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In the bustling world of early childhood education, there are those rare individuals who stand out not just for their dedication, but for their innovative approaches to nurturing young minds. Meet Marissa, our Places and Spaces coordinator and one of the visionary non-contact educational leaders at our Centre. Marissa has been making waves recently by introducing Auslan (Australian Sign Language) to all the children across our Centre, regardless of their verbal language development stage.


Auslan, a visual-gestural language used by the Australian Deaf community, has found a new home in our Centre, thanks to Marissa's initiative. But why is teaching Auslan to young children so important, especially in the infant group where verbal language is still in its early stages of development?


Firstly, let's delve into the significance of introducing Auslan to children at such a tender age. Language acquisition is a crucial aspect of early childhood development, and the earlier children are exposed to different languages, the better equipped they are to understand and communicate with the world around them. By introducing Auslan alongside spoken language, children gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for linguistic diversity, paving the way for a more inclusive society.

 

Marissa's decision to incorporate Auslan into our curriculum goes beyond just teaching a new language. It fosters a sense of inclusivity and acceptance by exposing children to different forms of communication, promoting empathy and understanding from an early age. Moreover, learning Auslan can enhance children's cognitive development by stimulating different areas of the brain associated with visual and motor skills.

 

But perhaps the most significant impact of teaching Auslan to infants lies in its ability to bridge communication gaps for children who have not yet developed verbal language. For infants who may experience delays or difficulties in speech development, Auslan provides a means of expression and communication, empowering them to convey their needs, thoughts, and emotions effectively. This early exposure to sign language can mitigate frustration and enhance social interactions, laying a strong foundation for future language development.

 

Through Marissa's guidance and dedication, our Centre has become a beacon of inclusivity and innovation in early childhood education. By embracing Auslan and incorporating it into our curriculum, we are not just teaching children a new language; we are equipping them with invaluable tools for communication, empathy, and understanding. Together, we are shaping a brighter future where every child has the opportunity to thrive, regardless of their communication abilities.

 

In conclusion, Marissa's efforts to introduce Auslan to our centre exemplify the transformative power of early childhood education. By recognizing the importance of linguistic diversity and inclusivity, we can create a more compassionate and connected society for generations to come.




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By Tracey-Lee Elliss 

Lead Pedagogical Leader 


At Woden Valley ELC, our Daily Reflections are part of our documentation to observe and analyse what and how children learn. They support our Educators in identifying trends and new ways of learning and teaching from a group perspective and sharing what learning outcomes the children have engaged in throughout the day. They also assist in developing extension provocations as we look back over the day and see where the children have consistently engaged and where we may need to focus on or change.


Our approach to documentation is always quality over quantity, which is why we cannot take photos/videos of everything we do. The main focus is to first look at what programmed provocations have been implemented, reflect on what learning has occurred in relation to the EYLF Outcomes, and record all of those fantastic spontaneous experiences that show personal growth, insight, and wonder. While we try to ensure all children are reflected in the Daily Reflections, sometimes it isn't possible. It does not mean they weren't involved or engaged within the learning environment, but perhaps they engaged before or after the photos were taken, or they chose other learning provocations that supported their needs at that time.


We see children as advocates for their learning. They have the right to choose when and how they engage and to inform their Educators if they do not want their photo taken. We demonstrate respect for their boundaries by modelling consent and actively listening to cues and gestures. This shows our commitment to child safety and a sense of security for the children in our care.



If you don't happen to see your child in a photo, these are some things you could do:

  • Use open-ended questions on the ride home or at dinner: "I saw that bottle rockets were made outside today; what did you think of that experiment?"

  • Open Storypark / or other platforms your Centre uses with your child and ask them to reflect on the pictures together and see what they remember.

  • Look at the classroom's visible learning displays and ask your child about them.

  • Make some extra time at collection to chat with the Educators about what your child has done.

