Early childhood professionals recognise that a gradual shift in emphasis occurs over the first eight years of a child’s life, along a continuum from play to more structured learning in formal settings. Early childhood professionals apply strategies to support sustained and shared interactions with children through play to more focused experiential learning. Learning is an active process that must involve children’s engagement. Play is essential for its ability to stimulate and integrate a wide range of children’s intellectual, physical, social and creative abilities.
Active engagement with, and attunement to children in their play extends and supports their learning. Shared, sustained conversations are also a powerful and important feature of active adult engagement. The integration of child-directed play and learning; guided play and learning.
Children’s learning and development is holistic, advancing simultaneously in the areas of health, cognition, personal and social development, and wellbeing. Children’s learning and development is advanced when they are provided with opportunities, support and engagement within their families and in partnership with early childhood professionals.
By acknowledging each child’s identity, culture and spirituality, and responding sensitively to their emotional states, early childhood professionals build children’s confidence, sense of wellbeing and safety and willingness to engage in learning.
The Practice Principles for Learning and Development, which are outlined below, are the foundations for professional practice for early childhood professionals working with Victorian children from birth to eight years and their families.
They are based on the understanding that when professionals establish respectful and caring relationships with children and families they are able to work together to deliver effective learning and development experiences relevant to children in their local contexts. These experiences gradually expand children’s knowledge and understanding of the world and promote their health, safety and wellbeing.
The Practice Principles integrate the pedagogy that forms the basis of the Early Years Learning Framework for Australia with the P–12 Principles of Learning and Teaching, which inform the work of teachers in Victorian schools. The Practice Principles are based on the latest international evidence about the best ways to support children’s learning.
They are interrelated and designed to inform each other. The Practice Principles are arranged into three categories:
1] Family-centred practice
2] Partnerships with professionals
3] High expectations for every child Effective
4] Equity and diversity
5] Respectful relationships and responsive engagement
6] Integrated teaching and learning approaches
7] Assessment for learning and development Reflective
8] Reflective practice.