Book review Part 1: Developmentally Appropriate Play

As part of my own professional development I plan to review an early childhood related book each month for the blog.  I hope that these reviews may also be helpful for parents and other early childhood educators who are wondering where to go for current, useful and reliable information.

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“Developmentally Appropriate Play” by Gaye Gronlund is aimed more at a kindy/preschool age group, so a little bit older than my current cohort, but still the ideas and explanations are relevant and helpful for any educator trying to help children get the most out of their play.  It supports those who (unfortunately) still need to defend play to others who do not value its educational potential and/or its general importance in children’s everyday lives.

The book is founded in theories including Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Jean Piaget’s notions of assimilation and accommodation, and Lev Vygotsky’s components of mature, high level play.

Gronlund explains three different levels of children’s play.  They are chaotic or out-of-control play, simplistic and repetitive play, and purposeful, complex play.  The purpose of the book is to guide educators in helping children to progress towards a level of productive play that is engaging for long periods of time and encourages creative use of materials, among a list of other benefits.

An interesting concept within this book is the idea that there is no such thing as “free play”.  Educators plan the experiences, acquire the resources, set up the environment, develop goals for play, and guide positive behaviours and purposeful use of resources.  With the dozens of decisions that are made before children even toddle excitedly through the door in the morning, the notion of “free play” undermines educators’ roles in guiding children to learn through play.  (Ok so the author may not have expressed her opinion as strongly as this – that’s just my two cents.)  It is very important that children have the opportunity to make many choices throughout their day, and it is just as important that educators carefully consider which choices to make available.  Of course there will be times during the day when adults need to make choices for children, and this helps build their sense of safety and security when done in a balanced way.

“Time” is mentioned often in this book as an important aspect of developing deep play – with family lives often busy and rushed, we need to plan for long uninterrupted periods of play in our programs to allow children the time they need to become deeply involved in their own learning.  This helps their “attention span to grow longer and for their play to grow richer and more rewarding”(p.60).  With this in mind, I have developed a flexible daily routine that allows children to continue their play when they are heavily involved.  For example, carefully considering nappy changes, eating times, and interruptions to play, to maximise the amount of time children have to concentrate on what they are doing.

This brings us to about the half way point.  I look forward to finishing the book, completing Part 2 of my review, and getting some more insight into giving children the best play opportunities to help their learning and wellbeing.

 

 

 

 

Menu plan week beginning 29.02.16

Here is the morning tea menu plan for the week beginning 29 February 2016.

I’m still getting to know what the children like, what they eat at home, and what other foods they are bringing for lunch, so I can provide a balanced and healthy morning tea that will be well received (by children and parents). 🙂

Monday – Apple, banana bread (home made)

Tuesday – Apple, whole meal rice crackers with hummus

Wednesday – Plain Greek yoghurt with blueberries, whole meal rice crackers with hommus

Thursday – Rice pudding, banana

As always, I’m happy for any feedback on my menu.  Have a great weekend everyone, I’m looking forward to my second week of operation and welcoming more new families into my care.

My philosophy

wp-1456106149336.jpgPhoto: My well-loved copy of the EYLF.  You know you have been around for a long time when you have a hard copy (they only printed a limited number -these are like gold now).

My philosophy guides my day to day practice in my family day care service and helps with decision making.  I’m sure it will evolve over time, as I learn more, as new theories on child development emerge, and as new research is published.

These ideas are not all my own – they are based on the principles of Belonging, Being and Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework.  However, each person has their own unique vision of how to put these principles into practice – and this is mine.

Aim: To nurture secure, respectful and reciprocal relationships
I will do this by sharing genuine care and affection with each child and interacting positively with children in their play and learning. In particular when children start care, I spend lots of time sitting and playing with each child, having lots of conversations and eye contact, in order to build the strong attachments that help children to feel safe and ready to explore their world with confidence. I will provide consistent emotional support for children through verbal and physical comfort to help them build the skills they need for good relationships throughout their lives.

