It's All About Relationships, Not Frameworks or Documentation

The early childhood profession has undergone a range of significant changes in the past couple of years. The intention of these changes has been to professionalize and increase the quality of care and education for children and families.  The aim being to increase the conditions, enhance the qualifications and professionalism of the teachers and carers who work in early childhood and to ensure that curriculum and teaching and learning in early childhood has a greater consistency and quality overall.

Significant gains have been made and many great and exciting innovations and changes have occurred. Many more are underway. However, as with any period of significant change, and as with any time of transition, there are some disturbing and worrying issues that have arisen across the country and that our organization has been called upon to assist individual and groups of early childhood educators.

The particular concerns that we have witnessed and that are impacting upon so many early childhood educators are the following:

  • Early childhood professionals understanding and misunderstanding that a framework does not replace an actual philosophy or practices
  • An over emphasis upon the new "Frameworks" at the expense of best practice in care and education.
  • A fixation and almost unhealthy obsession with documenting almost every single thing a child says, does, looks like......in ways that look like they are about to be displayed in an exhibition at the National Gallery.
  • Excessive documentation that does not convey anything about the learning, skill or conceptual understandings that are being achieved by the children.
  • The fact that staff are feeling driven to document everything and therefore taking photos of children, documenting and writing and typing things during sessions instead of actually interacting with, playing, talking and listening to and attending to the children.
  • Teaching to a set of fairly non descript outcomes that are a mix of values, aspects of development, skills and all placed in columns that appear to suggest that you only need to lock yourself into a particular column based upon the age group.
  • Practice based on fear of being "checked up on and assessed" ... leading to educators using terms such as identity, and cutting and pasting these terms into observations without the slightest meaning and authenticity.
  • The framework replacing a belief in their already existing body of knowledge, philosophies, experience and expertise.

Quality in education is about relationships. It is not about measuring outcomes based upon a beautifully bound portfolio that took all weekend to produce, which took staff away from interacting all session from the children and which focused on the end product and moved the emphasis away from the process.

We need to re visit that early childhood is about relationships, processes (not end product), investigations and discoveries rather than projects or themes! Remember that no matter what current political correctness or some academic thinking may want us to believe - children are children and children's brains are not miniature adult brains!

Children learn by doing, imagining, creating and time and space and relationships (by being given freedom to explore):

Not by documenting and explaining end products and projects that are maintained and sustained.

Not by adult initiated ideas that lack basic understanding of child development.

We would rather a lot less art exhibitions of end product projects that look perfect and much more authentic displays of children's imaginings, where they have had a go and that are a bit rough around the edges but are truly about the child, not the adult!