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Early Years Journal

Volume 1 Number 2 2012 australian childcare alliance

r e p r e s e n t i n g t h e f u t u r e o f a u s t r a l i a ’s c h i l d r e n

Being responsive

Noticing and acting on a child’s agency

Te Whariki

The New Zealand systems works wonders in Australia

Buying up childcare centres How to avoid getting caught in the glut

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general news

President’s report The feedback the Australian Childcare Alliance (ACA) has received from our first Belonging magazine is most encouraging, and we believe that it was time for a national magazine that would provide our members and others with updated information and some tips and assistance with meeting legislative requirements and addressing change management.


hile only a small number of services have experienced the new assessment and rating process, we are hearing that the actual days of assessment are far less stressful than the previous system, but there is enormous disappointment for some when the results arrive. The Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) and local assessors have told us that ‘working towards’ is a good result for this first round of assessments. Unfortunately, with the negative media coverage on these results, we fear that parents will not understand the changing system and there may be increased concern about the actual quality of their chosen service. We have also been told that the educators and other staff in the services are extremely deflated by the ‘working towards’ result, and a consequence of this could be less-than-enthusiastic educators who are willing to go through the whole process in another 12 months. Fortunately, there have been some amazing results with services receiving an ‘exceeding’ rating and others attaining the ‘meeting’ rating.

Congratulations to all the participants in the first round, as the time for preparation and knowledgegathering was extremely short.

Fortunately, there have been some amazing results with services receiving an ‘exceeding’ rating and others attaining the ‘meeting’ rating

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The ACA is collecting information on assessments to determine, at ground level, whether or not they are consistent across the nation. We will be sending out a survey for services that have been through an assessment to complete, and look forward to receiving a strong participation rate. There will also be questions for those who have not yet participated, to ascertain the level of training and support received to prepare your educators for the requirements and implementation of the National Quality Framework (NQF). Our annual ‘What Parents Want’ survey is also being collated. We strongly recommend that you encourage all families at your service to partake in this, as the comparisons over the years have revealed some remarkable results. Consequently, these surveys have provided information and challenges for all political parties to address, ensuring that early education and care services remain affordable and accessible. Our combined national/Childcare Queensland conference was held in September and it was our biggest conference with around 600 delegates attending each day. The thrust of this conference was to provide workshops and speakers who would assist and enlighten our delegates with ‘hands-on’ information about their centre’s daily operations. Feedback gathered from the delegates indicated that they had been provided with valuable information. Our conference in 2013 will be held at Jupiters Casino on the Gold Coast on 20–22 September. Mark it in your diaries and be sure to take advantage of our early bird bookings. The National Children’s Services Forum was held in Canberra on 29–30 October 2012. We congratulate and welcome the newly-elected president of Early Childhood Australia, Ros Cornish from Tasmania, and also the newly-appointed chief executive officer, Samantha Page. This meeting was attended by ACA representatives Judith Atkinson, from South Australia and Gwynn Bridge, from Queensland. At this meeting, we had the advantage of having representatives from ACECQA, the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, and at least one representative from each state/ territory authority (except Northern Terrritory and Western Australia) together for one day to discuss the NQF implementation and issues arising from it. It was a valuable conversation as each jurisdiction was responsible for answering the questions addressed to them, rather than taking the ‘that is not our responsibility’ approach.

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The primary concerns ACA raised were the administrative process, the length of time for certified supervisor approval, and, the problems that services are experiencing when they have certified supervisor staff on holidays or sick. We also queried why educators studying towards their diploma – who may not have completed three years in the sector – can be a room leader, but are still not approved as a certified supervisor for opening and closing duties. There was intense discussion about the certified supervisor process and the additional work this has generated for state and territory departments. Another concern raised by ACA was the legislative requirement that every staff member be at least studying when employed by a service on or after 1 January 2014. ACA believes this requirement will see a rush to sign new entrants onto traineeships, causing a huge amount of paperwork and government contracts. Under the National Employment Standards, each employee is entitled to a threemonth probationary period. This period allows the employee and the employer to determine whether the person is right for the position. Under a traineeship, the probation period only is one month, which is not enough time for a person to determine their future. ACA envisages that there will be many broken traineeship contracts along with the impossibility of having an applicant signed up and registered with a training organisation when a new staff member is urgently required. Queensland currently has a three-month grace period for a new employee to commence training, and we are seeking a similar outcome for other states and territories. We understand how busy it is as the year draws to a close, and we hope that, as dedicated early childhood educators, you take some time to recharge your batteries and welcome in 2013 with enthusiasm. From the Australian Childcare Alliance, we wish you a wonderful Christmas and a successful and happy new year.

Gwynn Bridge President, Australian Childcare Alliance Email:

contents Child safety Approved anaphylaxis training 48 New training has been given the tick of approval

Incursions Inviting the outside in 52 Could the cost of incursions pay for themselves through EYLF learning outcomes?

General news President’s report 1 State roundup 5 ustralian government investment in early 12 A childhood education and care Minister Peter Garrett explains the $22 billion investment to nurture Australia’s youth.

Through the rights of the child 14 A new book explores the rights of children through their eyes.

ACECQA: Leading the way to quality children’s 18 education and care

Finance, business + property

Australia is set to increase its international ranking in successful early childhood education.

It doesn’t make sense to buy a childcare centre around the corner from five others, so why is this happening?

Avoiding the childcare glut 56

Succession planning 59

Education + training Being responsive 22

It’s equally important to plan for your business’s future, as it is to plan for your own.

Children show agency daily, but are educators noticing?

Building a quality business 63

Empowering educators through the EYLF 28 All educators can take greater control under the new framework.

ollaborative partnerships with families and 32 C communities How is your service meeting the needs of families and communities?

Helping children overcome shyness 36

You can provide a valuable community service and maintain a healthy business.

Human resources management orkplace relationships: making difficult 65 W relationships work better You can’t choose your colleagues, but you can have workable relationships with them.

Simple advice for educators dealing with shy children.

Nutrition + menu planning

Educational resources, programs + planning

Adding iodine to your menu 68

Weaving Te Whariki through the framework 41

Almost half of Australian children are not consuming enough iodine, potentially affecting their brain development.

A Victorian childcare centre has transitioned easily into the national Early Years Learning Framework.

Occupational health + safety Keeping your staff safe 45 Injuries in childcare centres happen, but you can reduce the risk.

Play area designs orm farms: a wiggly way to introduce 70 W sustainable practice Use worm farms to promote sustainability in early childhood settings.

Editor: Megan McGay

Cover image:

Designed by: Alma McHugh

The editor, publisher, printer and their staff and agents are not responsible for the accuracy or correctness of the text of contributions contained in this publication or for the consequences of any use made of the products, and the information referred to in this publication. The editor, publisher, printer and their staff and agents expressly disclaim all liability of whatsoever nature for any consequences arising from any errors or omissions contained in this publication, whether caused to a purchaser of this publication or otherwise. The views expressed in the articles and other material published herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the editor and publisher or their staff or agents. The responsibility for the accuracy of information is that of the individual contributors and neither the publisher nor editors can accept responsibility for the accuracy of information that is supplied by others. It is impossible for the publisher and editors to ensure that the advertisements and other material herein comply with the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth). Readers should make their own inquiries in making any decisions and, where necessary, seek professional advice.

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4 • BELONGING EARLY YEARS JOURNAL • volume 1 number 2 • 2012

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State roundup

In 2011–12, Child Care New South Wales introduced the following products and services to its members: • webinars • supplier member deals • discounted online child protection training

Are you a member of Child Care New South Wales yet? If you are involved in the operation or ownership of an early learning centre, you will need the expert advice of Child Care New South Wales at some point in your business cycle. We provide our members with assistance on a wide range of issues, covering areas such as: • advocacy of members to all levels of government • members industrial relations and wage support line* • significant discounts to workshops and childcare products

• discounted first aid/anaphylaxis/asthma management training • free online anaphylaxis awareness training • upgraded online work health and safety training • discounted qualifications • early years exhibition and conference • increased office support staff numbers • free job vacancy advertising for members • service templates to support members • updated policy templates • updated job descriptions • updated wage rates

• discounted policy templates

• increased member communication.

• networking opportunities with peers

Stay tuned for the 2013 Child Care New South Wales training calendar.

• member-specific website resources* • Child Care New South Wales e-newsletters and publications • webinars and face-to-face training * Full members only We also have great opportunities for suppliers to become members of Child Care New South Wales. Membership fees for 2012 are set at $429.00 (including GST) no matter the size of the business. Your membership is valid for a full 12-month period.

We are looking at introducing new and dynamic workshops to cover the current needs of members’ services. All workshops will also be made available as webinars to cater for regional members. Services will receive a copy of the calendar in the mail, with further information available on our website. The time is right to join Child Care New South Wales!

Jason Sultana, Association Services Manager, Child Care New South Wales, PO Box 660, Parramatta NSW 2124 T: 1300 556 330 F: 1300 557 228 E:

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forward to working together in the coming years and helping to grow Australian Child Care Week.

Australian Child Care Week 2012 Victorian Award categories and winners Australian Child Care Week was held once again to recognise the importance of early learning. The industry was promoted and the professionals who dedicate their time to caring and educating our young children were acknowledged and celebrated. Child Care Centres Association of Victoria (Child Care Victoria) has been delighted with its continued involvement and support of Australian Child Care Week. For the first time, a Victorian celebration dinner was staged to present the Australian Child Care Week 2012 Victorian and national awards. The dinner and the awards were a huge success. Following celebration dinners in each state, there will be a national reception at Parliament House, Canberra on Monday 26 November at 4.00 pm. As an industry, it is fantastic to have an avenue that recognises the achievements of both childcare centres and educators. The dedication shown by all stakeholders in working towards the best outcomes for children and their families drives the industry as it strives for greater recognition for the efforts of all involved. Being able to showcase the sector’s work to the broader community through various Australian Child Care Week programs has proven to be an extremely positive experience. Child Care Victoria congratulates all nominees and award winners. Achieving nomination shows the dedication you have to your profession and to the children in your care. This commitment will give the early childhood sector the opportunity to go from strength to strength and achieve the recognition so duly deserved. Child Care Victoria acknowledges the many dedicated and committed educators and operators within the sector. It is the result of all of your work that will continue to motivate, inspire and enlighten the children in your care and give them the best chance to succeed as they develop into our leaders of the future. Child Care Victoria acknowledges Child Care Super and Guild Insurance for their continued support of this event and the sector in general. Child Care Victoria also acknowledges Precedent Productions’ manager of Australian Child Care Week, Steve Loe, and his team, for a well-organised event. We look 6 • BELONGING EARLY YEARS JOURNAL • volume 1 number 2 • 2012

• Best Helping Hands Activity or Program Award – Complete Care for Kids, Alphington • Best Activity During Australian Child Care Week – Knight Street Preschool and Child Care Centre, Shepparton • Best Program Involving Families and Best Program Involving Children’s Learning, Development and Interaction – Little Babes Early Learning Centre, St Albans • Outstanding Contribution By an Individual – Diedrie Muralidharan, Kingston Kids Preschool and Child Care Centre, Mordialloc • Best Multicultural Activity or Program and Best Program Highlighting Children’s Wellbeing and Creative Expression Award – Complete Care for Kids, Alphington • Best Community Involvement Program and Best Public Relations and Media Program – Kingston Kids Preschool and Child Care Centre, Mordialloc • Best Sustainability Activity or Program – Bridge Road Early Learning Centre, Richmond • Best One Day Program – Cranbourne Day Care and Kindergarten, Duff Street, Cranbourne • Outstanding Contribution by a Team – Kingston Kids Preschool and Child Care Centre, Mordialloc • Best Overall Child Care Week Program – Complete Care for Kids, Alphington

National Winners • Best Activity During Australian Child Care Week – Knight Street Preschool and Child Care Centre, Shepparton • Best Program Involving Children’s Learning, Development and Interaction – Little Babes Early Learning Centre, St Albans • Creative Expression Award – Complete Care for Kids, Alphington • Best Public Relations and Media Program – Kingston Kids Preschool and Child Care Centre, Mordialloc.

Frank Cusmano CEO, Child Care Victoria Child Care Centres Association of Victoria, Inc Suite 6, 539 Highett Road, Highett VIC 3190 T: (03) 9532 2017 F: (03) 9532 3336 Email:

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The new CSA Executive elected for 2012–2013 at the meeting were: • President: Kerry Mahony • Vice presidents: George Skrembos, Barb Langford • Treasurer: Richard Munro • Executive members: Anne Standish, Judy Atkinson, Maree McCulloch, Randall Johncock, Sandy Munro, Terese Bretag, Wendy Butcher.

Childcare South Australia Annual General Meeting and Dinner Childcare South Australia (CSA) held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) and dinner on Friday 12 October at Rydges South Park, a very pleasant venue. The meeting was well attended and an excellent meal was provided. David Pisoni, MP and Shadow Minister for Education in South Australia, was the keynote speaker, and spoke with considerable empathy for the difficulties faced by private operators endeavouring to cope with the new childcare legislation. Guild Insurance sponsored the AGM and dinner. Rossana Scarsella, from Guild Insurance, gave a presentation on risk management. Sincere appreciation was extended to Guild Insurance for their ongoing support of our industry. The president, Kerry Mahony, presented his report to the meeting, thanking the executive members, and the secretariat in particular, for their excellent contribution to CSA. Kerry reported on the activities of the CSA executive over the past year, including meetings with government and the new board and representation on numerous consultative committees. In particular, a summary of the 42 Australian Childcare Alliance (ACA) recommendations to the federal government was provided. With respect to the United Voice Big Steps campaign, Kerry confirmed that we all want the best for our valuable staff because they are the backbone of our childcare businesses. However, he stressed that CSA fully supports the ACA position, which is: ‘That the federal government acknowledge that long day care employers and parents have no capacity to fund the scale of wage increases proposed by United Voice, and if forced to do so, those huge wage increases will only serve to seriously threaten parent affordability and long day care viability.’ ‘That the federal government refer all wage claims for our sector to Fair Work Australia.’

