‘Fundamental to the Framework is a view of children’s lives as characterised by belonging, being and becoming. From before birth children are connected to family, community, culture and place.’- The Early Years Learning Framework.
Community connections can give children a sense of belonging which can help them develop a range of social and emotional skills. Strong community connections can help develop children’s confidence and can encourage the children to feel safe and supported. Community participation and engagement is also a fun way for children to interact with their peers and participate in collaborative learning. It is important to provide community based experiences throughout our programs to encourage these types of interactions and learning opportunities.
Community excursions and incursions are a great way to further develop children’s learning and understanding of the world around them. When the educators noticed that our Juniors showed a growing interest in café dramatic play, we decided to get out into the community and visit the local coffee shop. We connected with the owner of the coffee shop who was excited to have us come to the shop and see how coffee is made.
When our Seniors began learning about fruits and vegetables, we reached out to the local green grocer who was more than happy to have us come and do some shopping. Our Seniors took their shopping baskets to the grocers and picked out a selection of fruits and vegetables which they then used to create their own salads for afternoon tea.
Our aim is to embed sustainable practices to our day to day within the service. During Clean Up Australia Day we took a trip to our local park to pick up some rubbish using our litter pickers. This was a great experience and opportunity for the children to learn about sustainability and how they can care for their environment.
Transitioning to school and preparing the children for school can be a challenging time for families and children. There are many ways in which we try to help make this process as stress free or discouraging as possible. Connecting with our community is a great way to introduce the children and families to this. Each year we connect with a local school readiness specialist that comes to the service to provide the families and educators with valuable information in regards to school readiness and transitioning to school. We have also planned excursions where we take a walk over to the local Primary School so that the children are familiar with where it is and what the environment looks like.
Community engagement provides children with the opportunity to learn in a variety of different ways. It encourages collaborative learning and can help develop the child’s self-esteem. It provides the children with a sense of autonomy and agency and can build upon the children’s confidence in their interactions with peers. Engaging meaningfully with our community provides a real opportunity for relationship building and collaboration. Our aim is to extend on children’s learning through community connections as frequently as possible as they are key to ensuring that children feel safe and have a sense of belonging. These reciprocal relationships provide an opportunity to learn from each other, share ideas and plan for continuous improvement.