Early Childhood Australia’s (ECA’s) DR KATE HIGHFIELD talks about keeping the educational focus while staying safe with young children. Scroll to the end of this blog to find a webcast on the same topic featuring Kate in discussion with Goodstart Early Learning’s Sue Robb (OBE) and Dr Katey De Gioia.
Over the last few weeks we’ve had many, many questions: calls, emails and Facebook posts from educators around the country who are asking ‘how do we continue to do our best for children?’ and ‘how do we do we do that safely?’
The ECA team has worked really hard to share our advocacy work and keep you informed about the changing context we are working with, but what about teaching and learning? How can we cater for all of our children and families and ensure we are meeting their needs?
To help us navigate this space ECA has connected with experts around the country who are generously sharing their thinking. In this blog post we aim to answer some of your questions and share some great ideas coming from our sector (and send special thanks to them for sharing their ideas and thinking).
As one educator commented:
‘I love reading to my children in group time—but my director says I should avoid that at this time. Any alternatives?’
Reading with children is such a valuable activity, great for so many reasons. Rather than reading to the children in groups, consider reading with children, sitting beside them so you’re both sitting facing out and sharing the book (either on your lap or between you). While you can’t get 1.5 meters of distance here it will minimise ‘face contact’, which many would suggest is beneficial.
‘I’m trying to keep up my routines, to fill the children’s day with opportunities for play and learning; but I keep second guessing myself—can I still engage in sensory play? We aren’t making playdough anymore as we can’t access flour—but what about everything else? Could I use noodles or rice (if we can get them)?’
These are complex questions: complex because so many shops are empty, complex because of the ethical concerns of using food in play and now, complex because of the risk of sharing germs between children, particularly germs that might be associated with COVID-19. The suggestion here is that for this period we should try to avoid play where children have to share resources, instead providing small amounts of the appropriate resource for each child. The act of sharing out resources can be part of the experience and a further opportunity for language development and communication.
Goodstart Early Learning has taken a unique approach of looking at the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) to consider how the principles and practices might apply in the current COVID-19 situation. They have also focused on practicalities in teaching and learning, in particular managing ‘physical distancing’, recognising that social distancing isn’t really possible or appropriate in our work.
To explore these ideas further have a look at Goodstart’s ‘Addendum to the Early Years Learning Framework—for use during COVID-19’ and ‘Learning and teaching practicalities: COVID-19’. These are two easy-to-use resources for you to consider in your service. We also invite you to share your ideas by responding to this post. And you can click the image below to watch an ECA webcast on this topic.
Dr Kate Highfield is ECA’s General Manager of Professional Learning and Research Translation and convened a panel discussion with Goodstart Early Learning’s Sue Robb (OBE), General Manager, Pedagogy and Practice, and Dr Katey De Gioia, National Lead Pedagogy and Practice: 3-5 Years and Teachers. The session will be webcast by ECA on Thursday 2 April 2020 on Facebook. And you can also watch it here.