Children are often the reason we get into child care. We want to make a difference in a child’s life. The best way to make a difference to children is to put them at the centre of everything you do. Remember why you got into child care and don’t let all the other tasks bog you down. Here are 5 tips that can help you develop a child focused program…
Build relationships – Get the know the children, spend time with them down at their level and see what makes them tick. By getting to know the children you will start to see what they need help with, what their interests are, and where they would like to take the program. Children who are interested in what they are learning about are more likely to get more out of the experience.
Don’t be selfish – Put the children and their needs first. It isn’t about you and making your day easier by being in control, it is about the children and making their day easier by supporting their needs. I guarantee if you relinquish the need to be in charge and control everything and just engage, play, scaffold and be you will have a much more relaxed day because the children wont be resisting, or disengaging because they are not developmentally ready, they will be right there with you learning through play.
Be flexible – Try something new, if the children cannot engage with the program the way it is, then mix it up. There is nothing stopping you from experimenting with the program delivery to find ways that best meets the needs of the children. If children are engaged in the program, feel like they have a voice, feel like they can exercise their sense of agency then they will be busy, challenged and supported. You might find less behavioural issues when children are not frustrated, bored or disengaged. So try something new, mix it up, be adventurous and most of all, be brave enough to try.
Build a catalogue of ideas – Things like professional development, industry publications, networking, even Pinterest can be great for learning new ways to use resources, new ideas for setting up the environment, and new activities. The aim of all of this is not to come back into the service the next day and try them all, because that is about you, not the children. The aim of all of this is to build a catalogue in your mind of ideas you have on hand that when the children are interested in something, or engage in something, you can pull an idea from the catalogue in your mind and challenge the children further.
Understand the benefits – Reflect on the NQS and understand how a child focused program can support not only the children but also support the service to meet the elements in many of the quality areas. Child focused programming is also a very inclusive practice because it means that children with additional needs can play a key role in shaping the program, instead of being dragged along with the program, or left out of it.
Hopefully this has been helpful to you and given you some things to reflect on in your service. Perhaps it is that you are already doing all of these, perhaps it is how you could do better, or maybe it has affirmed some of the things you do but given you food for thought on others.
Remember, there is no ONE way to implement the NQF so if what you are doing isn’t working, give yourself permission to try something new. If you would like help with anything in your service please feel free to get in touch or check out some materials available at http://www.rare.support
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