It’s amazing to see how quickly young children can learn new things. They surprise us every day with their ability to soak up information about the world around them. Sometimes it seems like magic, when young children suddenly know things that we don’t remember teaching them.
As an early childhood educator (or an aspiring one), you’re in a privileged position to shape the learning experiences of young children every day. There aren’t many other jobs that can provide the same level of satisfaction as watching the effect you have on a child’s growth and identity. To get the best results though, you first need to understand how children learn, especially in the context of Australian early childhood education.
People have been studying the way young children learn in early childhood for centuries and we’ve always known how important the early years are in setting children up for a lifetime of learning. It’s only been in the last 20 years though, that scientists have been able to explain the learning ability of young children, but there’s still plenty more to be learnt about this magical period in a young child’s life.
What we do know is that the brain is made up of millions of nerve cells called neurons. Every thought, action and memory is a result of these neurons talking to each other. Brain plasticity is what scientists call the process of these neurons making new pathways to each other, almost like a circuit board in a computer that’s constantly wiring itself. Our brains never stop rewiring themselves in different ways but this process is happening at a much faster rate in young children as they’re building a foundation for basing all their knowledge and learning on in the future.
So how do we make the most of this crucial period in a young child’s life? Should we be sitting them down with calculus textbooks and trying to teach them several languages before primary school? While it’s tempting to think we can turn every child into a genius, the reality is not every child is the same and they don’t all learn in the same way, or at the same speed. In fact, research has shown that avoiding stress and emotional trauma in a child’s early years is just as beneficial as providing learning opportunities so it’s actually better to avoid overloading them with textbooks and homework at that age, no matter how bright they might seem!
Early childhood in Australia
In Australia, we have what’s known as the Early Years Learning Framework which are a set of principles, practices and outcomes that support and enhance young children’s learning from birth to five years of age, as well as their transition to school. Developed by the Australian government using advice and research from the early childhood sector, early childhood academics and the Australian and State and Territory Governments, the framework is designed to ensure all children have the best start in life to create a better future for themselves.
Anyone working with young children in settings such as childcare centres, kindergartens and day care are now known as educators, and as educators they need to be qualified for using the Early Years Learning Framework. Because no two children are exactly the same, the framework is designed around children’s lives as characterised by belonging, being and becoming:
Children belong to a family, a cultural group and a wider community. Belonging, as part of the framework, looks at children’s connections with others and the how their relationships define their identities. In early childhood education, relationships are crucial to a sense of belonging, which helps children to feel comfortable, safe and secure in their learning environment.
Early childhood is a time for children to simply be, to seek and to make meaning of the world. Being, in the context of the framework, is about the present and engaging with life’s joys and complexities, while letting children learn to meet challenges in everyday life. Early childhood shouldn’t just be considered preparation for the future, which is why this principle is focused on teaching children to enjoy and learn from the present.
Children’s knowledge, understandings and skills change much faster during childhood. They’re shaped by every event in their young lives, so becoming reflects this in the framework by understanding and facilitating this process of rapid change. In the early years, as young children learn and grow, becoming is about learning to participate fully and actively in society.
As an early childhood educator, you’ll learn to use the principles of belonging, being and becoming to provide an environment in which children are given the best possible opportunities to learn and grow through play. You’ll also learn to apply these principles in other areas such as developing partnerships with parents and in your daily duties as an early childhood educator.
To get started in the growing early childhood education and care industry, it’s essential to choose an industry trusted training provider with a solid track record of getting people qualified and established in a rewarding new career shaping young minds. With a proud 30-year history of providing industry-best training, Charlton Brown has developed more than 15,000 quality graduates who now work across every facet of the early childhood sector. Combining our core competencies and expertise in the care industry with strategic partnerships and support from government, NGOs and large childcare providers, we’re the ideal starting point for your new career in this growing industry.
Get in touch with us today to find out how you can get started on one of the below qualifications that combine the latest theory with hands-on learning from industry work placement opportunities.
This course reflects the role of workers in a range of early childhood education settings. Throughout the course, you will learn about the responsibilities involved in engaging with groups of children and individuals, how children grow and develop, and observing children to learn about their interests and needs.
The Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care will provide you with an in-depth understanding of children and how to engage with them in a group care environment. This course is ideal if you want to become early childhood educators responsible for designing and implementing curriculum in Early Childhood Education and Care services.