We all want the best for the children of Australia. And while there are definitely different approaches to get the best out of different kids, the EYLF sets down key principles and outcomes to help children fulfil their potential.
What is EYLF?
The EYLF Principles — the Early Years Learning Framework — is a set of guidelines for early childhood centres and educators in Australia. The document sets out a framework to ensure consistency of care and education across the country, and assists educators to help children maximise their potential.
Why did childcare or early learning change?
The EYLF Principles were developed and introduced by the Australian government in 2009 and have been closely monitored and updated since then.
The main focus of this was to bring early education in line across the country to make sure all children are given the same chances to flourish, no matter where in Australia they are.
Understanding the Early Years Framework
The EYLF Principles have been developed based on local and international research that shows how important the first five years of a child’s education are to their ongoing success in life.
The framework was written with the idea of all children belonging, being and becoming and has five guiding principles that help shape the way children in Australia play, learn and socialise.
Concepts of the Early Years Learning Framework
The core concepts of the ELYF can be broken down into three main terms: belonging, being and becoming.
Belonging, Being & Becoming
The core concept of the EYLF is the idea that all children should feel a sense of belonging, being present and have the opportunity of becoming who they want to be.
These three concepts help children to fully engage in their time at day care centres in Australia, so that they can get the most from their time there and be fully prepared for life at school and beyond.
The idea of belonging, being and becoming helps to develop many aspects of a child, including their sense of identity, their connection with the world and a sense of wellbeing. It also helps develop confidence, engagement and communication skills with peers and elders.
Not only does ELYF outline what should be supported, it also helps educators understand ways they can involve children so they’re getting the most of their early education.
A sense of belonging is vital for everyone, from the youngest child to the oldest adult.
Belonging begins at home in the family and expands from there. More relatives, family friends, neighbours, community and schoolmates. Other factors like culture, heritage and similar relationships are also key.
Belonging involves many of these factors and helps children identify with themselves and others.
Educators help children feel like they belong at childcare centres by engaging and interacting with kids, being respectful of diversity, showing respect to all and creating strong and caring relationships.
When a child feels like they belong, they come out of their shell and start to excel. They’ll feel more comfortable expressing their opinions and trying new things, which will make them expand their horizons and pick up new skills more quickly.
It may seem like a very modern movement in Australia, but either of simply ‘being’ goes back centuries. The idea is to enjoy the moment and be present in all that’s around you.
While this strategy isn’t foolproof throughout someone’s entire life, in childhood it’s particularly important. Being present means enjoying what’s in front of you and playing with those around you. It’s about keeping focus, facing up to challenges and taking pleasure where you can.
Educators can encourage children to be in the now by creating engaging activities, finding out about their interests and adapting them into learning opportunities and realising the unique potential of each child.
By focusing on the here and now, children can develop conversational skills, build their imagination and learn about persevering in the face of challenges.
Children grow in the blink of an eye. Before you know it, your baby is walking, going to daycare then going to school. All along this journey, they’re learning about the world around them, how to react to it and who they’re going to be.
This process of becoming themselves is shaped by so many things. Parents and immediate family are paramount, but they also pick up so many new skills and traits from their interactions at childcare.
To help children on their road to becoming their best selves, educators can help children expand their skills, try new things and build relationships with those around them.
With this gentle guidance, children can learn about the world around them start to work on their own identities.
Principles, Practices and Learning Outcomes
Stating concepts of belonging, being and becoming is one thing, but achieving them is another. The ELFY sets out principles, practices and learning outcomes to help educators achieve these goals.
The ELFY is guided by five principles:
- Secure, respectful and reciprocal relationships
- High expectations and quality
- Respect for diversity
- Ongoing learning and reflective practice
These key principles help educators as they help children in their centres develop the skills and confidence they need to navigate the world around them.
These five principles are used in all practices undertaken with children at early childhood centres.
Each educator learns about a range of practices that have been proven to help child development. This ranges from incorporating holistic approaches and intentional teaching to simply being responsive to all children and valuing the cultural and societal contexts of everyone who enters the centres.
All teaching is linked to broad and observable outcomes. In the EYLF, there are five learning outcomes to consider:
- Children have a strong sense of identity
- Children are connected with and contribute to their world
- Children have a strong sense of wellbeing
- Children are confident and involved learners
- Children are effective communicators
As each child learns and develops at a different pace and in different ways, their outcomes are judged by how they change rather than by set milestones.
Achieving the Learning Outcomes through Play Based Learning
One of the most important practices encouraged by the EYLF is the idea of learning through play.
Young children do not react well to learning by rote or sitting still all day, so instead they’re encouraged to hide the learning in their play. Through games, children develop physical skills, communication skills, imagination and critical thinking.
Educators are encouraged to start games and activities that have lessons built into them so that kids pick up skills and ideas in a fun and intuitive way.
Implementing the EYLF
By now, the EYLF should be implemented and integrated into all daycares across Australia. For new educators coming on board, the framework gives an outline of ideas that they can use in their work. Other educators and staff at the centre will also be able to assist and help new educators as they get used to the principles and guidelines of the EYLF.
The Future of the Early Years Learning Framework
The EYLF document is updated periodically to make sure the way children in Australia are taught is still current and effective. It was last updated in late 2020, with further assessment in 2021 underway.