Universal Access We are fortunate in South Australia that the state government, after intensive lobbying, allowed some of the federal Universal Access funding to be channelled to the childcare providers in our state. This has not happened in some other states. Centres taking up the Universal Access agreement and funding with the state body are, in return, recognised as authorised kindergartens/preschools. One of the biggest obstacles centres are facing in implementing the Universal Access program is recruiting early childhood teachers who hold a four-year degree and are willing to work in childcare. For example, one centre we know of has so far this year interviewed nine early childhood teachers, five of whom actually started and four of whom left after a short period seeking work with government kindergartens. It is obvious that there is a major problem finding four-year graduate early childhood teachers who are willing to work in childcare. The Universal Access department in South Australia has advised us that they will show some flexibility in recognising other qualifications if centres make a genuine effort to locate a qualified early childhood teacher. However, this does not auger well for 2014, when all centres will need to have early childhood teachers.

Negotiations with state government: the cot-room fiasco – loss of unencumbered space The calculation of unencumbered floor space by deleting cot rooms and door swings is triggered by either a change in the approved provider or a renovation. Our member survey shows that centres will lose an average of 15 places when the operators either die, sell or renovate, and that a loss that great would threaten their financial viability. Moreover, it will have a severe impact on the availability of childcare places for parents and may push centres away from the provision of baby places which has further implications for women returning from maternity leave. CSA wants all existing centres exempted from

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this new requirement. The response from the Minister for Education and Child Development Grace Portolesi is to propose that this be included as a review item in 2014.

The two- to three-year-old ratio phase-in plan Minister Portolesi promised a delegation from CSA to change the 1:8 ratio for two- to three-year-olds in 2016 and go to 1:5 in 2020. The Minister publically proclaimed this promise on radio and in newspapers. Now she is saying it is a review item for 2014. If the Minister does not meet her undertaking, the major problem of the cost of care to parents and the availability of qualified staff to meet the original 2016 deadline will be recreated. Other issues for the state government include: • time extensions for university-graduated teachers • financial inequalities imposed by government bodies on private centres compared with not-forprofit centres such as payroll tax, land tax, council rates • use of qualified staff at breaks and programming time. CSA intends to follow up with all authorities on these matters on behalf of our parents and our members. It is a major part of our action plan for 2012–2013.

Small Green Steps program Childcare South Australia, through Sustainable Directions and the Community Children’s Centres South Australia, has been able to provide its members with access to the Small Green Steps Business Training. This will assist centres to: look at energy efficiency and sustainability; meet the National Quality Standard objectives; measure their carbon footprint; develop a sustainability action plan and environmental policy; and, provide green activities for children and energysaving tips for families.

Education and Care Services National Law (WA) Act 2012 On 1 August, the Education and Care Services National Law (WA) Act 2012 came into effect. It has been an interesting time for both services and our regulatory unit, starting with a great deal of confusion and misinformation. Plans have now been put in place so that similar questions should now receive the same response. If services are still not receiving information, or different information, we encourage you to contact our office and let us know your concerns. Many of our members’ services put up their hands to go through the assessment and rating process first. Childcare Association of Western Australia Inc (CAWA) is collating the reports and verbal information that members have offered to send through regarding their assessments. We are doing this to check that services are assessed consistently and fairly. If you have been through an assessment and would like to volunteer to be a part of this process, please phone Rachelle on 1300 062 645. All names and centres will be blacked out for anonymity.

Australian Child Care Week celebrated in Western Australia

CAWA would like to congratulate all Western Australian services that took part in Australian Child Kerry Mahony, Care Week. The quality of programs and events that President, Childcare South Australia services prepared for the week were outstanding. PO Box 406 Hindmarsh, SA 5007 CAWA celebrated Child Care Week by holding an T: 0407 580 645 event at Rydges Perth on the 17 November, with the E: announcement of state and national award winners, a three-course meal, drinks, dancing and prizes.

Congratulations to the national winners from Western Australia: • Best Program Involving Families – Smileys Child Care Centre 8 • BELONGING EARLY YEARS JOURNAL • volume 1 number 2 • 2012

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• Best Program Highlighting Children’s Wellbeing – Humpty Dumpty Child Care Centre

Congratulations to the state winners: • Best Overall Australian Child Care Week Program – Middle Swan Child Care Centre • Best Activity During Australian Child Care Week – Smileys Child Care Centre • Best One Day Program – Treloar Childcare Centre • Best Community Involvement Program – Riverdale Childcare and Community Centre • Best Program Involving Families – Smileys Child Care Centre • Best Multicultural Activity or Program – Middle Swan Child Care Centre • Best Program Involving Children’s Learning, Development and Interaction – Kelmscott Child Care Centre • Best Program Highlighting Children’s Wellbeing – Humpty Dumpty Child Care Centre • Best Sustainability Activity or Program – College Community Child Care Centre • Best Public Relations and Media Program – Treloar Childcare Centre • Best Helping Hands Activity or Program Award – First Steps Early Learning Centre • Creative Expression Award – Ballajura Child Care Centre • Outstanding Contribution by a Team – Riverdale Childcare and Community Centre • Outstanding Contribution by an Individual – Leah Emin, Middle Swan Child Care Centre • Best Photo Illustrating Theme: ‘Our Focus – Our Children’ – Bassendean Child Care Centre.

Childcare Association of Western Australia (CAWA) is proud to present the 2013 CAWA Awards in recognition of the outstanding skill and dedication of our early years practitioners Winners of the CAWA awards will be announced at an event to be held in April 2013. More information will be available closer to the date. CAWA is proud to be involved and help celebrate this wonderful industry and the fantastic people who work with our children. We encourage all members to enter these awards.

Upcoming CAWA events for 2013: • CAWA 2013 Child Care Awards • creative professional development workshops • full day forums for owners and managers, proposed dates: April and October 2013. For dates and venues please check the website on a regular basis.

2013 CAWA Awards (in conjunction with the Australian Family Early Education and Care Awards)

If you are not a member of CAWA and would like to join, or to find out more, please contact Rachelle Tucker on the below numbers.

Childcare Association of Western Australia (CAWA) is proud to present the 2013 CAWA Awards in recognition of the outstanding skill and dedication of our early years practitioners. All CAWA members and their employees are eligible in four categories and nominations are open until 24 February 2013.

Membership is now calculated pro rata until 30 June 2013. The membership year runs from 1 July–30 June in each financial year.

CAWA members will automatically be entered in the CAWA Awards when they are nominated in any category of the Australian Family Early Education and Care Awards. For more information, eligibility requirements and a nomination form, please go to:

Rachelle Tucker Executive Officer, Childcare Association of WA Inc (CAWA) PO Box 196, South Perth WA 6951 T: 1300 062 645 Email:

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many areas where no one can provide a working explanation of the irregularities, and often when questions are asked of the policymakers, they are delegated down the line for some lowly bureaucrat to try and interpret.

The biggest impact for Childcare Queensland during 2012 was the massively increased workload of both the management and staff of centres as they struggle to cope with the introduction of the National Quality Framework (NQF). I’m sure that if the people in high places who created these changes had to follow them, the implementation would be very different. By ‘different’, I mean there would be greater time to implement the changes, as well as a more practical and realistic approach to what outsiders think are good ideas. It is disappointing that the NQF has been operating now for over 10 months and there are

Early Years Journal

Volume 1 Number 2 2012 australian childcare alliance


r e p r e s e n t i n g t h e f u t u r e o f a u s t r a l i a ’s c h i l d r e n

lcome e w ntributions

The Australian Childcare Alliance covers a diverse, national network of education and care services. If you would like to report on the issues affecting your service and those around you, submit to Belonging, Early Years Journal.

The stresses placed on our childcare staff have never been greater, and, regrettably, I have seen many occasions when employees have been unable to cope with the increased workload. Many centres have employed additional staff to relieve the pressure – if they can find the staff. The other issue in Queensland is the occupancy levels of centres in different parts of the state. In some areas, there is a shortage of centres for the childcare demands; in other areas, there are just too many centres for the number of local children. This is obviously a result of poor planning in the past; however, it is not only thoughtless developers who are to blame. In some cases, the previous state government had established kindergartens in areas that had little demand. This plundered the children from existing nearby childcare centres. Basic survival becomes more difficult when a centre loses its largest population of children to a new facility. We hope this irresponsible placement of centres in areas of minimal need will stop. Our new state government certainly had their hands full in many areas, and as childcare was not one of the problems that they had to address, there has been little happening in this regard, apart from continuing the construction of unnecessary centres as mentioned above. On a more positive note, the annual Childcare Queensland conference in September was (again) a great success, and we had a record number of delegates and trade exhibits attending. This is easily the number one childcare conference throughout Australia, and we thank all our members as well as the interstate attendees. Please make a diary note for the conference again in September next year – definitely not to be missed!

We welcome articles from members between 600 and 1200 words in length and on all subject areas: business planning, staffing, programming and resources. If you’ve just landscaped your outdoor play space or created a new classroom, send the pics and blow your trumpet!

Peter Price President, Childcare Queensland.

Before you start keying in a story, email your pitch to the editor, Megan McGay: to ensure its theme fits with the next edition.

PO Box 137
Springwood QLD 4127 T: 07 3808 2366
Toll Free: 1300 365 325 (outside Brisbane)
 F: 07 3808 2466

Contributions for the March edition must be received by 25 January 2013.

10 • BELONGING EARLY YEARS JOURNAL • volume 1 number 2 • 2012

corporate profile

corporate profile

RiskEquip for childcare – your online tool for managing risk


ith a broad range of risks facing centres for early childhood education and care every day, an awareness of these risks and how they can be managed provides opportunities to ensure that both you and your centre are providing a safe and effective learning environment for children. This is particularly relevant as changes in the economic and legislative environment introduce more and more complexity to how centres can operate. In the current environment, centre managers can be left asking themselves: • How do I manage the risks associated with supervising children? • I know safety is important, but where do I start?

• What should I do to ensure that my centre is secure against robbery/burglary? • How can I protect my centre from fire? The information provided in RiskEquip can give you the answers to these questions and more. RiskEquip content is based on the 20 years of experience gained by Guild Insurance in handling complaints directed towards centres for early childhood education and care, and their operators. The site also contains articles that will advise you on how you can manage risk. Complete a ‘self check’ survey to assess how you’re managing your risks by visiting

The risks in your centre aren’t always this obvious Risks in your centre may not be easy to see. Some could cause minor disruption to your operation, while others may see you in court. Let RiskEquip show you how effective risk management can lead to greater efficiency, profitability and success within your business. Stop and take some time to assess the risk in your centre by visiting:

INT0353 Child Care Risk Equip Advert July 2012 Belonging. Guild Insurance Limited ABN 55 004 538 863 AFSL No. 233791

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Australian government investment in early childhood education and care By MP Peter Garrett AM, Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth

All children, no matter where they are born, deserve the best start in life. I understand the first five years of a child’s life are absolutely critical to their long-term education and employment outcomes. That’s why we are making a record investment of more than $22 billion in early childhood education and care over the next four years– more than tripling the investment under the previous government. I’ve seen the value of this investment time and time again in the many childcare centres, preschools and schools I’ve visited around the country. Minister Peter Garrett AM


hrough our reforms, we are providing access to high-quality early childhood education before formal schooling starts. Under the Universal Access initiative, we want all children by mid-2013, to have access to 15 hours of high-quality early childhood education and care for 40 weeks a year, delivered by a university-trained teacher. With my colleague, Minister Kate Ellis, I’ve been working hard with all state and territories. They are now progressively implementing these early childhood programs in preschools across Australia. We are starting to see great results in achieving these goals. For example, in Western Australia, we have 30,717 children participating in a kindergarten program in the year before full-time schooling, and in Queensland, more than 780 long day care centres are receiving financial assistance under this initiative, creating approximately 21,500 places. Our commitment to universal access is underpinned by our regulatory efforts to introduce the National Quality Framework (NQF) with the assistance of the states and territories. The NQF now applies to most long day care, family day care, preschool (or kindergarten) and outside school hours care services.

12 • BELONGING EARLY YEARS JOURNAL • volume 1 number 2 • 2012

Through the NQF, we know that early childhood centres Australia-wide are delivering a higher standard of care for children than ever before in the critical areas of education, health and safety. Simultaneously, we are implementing a range of measures to train and retain a highly qualified workforce through a $190-million investment. We have provided 1500 additional university places for students wishing to undertake early childhood

We know that the quality of our educators is important to help our children grow and respond to the environment they live in

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education qualifications, and have worked with states and territories to develop the national Early Years Workforce Strategy to address the immediate priorities for the early childhood education and care workforce. We know that the quality of our educators is important to help our children grow and respond to the environment they live in. Through the NQF, more qualified people are operating in childcare centres across the country. To help monitor the impact of our early childhood reforms, and to assist our early childhood educators to better access information on how our youngest children are faring, we have been investing and delivering a world-first initiative: the Australian Early Development Index (AEDI). The AEDI is a vital tool for educators, governments and the community, as it helps us understand the importance of early intervention and provides information about the support children and families need. We are committed

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to collecting this data every three years, with an investment of $28 million for each cycle. As a result of the 2009 data collection, we have seen many local programs implemented to assist children develop, such as the establishment of a playgroup that engages parents to support the child’s transition into the schooling system in the small community of Quilpie in remote Queensland; and, the creation of a community hub within a local primary school in Broadmeadows, Melbourne. Together, all our early childhood reforms have ushered in a new approach based on quality, transparency and accountability which will benefit individual children and the nation for decades to come. For further information, visit Earlychildhood

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BELONGING EARLY YEARS JOURNAL • volume 1 number 2 • 2012 • 13

general news

Through the rights of the child By Megan McGay

A new book explores the rights of children through their eyes.


team of three- and four-year-olds can add the title of ‘researcher’ to their short CVs following their participation in a new book on children’s


Professor of Early Childhood at Australian Catholic University Deborah Harcourt worked with a group of children from Flinders Early Learning Centre (FELC) in Queensland for 12 months. She researched their views on children’s rights to see how well they matched up with the rights they had been gifted in the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). The resulting work is a small book filled with drawings and transcribed dialogues on the important issues for children. ‘Children have the right to be safe so they don’t get lost so they don’t get stolded,’ researcher Declan said to accompany his drawing of a tall house. Pippi had firm ideas on the rights of the child which aligned with the current national Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF): ‘Children have the right to play. They can play with blocks, dollies, dress-ups and prams.’

