5 tips for… setting limits and boundaries

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We all know about settling limits and boundaries with children as a way to support behaviour guidance and allow for a sense of belonging. Here are some tips to help you with limits and boundaries in your service.

  1. Be age appropriate: It is important to consider the age of the children that the limits and boundaries are aimed at as, if they are unachievable or too restrictive, they can have the opposite affect to what we hoped. Remember also that as children age and develop so do their abilities and confidence, so limits and boundaries must be revisited to address children’s growth and reflect the current children, not be a one size fits all approach to all children.
  2. Involve the children: If children are involved in the process of setting the limits and boundaries they are more likely to be aware of the reasons behind them (safety, respect, empathy etc.) and therefore adhere to them. If children feel the rules have been forced upon them then they may rebel against them. All children have a voice and the more their voice is heard the more children develop trusting relationships.
  3. Be consistent: Children understand limits and boundaries quicker if they are consistently getting the same responses to their behaviour, however if children get different responses at different times from different educators it can cause confusion. This can also lead to children testing the limits and boundaries regularly to see what response they will get. Therefore it is important to make sure everyone is on the same page and will consistently reinforce the agreed upon limits and boundaries.
  4. Align with best practice: It is important to consider the expectations of children and whether these are about the children’s needs or the adult’s needs. Understanding that children are learning about their world and where they fit within it allows for a more child-focused approach to limits and boundaries instead of seeing children as mischievous and needing to be punished. Also consider the level of the response, for example sending a child away from a situation to make the behaviour stop is not best practice as it does not allow for engagement with the teaching moment that has been presented.
  5. Be a role model: Children learn through their observations of how the world works, so a “do as I say, not as I do” approach to limits and boundaries is unlikely to work. Sitting on a table and telling children not to do this sends mixed messages. Consider your body language when you are being asked to do something by another team member, do you role model acceptance and respect or do you roll your eyes and sigh. Children see a lot more than we think they do and learn from this.


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5 tips for… social media posts

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Many of us use social media posts in our early childhood services to share information, connect with potential families or as a form of documentation. Here are 5 tips to help with your social media posts…

  1. Consider your audience: Be mindful of who your audience is and target your posts at them. If you are using a broad platform such as facebook which has the potential to assist with your marketing, avoid using language that is aimed at your current families only. Families can have access to a closed group to share relevant information with them. Different platforms allow for different uses and this should be considered.
  2. Have a policy: Social media is constantly evolving and there should be a policy in your service that guides social media usage, both from the service but also from the public. Some of the things you may want to cover off include what is appropriate/inappropriate. Language and grammar expectations. Managing comments and feedback. Images used. Use of personal social media accounts to discuss work matters. Social media “friendships” between staff and parents.
  3. Compliance evidence: Social media can be used as evidence of how you meet compliance in a range of ways, depending on how it is used. For example if you are using social media to connect with the community and share events etc. then this can be evidence for Standard 6.2. If you are using social media to communicate with families about the experiences children have engaged with then this covers Standard 6.1, and if you include a focus on the learning that this can become part of  Standard 1.3 and even become the basis for an observation.
  4. Consider the rights of the child: When using social media to post images/documentation of children consider their rights: is the post respectful, would the child be embarrassed by this post now or in the future? Also consider privacy as just because you are posting to a closed group does not mean people cannot screen shot the image and share it on, do you have permission for this use of the photos from the family?
  5. How often to post: Social media platforms use their own algorithms to decide what should and should not be seen. Some, such as facebook, make it difficult to see posts from others, and the more posts that are made, the less that are shown. This infographic below from LouiseM.com provides a handy overview on how often to post to different forms of social media to allow for visibility if using social media for marketing purposes.


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Developmental Checklists: Pros and Cons

There are a lot of different viewpoints and discussions around developmental checklists and whether they should or shouldn’t be used as a form of documentation and assessment in early childhood services. The purpose of this post is to provide information from both sides of the debate and allow you to reflect on your practices and work out what is right for your service, in your context.

Pros of developmental checklists:

  • They allow for a general understanding of child development and when milestones are expected to be reached. This allows for variances off this “norm” to be noticed and discussed. This may lead to changes in programming or the environment, assessment from medical professionals or other early intervention methods to be accessed.
  • Checklists can provide evidence to demonstrate to the family the need to consider changes to the current practices or to seek out additional assessment from a trained professional if a family is reluctant to work with the service.
  • Checklists can be shared by the family with other professionals to help communicate their concerns.
  • Checklists allow for progress to be demonstrated over a period of time.
  • Checklists can be completed by educators providing holistic and child focused experiences that can draw on their knowledge of each child to assess whether they can achieve a task, and used as a record inside the service. (e.g. “I know Zach knows his shapes as he was talking to me about which one he got the beanbag into when we played the game outside and the shapes were drawn on the floor with chalk).
  • Checklists are often quicker to do than a learning story and parents are more likely to read them.
  • Checklists can demonstrate gaps in the environment or programming if there is a trend of a number of children falling behind in an area it may mean there are not opportunities to develop in this skill/practice.

Cons of developmental checklists:

  • Checklists are not inclusive of children with additional needs who may not be able to succeed at completing tasks. They also do not take on board children’s home life and cultural differences which may affect different aspects of development.
  • Checklists may be done in an adult focused way where children are expected to demonstrate their skills in ways chosen by the adult and when instructed by the adult, which can cause anxiety and/or a misrepresentation of the true skills (e.g. Asking a child to name the shapes that are drawn on a piece of paper on a clipboard and recording what they say in front of them.)
  • Checklists often do not allow for skills or traits that are not associated with the milestones such as respect, empathy, leadership, curiosity.
  • Providing checklists to families as a form of assessment can create a deficit view of the child, as they are seen as not yet achieving against societal norms, instead of demonstrating how each child has progressed on their own developmental journey. Also families can use the checklists to compare with other families.
  • Checklists may not contribute towards planning for child focused experiences as it is difficult to record children’s voices and interests into developmental checklists.

As I said this is not going to be a post where I tell you whether to use developmental checklists, or how to use them, as that is not what I am about. I created RARE as a way to help educators reflect on their practices and how they aligned with compliance and best practice within their context. Therefore some tools to use to help reflect on this within your service could include:

  • The Guide to the National Quality Framework, because it goes into so much more detail than just the National Quality Standard
  • The approved learning framework (e.g. EYLF) and not just the learning outcomes, but the practices and principles too.
  • The ECA Code of Ethics which helps develop and understanding of protecting the rights of the child and working in a professional manner.
  • Your own service philosophy which should outline your values and be used to align practices to these.

Finally… if you are not using developmental checklists please consider how you and your team are aware of developmental milestones and address early intervention needs of children.


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