In early childhood settings, a stimulating educational program and practice are necessary to achieve learning outcomes. The goal of a professional child care service is to support children’s learning and development, therefore, planning and programming must be a priority. The Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) can be used as a guide in designing and implementing a curriculum. Services approach planning and programming differently because there are no templates for curriculum in childcare settings.

Educators must be able to tailor a program for various age groups and implement the same. Moreover, continuous evaluation of children’s learning outcomes as well as regular reflection on principles and practices will aid in the creation of a solid program. In the following blog, we’ll discuss the importance of a program and give some examples.

What is Programming in Childcare?

Child care programming is a process that educators use to plan for each child’s development and learning. Programming in childcare is a conscious initiative to plan and implement a curriculum. To develop a good program, information on children’s skills, understandings, interests, strengths and weaknesses must be collected from families and educators and interpreted on a regular basis. This information enables educators to make decisions on how to support each individual child’s learning journey. Programming will include a continuous process of thinking about what experiences must be provided for children and why.

The goal of the curriculum plan is to be able to achieve a learning outcome based on the Early Years Learning Framework. Hence, each experience and activity included in the programming must have a learning outcome. The outcome can only be achieved if the learning opportunities on the curriculum plan, which children are to engage with, are available for a child as planned.

Although there are clear markers for quality, the ACECQA National Quality Standard (NQS) does not provide a template for services. They believe that curriculum development and practices should take their cues from each child’s current knowledge, ideas, culture, interests and abilities.

Child care programming and learning

Why is it important?

Children learn and develop daily and they need tools to aid their journey. Since most development and change will occur in a child’s first 5 years of life, the earlier they get assistance the better. The right environment and guidance is important in this early age and a structured program can be the springboard for early childhood development.

In addition, child care not only plays a major role in the learning and development of children but also prepares a child for future transition to schooling. A well-planned and curated program develops foundational skills in children and will go on to benefit them in the future. Individualised programs developed with the parents or families through careful planning and strategic approaches will certainly be beneficial to a child. A program planned out for the next few weeks allows staff members to be involved by allowing them to focus on strategies to help kids progress.

By law, as stated in the Children’s Services Award, it is mandatory for educational leaders and educators to receive 2 hours of non-contact programming time per week. This time can be used to complete documentation for children’s developmental programs. The list below outlines the specific benefits of childcare programming.

Promotes Shared Learning and Collaboration

Partnerships with other families help a child’s development. Children are given opportunities to learn and develop and make decisions, choices and problem solve whilst playing and observing with other children, regardless of age, gender or cultural background. Check this article for planning specific areas in your child care.

The professionalism of Child Care Service

Professional child care educators think critically every day and make decisions about what they are going to do to improve. Having a program enables them to identify what areas they need to work on and they actively seek to change by writing observations about themselves and the children and getting feedback from parents and families.

Coordinators and staff members are also qualified and are involved in day-to-day activities of different age groups so they are also able to contribute to planning. Through critical reflection, educators and coordinators can provide the best possible experiences of children. Find a professional child care service through Space.

Helps with Development

Planning with families and children allows educators to make better decisions about how the program can help a child’s learning and development. Understanding what is important with input from the family and feedback on children’s interests and current developmental level will enable their planning to focus on play-based activities that create a clear link between the program and developmental outcomes.

Documentation of Experiences

Program documentation is another important aspect. With a plan in place, educators can document information and experiences that have significant learnings. Information about a child may be gathered through:

  • Conversations before or after the service
  • Meetings with family members
  • Books for communication or exchange of information
  • Diaries where families can document ideas and suggestions or other data regarding their children outside of the service.

Having individual portfolios to store children’s learning, observations and stories are also advisable. Children and families are encouraged to contribute to the portfolio by revisiting events and learning experiences. Other helpful articles are accessible when you register to Space.

