Below are the interacting components of the program
The philosophy is a summary of beliefs and values that underpin the program. The philosophy provides the program with a framework for action.
Program goals are long-term statements of intent derived from the philosophy and from the strengths, interests and needs of the staff, children, families and community.
The curriculum framework is simply a tool for organizing and planning the program. The curriculum framework ensures that the philosophy of the service and the program goals are reflected in everything that happens within the program.
Popular frameworks include;
- Developmental domains
- Activity based curriculum
- Learning centres
- Emergent curriculum
We will use a combination of Learning Centres and Emergent Curriculum.
Our Curriculum Framework:
The learning centre approach is based on the belief that children learn through play and interaction with people and the environment. Learning centres provide a useful way of building on children's interests.
The emergent curriculum approach is useful when it's difficult to know in advance how a child will actually experience a given activity or indeed what he or she will learn from it. Children make the invitation and the adults join them in their ?magic-making'.
The curriculum framework has 3 dimensions -
1. Caregiving as curriculum
Routines; events that happen regularly and at approximately the same time each day. There are also cultural differences in routines.
Rituals; rituals describe the way in which each of us choose to carry out routines. Rituals help children feel safe and secure.
Daily schedule; refers to the way the program is organized around the children's routines. The daily schedule needs to be flexible.
Transitions; managing transitions well is a necessary skill. There are two types of transitions: 1) Transitions between routines, and 2) Transitions between groups.
Re: Transitions between Routines: Waiting time should be kept to a minimum by keeping children occupied by something interesting. It is recommended that staff let the children know what is happening next. The secret to good management of transitions in infant and toddler programs is to remember that it is not necessary for all the children to be doing the same thing at the same time! Through well-planned transitions very young children and their caregivers learn to relax and enjoy routines that provide the venue for much learning.
Re: Transitions between Groups: Staff also need to discuss transitions between groups for individual children. An orientation process is conducted when children move from one group to another. This involves short visits, explanations and introductions by primary carer. When children move groups, families are consulted with to ensure the transition is positive for both the child and family.
Grouping of children; infants and toddlers need to be in small groups
Staff rosters; must provide continuity and stability of care for children. It is important also that staff preparing food should not be the same staff doing nappies except where nappies are done after food preparation.
2. Attachment as curriculum
Much learning takes place through attachment relationships that the young child forms with his or her caregivers. Attachment is the feeling we have for special people in our lives that brings us pleasure and joy when we interact with them, and comfort in times of sadness and stress. Time for cuddles and physical contact with individual children is an important part of the program.
The attachment curriculum focuses attention on the separation from primary caregivers, developing and maintaining home-centre links, holding and physical comfort for attachment. The attachment curriculum enables caregivers to plan ways in which they can provide activities, equipment, personal time and space to ensure the emotional wellbeing of very young children in their care.
3. Play as curriculum
Sensorimotor play; involves children using all their senses (seeing, touching, smelling, tasting, hearing and doing) as they interact with their environment. During the first 18 months a child will typically pass through three different sub stages of sensorimotor development, including;
Primary circular reactions; this is how babies unintentionally discover their own body's ability to provide interesting sensory or motor experiences, which they later repeat for the sheer enjoyment of the activity.
Secondary circular reactions; describe the repetition of an action on an object that brings about pleasurable effects.
Tertiary circular reactions; babies will look for new ways of bringing about the same pleasing effects by using their bodies differently.
Object play; provides opportunities to explore the relationship between cause and effect and simple problem-solving. Object play provides opportunities for babies and toddlers to develop manual dexterity and mastery of fine-motor and hand-eye coordination.
Heuristic play with objects; children are encouraged to discover for themselves the various properties of different kinds of objects.
Physically active play; allows opportunity to learn manipulative skills, non-locomotor skills, and locomotor skills, as well as body awareness, spatial awareness, spatial relationships and time. Must allow opportunity for constructive and destructive play.
Social play; there are 5 different dimensions - observer /onlooker; solitary; parallel; associative; cooperative. Children can move in and out of all five types of play at will. Recently another dimension of play has been identified - companionate play e.g. where baby imitates mother.
Symbolic play; allows children to move away from the here and now and to think about both past and future events. Through symbolic play children begin to understand self and self in relation to others. Early symbolic play begins at about 12 months, with symbolic acts that are directed towards the self. We can encourage symbolic play by providing a range of props for the children to use.
Language play; children who enjoy books from an early age learn to read and write much earlier and more easily than child who have had little exposure to books in the early years. The program includes resources e.g. songs, posters, simple phrases, key words in languages other than English.
Excursions involving the community are an important part of the play curriculum whether conducted by the centre or by the home environment.
To promote healthy weight and normal health and development of the children by the promotion of physical activity the center will;
- Provide safe and adequate space for physically active play.
- Engage children in physical activities that are suitable for their development and individual ability.