14 • BELONGING EARLY YEARS JOURNAL • volume 1 number 2 • 2012

The 12-month project was the culmination of Professor Harcourt’s personal interest in human rights and her previous career as a kindergarten teacher. She began noticing the difference in human rights in her early school years after observing that separate classes were coordinated for her Indigenous peers. Her awareness grew after school when she set foot

They don’t have a sophisticated sense of language, so adults often make decisions in what they believe are the children’s best interests, but they don’t ever ask the children about them

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on South African soil during the Apartheid. After returning to Australia, she combined her passion for children with her curiosity about human rights in early childhood studies. ‘When I went to university, I began to see that young children are often marginalised. They don’t have a sophisticated sense of language, so adults often make decisions in what they believe are the children’s best interests, but they don’t ever ask the children about them.’ Similarly, adults constructed the UNCRC for the benefit of children. The treaty has over 190 signatories, with Australia ratifying it in 1990. The responsibilities beholden to a signatory include actively supporting and working towards the inclusion of the mandated children’s rights in laws, policy and practice. Through her research as an early childhood educator, Professor Harcourt wondered just how actively Australian educators were helping to enable those rights for children. She set out to research this when she applied for and won the 2011 Jean Denton Memorial Scholarship for early childhood education research. Professor Harcourt had already developed her research skills to work with children during previous

Children’s rights learning book

Deborah Harcourt

projects; she knew how to modify her language to help children understand. ‘If you can deconstruct your questions and reconstruct them in words they understand, it’s really quite easy to talk to them about things,’ she said. After gaining permission from FELC, Professor Harcourt started the project by asking a group of children if they knew what the word ‘rights’

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BELONGING EARLY YEARS JOURNAL • volume 1 number 2 • 2012 • 15

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A group of three- and four-year-olds were able to influence the way the teachers are recruited, the position of children’s rights in the centre, and parents’ understanding of rights. I thought that was an amazing outcome meant. ‘I first of all found out what children knew and understood of these words. I used words like ‘investigate’ and ‘researcher’, and ‘university’.’ Professor Harcourt said projects like these take time. The ‘rights’ project took 12 months of meeting and engaging with children. Aside from simplifying language, Professor Harcourt had to ensure the children knew she wasn’t a teacher or a parent helper. She had to describe her researching role and how they could help her with it. ‘I try to form relationships with children and help them understand that I am not the teacher in the classroom, I am a researcher, and when we have conversations, they are “research” conversations.’ To confirm their approval to participate in discussion, Professor Harcourt had the children sign their consent each session in the form of ‘okay’ papers. Each child would scrawl ‘OK’ on a page to indicate that they were happy to talk to the professor about her research that day. The children became so familiar with the process that if Professor Harcourt started talking to them without the ‘okay’ papers, they would quickly remind her that she needed to get them signed. The children’s familiarity with the ‘talking table’ – a table in the centre’s foyer where Professor Harcourt recorded their conversations – assisted them in understanding those discussions were part of the project. It was at this table where researchers like Beth talked about her longing to travel on a train: ‘Children have the right to dream about going on a train because their mum never ever says they can go. The mum always says, “don’t go”. Children don’t know what a train looks like.’ Some children, like Kai, showed their understanding of poverty-stricken countries : ‘Children have the right to live. We waste too much food and all the people in the other countries don’t have food. We need to send 16 • BELONGING EARLY YEARS JOURNAL • volume 1 number 2 • 2012

food on the food plane to help.’ Professor Harcourt was impressed with her coresearchers. ‘My colleague, Heather Conroy, and I, call children “sophisticated thinkers and communicators”. We’re really interested in what children have to say and we’re deeply interested in ways in which adults can help children engage in some critical conversations, because we make decisions on behalf of children everyday,’ she said. ‘In Australia now, we’ve got the National Quality Standard and the EYLF and that was widely consulted with community members, parents, academics and teachers but no one consulted with young children, and it’s young children that this particular framework is going to impact the most. There are some critical conversations in which we should be attempting to engage with young children. I’m not saying young children’s voices should be seen as more important than other people’s voices, but when you’re making decisions, it would be interesting to find out what this looks and feels like from their perspective, rather than just making an assumption,’ Professor Harcourt said. ‘It’s also part of children’s non-negotiable human rights to have a say about those things.’ The Swedish early childhood education system inspired Professor Harcourt to investigate the Australian equivalent. ‘In Sweden, children’s rights are embedded in nearly all decision-making processes, and government authorities have to demonstrate that they have widely consulted with children. When I was working in Sweden, you could feel and see the rights of young children being enacted as a daily practice. When you spoke to the staff and the principal, and looked at the walls, you knew children were treated with a great deal of dignity and respect,’ she said. When she began her project in Australia, Professor Harcourt met some scepticism from the FELC staff. ‘Children’s rights are all very well, but what about my

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rights as a teacher?’ an educator asked the professor. ‘I said to her, “It’s my understanding that there isn’t a United Nations convention on the rights of teachers. I’m talking about a legal, moral and ethical mandate that Australia signed in 1990, and we have an obligation to uphold these rights.”’ Over the year, Professor Harcourt noticed a shift in the educators’ ideas of children’s rights. The pivotal moment occurred when the children admitted to her their dislike of afternoon naps. ‘I hate it, I hate it, I hate it,’ one child said about naptime. ‘Well what have you said about it?’ Ms Harcourt asked them before discussing plans with the children about talking to the teachers. She followed the conversation up a few weeks later and the young children told her that they had spoken to the teachers: ‘But they’re still not listening.’ They told their lead researcher that they needed to see the principal of FELC. After helping them make an appointment, Professor Harcourt joined them for moral support when they felt empowered to speak up about the naptime they despised.

Following the meeting, the centre changed its policy on rest time and, significantly, a charter of children’s rights was drawn up after consultation with the staff, children and parents. Now, when FELC recruits new teachers, the applicant must discuss children’s rights and how they would enact them in their program. ‘There’s been a huge shift in [FELC’s] thinking; now it’s become a rights-based program.’ The establishment of the charter was one of the most significant results of Professor Harcourt’s project. ‘A group of three- and four-year-olds were able to influence the way the teachers are recruited, the position of children’s rights in the centre, and parents’ understanding of rights. I thought that was an amazing outcome.’ Likewise, the younger co-researchers of the project would like more educators and parents to discuss the rights of children. Abby put it succinctly: ‘Teachers could learn from the book and discover what children can do.’ Children’s rights learning book by Deborah Harcourt, published by Pademelon Press, pb, RRP $24.95

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• Embracing the EYLF • Navigating through the NQS and QIP • Navigating the ECS National Regulations • EYLF for babies and toddlers • Guiding children’s behaviour • Child Protection bridging • Creative aspirations • Let’s get physical • Sustainability

The early childhood training specialists 11/5/12 10:24 AM

BELONGING EARLY YEARS JOURNAL • volume 1 number 2 • 2012 • 17

general news

ACECQA: Leading the way to quality children’s education and care Australia is poised to increase its international ranking in successful early childhood education with recent national reforms.


ew reforms to the children’s education and care sector should increase the international ranking of Australian preschool environments, according to a recent report.

was recognised that reforms to the sector in Australia should lead to a better result in the future, driven largely by improved qualifications and staff-to-children ratios.

The 2012 Starting Well report from the Economist Intelligence Unit, an international research and analysis organisation, revealed some interesting results about the Australian preschool industry in comparison with 45 other countries.

Research studies such as these form an important part of the education and care sector. As a whole, research has improved our understanding of early brain development and the importance of making the most of a child’s ability to learn. It has shown us that investment in high-quality programs improve children’s readiness for school and life. Without this evidence, it is unlikely the NQF would have got off the ground.

The children’s education and care sector has been working tirelessly to support and manage these important reforms as part of the National Quality Framework (NQF), on top of their normal day-to-day business of caring and educating children.

The sector has embraced the reforms and positive changes are being noticed. While Australian preschool environments were ranked 28th out of 45 countries in the Starting Well report, it

18 • BELONGING EARLY YEARS JOURNAL • volume 1 number 2 • 2012

While this international research supports the importance of implementing the NQF, there is a need to develop a local research base to collect information about the quality of education and care in Australia. Without this information, it will be difficult to measure if the NQF is improving outcomes for children. In addition to overseeing the implementation of the reforms, the Australian Children’s Education and Care

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Quality Authority (ACECQA) has a strategic priority to ‘research and educate’.

Over the next 12 months ACECQA will be researching and collecting data on numerous areas of the NQF, including: • assessment visits • rating information • waivers • regulatory burden • family perceptions of the NQF • compliance. This collection of national data will provide an important snapshot of Australian education and care for children. It will also help to increase awareness about the importance of giving every child the best start. The National Quality Agenda IT System (NQA ITS), which went live in August, will form a major component by collecting data, including information on assessment and ratings. The online management tool will also assist in the publication of registers for approved providers, education and care services, and certified supervisors. The system will provide information that has the potential to provide a benchmark on where Australia is at in improving quality education and care. The research will allow us to identify areas for improvement and celebrate our achievements. The data collected will be used and shared in many ways, both in the sector and in the broader

research community, and will play an important part in informing a national discussion about quality. ACECQA will also develop relationships with other research bodies, including universities, and will also create a library of what’s happening internationally to help inform debate. ACECQA chief executive officer Karen Curtis said that this research will only form a small part of a broader agenda. ‘As a small agency, we need to make the most of partnerships, and I think there is plenty of scope to learn from other countries and share experiences. We still have work to do in deciding exactly what research is needed, and what questions we need to ask,’ she said. Ms Curtis said this was just the start of ACECQA’s research agenda, and she hoped that eventually this knowledge base will influence future policy directions and the investment decisions of governments. ‘As a sector, we need to keep asking questions and we shouldn’t be afraid to learn the answers, not if we are serious about wanting to see continuous quality improvement. We can’t achieve that in a fact-free environment.’ This article was provided by ACECQA. You can stay up-to-date with research progress through its blog; website; by subscribing to their newsletter; or, by following ACECQA on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. The Economist Intelligence Unit Limited, Starting Well report, 2012, sw_report.pdf

BELONGING EARLY YEARS JOURNAL • volume 1 number 2 • 2012 • 19

education + training

A course designed for you


o you have a Diploma of Children’s Services? Do you want to upgrade your qualifications and attain a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education? Do you wonder how this can be managed while you work? At Holmesglen’s Department of Early Childhood Education, we understand the complexity of life, work and study. We know how hard it can be to balance real life demands with study that delivers the highquality educational qualifications you want to achieve your career dreams. That’s why we have created a suite of delivery options that are specifically customised to meet the needs of holders of an approved Diploma of Children’s Services – people like you who want to realise their dream of becoming fully qualified early childhood educators. Graduates of the Bachelor of Early Childhood Education are fully qualified kindergarten teachers and eligible to register as primary school teachers in Victoria – specialising in early years programs.

With up to one year’s credits towards the Bachelor, Diploma holders can chose between three study options: full-time, half-time or three-quarter time – and can complete their qualification in as little as three years. Studying during normal working hours suits some people, but not others. We understand your different needs, so we’ve also designed an option with evening and weekend classes. Regardless of which choice suits you, we don’t run classes during the school holidays so you’re able to manage family life, too. If this sounds like what you’ve been looking for, email: or phone: 03 9564 6267/03 9564 6423.

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education + training

Being responsive By Megan McGay

Children exhibit agency every day, but are educators acknowledging it?


ince the advent of the national Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF), educators are reconsidering programming methods within their centres. Educational consultant Anne Stonehouse said this period provided an opportunity to refocus attention on children’s agency. The EYLF and the National Quality Standard (NQS) have renewed attention on children’s agency through the five learning outcomes as well as Quality Areas 1, 3 and 5 of the NQS, particularly 1.6. ‘Children’s agency is about children’s initiative, children having a say, and having an impact on the world,’ she said. ‘It’s about children being active contributors to their own experience.’ Ms Stonehouse said children are demonstrating choices through their actions every day, but sometimes staff do not notice them. Ms Stonehouse said if educators respond to children exercising their agency, it will help to build children’s understanding of the world and a context of how they fit into it. ‘I think if educators don’t acknowledge and support it, then over time, children will become more passive, and it will also affect their identity. If we think about the outcomes in the framework, they won’t see themselves as people who can make a difference.’

22 • BELONGING EARLY YEARS JOURNAL • volume 1 number 2 • 2012

While educators expect choices from preschoolers, children’s agency begins much earlier; babies assert themselves through their cries and the people they choose to interact with. Ms Stonehouse is concerned that some of these subtle cues are lost on carers. She

education + training

...behavioural problems in childcare could stem from children being overly controlled and not being giving enough opportunity to make decisions... said these problems stem from pre-service courses concentrating on education for preschoolers. ‘Sometimes people come away from diploma and degree courses and to a lesser extent, certificate III courses, knowing much more about children over three than under three.’ Ms Stonehouse said childcare centres could shift this culture by ensuring an experienced staff member was placed in the babies’ room. This person could help new educators decipher babies’ cues and communication methods. ‘There are a lot of people in our profession who think that working with babies is boring and doesn’t require much skill… I think you need the most experienced staff member, and you need people who are excited and who are respectful of them, and open to learning. Those are the things I would look for [when placing staff in under-three rooms].’ Experienced staff should enlist junior employees to pay attention and attempt to figure out the cues of children. Ms Stonehouse suggested educators hold a conversation with the parents to find out how the child communicates in their home environment. She said this approach would establish a culture of discussion within

the centre as well as stimulate parental involvement. Increasing a childcare centre’s focus on agency will have a great impact on children’s development. Ms Stonehouse said if educators and parents ignore children’s agency, then over time, the children will lose the ability to assert themselves. ‘I think they can lose it if it’s discouraged, or if there is no opportunity to exercise it. If for two, three or four years, a child doesn’t get much say in their own experience, that would eventually have an impact.’ Ms Stonehouse believes children have a built-in disposition to strive for change and to communicate their wishes. ‘If adults don’t react positively to those, then the children can lose that drive and become incredibly frustrated, too,’ she said. Giving children more choice could improve their behaviour. Ms Stonehouse said behavioural problems in childcare could stem from children being overly controlled and not being given enough opportunity to make decisions and have some control over their own experience. An easy way to increase children’s agency is to relax daily routines.

