The first five years of a child’s life are their most formative. They build good habits, learn self-esteem, become critical thinkers and problem-solvers, they learn how to make friends and how to maintain their relationships. Unguided children build bad habits, can have low self-esteem, become emotional, and struggle throughout their schooling. That’s why, in Australia, we have guidelines and regulations to ensure our children get the best start they can and become lifelong learners. The National Quality Standard (NQS) for Early Childhood Education and Care and the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) give early learning educators, and providers, a baseline of practice and learning outcomes to guide them. It is play-based, allowing children to learn by embracing their own natural curiosity. The EYLF educational resources are designed to bring about natural learning in an engaging environment where the children have a space to safely explore.

What is the EYLF?

EYLF is a curriculum guide for early childhood educators that supports them in their endeavour to nurture children’s learning from birth to five years of age and through their transition to school. Whether it is a long day care, occasional care, family daycare, out of school hours care, or preschool, the Early Years Learning Framework will help educators build the curriculum in early childhood education and care, to bring the best out of their centre, educators, and students.


State and territory governments, along with the Australian government, created the Early Years Learning Framework as part of the National Quality Standards for Early Childhood Education and Care. The purpose of EYLF is to make sure that there is consistency, and quality, in the early childhood curriculum throughout all of the Australian states and territories.

Learning in childcare - curriculum in early childhood education


It aims to ensure every child in Australia, from birth to five years of age, has access to quality early childhood education and care. Access to childcare should not be a privilege but a right that every Australian child has. From north to south and east to west, no child should miss out on the important influence that early education has on children and their future.

Learning outcomes

EYLF is aimed at developing each child’s social, emotional, language, literacies, physical, and cognitive skills. These learning outcomes are supported by the sense of belonging, being, and becoming that has been developed in the early childhood education program is the Early Years Learning Framework.


Each early childhood education centre should ensure that every child feels emotionally supported. The children should feel accepted, safe, secure, and feel that they belong. This sense of belonging should incorporate home, preschool, the community, and the world as a whole. When children feel that sense of belonging, they want to contribute and feel pride in what they can achieve for themselves and others.


The sense of being that an EYLF curriculum instils is about the here and now. The children believe in themselves, learn to build friendships and maintain relationships, engage with the complexities and joys of life, and meet the challenges they face head-on with the confidence that they can overcome obstacles and achieve their goals.


Concerning ‘becoming’ within the early years learning framework, it is about experiencing and participating fully and actively in the community and society. It refers to the changes the children experience while learning, growing, and developing. This section is about the future and what the children are becoming and will become.

Why is it important in childcare curriculums?

Having the Early Years Learning Framework is extremely important to early childhood education because it provides teachers with a guide to child development and their own professional development. It is a foundation that builds success, based on research and good practices within the childcare and education industry.

Facilitates early learning

The curriculum in early childhood education is play-based learning, supplemented by engaging resources, the physical environment, and can be child-initiated or led by teachers. Built on the knowledge that children learn best when their natural curiosity is engaged, a good early childhood curriculum will build on each child’s successes, leading them to learn more skills and gain more knowledge without the realisation that they are learning. Soon, they realise that learning is fun and not a chore.

Early learning - curriculum in early childhood education

Assists educators

By using the EYLF and the standards outlined in the National Quality Framework, early childhood teachers can focus their curriculum on students’ needs, likes, and abilities. They can also assess the success of the curriculum through the students’ progress in attaining the desired learning outcomes.

Allows development in important areas

Early childhood education works with all young children’s learning styles and teaches social, language, literacy, and numeracy skills, improves cognition, emotional development, as well as physical development. The curriculum should be fluid, allow children to work at their pace, and let them move on when they feel confident in their abilities. Children should be able to choose the activities they want, yet be led by the teacher when the need arises.

Benefits to children

The benefits to the children’s developmental outcomes are undeniable. With quality early childhood education and child care services, the support they receive throughout preschool and during their transition to school gives them the practice, the confidence, and the ability to succeed in the future and in the real world. Children learn that they are capable, that they can achieve their goals and overcome obstacles. Mostly, they find out that learning can be fun.

Flexible to children’s specific needs

Not only is the focus of the EYLF curriculum on the learning outcomes previously mentioned, but it can also focus on elements that the student is struggling with. Perhaps the child is not as efficient with their balance, then their teaching support could focus on outdoor games that engage more balancing. All activities should be age-appropriate and contribute to the children’s development and their specific needs. The curriculum doesn’t have to be one size fits all. Instead, it can focus on each child, a group, or the entire class.

Strong sense of identity

The EYLF curriculum is designed to give the students a sense of self. To understand who they are, that they are unique, and to embrace their differences. They learn that is okay to be different, to be themselves, and that others can be different to you too. Australia is a multi-cultural country, and this is reflected in the students, who are taught to embrace and share their differences and recognise that although we are different, we are all similar.


A curriculum that is implementing the EYLF program will build on a sense of well-being among the children. This includes physical health and mental wellbeing, happiness, success in social development, and a sense of satisfaction. Whether the centre takes a holistic approach or not, having a sense of well-being sets the children up for a happier, relaxed, and less stressful approach to school and their future.

Become effective learners and communicators

An important aspect of the preschool teaching curriculum is instilling a lifelong love of learning that will carry the children throughout their school years and into their adulthood. Other elements of early childhood education and care are important for children and families, but becoming effective communicators will complete the framework, or the foundation, for children to become successful and contribute to the world beyond their schooling. Being effective communicators will enable the children to express their feelings, wants, and needs in a way that others can understand, and they will feel less frustrated about being misunderstood.

Becoming effective learners - curriculum in early childhood education

Choosing a childcare centre with a suitable curriculum

The teacher’s role is big in early education, the children will need to feel they can trust them, that they are listened to, feel supported, and they must enjoy themselves. Whether the childcare and early education centre employ the Montessori, Reggio Emilia philosophy or a combination of any of the many other forms available, in Australia the underlying basis is always the Early Years Learning Framework and the National Quality Standards govern and assess a centre’s success. To find out how the preschool that you have chosen is fairing in its assessments, you can use a website like Myxplor for more information. Each National Quality Standard is rated, and the centres are assessed as Exceeding the standards, Meeting them, or Needs Improvement. The NQS makes it easy to see how each centre is fairing and it makes it easier for centres to see where they have room for improvement.

All Australian governments (federal, states, and territories) recognise the importance of early childhood education and getting a great start in life, especially during the formative years. The first five years of a child’s life are when habits are formed, self-esteem and confidence grow, and when they have the best chance of becoming, being, and belonging. So, do your research and find the early childhood education program and childcare centre that suits your family’s needs. Let the National Quality Standards and the Early Years Learning Framework build the foundations for a lifelong love of learning and give your child the best start in life.

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