

Communicate well – Be clear in your communication with educators and keep the channels of communication open and be supportive of their needs. Be willing to explain things multiple times and have empathy towards other’s issues when implementing the program.

5

Evolve the program – Understand that children change and educators change and the community changes, so the program should be able to grow and evolve to continue to meet the needs to stakeholders.

If you would like to know more and have more detailed information to support you in your role please consider the upcoming events at http://www.rare.support or the Educational Leader webinar.

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Exploring Developmental Checklists

Imagine you were doing your job and someone came around with a clipboard and pen and watched you very closely as you worked to see whether you could do it or not. How would you feel? Would you work to the best of your ability? Would you feel anxious or stressed?

What about if there were parts of your job you never actually had to implement, or have only done once or twice, and the someone came to assess you, how would you go? Would you feel confident? Would you feed pressured?

How about if you knew you could do your job really well in the day to day routine, however when moved to a different context that is foreign and new you struggle to transfer your skills. Would you like someone to judge you based on what you do out of context? Would you feel that was fair?

We all know that children have developmental milestones that they reach as they become older and more capable. It is a good idea to keep an eye on children and check that they are reaching their milestones so we can provide additional support if required, and even refer on if necessary.

The key to knowing whether a child has met their milestones should not lie in a clipboard, a checklist, and a hovering educator asking you to do things out of context. The key to knowing whether a child has met their milestones relies on a rich program, an engaging learning environment and positive relationships between children and educators. If you have a close relationship with the children in your care, and are playing alongside them you will no doubt, as a team, see the child reach all of their milestones over the duration of the year. You will also be able to identify any concerns and through your close relationship with the family be able to discuss these.

The issue with this approach is knowing what to do in the program and how to engage with children to support children to reach their milestones. Especially for new educators, or for Educational Leaders to communicate with their team. That is why I have developed a new type of developmental checklist. A programming developmental checklist.

PDC

This printable document provides suggestions, within each of the 5 learning outcomes, to incorporate into your program across the different ages to help children reach their milestones. The document even provides suggestions of the types of songs that help children meet the milestones across the different age ranges. The checklist not only refers to the learning outcomes, but it also explains how it links to 12 of the NQS standards. The document is broken up into 0-4 months, 4-8 motnhs, 8-12 months, 1-2 years, 2-3 years and 3-5 years. Here is an example of the 4-8 months page.

prog dev check

If you would like a copy for your service you can purchase from the online store at www.rare.support

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The freedom of the NQF

The NQF is a glorious framework. It is not prescriptive. It does not come with a folder full of templates and a ‘how to’ guide on implementing the NQF. Instead the National Quality Framework does as it says on the package, it provides a framework to work within.

In the same way children need limits and boundaries to work within, and once they know the rules and the expectations they can behave freely within these guidelines, the framework provides this for services. The legislation, national quality standards, and approved learning frameworks are the limits and boundaries, and then there is so much freedom to operate however you would like within that.

You don’t need to do what the service down the road does. You don’t need to do what you used to do 7 years ago. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on prescriptive systems that will back you into a corner. You have the freedom to completely revamp what you to do to something that works for your service, your families, your educators and your children.

But with so much freedom and so many options where do you start? How do you know what to do that will benefit your service?

There are 3 key factors that will help you decide what it best for your service…

Key 1: Know the limits and boundaries

Spend some time reading and familiarising yourself with the guiding documents to know what the rules are. This will give you knowledge and therefore power to create something you are confident complies with the requirements.

Key 2: Reflect on current practices

Look at what is currently happening in your service. Is it working? Is everyone getting the most out of the service? Are the educators motivated? Are the children challenged? Are the families happy? This is where you can find out a starting point, based on what areas need to most work.

keyKey 3: Take some risks

Be willing to try new things. There are so many different approaches that you can take when it comes to implementing the NQF, so be adventurous. Try something new. Be innovative and see what happens. (Just make sure to document your plans in your QIP so you are covered if anyone arrives mid revamp.)

If you would like some support with your service, to help develop a service specific program that works for you and your team, RARE can help the following ways:

session breakdown

Sydney July 21st, Newcastle July 28th, Melbourne August 18th, Brisbane September 22nd

Educational Leader

Webinar – August 1st

Or if you would like a more personalised approach then RARE can help with consulting for your service. Contact rachel@rare.support for more information.

If you would like to subscribe to my monthly newsletter for tips, ideas and upcoming events subscribe here http://eepurl.com/b7KQHT