BELONGING EARLY YEARS JOURNAL • volume 1 number 2 • 2012 • 23

education + training

‘When I go into services and I see them going by the clock, not only is it lower quality for the children, but it’s more stressful for the adults,’ said Ms Stonehouse. ‘People often get locked into routines because they want to be in control and keep the room under control. And that often makes it harder, because the children are individuals and the children will resist that kind of control.’ Through her own observations, Ms Stonehouse has noticed that staff and children appear more relaxed when they stop rushing through routines and moving through the day as one big group. ‘Don’t try to get everybody to do the same thing at the same time, it’s a much better learning experience for the children, and it’s much more relaxing for the adults to go at each child’s pace.’ Relaxing routines mean some children will eat and sleep at different times. Ms Stonehouse believes a room can function more easily and with less tension, when the group is not simultaneously prepared for each task. When considering a new approach in the workplace, start small. Ms Stonehouse recommended reviewing a service’s current practices and how they matched the EYLF. ‘I think it would be pretty clear, that if you have a “swoop them up and sit them in their chairs” routine, that people would see it was incompatible with the concepts in the EYLF and the NQS. Those rigid, lock-step approaches to routine are not supported,’ she said. Making modest changes to routines could include a new pace at meal times. Set up a week-long trial where children seat themselves at the table and feed themselves in their own time. Educators will always be ready to help, but children set the pace of the meal period, rather than the staff. Ms Stonehouse is confident a more child-focused routine like this will provide better behavioural outcomes as well as empower the children. ‘Give it enough time, and I feel confident that people will see the benefits.’ Recognising children’s agency is an important move in the EYLF and NQS, but Ms Stonehouse said it was important to balance those needs with adult-led learning. ‘I think there was a feeling that sometimes in the past we had gone overboard with child-led learning, and the adult being simply responsive. Now, the thinking is that there needs to be both. It’s really important for children to lead their learning at times and it’s okay for adults to initiate sometimes as well,’ she said. So is group time on the mat acceptable? Is it an adult-led experience that educators should include in their programming? Ms Stonehouse said it depended on the circumstances. ‘It’s not always a great thing to

24 • BELONGING EARLY YEARS JOURNAL • volume 1 number 2 • 2012

do. It depends on how flexible the “come on to the mat,” is and if somebody wants to do something other than coming onto the mat, is that okay?’ She said educators should evaluate whether they stop group time when children appear restless. Adult-led education doesn’t need to be something for the class to experience as a group. Ms Stonehouse said an adult-inspired moment could be as simple as an educator bringing in something from home that the children might be interested in, like a bird’s nest. ‘It might not be because the children have expressed any interest in birds’ nests, but introducing a topic or bringing in an object doesn’t have to be about a structured adult-led activity in the traditional sense,’ she said. The EYLF focus on children’s agency is shifting educators’ thoughts about programming. ‘There is a greater understanding of children playing an active role in their learning and not just being passive, empty buckets where we just pour in knowledge and skills; they’re partners in their own learning, and educators are becoming responsive to that,’ she said.

education + training

education + training

Nurturing education Australian Child Care Career Options (ACCCO) is a successful and well-established National and International Accredited Early Childhood training organisation. Its principal aim is the provision of quality education, with particular emphasis on meeting the practical requirements of Children’s Services. (Established 1995) Awards and achievements • Five years QUEST Business Achievers Award ‘Education and Training’ (Hall of Fame) • 2010 Workforce Council Individual innovation award ‘Melissa Flanders’ • 2010 and 2011 CareerOne Excellence Awards in Education and Training • 2009 NSW Local Business Award • 2007 Sponsors of two women’s soccer teams. • 2007 signed up the very first New South Wales Diploma Trainee. • 2004 Montessori Dual Diploma (World First). • 2002 Signed up the very first apprentice in Australia for Children’s Services. • 2000 donated prizes for Children’s Services industry award since its inception (Trainee of the Year).

Available services • Professional development workshops


nother main goal is our dedication and personalised attention to our students, making sure of regular contact. We believe that the provision of quality learning impacts not only on our students and the child care sector, but also upon the broader society, both directly and indirectly. ACCCO staff make a particular effort to get to know each student personally in order to provide a service that best suits their individual needs.

• Government-funded traineeships and apprenticeships • Fee for service training – Certificate III, Diploma and Advanced Diploma • Directors network meetings. or

Our perception of this ‘real world’ is not only that inhabited by our students, but also that of future employers. We place particular emphasis on maintaining meaningful contact with child care services, enabling ACCCO to provide the most ‘up-todate’ practical and theoretical perspectives. ACCCO believes that people choosing a career in children’s services have decided to assume responsibility for nurturing the growth, development and education of young children. X • BELONGING EARLY YEARS JOURNAL • VOLUME 1 NUMBER 2 • 2012

BELONGING EARLY YEARS JOURNAL • volume 1 number 2 • 2012 • 25

education + training

Teaching with technology Even the youngest school children are confident in using the latest technologies, yet many of our teachers are ill-equipped to teach with them.


dith Cowan University’s (ECU) School of Education researcher Dr Jenny Lane is working to give our teachers the upper hand when it comes to technology in the classroom by hosting free seminars educating teachers on iPad best practice, which they can then implement into their own classrooms. The seminars are part of the Track iPad Project in Schools (TIPS) 2012, a new research project that aims to develop a best-practice model for teachers to use iPads as classroom learning tools. The project introduces a number of interactive classroom learning tools including:

‘It was great to interact with students and give them an insight into iPad technology, and how it can be used in their studies,’ Dr Lane said. Programs have also been implemented at Ashdale Senior Secondary School and Saint Pauls Primary. Later this year, Dr Lane will travel to Africa to share her research with students and teachers and help them implement iPad learning within their classrooms. ‘Cheaper than computers, iPads open the door to a wealth of learning opportunities, with even one iPad in a school making a significant difference,’ Dr Lane said.

• how to use apps to work collaboratively with students in other schools, both locally, nationally and internationally • how to use video streaming to create interactive diagrams and charts • how to use tools like screencasts, videos and e-publications, which the students can take home to reinforce learning • how to download and use apps as educational tools. ‘Mobile learning technologies are definitely the way of the future,’ Dr Lane said. ‘Empowering teachers with the skills needed to use this type of technology will ensure that they are training students who will make their mark on a technologically oriented workforce.’ Track iPad Project in Schools is implemented through interactive seminars for teachers and schoolbased training programs. One school that is taking advantage of iPad learning in the classroom is Clontarf Girls Academy. Clontarf is an innovative Girls Sporting Academy that has been designed specifically for Indigenous secondary school girls. Students recently visited ECU as part of the Explore ECU program, where they learned to shoot video footage, create storyboards and add special effects, graphics and captions to video documentaries. Students will use the skills back in the classroom to enhance their learning across a range of subjects. 26••BELONGING BELONGINGEARLY EARLYYEARS YEARSJOURNAL JOURNAL••VOLUME volume11NUMBER number22••2012 2012 X

Dr Lane has over 20 years of research and teaching experience. Her research currently attracts national and international interest with over 14,500 followers from Australia to Israel tuning in to her online blog: Tips 2012

SEE YOUR EARLY CHILDHOOD CAREER GROW At ECU, we offer many courses specialising in Early Childhood studies. So whether you’re starting your teaching career, or extending your qualifications, we’ll help you develop the skills you need to become an outstanding teacher. We have a four-year, specialised undergraduate course for those entering the field. Or if you have a degree in any area and want a career change, our Graduate Diploma of Education (Early Childhood Studies) can be completed in just 12 months. These courses are taught by experienced professionals and offer extensive prac placements, giving you valuable experience in a range of childcare, kindergarten, pre-primary and primary school settings. If you currently work in the education field, we offer Early Childhood specialisations at a Graduate Certificate and Masters level. These will help you develop specialist skills through projects that directly relate to classroom needs. To find out more, call 134 ECU (134 328), email or visit

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education + training

Empowering educators through the EYLF By Megan McGay

All educators can take greater control under the new framework.


ncreased recognition of diploma- and certificate IIIqualified early childhood staff has been reflected in the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF). The EYLF, which was introduced to unify early learning across Australia, refers to all staff as ‘educators’. Susie Rosback, co-author with Sarah Wilson of The EYLF and NQS without Tears: a step-by-step guide, said the change in terminology empowers staff and creates better teams. Despite her preliminary concerns with the term ‘educator’, Ms Rosback has embraced it. ‘My initial

thoughts were, “I am the teacher, and it is my job to write the program and take observations,” so having everyone classed as an “educator”, was one of my early negative feelings.’ Now, Ms Rosback has welcomed the term and the greater onus it places on all staff in early childhood settings. ‘It was probably a conversation I am not very proud of now, because I think calling everyone in early childhood “educators” is actually a really positive thing, and sharing the responsibility of planning is a positive move for everybody.’ As Director of St Paul’s Kindergarten in Canterbury, Victoria, Ms Rosback has over 15 years’ experience in the early childhood sector. She said the introduction of the EYLF and the National Quality Standard (NQS) has her working harder than before. ‘But I’m working smarter and a lot more passionately,’ she said. Ms Rosback has enjoyed the shift from observing children and documenting them from a ‘deficit point-ofview’ to creating positive learning stories about their achievements. ‘We don’t focus on the negatives anymore unless we have some serious concerns for a child’s development.’ Ms Rosback said she better understood the workings of the EYLF and NQS after writing the book with colleague Sarah Wilson. ‘Sitting there and writing a book and making sure you get the information right for other people really helps cement it in your head,’ she said. Both authors began working on the book after Ms Rosback’s booklet, which simplified the EYLF, was widely read amongst her staff and other local kindergartens. ‘The language in the EYLF is really aimed at Bachelor- and Masters-educated people. I felt empowered to break it down for the staff.’ The EYLF and NQS without Tears clarifies the main terms in both documents. ‘We took every word from the NQS and the EYLF and we tried to simplify it. Sarah and I are both reasonably well-educated people, and

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there were things that we would look at and think, “what is that?” So we tried to reword it in a way that anyone working in early childhood could understand.’ Importantly, the book includes several proformas to assist staff in documenting learning stories and relating their observations back to the EYLF. Ms Rosback provided her staff with the learning story forms as well as a list of learning outcomes to increase their efficiency in completing them. ‘I always tell my staff that writing learning stories should take no more than five minutes each. So if you’ve only got to write two or three a week, that’s only 15 minutes a week – that’s nothing! The more you write, the more you want to write. You see opportunities where you just want to write more and more learning stories,’ she said. Ms Rosback said arming her staff with proformas and clipboards meant they were ready to document any observations during kindergarten sessions. ‘If they were sitting with children and there was a lovely conversation, they’d jot it down. They would write the observation part, which would be three or four lines, then at the end of the session, they’d fill in how that related back to the learning outcomes.’

Given the comprehensive nature of the EYLF and NQS, Ms Rosback said it could create more work than was necessary. Asking staff to only link observations to two learning outcomes was one way to save time. At St Paul’s Kindergarten, Susie Rosback, co-author of The EYLF and NQS staff send without Tears: a step-by-step guide. Photo courtesy of Teaching Solutions. their learning stories home to the relevant parents to allow them to comment on the experience. She said this opportunity increased parent

Upskilling opportunities for all


arly childhood education continues to change, and with the appropriate qualifications you can be part of this growth profession. Deakin’s Bachelor of Early Childhood Education is now available for the first time to school leavers, as well as to those already working in the industry and who are expected to upgrade to a degree-level qualification.

to teach children up to age eight years (subject to ACECQA and VIT approvals).

The existing course has been adapted to meet new national and international standards in early childhood education, and now also includes a primary teaching component, which will allow graduates

The University is accepting direct applications into this course for 2013. For further selection and application information, please see

This new course is offered at the Burwood, Geelong and Warrnambool campuses in a variety of flexible study modes and over four years, or can be fasttracked by utilising Deakin’s three trimester system, enabling completion in nine trimesters.

When the World changes, the Worldly adapt In a world that doesn’t stop changing, Deakin University doesn’t just keep up, they take the lead. As a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education graduate you’ll be ready for employment with all the qualifications now required by the early childhood registering body. Our new Bachelor of Early Childhood Education now also includes a primary teaching component, which will allow graduates to teach children up to age 8 years. apply directly to deakin for 2013. For further selection and application information please visit CRICOS Provider Code: 00113B 323370AE_Deakin Uni | 1831.indd 24

10/31/12 12:15 PM

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NQS compliance has also empowered staff at her centre. All seven staff members, regardless of their qualifications, are responsible for a National Quality Area at the kindergarten

involvement. Once the learning stories are brought back to the centre, they are filed for each student to take home at the end of their kindergarten time. NQS compliance has also empowered staff at her centre. All seven staff members, regardless of their qualifications, are responsible for a National Quality Area at the kindergarten. Through this shared management, a staff member needs to source documentation and request it, when needed, from other staff to support their file. ‘We’ve got the seven quality areas, so we sat down one night and decided who would be best suited to each area based on the different staff members’ skills and areas of interest.’ This shared management approach has created more independent staff members working productively as a team within the kindergarten. ‘At our staff meetings, we all bring our folders and we share the evidence that we’ve got and request the evidence we don’t have from each other. So I might ask for a good example of a healthy eating conversation, and Sarah might say, “Yes, I had one of those,” and I’d ask her for the document. So we’re sharing information all the time with each other.’ The delegation of National Quality Areas has strengthened the confidence of Ms Rosback’s staff. ‘Everyone has an opportunity to be a leader, not just me as the director. I share that load as much as I possibly can to empower others.’ Giving her staff greater autonomy has reduced the need for her presence when she’s not on site. ‘Empowerment is probably my main focus in every way, shape or form. In all aspects of what we do, I am trying to empower the staff to take on new ideas and more responsibility,’ she said. The EYLF and NQS force centres to be more accountable for their actions. Ms Rosback said understanding the new ways of documenting observations was increasing educators’ understanding 30 • BELONGING EARLY YEARS JOURNAL • volume 1 number 2 • 2012

of their procedures, and making the process more meaningful for everyone involved. ‘Beforehand, only the teachers wrote the program and only the teachers wrote the learning stories and observations, so the assistant teachers had no expectations on them to do any of that. They might have documented conversations, but they wouldn’t have had an understanding of its importance or the learning that might have come out of it. Whereas now, if you walked up to any staff member and pointed to an activity, they could tell you the learning that was coming out of that. Some of the assisting staff wouldn’t have been able to share that previously.’ Ms Rosback hopes other educators that are less willing to share their responsibilities with assistants will change their attitude. ‘I suppose one of the biggest shifts has been from my very narrow-minded thinking, initially, of the framework… now, I think that’s where a lot of places are coming unstuck; the teacher thinks that it’s their role to run and write the program, and it’s not. As soon as staff share that role, not only do they feel empowered and more enthusiastic about what they are doing, the whole learning opportunity for all the children becomes so much more meaningful.’ The EYLF and NQS without Tears: a step-by-step guide, by Susie Rosback and Sarah Wilson, published by Teaching Solutions, RRP $39.95

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Collaborative partnerships with families and communities By Dr Brenda Abbey

How is your service meeting the needs of families and communities?


any educators are unsure about the changes they need to make to their practices to meet the National Quality Standard (NQS) Quality Area 6: Collaborative partnerships with families and communities. This article suggests five steps to help your service meet these requirements. Although the steps are simple, the result is that parents are more likely to feel they belong (as well as their children), are cared about, and that their opinions matter – and that translates to collaborative partnerships. The five steps: • Clarify what the NQS means by ‘collaborative partnerships’. • Build upon your service’s current relationships with parents. • Ensure the physical environment supports the message of collaborative partnerships. • Glean ideas from examples of effective collaborative partnerships in other services. • Construct your service’s vision for collaborative partnerships. Educators may well recognise that they are already working collaboratively with parents, and only need to increase the quantity and quality of these collaborations to meet, even exceed, the NQS.

