QUALITY AREA 5:RELATIONSHIPS WITH CHILDREN
INTERACTIONS WITH CHILDREN POLICY
POLICY: To encourage warm nourishing relationships between children and educators that support and view children as strong, powerful, competent, complex and full of possibilities.
BACKGROUND: The relationship between educators and children is perhaps the most important aspect of a service. Secure, respectful and reciprocal relationships are one of the basic principles of Belonging, Being and Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework that provides a vision for the children’s learning at this preschool. Relationships between educators and children can have an impact on other relationships and can dictate the mood of the group, or the whole preschool environment. The value of other skills like observing, planning and organising the environment depends upon the extent to which educators are able to develop these relationships. Children who are secure in the relationship with their educator/s are confident in their learning and are able to enjoy and feel relaxed in their time at the preschool.
Children need positive relationships with adults that they can trust and who respond to them. This is the basic foundation that they need in order to feel good about themselves and their being in the world, and secure enough to take pleasure in actively exploring and learning about themselves, people and things around them.
Children under five are learning communication and social skills. The way in which educators relate and interact with them and to other people in the preschool is an important source of information about how they should communicate and interact with others. Therefore, these adults should relate to children in a positive way which responds to each child’s individual needs and enables the child to develop the ability to relate in a similar positive way to others. Children also need adults who actively teach them communication skills,by relating to them in ways which build upon their existing and emerging social and interactive communication skills, and by providing them with opportunities,and activities to exercise and develop these skills.
All adults, and especially experienced preschool educators, are more able than young children to empathise, adapt and modify their behaviour. One of the basic principles of communicating with children is that educators need to approach the children in their care in a child-centred way. Children under five are still very much the centre of their own universe. From birth they are very sensitive to what is going on around them, and are continually trying to make sense of their environment and to discover new ways of relating to it. As they develop, their ability to understand other people, to take account of others’feelings, and to modify their behaviour, increases. However, even when they are five, they are not yet very experienced or skilled in the complexities of social and communications skills.
As educators we are able to establish trusting relationships with the children and at the same time we are able to be positive role models by communicating, interacting and socialising with the children in our care.
Educators at our preschool will;
- be responsive to children’s strengths, interests, abilities
- provide opportunities to become self-reliant and develop self-esteem,
- uphold children’s dignity, rights, and agency
- provide positive guidance and support towards acceptable behaviour
- promote a safe, secure and nurturing environment;
- be authentic and responsive;
- be based in fairness, acceptance and empathy with respect for cultural and linguistic rights.
· Education and Care Services National Law Act 2010; 166,167
· Education and Care Services National Regulations 2011: 73, 74, 155, 156,157, 168(2)(j)
· Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998
· Commission for children and Young People Act 1998
· Disability Discrimination Act 1992
LINKS TO NATIONAL QUALITY STANDARD:
· 5.1 Respectful relationships are developed and maintained with each child
· 5.2 Each child is supported to build and maintain sensitive and responsive relationships with other children and adults
· 7.3 Administrative system enable the effective management of a quality service
· DEEWR (2009). Belonging,Being and Becoming – The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia. www.deewr.gov.au
· Australian Children’s Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) www.acecqa.gov.au
· United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child www.unicef.org.au
· The Supporting Young Children’s Rights: Statement of Intent (2015-2018) www.earlychildhoodaustralia.org.au
· Australian Human Rights Commission www.humanrights.gov.au
· Australian Childhood Foundation www.childhood.org.au
Children’s Rights, Family and Cultural Values
Interactions within the setting are greatly enhanced when children’s rights and family and cultural values are given due consideration and respect. Administrative procedures, initial conversations, documentation and ongoing communication with children and families are a reference point for interactions and a foundation for authentic and respectful communication.
Educators and staff must use listening as a foundation for interactions. Listening is based on observation and in leaving spaces in conversations and communication,suspending judgement and in giving full attention to children as they communicate. Truly attending to children’s communication promotes a strong culture of listening.
Children and Families
A culture of respectful interaction is promoted when children’s attempts to communicate are valued. Turn taking and regulating children’s conversations promotes active engagement. Respectful communication with families generates greater confidence in interacting.
