Being an active participant

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Positive relationships

A child becomes increasingly independent and interdependent.

They:

  • interact in relation to others with care, empathy and respect
  • are socially responsible and show respect for environments
  • explore interactions between people and environments.

Educators focus on the following aspects of children’s learning:

  • abilities for connecting and interacting with peers and people, things, belongings and the environment
  • enjoyment and ability to have fun with others
  • ability to cooperate with others, respond to their feelings and negotiate roles and relationships (including sharing and turn-taking)
  • ability to reflect on their actions and consider consequences for themselves, others and the environment
  • skills for resolving conflict and contributing to problem-solving in peaceful ways
  • ability to care for others, to join in, help and be part of the learning community
  • respect and care for the people, objects and spaces in their home, community and the learning environment
  • respect and appreciation for environments and the interdependence of living things
  • awareness about helping to sustain familiar environments.

Educators intentionally promote this learning, for example, when they:

  • plan for experiences that encourage group discussions and shared decision-making
  • provide culturally sensitive choices and alternatives for children to regulate their behaviour
  • model strategies for children that support them to initiate interactions, seek assistance and join in play and social experiences, for example, ‘Perhaps we can ask ...?’ or ‘I wonder who could help us?’
  • encourage children to think about the feelings of others by labelling emotions in both, Standard Australian English and first language, with photographs or visual symbols
  • encourage children’s peer relationships and their attempts at working independently and interdependently, for example, ‘Wow — look at how fast we can go when we do it together’
  • support children to find peaceful solutions for conflicts and frustrations, for example, ‘Perhaps you could try it this way ...?’, ‘Let’s get another one together’, ‘Would you like to do it by yourself?’
  • create environments that facilitate children’s relationships with peers, educators, families, community and the environment, for example, spaces for yarning and sharing books together in both the indoor and outdoor environment
  • engage children in planning learning experiences and in decision-making about the organisation of the learning environment both inside and outside
  • model respect, care and appreciation for environments find ways for children to share their knowledge about caring for and learning from the land and sea
  • embed sustainable practices in daily routines and practices
  • involve children in making and maintaining aesthetically pleasing environments
  • invite Elders and community members to share aspects of the children’s relationship to the physical world — land, water, air, bush, sky, rocks, weather patterns — through songs, dance and storytelling.

Educators look for evidence of children’s learning, for example:

In the familiar contexts of family and community when children:

  • make decisions and take responsibility for their own actions
  • play and spend time with groups of children — brothers, sisters, cousins and friends of mixed ages
  • sort out conflicts and problems in play with little adult intervention
  • show generosity, unselfishness and compassion as modelled by family, Elders and community members
  • show they know they have a particular association with and responsibility toward a certain animal or plant
  • demonstrate an integrated understanding of the environment — people, animals, land and family.

In new and unfamiliar contexts of an early learning program when children:

  • remain at activities they are confident with or with friends they are secure with
  • enjoy helping adults pack up, put away, clean and care for the environment
  • seek support to play with and work alongside others, for example, wait for a turn, join in, help others
  • seek support to respond to expectations and rules
  • require visual prompts to communicate emotions, seek assistance, and manage unexpected situations
  • join in small group experiences with the support of an adult or peer
  • resolve conflicts and frustrations with support from like-language speaking adults.

In the familiar contexts of a culturally secure early learning program when children:

  • act independently of others and express an understanding of independence, for example, ‘I do it’, ‘I help’ or interdependence, ‘We do it’
  • demonstrate self-confidence when managing and negotiating relationships, resources and spaces within the program
  • take turns, wait, listen, offer ideas and join in with others to complete tasks
  • help others to complete tasks, for example, work together on projects, clean up and pack away
  • develop friendships and express what it means to be a friend
  • independently initiate care for the environment
  • contribute to the program’s shared rules, rituals and boundaries and to the look and feel of the environment.

As you reflect on practices, ask yourself

What do I know about the behaviour guidance strategies of the families and community?

Is responsibility for guiding children’s behaviour a shared process?

Have Elders contributed to the development of guidance policies and the introduction of new social skills?

What do I know about the play of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children?

Have I considered the full range of relationships that each child has experienced?

Have I considered ways in which the children demonstrate their independence and interdependence within community contexts?