Families are where learning begins

Families are where learning begins. Babies and young children are naturally curious, responsive and eager to explore their surroundings. Families—in all their glorious diversity and ‘not quite perfection’—are where the young child starts this journey, a lifelong path outwards from self, towards mastery and understanding.

First conversations and relationships, creativity, capacity to express joy, kindness, gratitude and all the other human emotions (as well as how to regulate them), learning whether to persevere or give up—all of these first experiences are shaped by life within family, whatever that family looks like and holds valuable. Sensitive educators and quality early learning environments support families because they amplify children’s social, emotional and cognitive development. As Anne Stonehouse reminds us, this hinges on knowing the family:

‘There is now, more than in the past, a greater understanding within the profession that in order to support children’s learning we need to know them in the context of their family, culture and community. It is difficult to imagine really knowing a child without knowing the child’s family’—Anne Stonehouse, Every Child Vol. 18 No. 1 2012.

There are strong traditions within the early childhood sector of collaborating with families, Stonehouse says, in an article that explores how partnerships with families differ from family involvement. Valuing the family’s knowledge about their child and building mutual knowledge through sharing insights an information are among her tips and suggestions.

In Families Week consider how your practice and your team recognise and respond to families, understand the family context of each child and share power with families. In National Families Week you can celebrate with us:

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Early Childhood Australia

Early Childhood Australia (ECA) has been a voice for young children since 1938. We are the peak early childhood advocacy organisation, acting in the interests of young children, their families and those in the early childhood field. ECA advocates to ensure quality, social justice and equity in all issues relating to the education and care of children aged birth to eight years.

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