Early childhood educators work tirelessly to ensure they are compliant with regulations and standards that are currently in place to support the delivery of high quality early childhood education and care.
In the pursuit of meeting―or indeed exceeding―these requirements; it is easy to become entangled in documentation and miss the bigger picture.
In early childhood education and care, it is vital that educators understand that the mind is not separate from other areas of development. Indeed the cognitive state should work in unison with the emotional state.
Once, inappropriate behaviour was seen as something that needed to be amended. We can now identify this as conduct that may indicate a future mental health concern that could stretch into adulthood.
Where we began
Our road to discovery began when researching how to further develop the resilience of children and support their transition to school.
Our research led us to the Kidsmatter and an introduction by Kerry Bidwell. We began our experience of self-facilitating the KidsMatter professional learning in November 2014. We were excited but … apprehensive.
It did seem a little overwhelming at first, but over the past 6 months, we have found that there is no one right way to implement KidsMatter.
What we do
Our leadership team (3 staff and a parent who studies psychology) meet monthly to look at elements of the program that will meet our current demands.
We use the parent surveys and collate these to identify any areas of need; but also look at the current perceptions and perspectives of children at the service at the time.
This method enables critical reflection about what we do well and where we can provide support to children, families and educators.
It has highlighted that we not only need to look at the mental health and wellbeing of children but also our parents and teachers to provide the best information and assistance possible.
As a new service participating in KidsMatter, it has become evident that it is OK to stray from the suggested method of delivery to ensure that the program is contextualised to our service and the people we serve.
We have already seen great changes in the way educators respond to the behaviour of children and have used a collective methodology of ideas and conversation to extend our understanding of children, not just behaviours. We would encourage any service to become involved with the initiative as a part of their continuing improvement processes and for better outcomes for children.
Torquay Kids Early Learning Centre
Hervey Bay QLD
This article was first published on KidsMatter Early Childhood’s blog, Shared Thinking.