As a group of early childhood professionals, we are constantly evaluating our programming in order to provide the optimum care and educational environment for the children who attend our programs. We are continually improving our professional knowledge and keeping up to date with current approaches. Thus, during 2009/2010, our staff have been working toward combining our Emergent Curriculum approach with the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) produced by the Australian Government.
Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF)
The aim of the national Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) document is to extend and enrich children's learning from birth to five years and through the transition to school. It emphasises play-based learning, recognises the importance of communication and language, and social and emotional development. The framework supports and promotes the idea that all young Australians become:
- successful learners
- confident and creative individuals
- active and informed citizens
Fundamental to the framework is a view of children's lives as characterised by belonging, being and becoming. This is further supported by five learning outcomes, as follows:
- children have a strong sense of identity
- children are connected with and contribute to their world
- children have a strong sense of wellbeing
- children are confident and involved learners
- children are effective communicators
So how have the staff at Silky Oaks incorporated the EYLF into our emergent curriculum?
We encourage children to develop a strong sense of belonging by making them feel accepted and establish attachments based on trust. As children are developing their sense of identity, they explore the physical, social, emotional, spiritual and cognitive elements through their play and the relationships they have with both adults and children in the centre. A strong sense of security, safety and support, provides each child the stimulus to be confident, exploratory learners. Staff provide stimulus through resources, discussion and interaction, to encourage high levels of involvement by children, and this in turn stimulates children to operate at the limit of their capacities, leading to a deep level of learning.
We promote a child's being by encouraging children to develop an awareness of their social and cultural heritage, of gender and their significance in the World. High importance is placed on each child's right to be a child and experience the joy of childhood.
Becoming involves staff scaffolding, modelling and supporting the development of a child's identity by encouraging relationships and active participation in experiences which include change and transitions. Children are invited to learn about the impact of their personal beliefs and values and what influence they have.
The provision of care and education in the early years field is ever evolving and it has been with open arms that the staff of Silky Oaks have welcomed a nationalised curriculum and guidance. We look forward to continuing to provide our families with a high quality service that reflects the current and emerging trends of providing quality care and learning to young children.
If you would like to know more about the Emergent Curriculum and/or the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF), please ask our wonderful staff how it operates in their room, or speak to the Director or Assistant Director. You can also click the link to go to the Australia Government's Early Years Learning Framework webpage.
Silky Oak's Programs are designed to:
- encourage children to explore their interests through a variety of experiences
- provide a safe and hygienic environment equipped with appropriate and relevant materials that will enhance each child's development
- promote experiences that are play-based and open-ended
- be holistic and inclusive, age-appropriate, well-balanced and flexible
- encourage active participation of parents, carers, and families on an organisational or program basis
- have well-documented developmental records of each child
- help understand, acknowledge and incorporate the individual values and beliefs of families within our programs
We document each child's learning and experierences in journals. The journals become a collation of all of his/her work and help to demonstrate learning throughout a project, interest, and play. The journals contain photos, observations of the children involved in activities and at play, anecdotes and comments by the children next to photos and work pieces. Journals can also include additions from the childs family, be it in photo or written form. At the back of each journal is located an index indicating where children have demonstrated skills in different developmental areas.
Programming to EXCITE - spaces always available to children
Creative art encourages children to work at their own level and express their own creativity. Children have the opportunity to use different types of art medium such as painting, drawing, collage and sculpture to develop a variety of skills including: hand-eye coordination, creative expression for their own thoughts and feelings, enhancing confidence as they produce their own individual creations, and using and improving problem solving skills. Creative art helps to familiarize children with routines as they obtain and replace materials and equipment and learn to place and display their finished products.
Our centre's creative space also allows children to engage in conversation and enhance their language skills with adults and other children. Many opportunities present themselves for children to participate in group constructions and allow them to engage with peers. These interactions further enhance their social development thus helping the children to develop turn taking, sharing, language, and thinking skills.
Art is a fun and valuable experience for every child.
Children sitting together as a group provides an opportunity for communication between adults and children. Our centre's eating area encourages children to eat together and try a variety of food available. Staff and parents are welcome to eat with the children encouraging genuine conversations to take place during meal times. The area has all the utensils that children will require and provides many opportunities to demonstrate their independence and autonomy. To assist children to boost their self-help skills, they are also involved with the clean up process.
Developing an interest in books, and learning how to care for and handle books, helps to extend vocabulary, language skills, and interest, and can improve social behaviour. Our relaxing area allows children the opportunity to relax in a quieter environment and engage in activities either by themselves or in small groups. Equipment such as books, magazines, and puzzles are some of the resources available to the children. This is also an area where children can form and enhance relationships with adults, other children, and language.
Skills that are learnt whilst in the relaxing area depend upon the activity children engage in whilst there. The types of skills that can be developed include: hand-eye coordination; language; social; attention span; visual perception; awareness of other subject areas; sharing; and turn taking.
Dramatic Play space:
When children are encouraged to pretend and use their imagination, it helps to enhance their ability to cooperate between peers and to develop pro-social skills such as negotiation, sharing, and turn taking.
Our dramatic play area is a warm and welcoming environment where children can feel comfortable in expressing themselves and experimenting with the use of everyday equipment such as, fridges, sinks, stoves, plastic food, utensils, bowls, pots, dress up clothes, etc. This environment provides the children with an opportunity to: increase language development; develop creative expression, imitation, and imagination; improve awareness of diverse cultures and the ability to challenge gender stereotypes; and to gain a better understanding of the world around them.
Providing an area with a variety of construction materials helps children to experiment with concepts such as balance, height, space and size. Our construction area includes large and small blocks as well as cars, animals, and other equipment to encourage the development of children's imagination. Children have the opportunity in this area to work alone or in small groups to improve negotiation, sharing and turn taking skills.
Whilst in the construction area, using such a variety of construction materials helps children to: clarify language concepts; increase vocabulary; stimulate problem solving skills; increase concentration span; develop fine motor skills; stimulate creativity at individual levels and social development.
Children learn a whole range of skills and concepts while they are engaged in physically active play. Our outdoor area is set up each day with a variety of climbing equipment, sandpit tools and mobile toys such as bikes. At times, other equipment can be added to the area for dramatic play and creative experiences which include painting, drawing and, depending on the weather, water play. Children develop manipulative, non-locomotor and locomotor skills, and the basic concepts associated with these skills such as body awareness, spatial awareness, spatial relationships and time.
Sand and Water Play is a popular activity for many children and helps to develop: creativity; the ability to form friendships; and mathematic concepts such as measuring; estimating and counting.
Climbing, tumbling, and balancing equipment assists children with: improving coordination of motor movements; physical development; and increasing attention span as they gain self-confidence.
Bikes help to develop: gross motor skills; social skills; language skills; increased attention span.
Balls are useful in enhancing: hand-eye coordination; attention span; motor skills; language skills; mathematics skills and self confidence.
Music allows children to express themselves, develop important skills, learn about the world around them and build positive attitudes and enjoyment. Music also develops: body awareness; a sense of beat and rhythm; listening and sounds; melody and timbre; tone and words, and hearing.
Our music area allows children to learn about the correct way to care for instruments. Children are exposed to a variety of traditional children's music, current music, taped stories, and themed music. Music from other countries is also played to encourage their understanding of different cultures.
As children move about to music in a variety of ways it helps to improve their skills in: spatial awareness; body awareness; understanding of body parts; rhythm and balance. Movement also encourages creativity and self expression.