Natural Resources

A selection of natural resources (and a couple manufactured) from local op-shops; and the book that has been inspiring me.
natural resources

Using Natural Resources in Family Day Care – Why?

Recently I went out to my local op-shops (opportunity shops, charity shops, Vinnies, Salvos – we have lots of names for them) and within just half an hour had bagged myself a pile of resources that were at the same time beautiful, mundane, unusual, inspiring, old, new and interesting (not to mention, inexpensive!).  As you can see they are mostly made from natural materials.  But what’s the big deal; why is ‘natural’ such a buzz word in early learning circles?

For one, the Early Years Learning Framework contains multiple mentions of natural resources, as listed below:

Principle 4: Respect for diversity: “promoting greater understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of knowing and being.” (for more about my philosophy and my aim to build respect for diversity, click here)

Holistic approaches: “An integrated, holistic approach to teaching and learning also focuses on connections to the natural world.  Educators foster children’s capacity to understand and respect the natural environment and the interdependence between people, plants, animals and the land.”

Learning environments: “Outdoor learning spaces are a feature of Australian learning environments.  They offer a vast array of possibilities not available indoors.  Play spaces in natural environments include plants, trees, edible gardens, sand, rocks, mud, water, and other elements from nature.  These spaces invite open-ended interactions, spontaneity, risk-taking, exploration, discovery and connection with nature.  They foster an appreciation of the natural environment, develop environmental awareness and provide a platform for ongoing environmental education.”

Learning environments: “Environments and resources can also highlight our responsibilities for a sustainable future and promote children’s understanding about their responsibility to care for the environment.  They can foster hope, wonder and knowledge about the natural world.”

Outcome 2: Children are connected with and contribute to their world; Children become socially responsible and show respect for the environment.  “This is evident when children: demonstrate an increasing knowledge of, and respect for, natural and constructed environments; explore, infer, predict and hypothesise in order to develop an increased understanding of the interdependence between land, people, plants and animals; show growing appreciation and care for natural and constructed environments; explore relationships with other living and non-living things and observe, notice and respond to change; develop an awareness of the impact of human activity on environments and the interdependence of living things.”
“Educators promote this learning, for example, when they: provide children with access to a range of natural materials in their environment; model respect, care and appreciation for the natural environment; find ways of enabling children to care for and learn from the land; embed sustainability in daily routines and practices.”

Outcome 4: Children are confident and involved learners; Children resource their own learning through connecting with people, place, technologies and natural and processed materials.  “This is evident, for example, when children: use their senses to explore natural and built environments.”
“Educators promote this learning, for example, when they: provide sensory and exploratory experiences with natural and processed materials.”

With so many considerations of natural resources in the EYLF, it is so important that educators take a really good look around at their environment, from their own perspective as well as from children’s and families’ perspectives, to review the balance between natural and constructed resources and to make improvements to this balance where possible.

Stay tuned for another article coming soon that will include examples of different ways of acquiring natural resources and using them in early learning programs.




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