- Encourage children of walking and running age to spend more time in age appropriate running and walking play activities.
- Plan for opportunities for children to be more physically active.
ANTIBIAS CURRICULUM: ADDITIONAL NEEDS, ABORIGINAL & TORRES STRAIT ISLANDERS, MULTICULTURALISM AND INCLUSION
- To provide a program and environment free from bias
- To promote inclusion
The centre will provide an environment free from traditional stereotypes and other biases. Positive attitudes will be promoted towards diversity e.g. culture, race, religious beliefs, gender and disability.
Staff will monitor children's play and learning to prevent the development of inequity in children's relationships. To help children develop views about stereotyping, staff will encourage them to critically evaluate the text and images in books and other media.
Staff will show sensitivity for all cultural rearing practices whilst aiming to allow both boys and girls to develop to their full potential, irrespective of gender. Gender related comments will be avoided e.g. good girl - other forms of praise will be given. Our resources will include non-stereotype images.
It is important that children recognize who they are. Open communication in regard to differences and similarities are seen as part of a holistic approach to the development of the child. Staff will demonstrate an awareness of the subtle differences and similarities between the cultures of the children and their own cultures.
Staff will encourage children to challenge racial discrimination and other prejudice in their play and in their relationships with each other.
In helping with self esteem; we aim for our children to trust themselves to make decisions; know they are competent; respect difference in others; be able to ask for help; and display confidence.
For any child with additional needs, we will use as much information and expertise available to us in order to offer care that is appropriate and meaningful. We will work closely with families in an effort to understand their needs and goals, and maintaining consistency between centre and home. Where necessary a long term individual plan will be developed to ensure ongoing learning and development. This will be developed by families and where necessary, consultation with other professionals.
With parent permission, external support services such as KU inclusion will be contacted for the classroom. Support and assistance will be given to assist staff with the integration of children with special needs, such as non-English speaking backgrounds, or children who identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. And compile an individual program for each child and work on a one to one basis with the child's parents.
We will incorporate the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture into our program, endeavouring to develop awareness and appreciation in children, families, staff and the wider community about such communities. Traditional and contemporary culture will be included into the program.
We aim to educate children about multiculturalism, modeling respect, appreciation and positive attitudes towards diversity, reflecting a "whole world" approach. This can be done through a variety of means e.g. parent participations and sharing of photos, musical instruments, home items, print etc. Cultural awareness will not be tokenistic, but integrated throughout the program.
Special occasions will be celebrated in culturally appropriate ways that reflect children's interests.
NCAC Putting Children First, Issue 14, June 2005
Early Childhood Australia Website, 2007
Childcare Association Australia Website, 2007
Lady Gowrie, 2007
FACSIA, Private Operator's Handbook 2006-2007
Children's Services Central, Spring 2006
Antibias Connection, June 2005 (Cultural Diversity)
Reflections, Issue 24, Spring 2006
OBSERVATIONS ON CHILDREN
This includes knowing what to look for and making objective recordings of behaviour.
We observe children's interests, needs and strengths. Each child's involvement is maximised in the daily experiences while individual preferences are respected. Different abilities and strengths of younger and older children are considered when programming.
The goals of the program provide a starting point for observations.
Observing children's strengths means observing what children bring to the program. Close observation of what children seem to want to do and learn must be a part of the program. The role of the caregiver is not to distract children from what they want to learn but to assist them in their quest for understanding. Caregivers need to listen and respond to the questions children pose.
Ways of observing;
- Anecdotal records; written from memory
- Narrative descriptions; specimen records, running records and event samples (usually written at the time of the event)
- Checklists; useful but need to be used with caution
- Frequency counts; useful for looking at specific behaviours
- Samples of children's work; allow children to take part in monitoring their own development AND used for reflection
PLANS FOR INDIVIDUAL CHILDREN
The program must be responsive to the individual children's strengths, interests and needs.
Plans for children include short-term objectives for children and staff as well as strategies for meeting these objectives - suggestions for organizing the physical and human environments as well as for providing experiences for children based on their own particular strengths, interests and needs.
PHYSICAL AND HUMAN ENVIRONMENTS
Each child will bring his or her strengths, interests and needs to the program, which in turn will influence the way caregivers organize the human and physical environments.
The centre environment allows children to leave some play areas and experiences set up so that they can return to their play at a later time. The centre environment contains evidence of children's individual and small group enquiry and discovery. Children are free to use the environment to actively construct their own play by using equipment and materials in innovative ways.
The human and physical environment will be set up to meet the standards of safety and education as set out in the Children's Services Regulation 2004, and the National Childcare Accreditation's 7 Quality Areas, 2005.