Aim: To build partnerships with families
I recognise that families are children’s first and most influential educators and that the best way to achieve learning outcomes for children is by working in partnership. I will encourage this through a welcoming environment, open and friendly communication, and asking lots of questions to help me understand families’ expectations for their children’s development and learning. To help further enhance the learning opportunities in my environment, I will seek support and advice from my coordination unit and other community agencies and specialists as needed.

Aim: To hold high expectations and foster equity
I will do this by reinforcing to all children that they can succeed, even with their different circumstances and abilities. I will provide individualised programs for all children in care that recognise and extend on their personal strengths and desires. I will continually review my program and environment, consulting with other early learning professionals, to break down any barriers to learning and promote true inclusive practices.

Aim: To respect diversity
I will do this by building an understanding of the many ways of being, living and knowing in our community. I will honour different cultures, languages, traditions and lifestyles by inviting families to share information and offer suggestions for including these as part of our program. I will build and promote understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of knowing and being through resources and learning experiences. I will role model a positive attitude towards diversity and will give children lots of opportunities to learn about differences and similarities.

Aim: To engage in ongoing learning and reflective practice
I am passionate about continuing my own learning in all areas related to the important work of raising healthy, confident and successful children. I will do this through discussions with colleagues, attending training sessions and conferences, and reading up to date information in professional journals and newsletters. I welcome any feedback that assists me to critically reflect upon my practice and consider areas for development. I will regularly reflect on my program, practices and environment so that I can continue offering a high quality, current, professional early childhood education and care service that makes a positive contribution to children, families and the community.

For more information on the Early Years Learning Framework, follow this link: Early Years Learning Framework information from mygov website

Menu plan week beginning 22.02.16

Children are booked to attend on Tuesday and Thursday this week – being my first week of operation, I am still filling up my vacancies and there will be more children starting to attend in the next couple of weeks.

Most of my food will be homemade, and where any food is purchased, I will go for the ‘least processed’ options.  No ingredients list is best (i.e. fresh produce, dairy, grains), or where there is an ingredients list, the fewer ingredients the better.

So here is this week’s morning tea menu (morning tea is included in my fee schedule; lunch and afternoon tea can be provided on request at the cost outlined in my fees.)

Tuesday
Seasonal fruit – apple and banana
Carrot and walnut slice (gf/df) (homemade)

Thursday
Greek yoghurt with frozen berries
Rice cakes with choice of butter or peanut butter

I’m always happy to receive feedback and suggestions, so parents – if there is any particular food you would like your child to try (or avoid) just let me know.  I’m also grateful for any new ideas or great recipes.

Welcome to Family Day Care Fun

play kitchen

I am super excited to be returning to working directly with children and being a “home away from home”for little ones in my family day care.

For the past six years, up until February 2016, I worked as a family day care coordinator and educational leader; a role which gave me lots of experience with what parents are looking for in a quality service; extended my knowledge of child development and wellbeing; and opened my eyes to the many facets of providing a quality, customer focused, and most of all fun early learning environment.

I was a family day care educator before (back when we were still known as ‘family day care mums’, ‘carers’, or ‘care providers’) and I also assisted in private child care centres and community C&Ks.  I also have experience as a high school ESL teacher working with newly arrived refugees and migrants, and a primary school French teacher.   Most importantly I am a mum to two wonderful children and I know what it feels like to want the best for your child and to need to know that their days are filled with fun, love, laughter and learning.

My philosophy (which I will soon post in full) centres around building strong relationships with children; working in partnerships with families and my coordination unit; holding high expectations for children’s learning and striving for equity of opportunity; respecting diversity; continuing my own learning and challenging myself through reflective practice.  If you are thinking this sounds very familiar – you are right! My service is guided by Belonging, Being and Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework and this will be embedded in my day-to-day practice.

“familydaycarefun” will be a space for sharing what is happening in my family day care (and why), ideas for learning experiences, programming and planning, current information on child development, getting the most out of daily routines, teaching sustainability, exciting resources, setting up the environment, and more.