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Quality environments are those where children are encouraged to explore — where they have the opportunity to encounter rich learning experiences that nurture and expand their thinking, language, and physical and social development, and where their cultural identity development is supported.
(Priest, K, 2005, Preparing the ground for partnership - exploring quality assurance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child care: a literature review and background paper, Department of Family and Community Services, Government of Australia, p.41)
Foundations for Success expands on the five principles of the Early Years Learning Framework to underpin educational practice that is focused on extending and enriching learning for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.
Children learn best through responsive and reciprocal relationships that connect with their world.
Responsive and reciprocal relationships with people, places, times, experiences, ideas and things support children’s strong sense of wellbeing. Through secure relationships and consistent emotional support, children feel valued and respected. They develop confidence and learn to appreciate their connectedness and interdependence as learners.
First languages define every child — their knowledge, identity and relationships.
First languages are primarily acquired from families, and have been developing from birth, shaping the way children see and describe the world. Language is a powerful communicative tool, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are generally competent users of their developing first languages when they come to early childhood education and care.
Strong family and community engagement enables children’s health, learning and wellbeing.
Families are children’s first and most influential educators, and their engagement is central to creating a holistic early learning program. Respectful interactions with families and communities facilitate the sharing of culturally specific knowledge and information about children and their learning that builds involvement, collaboration and negotiation.
Children are competent and capable and have been learning since birth.
Recognising children as competent learners means knowing their capabilities and using these as a starting point for new learning. Every child has unique aptitudes and abilities that must be valued and maximised.
Children’s positive attitudes to learning are essential for success.
Children’s early learning influences their life chances. Valuing children’s sense of wonder and capturing their enthusiasm towards learning encourages them to engage with learning, to persevere, to take risks and to negotiate with others. Children grow these attitudes in culturally safe environments where they are treated with trust and respect.
'Knowing who you are' and having a positive sense of cultural identity is central to children’s social, emotional, intellectual, physical and spiritual wellbeing.
An early learning program is culturally strong and socially and emotionally safe when relationships honour children’s traditional and contemporary cultures and languages, while at the same time building bridges that allow children to move fluently across diverse cultures. Children should experience many opportunities for their developing identities to be a source of individual strength, confidence, pride, belonging and security.
Children are entitled to a voice of their own and to having their rights valued.
The Convention on the Rights of a Child (UNICEF 1990) states that all children have the right to an education that lays the foundations for the rest of their lives, maximises their ability, and respects their family, cultural and other identities and languages. The Convention also recognises children’s right to play, and their right to participate in decisions and actions that affect them.
Ongoing learning and reflective practice underpin a quality early learning program.
Children represent their knowledge and understanding of the world in many ways, and everyday play experiences offer rich opportunities for gathering evidence about their learning. Purposeful and systematic observation and documentation support educator judgments about a child’s developing capabilities, inform new learning and enable ongoing reflection on the effectiveness of teaching practices.