Provided to the children in the form of the indoor /outdoor physical and human environment includes;
Caregiving Interacting; including small group and individual interactions
Language stimulating resources e.g. poems, stories
Creative opportunities e.g. painting, collage
Music, movement and other expressive arts e.g. singing, rhymes melodies (individual or small group)
Construction and manipulative experiences
Cognitive stimulating resources
Critical evaluation of text and images in books & other media
Social /emotional stimulating resources
Empathy; challenge stereotypes, gender and other bias
Resources, interactions and experiences promoting positive attitudes to diversity, acceptance and inclusion; this includes social & cultural background; multicultural heritage; different abilities; similarities and differences in children's abilities; families and home backgrounds.
Creative expressions of various cultures; geography, history, media
Follow-ups of children's interests which form small projects
Opportunity to engage in nature and environment
Opportunity to explore with science
Technology e.g. computer, digital camera
Cognitive challenges to curiosity, logical enquiry and mathematical thinking
Resources and props for drama
Displays of children's work
Provisions for health and food safety /nutrition /hygiene promoting habits
Input from parent(s) /family; staff reflect on information provided by families to enhance family participation
Examples of the above should be documented /located on the program.
With this environment children will be observed on their interests, needs and strengths in physical, language, cognitive and social/emotional development. Further planning will be made from such observations.
Stencils and staff directed experiences are minimised to occasions such as Christmas, Mothers Day etc.
A physical and supervision plan - The Physical Environment of Learning Opportunities will be used to plan for different areas (gross motor, quiet play, etc). This will also be used to assess supervision which will be documented on this plan.
- The physical environment of learning opportunities as described above will be thoroughly documented. It will be updated as the environment changes which will be influenced by the children.
- A physical /supervision layout will be drawn on a floor plan.
- A daily diary; evaluation of learning and experiences both indoors and outdoors simultaneously will be recorded for families to view in the afternoon. This may be in the form of writing, photos, computer slide show, or samples of children's work. It will not necessarily cover all the experiences as most learning occurs on an individual basis and children may learn something different from the same experience.
- Each child will have his /her own portfolio with observations, planned experiences, samples of work, contributions from families and other material.
- Observations on each child are conducted according to interests, needs or strengths. The learning areas observed are physical, language, cognitive and social /emotional. On each area 2 observations are documented for each child per year. This is a total of 8 detailed observations which may lead to planned experiences if appropriate. As well as these observations are spontaneous observations which each child will receive a minimum of 2 per year in any learning area.
- Planned experiences may occur for individual children or for any other reason a carer sees appropriate e.g. to make a change, to introduce something new or to follow multiple interests. Each child needs to have at least 2 planned experiences as seen appropriate by his /her carer per year. Must have planned experiences for: language and literature, & math and problem solving (NCAC 2005).
- A quality program documentation will be used to ensure staff record areas of the program specific to the NCAC quality areas. The particular areas need to be covered regularly. Hence the date and a brief description /evaluation will be documented as evidence. A new form will be used bimonthly.
- Program goals and evaluations will be used for staff to record long term intentions for staff, children, families and the community. These are evaluated mid year and end year.
- Evaluations will be documented regularly on different aspects of the program.
- Must document children's comment on books and other literature & ideas considered (NCAC 2005).
* All contact staff have opportunity to contribute information to children's documentation.
How the program links:
- Upon enrolment families receive a parent pack. In here is a set of forms that need to be filled out and returned to the centre. Some of this information returned about the child and his /her family will need to be linked to the program. The primary carer for this child will document along side this information how it will be linked and when.
- Each document (individual plan, observation, evaluation or other) will state if it is a follow-up (with details and date of where the link came from) and will state if it needs to be linked to any other aspect of the program (with details and date of when the link will be provided).
- Written programming for all groups and for individuals is continuous, ongoing and influenced by program evaluation.
Evaluation is a constant part of the planning process taking many shapes and forms. E.g. whether the children are interested in the experiences, whether the experiences meet the objectives for children and staff, and whether the program as a whole is meeting its goals.
The program is adjusted to respond to things like the weather, visitors, spontaneous play, and interests and abilities of individual children.
Hutchins, T. & Sims, M. 1999, The microsystem - Planning The Infant & Toddler Program. Program & Planning for Infants & Toddlers. Prentice Hall, Sydney, pp.55-91.
NCAC Putting Children First, 2005
Early Childhood Australia Website, 2007
Childcare Association Australia Website, 2007
Lady Gowrie, 2007
Health and Safety in Children's Centres: model policies and practices 2nd ed. Revised November 2003.
Reflections, Issue 24, Spring 2006
Putting Children First, Issue 14, June 2005
Antibias Connection, June 2005 (Cultural Diversity; Educating for Equity: Tolerance or Transformation)
Care for Kids Network, Internet, 2007
Raising Children Network, Internet, 2007
Children's Services Central, Spring 2006
NSW Curriculum Framework: Observing the Development of the Young Child, 2004