Clarify what the NQS means by ‘collaborative partnerships’ Take the time to ensure every team member understands the NQS definition of collaborative partnerships. Outside the world of early education and care, they are defined as those where people with diverse skills and knowledge work closely together to fulfil a common goal. However, in the context of the NQS, collaborative partnerships: • are authentic, genuine and meaningful • embrace more than simple contribution and involvement • accommodate preferred ways of communication • reflect what families want, not what educators think families need • acknowledge parents as children’s first and most enduring educators • provide opportunities to participate in short- and long-term, simple and complex projects • include a range of avenues (practical, written, technical), and offer flexible timing for participation • seek all perspectives and opinions, and allow for shared decision-making • draw upon all strengths, talents and interests of families • provide verbal and written feedback when parents’ ideas are included.

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This list on page 32 is not prioritised, nor is it exhaustive. You may well reorder it and/or extend it.

Do [your policies] convey to parents that it is their right to be involved in all decisions about their child? Build on existing relationships with parents Most of your parents are involved in and contribute to the service in some way. They share information about their children with educators at arrival and departure, attend special events organised by the service, and perhaps contribute items to the program and/or share their special skills and interests with the children. Parents’ involvement and contribution are important because they: • increase parents’ comfort and confidence levels • promote parents’ understanding of the service’s functions • build positive relationships between parents and educators

come into the service, so that parents and children feel they belong. Incorporate familiar items such as cane baskets, intriguing objects, and greenery to create a homelike, relaxed atmosphere for parents, and meet the EYLF requirements at the same time. Remember to include adult-friendly furniture in the playground such as a wooden bench. The children and educators will also appreciate it. Take a critical look at the signs in your service and, once again, put yourself in the parents’ shoes. How do they make you feel? Would you feel you were considered to be a competent parent with valuable opinions? We are all familiar with bluntly-worded signs and directions displayed in areas used by parents and visitors. These detract from the much-preferred messages of welcome and partnership that we would ideally like to convey. Reword signs so that they communicate their messages respectfully. Is your service’s family handbook a good read or does it resemble an instruction manual? Is the language respectful, inclusive and empowering? Have a close look through your service’s policies and procedures. Are they written clearly and concisely? Are photographs and illustrations included, so that they are more reader-friendly? Do they convey to parents that it is their right to be involved in all decisions about their child? If the goal is collaborative partnerships with parents, the overriding message that parents should receive throughout the service is that they count.

• form the stepping stones to collaborative partnerships • ensure the physical environment supports the message of collaborative partnerships. Look closely at your service’s physical environment through parents’ eyes. Does it convey the message that they, and not just their children, belong? Research has shown that if the service’s physical environment reflects only children’s needs and interests, parents are likely to feel uncertain about what is expected of them and are less likely to become involved. Parents may also struggle to find a sense of belonging in an exclusively child and educator space. A few simple changes are all it takes. First impressions count, so the approach to the service needs to be welcoming. Perhaps add thoughtful touches, such as a large urn with spare umbrellas for parents to use on rainy days. Ensure the entrance is inviting and warm to all who

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Example 2: nature nurtured. This second example of a successful collaborative partnership between educators, families and the community illustrates what can happen when parents can choose a project, and time-manage it within their work and family commitments.

Emulate successful examples of collaborative partnerships in other services. The following two examples could be translated to other services. They also meet a number of elements of the NQS and reflect the characteristics of collaborative partnerships listed earlier.

Example 1: parents supporting parents

Two parents approached the service with an offer to design and coordinate a nature area in a small part of the outdoor play space. The service agreed and the project began. The two parents canvassed the ideas of other parents, the educators, children and the community (particularly its local artists). They were especially interested in what educators would like to see in the space and how it would be used to further children’s learning. As with the planning process, everyone was involved in its construction. The older children ‘spread’ the tanbark, and the artists installed their creations – the reading chair, wooden xylophone and nesting box. The result is a much-loved and used space that reflects everyone’s commitment to sustainability.

The service is situated in a community with a large number of families of non-English speaking backgrounds. The educators identified that its orientation for incoming families did not result in the exchange of information required to ensure the needs of all parties were met, especially those of the children.

This example meets NQS 6.1.2, 6.2.1, 6.3.1 and 6.3.4. It also reflects characteristics of collaborative partnerships 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9.

The nominated supervisor invited a small number of parents to meet with her to consider the problem. The parents agreed to work closely with the service to develop an orientation more suited to the needs of these incoming parents.

As a team, brainstorm what your service would look like if it was meeting the requirements of Quality Area 6. Use a Y-chart to document what the service would look like, feel like and sound like if it had collaborative partnerships with families and the community. Display the completed chart as a reminder for your team.

The parents then suggested that they record a DVD covering specific aspects of the orientation. They added that the benefit of the DVD was that it could be viewed by other family members who were unable to attend the orientation. In addition, parents suggested that orientations be timetabled so that, wherever possible, one of them could be present to facilitate communication. Over time, the educators and parents refined the orientation until the service is now justifiably proud of the positive outcomes it brings to all parties. The DVD has been an outstanding success. This example meets NQS 6.1.2, 6.2.1, 6.3.1 and 6.3.4. It also reflects characteristics of collaborative partnerships 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9.

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Construct your service’s vision for collaborative partnerships

Educators who use these five steps will find the NQS requirements for collaborative partnerships easier to meet than they might have expected. As well as better outcomes for children, educators and parents experience the pleasure and satisfaction that accompanies true collaborative partnerships. Dr Brenda Abbey is the owner of consultancy service, Childcare By Design, Dr Abbey based this article on the DVD Collaborative Partnerships with Families and Communities, produced with Pam Maclean in 2012. For further information about NQS-related resources, phone 0419 661 921 or email:

education + training

Helping children overcome shyness By John Malouff, PhD, JD

Clinical psychologist John Malouff used his experiences as a father of a less than outgoing child; his practice experience; and his work as an associate professor of psychology at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, United States of America, as well as his current position as senior lecturer in psychology at the University of New England, Armidale, to pen the following article to help parents and educators work with shy children.

have a hearing problem. I said no and asked what made her wonder. She said that Elizabeth didn’t respond to questions. The next bad sign was the report of the speech-language screening that all the children received that autumn. Elizabeth had a recommendation for further evaluation of speech because she did not speak during the evaluation. She did raise her hand appropriately for the hearing test, and passed it.

Elizabeth: a child becomes more outgoing

The seriousness of Elizabeth’s shyness problem hit home in the middle of the school year, when she went for a required screening interview for acceptance into a private school. Several other parents and children were also present in a waiting area. An administrator told us all that the children were to go into another room without parents for the screening. All the children except Elizabeth went; she refused, clinging to me. An administrator and I tried unsuccessfully for half an


hen my daughter entered kindergarten, I expected her to have fun and learn. She talked and talked at home, loved books, and said she was eager to start school. I didn’t expect her to refuse to speak to anyone there, but that’s what she did for the entire term. I didn’t become aware of the problem until Elizabeth’s teacher asked me if Elizabeth might

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I assumed that Elizabeth just needed some time to adjust to being in a school-like setting. She had never participated in classes or daycare before. Instead, she had stayed home with a nanny and spent time with her mother and me. She had few interactions with other children because none lived near us.

QikKids and Ezidebit, leaders in the childcare industry have teamed up to provide members with a powerful, integrated management software - Qikpay Very simply, Qikpay is the payment transaction gateway within QikKids which holds your centre’s fee and payment information. The qik’n’ezi solution is a set and forget process. You only need to enter parent payment information once and rely on the integrated payment solution to automatically manage the rest. The immediate benefits to your centre will be: Reduced Administration Time • Spend less time manually processing and receipting payments • Automatically calculates fees owed based on attendance and CCB • Reduce human errors and the need to rework Cash Flow Benefits • Solve your debtor problems and reduce outstanding payments • Improve your cash flow by controlling when fees are paid • Accelerate payments and receive your money quicker

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hour to persuade her. No dice. We went home to tell her mother that Elizabeth would not be attending that school next year. That same day, I started developing an intervention program to help Elizabeth become more outgoing. In one order or another, my wife and I applied all of the strategies mentioned in this document. Soon after my wife and I started the program, Elizabeth started talking to some other children in her class and to some unfamiliar people. Within a few weeks she started to talk freely to some adults who talked with me. She used the line we had practiced: ‘My name is Elizabeth, and I’m four years old.’ Then she talked with girls she met, and finally with some boys she met. Over the next few months, Elizabeth went to two holiday camps. She acted less shy at the start of each. In June, on the last day of kindergarten, the teacher’s assistant said ‘hello’ as Elizabeth entered the classroom. Elizabeth, for the first time all year, responded, saying ‘hello’ back. The assistant and I yelled and jumped for joy, and then I shouted, ‘She did it!’ When she started her first year in school, Elizabeth showed few signs of shyness. Weeks later, her teacher described Elizabeth as a well-behaved child who plays with various children and speaks up in class. I knew Elizabeth had achieved an improved level of outgoingness when she agreed to join a soccer team and went for tryouts. She waited 30 minutes for her chance to kick a ball through orange cones on her way to kicking it into a goal. Although she was just a beginner, she never hesitated. She kicked and kicked all the way to the goal, with 200 people watching her. I smiled a parent’s smile of joy to see her perform so confidently. At her first soccer practice, Elizabeth

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made friends with a quiet little girl. I encouraged Elizabeth to talk also with a boy who declined to speak or participate in drills. Instead, he looked at the ground. Somehow, he managed always to keep away from me and Elizabeth – and everyone else. I talked with his father, who said the boy acted the same way in karate class. After a few weeks, he and his father stopped coming. That’s when I felt obliged to create this article in the hope that parents and teachers will use it to help children become more outgoing.

What shyness is and isn’t Shyness involves anxiety and behavioural inhibition in social situations.1 It occurs most frequently in situations that are novel, suggest evaluation of the person, or in situations where the person is conspicuous or others are intrusive.2 Although all children may experience shyness sometimes, some children experience shyness to a debilitating degree. This article is about those children. Young, shy children often show an apparent eagerness to observe others, combined with a reluctance to speak to or join the others. For example, shy children may remain silent around unfamiliar people, even when spoken to. Shy children may refuse to enter a new setting such as a classroom without being accompanied by a parent. Shy children may refuse to participate in athletic or dance activities, they may look only at the ground when around unfamiliar individuals, and they may go to great lengths to avoid calling attention to themselves (‘Don’t whistle, Dad; people will look at us’). Shy children want to interact with unfamiliar people but don’t because of their fear. A different problem exists when a child simply prefers to be alone.3 These loner children, who are rare, show little or no interest in observing others and little or no excitement when approached by others.

What causes shyness The causes of shyness have not been demonstrated adequately to justify any firm statements on the issue. However, shyness experts identify some possible causes: genes predisposing a person to shyness; a 1 Leary, M. R. (1986). Affective and behavioral components of shyness: Implications for theory, measurement, and research. 2 Buss, A. H. (1986). ‘A theory of shyness’. In Jones, W; H., Cheek, J. M., & Briggs, S. R. (Eds.), Shyness: Perspectives on research and treatment (pp. 39-46). New York: Plenum; Crozier, W. R. (Ed.). (2001). Shyness: development, consolidation and change New York: Routledge; Crozier, W. R. (2001). Understanding shyness: psychological perspectives. New York: Palgrave. 3 Asendorpf, J. B. (1993). ‘Abnormal shyness in children’. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 34, 1069-1081.

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less-than-firm attachment bond between parent and child; poor acquisition of social skills; or parents, siblings and others harshly and frequently teasing or criticising a child.4

What’s good about shyness Shy children tend to engage in significantly less social misbehaviour than other children.5 This may occur because shy children care so much about what others think of them.

What’s bad about shyness Shyness experts vary in their views about whether childhood shyness leads to mental health problems later; however, the practical and emotional problems caused by shyness are apparent. As a practical matter, shy children obtain less practise in social skills and develop fewer friends. They tend to avoid activities, such as sports, drama, and debating, that would put them in the limelight. Shy children tend to be perceived as unfriendly, and untalented, and they tend to feel lonely and have low self-esteem and a higher than average level of gastrointestinal problems.6 Shy children tend to become anxious teens.7 Shy adults tend to have smaller social networks and to feel less satisfied than others with their social support networks.8 I have known shy college students who never graduate because they fear taking a required public speaking class.

What parents and teachers can do to help children overcome shyness There are many strategies that can be used to help children overcome shyness. Some strategies may be more effective with some children than with others. Some children may benefit substantially from regular application of a few of the strategies listed here. Other children may need many more strategies applied. I suggest trying as many strategies as possible for at least a month, and continuing with those that seem promising with a particular child.

4 Asendorph op. cit.; Sanson, A., Pedlow, R., Cann, W., Prior, M, & Oberklaid, F. (1996). ‘Shyness ratings: stability and correlates in early childhood’. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 19, 705724. 5 Sanson, A. et al. (1996) op. cit. 6 Jones, W. J., & Carpenter, B. N. (1986). Shyness, social behavior, and relationships; Chung, J. Y., & Evans, M. A. (2000). ‘Shyness and symptoms of illness in young children.’ Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 32, 49-57. 7 Sanson, A. et al. (1996), op.cit. 8 Jones, W. J. et al (1986) op. cit.

1. Tell the children about times when you acted bashfully Once shy children start feeling bad about being shy, they may enter a downward spiral of becoming less and less confident and having lower and lower selfesteem. Parents and educators can help counter this unfortunate effect of shyness by disclosing the times when they felt shy themselves.9 The beauty of using personal coping anecdotes to lead children is that there is not much for the children to argue against.

