The Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) guides the practices and operations of many childcare services around Australia. It leads the decisions educators make in their daily pedagogies, otherwise known as the range of strategies or processes employed to support as well as enhance your child’s learning, assisting your child to develop necessary lifelong skills.
The framework is based on the concepts of “belonging, being and becoming” (Commonwealth of Australia, 2009). The concept of a child belonging to their family, culture and community, being in the here and now, whilst forming relationships and facing life challenges and becoming someone who embraces continuous change in themselves, their knowledge, relationships, understandings, skills and capacities.
There are five learning outcomes which inform the framework and guide services in their educational curriculum and programme content. These include:
A child’s identity is shaped by experience. Children develop their identity through social interactions in the context of their family, community and culture. When children have an understanding of themselves they feel a sense of belonging within their environment, in which relationships form the foundation.
From birth children experience living and learning with others in a range of communities. Having a positive sense of identity and experiencing respectful relationships strengthens a child’s abilities, interests and skills in becoming active contributors to their world.
Incorporating both physical health, feelings of happiness, satisfaction and successful social functioning, wellbeing influences the way children interact within their environments. A strong sense of wellbeing provides children with confidence to maximise their potential and develops resilience in their learning.
Using processes of exploration, collaboration and problem solving, children are encouraged to develop the competence to become an active participant in their learning, assisting them to make connections and make meaning of new experiences.
Communication is a crucial component of self-expression. Children need the ability to exchange ideas, thoughts, questions and feelings to express themselves, connect with others and extend their learning. A range of tools and media can be used to encourage communication, including music, dance, drama, gestures, sounds, language and more.
What you might have not known is that these five learning outcomes are in fact linked to developmental milestones for the various ages your child passes through in their ongoing learning journey (ACECQA, 2014). These learning outcomes provide practitioners in the setting with a framework to base their curriculum decisions on. Curriculum meaning in the early childhood field, “all the interactions, experiences, activities, routines and events both planned and unplanned that occur in the environment” (Kearns, 2010, p.402). The outcomes are used as a guide to promote learning and development rather than for benchmarking reasons.
How then are the outcomes used and applied to practice? Rather than benchmarking children against the five outcomes, the outcomes are promoted in daily experiences children engage in. The outcomes are designed to promote the different approaches children take to learning through their broadness (Commonwealth of Australia, 2009). Children learn in different ways just like adults do, the five learning outcomes promote this. If we take learning outcome five as an example “Children are effective communicators” and look at the outcome in a holistic way we identify that children communicate in different ways, most certainly depending on their age, children have one hundred languages of expression that can be promoted in the setting by significant others (Commonwealth of Australia, 2009). As an educator promoting this outcome in practice varies from age to age. This outcome is promoted across all age groups through stories and other texts, using media to create objects and art, through engagement with symbols and information technologies.
One mistake we commonly make is that we tend to think children need to achieve all points of a learning outcome by a certain time frame. We tend to look at not the outcome but rather the points under it as adults. We need to be looking at the outcome in full for example, Outcome 5-Children are effective communicators, rather than the different ways children can communicate as they most definitely will vary from child to child throughout their education. The points under the outcomes are designed to support educators in facilitating the outcomes in practice and providing children with multiple ways to communicate and continuously develop their communication skills. We need to remember the Early Years Learning framework is used to guide educators in supporting children’s learning and development across five areas, five learning outcomes. As adults, we need to concentrate on the outcomes holistically not the points under the outcomes which are designed to facilitate development in the overall outcomes across a child’s early childhood education.
ACECQA. (2014). Developmental Milestones and the Early Years Learning Framework and the National Quality Standards. Retrieved February 16, 2017, from http://files.acecqa.gov.au/files/ACECQA/2014/developmental-milestonesDevelopmental%20Milestones%20and%20the%20EYLF%20and%20the%20NQS.pdf
Commonwealth of Australia. (2009). Belonging, Being and Becoming. Retrieved February 20, 2017, from https://www.dss.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/05_2015/.
Kearns, K. (2010). Frameworks for learning and development (2nd ed.). Australia: Pearson.