The next few blog posts will be covering the Practices from the EYLF and looking deeper into how these can be reflected in your service. Today we are starting with Holistic Approaches …
- Consider the whole child: Depending on how you document in your service it may be easy to focus on specific aspects of the child for observations, checklists etc. such as language, knowledge of a particular topic, pencil grip and so forth. The issue with this is that it allows us to miss the other important skills and abilities the child is demonstrating. By considering the whole child you not only get a more rounded image of the child, but it also helps to build relationships and get to know the child’s interests, strengths and abilities. This information makes planning a lot easier so it has benefits for both the child and the educator.
- Build your knowledge of experiences: The more innovative and creative you are in providing experiences the more opportunity there is to allow children to engage in holistic learning. This requires trying new things, networking with other services, engaging in professional development and collaborating with others in your service to ensure you are providing a vast array of experiences that will challenge and support children’s holistic development. Becoming more familiar with the many ways to engage and support a variety of skills through experiences such as regular walks, loose parts, home corner, play dough, blocks etc. can help you feel more confident in this practice.
- Engage with meaningful experiences: The more meaningful and real experiences you can provide for children the more opportunities they have to demonstrate their holistic development. For example an activity such as small group cooking provides children the ability to engage with literacy (recipe/packaging), numeracy (measuring/time), turn taking, healthy eating discussions, sustainability discussions (waste, grow food), language (vocabulary, discussions), risk taking (try new foods), emotional wellbeing (pride in finished product), physical movement (stirring, cutting, grating) and more. Other meaningful experiences that are holistic and child directed include project work, investigations, planning and contributing to the environment.
- Notice the unplanned: Sometimes if too much of the curriculum is planned then we can miss out on noticing the unplanned moments that children are engaged with all the time. For example if a ‘gross motor’ activity is planned then we may only focus on the gross motor skills being demonstrated and may miss out on amazing problem solving skills, social interactions or creative thinking a child is demonstrating. Try to be open to the entire experience that is happening and not just the sections that have been planned.
- Think outside the square: The more innovative your program and your environment are the more opportunities there are to support and document holistic learning. Taking a holistic approach requires educators to be creative in both how they plan for, and engage with, children’s learning. The types of interactions had with children can support assessment of different levels of skills and knowledge with individual children through the one experience. Also consider how routine aspects of the day provide opportunities to take holistic approaches to learning.
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