Educator documenting the learning and programming process

Important areas to cover

In order to provide a safe and nurturing environment, early childhood teachers must be trained to develop and implement a preschool program that meets the needs of the children in their care. A good program reflects children’s perspectives on their own lives and shows that their thoughts, feelings, values and beliefs are respected. Quality programs also show how children develop understandings, skills and dispositions through active learning.

In order for children to develop properly, they need to be exposed to activities that allow them to practice different skills they are working on. As services aim to help children learn a spectrum of things, play and activities should cover the following topics:

Communication and Language

Each day providers should have planned activities they will do with the children such as reading books or singing songs to improve communication and develop language. By reading, singing and reciting nursery rhymes, we introduce children to language and build their vocabulary. We also help them develop listening skills that are critical for understanding instructions, learning new ideas and developing their own storytelling abilities.

Physical skills

Each area of the classroom or playroom should be well-stocked with age-appropriate toys and materials so that children are constantly encouraged to participate in active play for physical development. For outdoor play, providers can set up obstacle courses that encourage children to move around and improve gross motor skills.

Problem-solving and Decision-making

Cognitive skills should also be considered when choosing the activities and learning games. By playing and exploring, children learn and develop thinking skills through their curiosity. Play-based learning exercises will make kids more likely to enjoy the learning process. Children’s ideas will eventually form and they will go from observing to thinking and acting.

Social skills

Interacting with others on a regular basis teaches individual children how to better engage with their peers and gain a better knowledge of their emotions. Kids should also learn social skills like sharing and cooperation, working together, taking turns, participating in activities, following simple instructions and communicating their wants and needs. Fundamental values such as being kind, sharing, cooperating, asking for help and respecting others are life skills can benefit children.

Creativity and Art

For indoor play, there should be time for free play where children can choose what they want to do. Free play allows children to be free in their play and express themselves creatively while they practice fine motor skills such as cutting with scissors or holding crayons.

Teamwork and Collaboration

As children work together on a project such as building a structure with blocks, they begin to understand the importance of sharing resources and working together with others.

Educator teaching children at childcare

Examples of Childcare Programming

Play is vital for both newborns and children. Through play, they learn, process, investigate and bond with others. Since every child is unique and will have different interests at certain times in their lives, it is important for a preschool program to be adaptable to these changes and incorporate them into their programs. Child care programming examples help educators plan the best experiences for children. They provide inspiration and ideas to assist in planning meaningful learning experiences that are informed by the child’s interests and strengths, align with the EYLF and NQS and meet licensing regulations. Starting Blocks has a few sample programs for children’s learning. Below are examples of activities for newborns and toddlers to help centres, parents or families plan activities for children as they explore the world.

Programs for New-borns

Programs for newborns should intentionally cultivate a secure attachment with carers and establish routines, such as feeding and sleeping habits. It should also provide babies with a range of sensory experiences while ensuring that the physical environment is safe and comfortable for babies to move around in.

A program for babies would include:

  • Adult led experiences such as singing, reading, talking and storytelling;
  • Child initiated play and exploration such as tummy time;
  • Opportunities for babies to learn through play; and
  • Sensory rich activities that exposes them to light, sound and movement.

These experiences are taught in one-to-one interactions between the baby and the educator. At most, one educator should responsible for no more than four children.

Programs for Toddlers

Programming for toddlers often focuses on assisting children in developing their language, independence, and social abilities. Planned experiences will frequently focus on assisting toddlers in engaging in play experiences that will allow them to practice and build their skills in different areas.

One-on-one and small-group activities should be planned yet flexible enough to allow children to participate in each experience in the way that best suits their interests and skills. Staff will serve as guides and role models, assisting kids in negotiating with others and effectively expressing their feelings. Other special moments like reading learning stories and singing can also be part of the program which are helping children develop language and vocabulary.

Finally, an abundance of physical play should be included since toddlers need the energy outlet and a safe environment to explore their physical capabilities this can be done through a combination of indoor play or outdoor activities.

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