Reflection and Consideration
Time is dedicated to reflecting upon interactions within children.
Reflections should consider how to spend extended periods engaged in interactions with children that comprise communication and listening.
Educators model positive interactions when they:
- Show care, empathy and respect for children, educators and staff and families;
- Learn and use effective communication strategies.
Principles for Behavioural Management
Staff respect individual children’s needs and differences in age, ability and experience regarding issues surrounding behaviour management and they are happy to discuss individual family expectations with parents. There may be times when staff will need to negotiate management strategies with parents to suit the needs of individual children.
- Wherever possible, children and staff will negotiate and determine boundaries and rules.
- Rules will be reasonable considering the age, development and individual characteristics of the children.
- Rules will be consistently enforced.
- Children will be encouraged for desirable behaviour.
- It is the behaviour that is praised or criticised, not the child.
- Staff present a good example through positive role modelling.
- Children are encouraged to make appropriate choices.
The Role of the Staff
In response to unacceptable behaviour, staff:
- Redirect the child or remove the child from the situation if necessary.
- Advise children of the consequences of continuing with the behaviour.
- Remind children of desirable behaviour.
- Explain to children how behaviour results in consequences.
- Actively listen to children’s feelings and discuss the rules.
- Help children to return to play.
The Approved Provider will:
- Ensure the service operates in line with the Education and Care Services National Law and National Regulations 2011 with regard to the delivery and collection of children at all times.
- Ensure all staff have access to relevant professional development.
- Ensure the educational program contributes to the development of children who have a strong sense of wellbeing and identity, and are connected, confident, involved and effective learners and communicators.
- Ensure that the Nominated Supervisor and all staff members at the service who work with children are aware that it is an offence to subject a child to any form of corporal punishment, or any discipline that is unreasonable or excessive in the circumstances (National Law: Section 166) (Regulation 73).
- Inform the Regulatory Authority in writing, within 24 hours of receiving a notifiable complaint (Section 174(4), Regulation 176(2) (b)).
- Inform the Regulatory Authority in writing within 24 hours of a serious incident occurring at the service (Section 174(4), Regulation 176).
The Nominated Supervisor and Educational Leader shall:
- Guide professional development and practice to promote interactions with children that are positive and respectful.
· Establish practice guidelines to ensure that interactions with children are given priority and those interactions are authentic, just and respect difference.
- Ensure all staff are aware of the service’s expectations regarding positive, respectful and appropriate behaviour, and acceptable responses and reactions when working with children and families.
- Consider the size and composition of groups to ensure all children are provided with the best opportunities for quality interactions and relationships with each other and with adults at the service.
- Develop and implement educational programs, in accordance with an approved learning framework, that are based on the developmental needs, interests and experiences of each child, and take into account the individual differences of each child.
- Ensure that staff provide education and care to children in a way that encourages children to express themselves and their opinions and allows children to undertake experiences that develop self-reliance and self-esteem.
Early Childhood Educators /Certified Supervisors will:
- Act in accordance with the obligations outlined in this policy.
- Acknowledge children’s complex relationships and sensitively intervene in ways that promote consideration and alternative perspectives and social inclusion.
- Respect children’s agency and encourage them to express themselves and their opinions.
- Maintains the dignity and the rights of each child at all times.
- Have regard to the cultural and family values, age, and the physical and intellectual development and abilities of each child being educated and cared for.
- Offer positive guidance and encouragement towards acceptable behaviour.
- Ensure that routines such as toileting, nappy change and rest times are used for positive one to one interactions with children and a time that they can get to know more about the child.
- Genuinely seek children’s input, respect their ideas and take their suggestions on board.
- Form warm relationships with each child.
- Engage in open communication with staff about their child.
- Inform staff of events or incidents that may impact on their child’s behaviour at the service (e.g. moving house, a new sibling).
- Inform staff of any concerns regarding their child’s behaviour or the impact of other children’s behaviour.
- Work collaboratively with staff and other to develop or review an individual behaviour guidance plan for their child, where appropriate.
