Being an active participant

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Listening and negotiation

A child broadens their sense of belonging to groups and communities.


  • become aware of the reciprocal rights and responsibilities necessary for active community participation
  • explore their own and others’ cultures and the similarities and differences among people
  • become aware of bias and stereotyping and respond to diversity with respect
  • become aware of fairness.

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

  • ways to respond positively and show respect for the connections, similarities and differences among people
  • awareness of their own and other cultures, including their right to belong to many communities
  • an understanding of the diversity of cultures, heritages, family structures, capabilities, backgrounds and traditions of the world they live in
  • respect and value for the ideas, feelings, needs and opinions of others
  • active engagement with a range of people, groups and communities
  • an ability to recognise fairness and the capacity to show concern for others
  • awareness of bias and stereotypes and the ways in which people are included or excluded.

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

  • use conversation, role play, puppets, music, dance and stories to explore feelings and different perspectives and ideas with children
  • encourage children to listen to others and to respect diverse perspectives, for example, when engaging children in planning and decision-making about group experiences and their learning environment
  • plan for enjoyable small group experiences and supporting children when they work together, for example, ‘Let’s pack this up together’
  • model language to support children’s attempts at listening and negotiating, for example, ‘It’s time to listen now’
  • provide many opportunities for children to assume different social roles in group activities, for example, as initiators, facilitators, negotiators, organisers, observers and listeners
  • investigate different communities and cultural groups using books, stories, music, special events and technology as stimulation
  • expose children to resources that broaden their appreciation of diversity, for example, artefacts, dance, music, languages and dialects, stories, art and craft of other cultures
  • initiate discussions with children about being fair and equitable
  • model ways to challenge representations of people in stereotypical ways
  • draw children’s attention to diverse ways of doing and being, including family structures, roles in communities, religions, practices, capabilities and talents.

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

In the familiar contexts of family and community when children:

  • spend significant amounts of time with a range of people other than the immediate family
  • show they have a strong sense of community and understanding of extended family
  • willingly share food, toys and other possessions and demonstrate a strong understanding of togetherness and a sense of fairness
  • implement some gender-specific roles and show awareness that there are cultural differences in activities according to sex
  • provide assistance to peers and affection and nurturing to those younger than themselves.

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

  • prefer to take on the role of observer and listener
  • watch and listen as others share examples of different communities and cultural groups, for example, music, dance, stories, languages
  • watch and listen as educators use conversation, puppets, music, dance and stories to explore feelings and different perspectives
  • seek encouragement to engage with the artefacts, arts and crafts, languages, stories, dance, food of their own and other cultures
  • prefer to listen in group discussions about ‘being fair’.

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

  • cooperate and negotiate with others during play and group experiences
  • notice and respond positively to similarities and differences among people, for example, family structures, gender, talents and abilities
  • demonstrate a broadening understanding of the diversity of culture, heritage, background and tradition
  • listen to others’ ideas and respect different viewpoints
  • demonstrate an awareness of inclusiveness by supporting others to participate in play and group experiences
  • express their own ideas and opinions about ‘being fair’
  • notice and respond to unfairness and bias in positive ways, for example, ‘We can all play here’.

As you reflect on practices, ask yourself

Have I considered which rules and expectations of the program the children may find unfamiliar?

Have I allowed enough time for the children to familiarise themselves with the program?

In what ways do I allow children to be participants within the program?

Have I involved the children and their families in planning the look and feel of the environment?

How do I build on the contributions of children and families to the learning environment?

What do I know about the responsibilities, roles and obligations that children may have in the home?

Have I considered the relationships of power that are reflected within the program?

How do these complement an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander world view of childhood?

In what ways do I listen to and act on children’s ideas?