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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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