Policy reviewed November 2015
Positive Interactions with Children – Further Thoughts…
- Accumulate knowledge about each child over time so they can relate to them. For example get to know their cultural background, values and beliefs of the family, their general likes and dislikes, then use this information to build a trusting relationship.
· Share information about themselves in order to get to know children and families. For example tell the children what you did on the weekend, what your new pet did last night, and things about when you were a child. This makes educators real and accessible, and aids the familiarisation process.
· Greet all children warmly on arrival and departure and include both children and families in further interactions and conversations. For example, relating to the day’s activities, routines and miscellaneous information about the child’s progress.
· Provide affection and support, comforting children when they cry and reassuring them when fearful. Educators, when appropriate, will plan experiences that may alleviate children’s fears.
· Encourage children’s developing language by speaking clearly and frequently to individual children and listening to their responses.
· Encourage courteous words such as excuse me,thank you, please and sorry to show respect between pre-schoolers, and between educators and the children.
· Make lots of observations of children then use these to create a meaningful and stimulating learning environment. To provide an environment motivating enough for everyone, for example, interest centres, group cooperative projects; present activities in a new way; and make use of visitors and excursions, other educators and parents in the program.
· Try to ensure all children are communicated with or interacted with as equally as possible.
- Praise children for their accomplishments and help them to feel increasingly competent and in control of themselves. Praise will contain words related to the behaviour observed. For example, “You threaded all those orange beads Isaac!”, rather than just, “Well done’, makes praise more meaningful for children.
- Model the type of interactions with others that they want children to develop. Be positive in guidance. For example tell children what to do, not what not to do, such as “we are sitting quietly listening to the tape”, rather than “don’t talk”.
- Participate in conversations that are a back and forth banter of ideas and concepts rather than brief and one-sided. Educators will try to look for another comment or idea to take the conversation one step further. Open ended questions will be encouraged where possible, for example, sentences starting with who, what, where, which, when, how.
- As much as possible, try to sit on a chair at child level or kneel or sit on the floor so eye contact is more easily made.
- Be attentive to children. For example, stand or sit facing the children and show them we are interested in their comments, looks and smiles, physical contact (if appropriate). In this way the children will feel they are being noticed and valued.
- Be active listeners, showing respect for children’s communication. Having a relaxed atmosphere and daily routine will help in giving educators time to really listen and communicate with children on a meaningful level.
- Provide many opportunities for extended individual interactions and small group interactions, rather than large groups.
- Circulate among all children during activity time. For example indoor, outdoor, meals, routines. When planning, activities will be arranged which allow educators members to be in one area for some time so interactions can occur while still being able to supervise children.
- Plan activities to ensure a balance within the program. For example avoid too many high demand activities and allow enough time per session for quality interactions to occur.
- Build a rapport with additional needs children according to their needs. No matter what their area of additional need, they are children first and will be treated with respect and affection; will be spoken to in a meaningful but fun way; and will be included, communicated with, and provided for as much as possible in the activities of the day.
- Use sign language, e.g. Key Word Signing, if there are children with hearing impairments or language delays. This signing could be taught to all children, within the centre.
- Be supportive of the children as they acquire skills. Allowing children to do what they are capable of doing and assisting with tasks that are frustrating.
- Treat all children equally and consistently encourage and assist them to enter activities that have traditionally been thought appropriate only for one sex.
- Be honest in showing their feelings. If they are frustrated, feeling ill or getting impatient they will express this to the children by talking about their feelings in a non-threatening way.
- Be encouraged to communicate, with co-workers, ideas and ways to improve interactions with the children and ways to improve the learning environment.
· Pre-schoolers may appear very sure of themselves at times but it must be remembered that they are still small children who have a need for affection. Some children will approach educators for cuddles while others do not, however they can be approached by educators and respond enthusiastically. Some children do not wish to be hugged, but will accept an arm around a shoulder, or even just eye contact and a smile. Overtime educators members will get to know children and will interact with them individually according to their needs and culture. Please also refer to the Touch and Nurturing Policy.
· Also refer to Behaviour Guidance Policy.
Reviewed November 2015