  • Use a *'sandwich type' approach to conversation; "What was the best thing that happened today?" "What didn't you like? Why was that?" "What are you most excited about for tomorrow?"


This approach to building conversations supports children in developing rich language and beginning to articulate what they feel, see, and do in relation to their early learning and social connections. It is also a great way to build a growth mindset regarding:

"What am I most proud of?"

"What happened that didn't make me feel so good?"

"What can I do to change - or - what can I focus on to do better?"


This practice helps children to develop self-awareness and emotional intelligence, as well as to process and make sense of their experiences.

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Early childhood education lays the foundation for a child's lifelong learning journey. It's a time of immense growth, exploration, and development. Within this crucial period, the role of orientation programs cannot be overstated. These programs serve as a bridge between home and school, offering invaluable opportunities for children, families, and educators to establish connections, build trust, and foster a nurturing environment. In this article, we delve into why extensive orientations in early childhood education are crucial for the well-being of children and why skipping them can have negative consequences.


Building Trust and Security

Imagine entering a new environment without any prior knowledge or familiarity. It can be daunting, overwhelming, and unsettling, especially for young children. Extensive orientations provide children with the opportunity to explore their new surroundings, meet their teachers and peers, and become accustomed to the daily routines and expectations. This familiarity helps alleviate anxiety and uncertainty, fostering a sense of security and trust in the learning environment.


Establishing Relationships

Strong relationships form the cornerstone of effective early childhood education. Orientations offer children and families the chance to develop meaningful connections with educators and staff members. Through shared experiences, conversations, and interactions, bonds are forged, and trust is cultivated. These relationships serve as a supportive network for children as they navigate the challenges and triumphs of their educational journey.



Understanding Expectations

Early childhood education encompasses a myriad of expectations, from behavioural guidelines to academic goals. Orientations provide families with valuable insights into the philosophies, values, and expectations of the educational institution. Clear communication regarding routines, policies, and procedures sets the stage for collaboration between home and school, ensuring consistency and coherence in the child's learning experience.


Promoting Emotional Wellbeing

Transitioning to a new environment can evoke a range of emotions for children, including excitement, apprehension, and apprehension. Extensive orientations create a nurturing and inclusive atmosphere where children feel valued, respected, and supported. By acknowledging and addressing their emotional needs, educators lay the groundwork for positive social-emotional development and resilience.



Enhancing Parental Engagement

Parents play a pivotal role in their child's educational journey. Orientations provide families with opportunities to actively participate in the learning process, ask questions, and voice concerns. By fostering open communication and collaboration between parents and educators, orientations promote a sense of partnership and mutual respect. Engaged parents are better equipped to support their children's learning and advocate for their needs effectively.


Why You Shouldn't Skip Orientations

Skipping orientations may seem tempting, especially for families with busy schedules or prior experience in early childhood education. However, doing so can have far-reaching implications for the child's well-being and adjustment. Without adequate orientation, children may struggle to adapt to their new environment, experience heightened levels of stress and anxiety, and face challenges in forming meaningful connections with peers and educators.


In conclusion, extensive orientations in early childhood education are invaluable for promoting the well-being, security, and success of children. By investing time and resources in these programs, we lay the foundation for a positive and enriching educational experience. Let us prioritize the holistic development of our children by embracing the transformative power of orientations.


Remember, the journey begins with a single step—a step towards building a nurturing and supportive learning community where every child has the opportunity to thrive.


References:

  • Pianta, R. C., & Walsh, D. J. (1996). High-risk children in schools: Constructing sustaining relationships. Routledge.

  • Rimm-Kaufman, S. E., & Pianta, R. C. (2000). An ecological perspective on the transition to kindergarten: A theoretical framework to guide empirical research. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 21(5), 491-511.

  • Howes, C., & Hamilton, C. E. (1992). Children's relationships with child care teachers: Stability and concordance with parental attachments. Child development, 63(4), 867-878.

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