5 tips to support a child focused program

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…

1

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.

2

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.

3

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.

4

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.

5

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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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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