We’re all familiar with the famous African proverb, ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. It’s an old adage, but a true concept. It means the whole community has a role in helping our children develop in a safe, stimulating and supportive environment.
Importance of the Early Years
It’s now widely recognised that the early years from birth to eight years are the most important in setting the foundation for a child’s future learning, behaviour and health.
We know that forming neural connections is the key task of early brain development. In the first few years of life, more than 1 million new neural connections are formed every second1.
These are the connections that shape the architecture of the brain and lay the foundation for later developmental outcomes. During this critical period, children need a diversity of sensory experiences and stimulation, otherwise neural pathways are pruned.
We also now know from attachment research that brain connections that lead to later success grow out of positive attachment, nurturing, supportive, and consistent care.
In light of this, the idea of the ‘village’ seems more important than ever. So, what do the Early Years look like at Carey Baptist College?
1. We partner with families
We wholeheartedly believe parents and educators are partners in the development of the whole child. Trust, respect and collaboration form the basis for strong partnerships between families and our staff.
We welcome family involvement in our early learning classrooms, and we encourage parents to engage in meaningful ways to build relationships and enrich teaching and learning.
Open channels of communication with families is vital. This includes detailed student history forms, parent and teacher discussions, information evenings, Learning Journeys, newsletters and formal forms of reporting.
2. We provide relevant resources to parents
We support parents by offering an information program that begins before children start school. These parent information sessions invite parents to connect with our educators and begin building a sense of community at Carey Baptist College. Our staff share practical tips on starting school and relevant information on child development — all with the aim of preparing children and families for the best start possible.
3. We encourage early intervention
We know that early intervention is key to better outcomes. Our educators are intuitive and attentive to the developmental milestones for a child.
We encourage parents to act early if there are concerns, and help them access early intervention through referrals to outside organisations if required.
4. We focus on attachment at Kindy level and beyond
Our goal is for children to develop confidence and positive self-esteem through an emotionally supportive and safe environment.
We believe secure attachments are created through consistency in staffing, routines and boundaries, as well as the teaching and modelling of healthy social and emotional skills, positive reinforcement, and respectful consequences.
5. We deliver a play-based learning curriculum
We know that children learn best through play, discovery and hands-on experience. We deliver a play-based learning curriculum that helps children learn whilst having fun.
Outcomes are planned and embedded into interactive learning experiences and integrated across subject areas. For example, a single activity may assist a child in learning mathematics concepts, developing language and fine motor skills, as well as learning to cooperate.
We foster the natural enthusiasm and curiosity of children as much as possible and children are given many opportunities for explorative play within our classrooms and outdoor play spaces.
Invest in the Early Years
James Heckman, Nobel prize winning economist says, ‘We cannot afford to postpone investing in children until they become adults, nor can we wait until they reach school age — a time it may be too late to intervene.’
It makes sense to invest in these critical early years and work together for the developmental wellbeing of our children.
Investing time and energy into our children leads to individuals who are happy and healthy and ready to make a positive difference in the world.
1 Referenced from www.developingchild.harvard.edu.