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Early Learning

Welcome teachers, parents and carers, welfare coordinators and anyone who works in early learning!

‘In the early years, your child’s main way of learning and developing is through play.’
Raising Children Network

Welcome to pre-school and primary school teachers, childcare workers, foster carers, family counsellors, parents and anyone who cares for young children.

You know more than most that the early years are a critical time. This is when bonding takes place between children and their primary caregivers. In the early years the basis for healthy self-esteem is created through such fundamental building blocks as being valued, cared for, included, listened to, and held close.

It is truly extraordinary when you think of the growth and learning that takes place in the first few years of a person’s life. A baby explores the joys of movement by becoming curious about the world around them. A young child begins to develop language and experience the complexities of relationships, culture and identity. They experience the tumultuous world of emotions and body signals and begin learning patterns of response to them.

The early years is when the foundations for respectful play, friendships and relationships are established. This is also a time when children’s notions of gender roles and their own identity are shaped.  All going well, they begin to awaken to empathy.  With gentle guidance they learn to put themselves in another’s shoes which sets up the basis for healthy, two-way relationships. They build on their seemingly innate sense of fairness.

When nurtured in the early years, children’s sense of self-worth and their capacity to care about others are more likely to blossom naturally, and go on to characterise a caring and productive life in the later years as well.

According to Anglicare Victoria’s Bendigo-based Communities for Children program, early childhood educators in Australia work within the following frameworks:

  • National Quality Standards
  • Early Years Learning Framework: Belonging, Being and Becoming.

Practice principles include:

  • Respectful relationships and responsive engagement
  • Equity and diversity
  • Partnerships with families and professionals
  • High expectations for every child
  • Reflective practice.

St Luke’s Innovative Resources—part of Anglicare Victoria—has developed a range of colourful resources for supporting children in the early years. These resources have grown out of the strengths approach and reflect the five practice principles listed above. It is our pleasure to offer you some ideas for using resources.

STOP PRESS!

St Luke’s Innovative Resources named as provider under school readiness funding.

School readiness funding is a new initiative of the Victorian State Department of Education and Training, designed to help children achieve their best at kindergarten.

Our products and training have been identified for inclusion on the Department’s menu. This means that we have been through a formal validation process, which analysed our alignment to the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework, considered by way of our evidence base.

 

Feelings and Emotions

Small children can have big feelings! Innovative Resources specialises in resources for helping kids identify and manage feelings (like anger, sadness, excitement) and build emotional wellbeing. Being able to recognise and express our feelings and empathise with the feelings of other is at the heart of emotional intelligence.  This is a large part of how we build resilience and connection with others. Choose from a big range of card sets, and tactile resources: The Bears, The Bears Bundle, The Bears App, the Bears Cube,  Koala Company Therapy Ball, The Kangas, The Koalas, Funky Fish Feelings, Cars ‘R’ Us,  Pocket of Stones, The Wrong Stone, Stones … have feelings too! Rainbow Fox.

Body Signals

Our body signals are our early warning signs they tell us when we feel unsafe … and we can learn what to do to when we feel that way—like tell a trusted adult straight away! Body Signals are used extensively in trauma-informed practice and protective behaviours, and are great for helping children transition to pre-school or big school by letting adults know when they need some help:  Body Signals, The Bears, Rainbow Fox

Working with Worry and Anxiety

While some children suffer from anxiety, all children have worried thoughts from time to time. It is so very useful to teach even very young children some fun, simple strategies for managing Worry Wart when that old character makes an appearance. With a mix of things they can say to themselves, things they can make or draw, things they can do like counting colours and reciting the alphabet, Anxiety Solutions for Kids is our go-to resource for helping kids self-soothe and build mental health and wellbeing. Also have a look at three of our favourite picture books: The Wrong Stone, Captain Grumpy, Rainbow Fox

Strengths not Problems

A fundamental aspect of the strengths approach to practice is to focus on strengths rather than getting caught up in problems. Have you noticed how much children grow and learn when we focus on their strengths and capacities rather than focussing on their problems?
Noticing what they can do encourages them to try new things. Children grow in confidence and they shine when the adults around them notice how hard they try and all the ways they do their best. Strength Cards for Kids, Can-do Dinosaurs

Gender Equality

Challenging rigid gender roles can prevent violence against women and children. Early childhood educators and carers can use Rainbow Fox resources to encourage conversation and reflection with children about gender equality. The Teaching Notes that accompany the Rainbow Fox picture book contain suggestions for activities created especially for pre-school and early primary school age children. They were developed in collaboration with Carla Jeffrey, Early Childhood lecturer, La Trobe University, Bendigo, Australia.

Learning Through Play

Children learn and grow through play at home with parents and caregivers. Parents sometimes need help with how (and why!) to play with their children using everyday objects found at home. Here is a fabulous resource for building play between adults and children at home, in playgrounds, in the car, at bedtime, in the park! To play is to learn. Also check out the book Kids’ Skills by Finnish psychologist and TV personality, Ben Furman. This is the classic 15-step method for turning kids’ problems into skills to be learned. But this is not a dry academic approach—it is filled with Ben’s sense of fun, and fun is always a winner with kids. (adults too!)

Building Respectful Relationships and Preventing Bullying

One of the best ways to prevent bullying is to teach children about respectful relationships. Sometimes we have to learn how to be a friend. Maybe we have not been shown what a true friendship looks like? Maybe we have never experienced one? What do friends do together? How do you be a friend? What do you appreciate most about your special friends? Build a culture of friendship in your home, kindergarten or primary school. Mates Traits cards, colouring book and stickers

Stickers

Stickers a great tool for letting your child know they are valued and that you see their strengths. Stickers carry personal messages from you to your little one, and this can be especially important when you are away from each other. For example, place an affirming sticker in their lunchbox or on their pillow or on your child’s picture to say how wonderful you think they are.

Parenting Support

Parenting is often described as the most challenging and yet the most rewarding role anyone can embark on. It’s so much more than a role—part vocation, job, life sentence, and life joy—according to what is happening on the day! Positive Parenting is a set of cards for talking about one’s experiences of parenting. Using sentence starters this card set invites storytelling, conversation, and reflection. The best way to learn about what I may want to do more of as a parent.

Baby Strengths is a delightful tool for supporting vulnerable mothers to bond with their baby, to understand the meaning of their baby’s behaviour, and to support healthy attachment. The one must-have book on helping kids to turn problems into skills to be learned is Kids’ Skills.