2. Show empathy when the children feel afraid to interact One way to help children begin to control their fear of certain social situations is to show empathy when they feel afraid to interact with others. So, if a child refuses out of shyness to go out on a field for soccer practice, a parent might say, ‘I get the sense you feel worried about going out there. I feel worried sometimes too, when I’m not sure what to do and other people are watching me.’

3. Prevent labeling children as ‘shy’ When talking with others, parents and educators may say in front of a child that he or she is shy. Big mistake! Children who are told that they are shy tend to start thinking of themselves as shy and then fulfill the role, without making any effort to change. Because shy behavior is so obvious in children, other children and adults often comment on it, saying something like, ‘Oh, she’s shy.’ How do educators best handle those statements from others? Try disagreeing in a goodnatured way (with a smile) and offering a non-labelling explanation, such as the child sometimes takes a while to warm up. What do carers say then when a child fails, out of shyness, to respond to a question from someone else? There are many options. One is to prompt the child to speak. If that fails, just go on with the conversation.

4. Prompt the children to interact with others Prompt shy children to speak, join, or interact with others whenever there is a chance that the children will do so. Specific prompts work best: ‘Tell her your name is Margaret’ or ‘Say goodbye.’10 If the child won’t say anything to a person, try prompting the child to wave hello or good bye. A wave is a step in the 9 Zimbardo, P. G., & Radl, S. L. (1981). The shy child. New York: McGrawHill. 10 Martin, G., & Pear, J. (1999). Behavior modification: what it is and how to do it. (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

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right direction. Another good strategy, which might be called triangulation, involves speaking to another child, then asking your child what he or she thinks about something relating to the conversation.

5. Reward children for outgoing behavior Expected rewards can serve as very powerful motivators.11 Whenever a shy child acts outgoing, praise the child. Praise even slight improvements in outgoingness. By positively commenting on the outgoing behaviour of others, a parent or educator can help a shy child come to value outgoing behaviour while learning the specifics of it. For instance, a parent might say to her child, ‘I like the way that boy came up to us and asked us our names,’ or might directly compliment the other child in the presence of the shy child. The comment shows positive regard for a specific behaviour that the shy child could emulate. Do not, however, add any comment such as, ‘Why can’t you act like that?’

6. Help the children practise interactions Some shy children do not know what to say in certain situations, such as when they meet a new child. Educators can help shy children by encouraging them to practise social skills. One effective way to help children improve a social skill is to encourage them to role-play it.12

7. Pair a shy child with another child in each important setting A shy child who makes even one friend in a new setting will feel much more comfortable and will eventually interact more with other children. Teachers can help facilitate the process of making a friend by asking two children to be friends for the day and then talking with both of them about their common interests or activities. The adult can also give the two children tasks to accomplish together, such as putting out supplies or piecing a puzzle together.13 Choose a willing and able child for the friend, not someone who already has a bosom buddy in the setting.

11 Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: a social cognitive theory. Englewood cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. 12 Miltenberger, R. (1997). Behavior modification: principles and procedures. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole. 13 Honig, A. S. (1987).‘Young Children’, The shy child, 42, 54-64.

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8. Eliminate teasing of the children or reduce the impact Social rejection and teasing can help produce shy behaviour. So, do not tease your child or allow anyone else to. If necessary, remove your child from the presence of rejecting or teasing children.14 Also, discuss with your children the expression, ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me,’ and describe teasing you have experienced. Your self-disclosure will help the child feel less bad about being teased.

9. Teach children to identify and verbally express their emotions Shy children can best start to control feelings of embarrassment and fear when they identify and talk about their feelings. To help the children develop these skills, talk about your emotions in front of the children. Praise the children when they talk about their emotions. Play emotion charades or other games that help teach children to identify and express their emotions.15 By John Malouff, PhD, JD, Senior lecturer in Psychology, University of New England, Armidale, New South Wales This abridged article has been published with permission from John Malouff and the University of New England. The full article, complete with references and further links, can be read here: shyness.php

14 Asendorpf, J. B op. cit. 15 Malouff, J. M., & Schutte, N. S. (1998). Games to enhance social and emotional skills. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas.

educational resources, programs + planning

Weaving Te Whariki through the framework By Megan McGay

A Victorian childcare centre has transitioned easily into the national Early Years Learning Framework since implementing New Zealand’s national curriculum, Te Whariki.

Te Whariki is founded on the following aspiration: ‘To grow up as competent and confident learners and communicators, healthy in mind, body and spirit, secure in their sense of belonging and in the knowledge that they make a valued contribution to society.’ as children met their requisite targets. ‘It was mindnumbingly boring, ticking off checklists. I had a programming time of two hours, and I’d almost fall asleep because it was so boring filling out sheets that nobody would read. I felt like I didn’t know why I needed to use them.’ Ms Walker left the conference with a solution to her tedious system. One of the speakers had talked about New Zealand’s early childhood curriculum Te Whariki that had been introduced in 1995.


hen Jindi Woraback Children’s Centre (JWCC) director Michelle Walker travelled north to a childcare conference in Queensland in 2005, she was hoping for ideas – anything that would improve programming at her centre. She and her staff had tired of their ‘checklist’ approach to education. The programming at JWCC was based on milestone checklists, each ticked off

The definition of Te Whariki is ‘the woven mat’. It’s an intrinsic image that reappears across the framework: two cultures were woven together to create the philosophy; educators weave programs for children based on their individual interests; and, the education of the child is woven together by their family, their education service and the community they belong to. Ms Walker was drawn to the curriculum after she realised that both philosophy and a methodology for programming were incorporated within it. Not only did its model of child-led learning appeal to her, so did the approach to documenting it through learning stories. ‘We want to focus on what children’s interests are, because if there is something in the program that they are interested in, they are going to want to come here and will want to play and investigate,’ she said.

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‘The portfolios document the significant moments. We capture moments through digital photos of children achieving their goals or attempting to achieve their goals, in a positive way. We write learning stories that tell people how children came upon their interests. It’s about what is significant in their lives, and how they are developing those interests themselves,’ Ms Walker said.

We write learning stories that tell people how children came upon their interests. It’s about what is significant in their lives, and how they are developing those interests themselves,’ Ms Walker said.

It took four year to establish Te Whariki in the JWCC, including one year of preparation to gather materials and create handbooks for staff and families. Ms Walker had to change the centre’s policies as well as its statement of purpose as part of the process. She was guided by a trainer from New Zealand who she found through Gowrie Victoria. She held regular meetings with staff about programming and a new style of learning stories where writing dot points on Post-it notes would become typed documents with digital images. When Ms Walker started at JWCC, she found there was a lack of understanding between staff and families. ‘It was an eye-opener for me. Being a low socio-economic, multicultural area, there were a lot of people unable to communicate, and there were children who were not getting the attention they needed at home, so their behaviour reflected that as well.’ The new program model changed children’s behaviours as well as attitudes of the families involved. ‘Once we began Te Whariki, there was more respect for us, and the parents felt more respect, too. Finally, the parents had the opportunity to be involved in their children’s learning; they’d take the children’s portfolios home and add to them if something interesting happened, or if they went on holidays. The portfolios would be returned to the centre, and placed on a special shelf in the children’s room. The children can pick them up and look at them whenever they want to, and share them,’ Ms Walker said. This relaxed approach meant that children were often pulling out their portfolios to revisit and reflect on past learning experiences. While the folios are confidential, visiting adults are allowed to view them if the children have given permission. The new programming style involved children in more decision-making processes, such as asking their opinions on how to get balls out of trees and remove markings from the wall. Asking for their opinions and opening discussions on real issues empowered them in the centre, Ms Walker said. ‘Instead of children being bored, they’re engaged in conversation and showing staff respect because we’re listening to their ideas and considering those options. Their behaviour changes when they realise that people do care what they say.’

The children’s portfolios can be accessed easily.

42 • BELONGING EARLY YEARS JOURNAL • volume 1 number 2 • 2012

When the Australian Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) was introduced, Ms Walker sat down and reviewed it against the JWCC Te Whariki program. ‘It was a matter of me looking between the EYLF outcomes and principals, and weaving them between what we’re doing with Te Whariki.’

educational resources, programs + planning

Crayons loves PoissonRouge!


e discovered PoissonRouge when we opened Crayons last year. We found the website to be very interactive and all about discovery for the child (and adult as well!). The activities are presented to the child in such a way that exploration is encouraged, to try out or test the activity to find out what is needed or can be achieved. Sometimes it’s obvious and other times it’s not. It doesn’t go as far as being a puzzle to solve, but it also doesn’t give anything away at the same time.  In our store we often hear the words, ‘How do I do this?’. Encouraging children to try and learn by discovery is a very important skill for them to have and at the same time, having an environment where mistakes are okay and can be made as part of the overall learning experience.

The list of apps is broad and diverse, and at the same time appeals to both boys and girls in the 2–8 age bracket. At this stage, we have licensed all their apps and will look at future ones as well.

When we were designing our tablet and looking for apps to license, we were delighted to see that the team at Interactica (creators of PoissonRouge) had taken their ideas on the website and created some mobile apps on Android. We jumped at the opportunity to license these and pre-install them on our Crayons Pad 7.

Crayons Pad 7” Android 4.0 Includes Over $20 Educational Apps Pad Stylus with Pencil Grip Childrens Headphones Application Market Choice of Three Colours

Just some of the available apps are: Amos the Comic, Bugs!, Aquarium, Maths Planets, Words Castle and Amos from Outer Space We have already received great feedback from our customers and the children who road test everything in the store.


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educational resources, programs + planning

Unlike many centres in the childcare industry, Ms Walker boasts a low staff turnover. She said she still has five employees who joined the centre when it opened 15 years ago

‘Programming is different in Te Whariki because unlike the EYLF, the Te Whariki model describes how to do it. The EYLF allows all centres to program in their own particular way, however centres which don’t have an appropriate programming model cannot connect and make a full circle with what they are doing,’ she said. Fortunately for Ms Walker’s centre, the open-ended approach of the EYLF means JWCC can continue with its Te Whariki philosophy and programming choice. ‘We still use the EYLF but we’re more involved with Te Whariki and the Victorian Department of Education

and Early Childhood Development is quite happy with that because we’re achieving what we need to be achieving. We just need to change our language sometimes to reflect the EYLF,’ she said. The success of Te Whariki at JWCC is found in the happy children and significantly, the satisified staff. Unlike many centres in the childcare industry, Ms Walker boasts a low staff turnover. She said she still has five employees who joined the centre when it opened 15 years ago. She said that since implementing Te Whariki, the staff has a greater understanding of early childhood education, and how the program fits with the development of children. ‘I believe that if we hadn’t already been using Te Whariki, we would have been lost trying to implement the EYLF, as many other services are. My staff will go to workshops where people have their hands up in the air, panicking about what do with the EYLF. I have spoken to people who have been told to “go and use the EYLF” but they don’t know how to, because they don’t have a programming model. Te Whariki is both a philosophy and programming model, and that’s where the EYLF misses out. Without the programming advice, giving the EYLF to educators is like telling a child to use their words, but they don’t know which words to use.’ curriculumAndLearning.aspx All images courtesy of Jindi Woraback Children’s Centre.

44 • BELONGING EARLY YEARS JOURNAL • volume 1 number 2 • 2012

occupational health + safety

Keeping your staff safe By Megan McGay Injuries in childcare centres happen, but you can reduce the risk.


hildcare staff have tough, physical work. Educators are on their feet all day: bending over, helping with shoes, wiping junior-sized tables, rearranging play spaces, not to mention lifting children up and giving lots of cuddles. All these repetitive tasks can put great strain on their bodies. More than 200 Victorian children’s services workers are hurt seriously enough each year to make a WorkSafe injury claim, a WorkSafe Victoria spokesperson said. The spokesperson believes there are many injuries that are not reported, because people understand them to be ‘part of the job’. The most common injuries are musculoskeletal – affecting the muscles and skeleton – and often caused by strains, sprains, slips, trips and falls. Everyday tasks, such as moving play equipment, lifting children and even sitting on small chairs, cause these injuries. ‘Working with children can be hard work. The physical strain of lifting children, bending and sitting at child-sized furniture, and working with toys underfoot, can take its toll on the body,’ the spokesperson said. ‘Add to that the need to lift and move heavy and bulky play equipment and work in storage areas stacked high with containers of toys that can topple from shelves, and it is easy to see why the rate of these injuries is so high. ‘So often in this sector, safety focuses on the care of the children, as it well should, but it’s important to remind everyone in the childcare sector that the health and safety of staff is paramount and plays an essential role in providing quality care for children,’ the spokesperson said.

Tips to prevent back pain • Try to vary your position during your daily routine, especially if you sit a lot. • Place a support in the small of your back when driving or sitting at a desk. • Exercise regularly. • Try to lose weight (if you need to) to reduce the load on your spine and back muscles. • Stretch regularly to reduce stiffness. • Watch your posture; try not to slouch or slump. • Be careful when lifting (see next page). • Keep moving, even if you have an episode of back pain. • Consider whether your bed is providing enough support and your pillow is not too old. Information courtesy of the Australian Physiotherapy Association. President of the Australian Physiotherapy Association Melissa Locke said staff could be advised on ways to reduce the risk of injury (see box). She said balancing rest with activity was the key to improvement. ‘Do nothing that makes your pain worse; do everything that makes it feel better. This includes moving. We’ve learnt over the years that too much rest for back pain can actually be detrimental to overcoming the underlying issues.’

BELONGING EARLY YEARS JOURNAL • volume 1 number 2 • 2012 • 45

occupational health + safety

Ms Locke said that while there may not be any legislated weight limits for manual handling, some organisations have created rules around it. She said the impact of carrying a heavier child depended on how much assistance the child could give: ‘Are they pushing off the ground with their feet or pulling themselves up with a support?’ Education Queensland has developed a guide for manual handling of children which considers what level of assistance the child can provide. If a child is ‘totally dependent’ and weighs over 10 kilograms, Education Queensland advises that the carer obtains help to lift the child from another person or equipment. SafeWork SA said there is evidence that shows the risk of back injury increases significantly with objects above the range of 16–20 kilograms. Ms Locke said the weight of an object was not the only factor in a task becoming hazardous. ‘Individuals have different physical capabilities which must be considered when taking into account any manual handling task. Childcare workers can help themselves by: asking the child to climb up to you while sitting, rather than lifting from the ground; or, kneeling to comfort a child, rather than picking the child up,’ she said. If a staff member suffers an injury, they should seek advice from a qualified health professional regarding the amount of rest required and the types of exercises needed to rebuild weak muscles, said Ms Locke. Childcare centre operators are obliged under their state Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Acts to identify and reduce risks for their staff. To ensure all risks have been accounted for, seek an assessment from an OHS practitioner. Modifications to centres might include: adultsized chairs for staff to sit on; stairs for children to walk themselves up to a nappy change station; signs encouraging good lifting habits; and information signs or leaflets alerting staff to strengthening exercises. Establishing OHS policies on acceptable manual handling weights could help staff to avoid potentially hazardous situations. Moreover, rules on moving furniture could also be drawn up to ensure that educators are not taking unnecessary risks when swapping educational resources around. Creating a culture of recording incidents, as well as occasions where near misses occurred, will help reviews of OHS issues and lower the risk of further hazards. Once an OHS policy has been implemented, it should be reviewed six months later to ensure it is relevant to current practices. Thereafter, the policy 46 • BELONGING EARLY YEARS JOURNAL • volume 1 number 2 • 2012

should be re-assessed annually. Employers who actively seek to create a safer environment for staff will reap the benefits of strong, healthy and happy employees. Further information: WorkSafe Victoria SafeWork SA Education Queensland’s manual handling advice: mh-guide-matrix.pdf Australian Physiotherapy Association

Avoiding injury while lifting To lift correctly: • Prepare your body by warming up and then doing some stretches before you lift and carry. • Keep your feet wide apart. • Lower and lift using your hips and knees, not your back. • Maintain the natural curve of your back. • Get assistance if necessary.

Avoid: • twisting your body while lifting • lifting with a bent back • lifting with a jerking or awkward action • lifting repetitively in a short time. Information courtesy of the Australian Physiotherapy Association.

occupational health + safety


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child safety

Approved anaphylaxis training New anaphylaxis training has been given the tick of approval.


he Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASICA) has developed an anaphylaxis training program tailored for childcare educators. ASCIA developed the program following a recognised need for quality anaphylaxis training that will provide accessible, reliable and evidence-based anaphylaxis education throughout Australia and New Zealand. The program was approved by the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) in September 2012. Three approved versions of ASCIA anaphylaxis training for childcare are currently available: • ASCIA anaphylaxis training for New South Wales childcare: available online or through face-to-face workshops delivered by trained nurse educators approved by the state Health Department. • ASCIA anaphylaxis training for Western Australian childcare: available online or through face-to-face workshops delivered by trained nurse educators approved by the state Health Department. • ASCIA anaphylaxis e-training for Australasian childcare: this version of online training is suitable for use throughout Australia and New Zealand.

48 • BELONGING EARLY YEARS JOURNAL • volume 1 number 2 • 2012

Anaphylaxis is a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that requires urgent medical treatment. It is essential for childcare staff to know how to recognise and respond to an anaphylaxis emergency as well as implement appropriate risk minimisation strategies to prevent exposure to known allergens. Recent Australian data indicates that one in 10 children will have food allergy by the age of 12 months. With the increasing prevalence of food allergy, it is vital that all staff working in children’s services have ready access to anaphylaxis training.

ASCIA is the peak professional medical society for immunology and allergy in Australia and New Zealand. ASCIA has the benefit of: • providing the most up-to-date evidence-based training resources which are available on the ASCIA website ( • drawing on the expertise of the ASCIA membership and key stakeholder organisations to ensure that the training resources are accurate and appropriate for the intended target audience

child safety

ASCIA anaphylaxis e-training should be completed in conjunction with regular practice using adrenaline autoinjector training devices (with no needle and no adrenaline)

• Established relationships with stakeholder organisations that are involved in the consultation process, such as representatives from relevant education providers, children’s services and health departments. ASCIA anaphylaxis e-training for childcare and schools has been well received. Since its release in March 2010 there have been more than 28,000 registrations, and around one-third of these registrations has been from staff working in childcare services. In addition, more than 487 children’s services in New South Wales and around 70 per cent of childcare services in Western Australia have received anaphylaxis training provided by the New South Wales and Western Australian Health Departments using ASCIA face-to-face courses. The Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) is a professional medical society and does not conduct face-to-face anaphylaxis training. The ASCIA website includes links to government and relevant patient organisation websites and most of these include information on how to access face-to-face training in different regions. ASCIA has developed ASCIA anaphylaxis e-training for schools and childcare services for use when face-to-face anaphylaxis training is unavailable, as a refresher, or for interim training. The courses provide education on the recognition, emergency treatment and risk minimisation of anaphylaxis, which is consistent (throughout Australia and New Zealand), accurate (evidence-based and expert reviewed), flexible, accessible and sustainable. ASCIA anaphylaxis e-training should be completed in conjunction with regular practice using adrenaline autoinjector training devices (with no needle and no adrenaline). To order EpiPen trainers, email: and to order Anapen trainers, email: ASCIA anaphylaxis e-training for schools and childcare services is available free-of-charge from the ASCIA website, and each course takes approximately one hour to complete. A certificate can be printed out upon successful completion. Since the courses were released in March 2010, there have been more than 28,000 registrations for them. Although developed specifically for school and childcare services staff in Australia and New Zealand, anyone can log in and complete a course, including parents, friends, family members and other carers of people at risk of anaphylaxis. ASCIA anaphylaxis e-training for schools and childcare services is recommended by the Health and Education Departments in New South Wales and Western Australia, the Department of Education and Training in Queensland and Christian Schools Australia. For further information, visit or email

BELONGING EARLY YEARS JOURNAL • volume 1 number 2 • 2012 • 49


Our intention is serious, but our application is fun Providing a service to the private educational sector is a role that hey dee ho music takes very seriously. Over the last 25 years, the children’s services industry has changed significantly.


ey dee ho music is intent on reviewing our programs regularly in partnership with our centres to ensure we meet all expectations and requirements. Each aspect of our program is aligned with the Early Years Learning Framework and activity letters are provided each week to help staff with their daily reports. The first four years of life are the most crucial period to the brain’s development – more than at any other time. Early experiences contribute significantly to brain capacity and can enhance IQ. These effects are lifelong. Our play-based music program includes Auslan signing (term one), multicultural languages (term two), the Sol-fa (Kodály method of singing – term three) and spatial awareness activities (term four). Don’t be fooled; just because everyone is having a great time at hey dee ho, it doesn’t mean that they are not learning! Studies show that learning potential is maximised when we are enjoying ourselves, so all our activities are drama/entertainment-based. Within this format, children learn traditional and original songs, as well as popular dances. Basic concepts of beat, rhythm, dynamics and pitch are explored in each session using percussion instruments and body movements.


Over the past few years, hey dee ho has initiated three new programs: 1. Active 8, a sports skills/healthy eating program, focuses on strength and resistance skills (term one), cardio and jumping (term two), agility and handeye coordination (term three), and balance and core strength (term four). 2. Fun-key yoga is an animated, noisy, fun-filled yoga program designed to engage children physically and mentally. Fun-key yoga aims to establish the initial tools for better concentration, coordination and balance. 3. The Fiction Factory, an interactive, drama-based movement program that aims to strengthen literacy, language and aural skills. Our aim is to use all activities, actions and instructions within the programs to stimulate childhood development. Providing specialist programs gives you a competitive advantage and we can tailor the sessions to suit your centre. In addition to this, we provide financial incentives on a sliding scale to centres who take up more than one program on a regular basis. Support resources, workshops and concerts are available for staff and parents. hey dee ho offer a FREE TRIAL of any of these programs to centres looking for a quality specialist program to supplement their curriculum. To book or for more information, contact us on 1300 139 631.

Regular Sessions Suitable from 6 months to 6 years old Includes Multicultural Languages l Brain Gym l

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Supports and promotes Early Years Learning Framework Resources available for staff and parents

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1300 139 631


Inviting the outside in By Megan McGay

Could the cost of incursions pay for themselves through EYLF learning outcomes?


he introduction of the national Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) has triggered critical review of programming within childcare centres.

Managers and room leaders are scrutinising their timetables and activities to see how they fit within the framework. Through these checks and balances, extracurricular activities are being reviewed. Do they measure up? Are they providing children with the desired learning outcomes? Nicole Simpson thinks so. She is the marketing and business development manager at hey dee ho music, a national franchise offering rhythm and music classes for babies, toddlers and preschoolers. Since the EYLF was implemented, hey dee ho has restructured its programs to incorporate the outcomes. ‘We looked closely at our programs and we broke them down into each outcome in the EYLF, with examples of how they meet them,’ said Ms Simpson. Ms Simpson said she was very excited that the EYLF and National Quality Standard gave them something specific around which to create best practice. She said compliance with the framework began with the first part of each lesson. ‘Our welcome song, that we start every session with, provides familiarity for the participants and the outcomes it identifies with are: “identity”, “wellbeing” and “communication”. When we’re talking about “identity”, we’re helping the children feel safe, centred and supported, because it is something familiar that they’re starting again. With “wellbeing”, the children demonstrate trust and confidence. For “communication”, hey dee ho is 52 • BELONGING EARLY YEARS JOURNAL • volume 1 number 2 • 2012

engaging in that reciprocal interaction and helping children to respond verbally to what they see and hear.’ Ms Simpson is amazed by the ability of music to aid development in preschoolers. ‘It’s igniting both sides of the brain; it’s setting up all that transmission between their cognitive thought and their physical output.’ By signposting the EYLF outcomes that relate specifically to its music programs, hey dee ho music has strengthened its credibility amongst childcare centres. Ms Simpson said half the centres now pay for all their students to use hey dee ho music. ‘The centres that know the benefits for hey dee ho are more excited to pay for it in their fee structure. And I think for them to remain competitive, they are going to have to. For parents continually thinking about where every dollar goes, to have that all-inclusive payment is better, too.’


Mini Maestros is another musical extracurricular experience that can be introduced to the childcare environment. The 27-year-old business encourages learning through play in its program. Music director Jennifer Smith said the benefits of a musical program extend beyond developing an understanding of music.

‘By being actively involved in a structured music education program, children develop language and listening skills, learn about sharing and working with others, and make discoveries about themselves and their world, fulfilling Outcomes 2 and 5. Music offers children opportunities to connect with others on a variety of levels and contribute as members of a group through singing together, moving to music,

I love Mini Maestros because… ” I love singing, dancing and learning about music”. Audrey, 3-4 year old class

Mini Maestros’ music education program delights thousands of children every week! Sequential, age-specific classes actively engage children in music making, movement and working together. High quality lessons presented by trained musicians. • Based on the Orff and Kodaly approaches, the program builds strong musical foundations for all children.

Available in: Melbourne Sydney Brisbane Perth Regional Victoria

• Aims and objectives are consistent with the Early Years Learning Framework. • Experience running classes in early learning centres for over 25 years.

Read more about the Mini Maestros program at Call 1300 786 557 to discuss how the Mini Maestros program could become part of your curriculum. 322870A RHS_Mini Maestros | 1831.indd 1

Music Teaches Children

1/11/12 1:16 PM

BELONGING EARLY YEARS JOURNAL • volume 1 number 2 • 2012 • 53


One of the things we encourage with all our educators is that the child is a sponge; we can never give them too much, but we can give them too little playing instruments and playing musical games. Music education develops the whole child and, therefore, enhances their ability to learn across all curriculum areas. In formal terms, this means our program very much supports the EYLF outcomes,’ she said. While musical programs like hey dee ho and Mini Maestros run throughout the school terms, smaller incursions can also assist centres with their compliance to the EYLF. Henny Penny Hatching operates along the Australian east coast. It’s a 12-day program where an incubator is set up in a classroom so the children can watch the process of baby chicks hatching. Ann Richardson, a previous Henny Penny Hatching franchisee, encouraged childcare centres and kindergartens to seek out animal experiences. She said animals provided many lessons for children and current generations were getting less exposure to nature. ‘I feel we live in a society where children are not being exposed to animals. They are missing out on nurturing and looking after them. Many families are too busy for pets, and they can be too costly. Animal visits into centres add so much more value because they are a live resource. Children can watch the chicks interact in the pen without referring to a video or a book.’

54 • BELONGING EARLY YEARS JOURNAL • volume 1 number 2 • 2012

Ms Richardson said children observing the chicks slowly hatch and interact with each other in the pen will notice similar actions to their own in a playground. ‘Everything that happens in the yard, happens in a pen. Some chicks get bullied, some like to follow and others lead.’ She said observations of a chick pen assisted children’s development in Outcome 1: ‘identity’. ‘When teachers talk to the children about how the chicks are relating to each other, it will help them understand how they can relate better to their peers,’ said Ms Richardson. The growth cycle of the chicks and the nurturing they require contributes to Outcome 2, ‘children are connected with and contribute to their world’. Ms Richardson said some outside school hours care (OSHC) facilities booked the hatching incursion for their young students and found that the older children were


preoccupied with it. ‘The older children became really good nurturers, and the OSHC coordinators hadn’t expected it.’ Former teacher Sean McCarthy is now in the business of incursions. As owner of Snakehandler Pty Ltd, Sean visits early childhood services and schools to educate children about a variety of reptiles. Children have the opportunity of touching the animals or just observing them. ‘We encourage the children to ask us questions, but first and foremost, we always explain that animals should only be touched when the owner says it’s okay; “No owner, no touch,”’ Mr McCarthy said. Mr McCarthy said incursions like Snakehandler contribute to the EYLF. ‘Our programs are designed to encourage children to understand the things that nature gives them. Looking into Outcome 2, they are able to see how important animals are in the world, what they can do to help them, and how to appreciate what is around them. We also feel that we enrich the children’s experience by being positive and encouraging.

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‘In effect, we feel that Outcomes 4 and 5 are very important in our programs as we are allowing the children to feel confident to ask questions and interact with our educators. No question is ignored, even the difficult ones. We use age-appropriate language to ensure that we are able to teach the children what they want to know,’ he said. The Snakehandler program can be experienced by children as young as 18 months. ‘One of the things we encourage with all our educators is that the child is a sponge; we can never give them too much, but we can give them too little,’ he said. Exposing children to animals safely through incursions not only increases awareness of wildlife, but also builds confidence. ‘We often see the most timid of children become bold and interactive because they are no longer the centre of attention, the animals are!’ Mr McCarthy said. For further information:

Looking for something unique to engage and stimulate enquiring young minds? Look no further! Henny Penny Hatching brings a little piece of the farm right to your door, offering a captivating experience in an easy-to-use package. We deliver 12 fumigated eggs, which are set to hatch over multiple days, three one-day-old chicks and all the equipment and instructions you will need for a successful hatch. A range of helpful planners, resources and activities allow you to maximise the educational value of this exciting and interactive program. Learning has never been so much fun! Visit our website to find a Henny Penny Hatching franchise near you.

322874A_Henny Penny Hatching | 1831.indd 1


Visit our website for further information, or to make a booking.

11/12/12 11:41 AM

BELONGING EARLY YEARS JOURNAL • volume 1 number 2 • 2012 • 55

finance, business + property

Avoiding the childcare glut By Megan McGay

It doesn’t make sense to buy a childcare centre around the corner from five others, so why is this happening?


hildcare centre owners looking to expand their operations need to do their homework.

National childcare specialist from Benchmark Childcare Sales Lincoln Bridge said investing in a needs analysis was crucial before purchasing a centre. He said the single biggest factor to consider for a childcare centre’s location, was oversupply in the area. ‘Regardless of what you hear in the media about a shortage of places, many areas are being heavily over-supplied. Back in the ABC Learning boom days, developers were opening up sites left, right and centre. There really wasn’t any consideration for a needs analysis. Anyone looking at taking over a centre should consider using one of those specialised companies that conduct a needs analysis within those catchments. See if there is a need in the area and if the site is sustainable,’ he said. Part of the problem with the glut of childcare centres is that many operators are unwilling to fit-out new centres, preferring the ease of purchasing a

purpose-built facility. Mr Bridge said overcoming council regulations and permits for new sites did deter potential childcare centre owners. ‘We don’t have a lot of clients that do Lincoln Bridge conversions, even if they are experienced operators. There are very few of them who will take it on.’ If childcare operators are looking at taking over another existing centre, they need to consider: occupancy trend, the achievable fees, wageto-revenue cost, the staff turnover, the quality compliance of the centre, local competition and risk analysis, current presentation and whether a large capital expenditure renovation will be required after purchasing it. Mr Bridge said to review the tenure of a lease site carefully. ‘We’ve had a lot of clients who have been in the business for 20 years and they haven’t worried about their leases. But we had a centre recently that had less than 12 years remaining on the lease. In the current market, with only 12 years on the lease, the centre was worth just $500,000 because of that diminished tenure. We negotiated a 25-year lease, and based on that centre performing in the same way, we managed to achieve a sale price of $1.15m. Banks have got policies on what they’ll lend regarding the remaining tenure. Leases are a key factor for consideration.’

56 • BELONGING EARLY YEARS JOURNAL • volume 1 number 2 • 2012

When it comes to Child Care Centre Sales - we don’t kid around

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finance, business + property

People like to purchase by spring so they can be in before Christmas and meet the families, and make any changes they need to over the break Good management and planning can turn an underperforming centre around. Mr Bridge noted this in the recent collapse of ABC Learning. ‘We were fortunate enough to be involved in disposing many of the sites that Goodstart didn’t take up, and I suppose the majority of those centres under dedicated private operators are now performing well. We’ve got some of them back on the market now, running at 90–95 per cent occupancy throughout the year. A lot of those centres that were deemed unviable, weren’t unviable, they were just mismanaged. ‘We’ve had experienced operators take on centres with a declining occupancy, and they have managed to identify the centre’s issues, such as staff turnover and the quality of education programming, and turn them around very quickly.’ Mr Bridge said formulas representing a centre’s performance have changed. ‘Everyone worked off “price-per-place” 10 years ago, but now the calculation is much sharper,’ he said. The current method reviews the ‘return on investment’ (ROI). ‘Leaseholds around the country, have a 21–25 per cent ROI, freehold going concerns have a 14–16 per cent yield, and passive investments have an eight–10 per cent yield. Valuers work out the ROI and then they can convert it to a “price-per-place”,’ he said. Rent benchmarks are beneficial for operators seeking to enter new markets. ‘If you’re looking at a leasehold business, Queensland rents are $1550–1750 per place, whereas in New South Wales, the rents fluctuate from $1900–3500 per place,’ he said.

58 • BELONGING EARLY YEARS JOURNAL • volume 1 number 2 • 2012

Operators considering an exit from the industry should review the right time to put their centre on the market. ‘Childcare is a little bit seasonal. The occupancies dip over the Christmas break. People like to purchase by spring so they can be in before Christmas and meet the families, and make any changes they need to over the break,’ he said. Mr Bridge said the introduction of the Early Years Learning Framework and the National Quality Standard may push some senior operators out of the business. ‘We’re not seeing any major issues yet, but I think there will be a flow of older people existing the industry soon, because they are tired of all the changes.’ New staff-to-child ratios will take some time to impact the childcare real estate market. Mr Bridge has clients who have managed to increase their licensed places while others have had to reduce them. ‘The older services were built above the regulations so it seems the older services can increase places, whilst the newer centres are struggling with the changes.’ Mr Bridge advised interested people to align themselves with the state bodies of the Australian Childcare Alliance to get more specialist advice. He suggested using valuers, accountants and solicitors who are familiar with the industry and, in particular, the new national requirements. Benchmark Childcare Sales

finance, business + property

Succession planning By Matthew Ross

It’s equally important to plan for your business’s future, as it is to plan for your own.


ne day in the future, you will either want to, or be forced to leave the business you are currently building.

Hopefully, the reason you leave is because you want to: it’s time to retire, it’s time to do something else or someone is putting a cheque in front of you to buy the business, which you just can’t ignore. Being forced to leave isn’t as nice. Reasons for this include becoming ill or injured, you and your business partner(s) not seeing eye-to-eye, divorce or death. For a majority of small-to-medium business owners, the value locked up in your business is your second largest asset behind the family home, and in some cases, even more valuable. Various research findings over the last decade indicate that more than half of all small business owners in Australia plan to use their business as the primary source of funding for their retirement. If you’re never going to get hit by a bus, become ill, have a dispute with your business partner, or if you’re one of those people who says ‘that will never happen to me’ then the ‘involuntary events’ part of a succession plan is not going to be of interest to you. However, the bit about how you sell your business, who you sell it to, and for how much money, may be of some interest.

The two reasons to have a succession plan are: • to protect the value of the business if something involuntary happens • to help business owners make substantial gains if they plan their exit from the business the right way.

Buy/sell agreements are an effective way to implement a business succession plan and remove uncertainties from your business. The agreement explains how the business will transfer from a departing owner to existing owners or new owners. This document should outline all of the potential outcomes if something happens, and if something goes wrong. Some other key elements of a buy/sell agreement include: • how the business is valued • how the transfer will be funded (typically done by insurance or internal loans) • the events that trigger the transfer • the timing of the transfer and any special, related conditions • the desired outcome for each of the events specified. Without a succession plan in place, all your hard work could amount to very little (your business could be sold for a ‘fire sale’ price). Worse still, you could be leaving your family with one hell of a mess to clean up. The first step is to speak to your financial adviser, accountant or lawyer about the issue. You will probably need to have all three advisers work together to do the job properly, so start the conversation with the person you have Matthew Ross

BELONGING EARLY YEARS JOURNAL • volume 1 number 2 • 2012 • 59

finance, business + property

the closest relationship with, trust the most, or who understands your situation best.

Asset allocation of your superannuation account (personal planning) Once or twice a year, we are all sent a statement from our superannuation fund and if you’re like most Australians who are not yet retired, it gets stuffed in the second drawer down. Most people don’t throw it away because instinctively we all know that it contains some pretty important information – and it does. Even though it doesn’t feel like it’s your money (because you can’t spend it until you’re 55, maybe 60), it is something that will be there one day. How much it grows each year will depend on three things: • the fees being charged • the asset allocation • how much is being contributed to it.

we do for new clients. The more you have in super (or invested anywhere, for that matter) the more important it is that you seek advice about your ‘asset allocation’.

Asset allocation is something that we will focus on today. The asset allocation is how your money is invested. The first thing to look for is a pie chart that shows how much is invested in cash, fixed interest, bonds, Australian shares, international shares and property. Some pie charts will be a bit more complicated and contain infrastructure, absolute returns or hedge funds.

Some funds have a default ‘balanced’ fund which concern us greatly. It seems that a number of the larger superannuation funds are getting themselves into a battle where they want to say, ‘my balanced fund is better than your balanced fund’. To win this game, all they need to do is to allocate more of the ‘balanced’ fund to growth assets.

Cash, fixed interest and bonds are classified as ‘defensive assets’. The rest are classified as ‘growth assets’. The split between defensive versus growth is one of the major decisions you need to get right. The more you have in growth assets, the more chance your superannuation has to grow, but the more volatile the ride.

A balanced fund, in our opinion, has a 50 per cent balance between defensive and growth assets. We are seeing more and more ‘balanced’ funds which are more like growth funds. One ‘leading’ superannuation fund has 85 per cent of its balanced fund in growth assets. They are simply taking risks that their members don’t understand. This is not putting the members’ interests first.

Some superannuation funds will put you into the ‘default’ option if you don’t make a selection when you first start the fund. This default option could be the ‘balanced fund’ or it could be determined on your age, with more allocation to growth assets while you’re younger and as you get older, a more defensive option is allocated to you. But beware, don’t be ignorant about this and assume that someone else who knows more than you is making a good decision on your behalf. If you join the fund at age 30 and are put into the high-growth option because you’re young, you might stay in that option until you’re 55. Getting this decision right, the split between growth assets and defensive assets is one of the first things

60 • BELONGING EARLY YEARS JOURNAL • volume 1 number 2 • 2012

If this article has motivated you to delve into the second drawer down and check out what your pie chart looks like, see if you can find out whether you have life, total and permanent disability (TPD) or salary continuance insurance cover through your superannuation account. Many people don’t realise that they have cover through their superannuation and in most cases, this is an efficient way to structure your superannuation. Disclaimer: the advice in this article is general in nature. For specific advice, please contact a financial adviser.

Matthew Ross is an independent financial adviser and an Authorised Representative of Australian Independent Financial Advisers Pty Ltd. He is a director of Roskow Independent Advisory,

Childcare Management • New Centre Start Up • Consultancy

Total Confidence. Experience you can trust. Total Childcare Solutions (TCS) is a vibrant childcare management company that assists owners and investors in managing their childcare centres effectively. How does Total Childcare Solutions do this? At TCS, our core belief is that managing relationships is the key to a successful childcare business - “Happy staff make for happier children, and happy children means happier parents...this makes childcare easy for everyone”. The TCS team is made up of a group of talented people... the best in the business with proven skills and experience in managing long day childcare centres around Australia. They know what works and what doesn’t because they’ve already done it! You’ll find the TCS team has a ‘can do’ approach - no task is too big or too small, and we are always committed to achieving successful outcomes, with optimal results for everyone involved. Total Childcare Solutions is your professional solution provider servicing everything you need to know about childcare. We provide advice and support in understanding the mechanics behind the childcare industry.

John Wall

1300 851 331

Childcare Management • Acquisitions & Sales • New Centre Start Up/Consultancy • Leadership Training

finance, business + property

Winners announced for national early childhood education and care awards A program helping to get more Aboriginal children into preschool and an educator dedicated to providing tailored learning to babies claimed top honours at the 2012 HESTA Early Childhood Education & Care Awards, on Friday 5 October.


rawn from more than 600 nominations, the two winners were recognised for providing outstanding levels of care and education to children from birth to eight years of age in the categories of Outstanding Educator and Advancing Practice. HESTA CEO Anne-Marie Corboy said the judges were looking for ongoing commitment to childhood educational development, innovative practices within state and national frameworks, and family engagement, which all finalists and winners demonstrated. ‘Our winners were hand-picked from hundreds of nominations for their commendable work in the early childhood sector. We are proud to give these professionals the acknowledgment they deserve,’ Ms Corboy said.

The winners are: Outstanding Educator: Amy Douglas of Margaret Ives Community Children’s Centre in Norwood, South Australia, for her commitment to developing a greater understanding of young children and challenging their emerging skills. As primary carer for eight children in the baby room, and secondary carer for an additional 22, Amy is raising the standard of care provided by early childhood carers. Meticulously observing, documenting and reporting on the behaviours of each individual child, Amy develops tailored plans for future learning.


Amy was nominated for taking a lateral approach to caring for children in the zero-to-three age range, while continuing to follow the Early Years Framework. Advancing Practice: Buninyong Preschool – an initiative of Dubbo & District Preschool – in Dubbo, New South Wales, led by Director Louise Simpson, for providing low-income and Indigenous families with non fee-paying early childhood education services. When Louise instigated the initiative in 2010, there were some very real barriers – largely cost-related – preventing early childhood education for local Aboriginal children. Since then, Buninyong Preschool has worked tirelessly to break down these barriers. Over the past two years, the preschool has seen a doubling of enrolments and increased its opening days. This has resulted in increased enrolments of ‘school-ready’ children at the local kindergarten, Buninyong Public School. The Outstanding Educator Award winner received a $5,000 ME Bank online EveryDay Transaction Account and a $5,000 education grant. The Advancing Practice Award winner received a $10,000 development grant. All prize money is provided by ME Bank. HESTA is one of Australia’s largest super funds, with more than 750,000 members and $20 billion in assets. It is chosen by more people in health and community services than any other fund. Visit to learn more about the awards.

finance, business + property

Building a quality business By Jae Fraser

You can provide a valuable community service and maintain a healthy business.


percentage is crucial. Effective management of your waitlist, movement of children between rooms, and, marketing of your service to secure new enrolments,

wning and

operating an education and care service is a challenging and rewarding career. Success in this field requires dedication, love and patience. The workday is longer than a Jae Fraser normal eighthour day, but the satisfaction of watching children grow and develop is the best part of what we do. Operating a successful and profitable education and care service in today’s economic climate and under the new National Quality Framework is possible without compromising the quality of care that you are providing families and children. In this article, we will look at seven factors for managing a healthy business without compromising quality.

Ability to manage occupancy and use the age mix of children to ensure profitability It is well known that in order for a service to be profitable, it needs over 70 per cent occupancy, so the maintenance and improvement of this

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finance, business + property

are ways to achieve this. It is also important to consider studying your floor plans closely and assessing if there is the ability to change the number of children utilising the individual rooms to better suit the needs of your local community and increase your occupancy.

Ability to manage parent fees and minimise debt The way that your service manages the payment of parent fees and minimises the level of debt needs to be examined closely to ensure it is the most efficient and cost-effective method. Moving to a direct debit system can assist you in this management process, but this must go hand-in-hand with a nominated supervisor/ administration team that understands the importance of debt management and actively works towards achieving a zero-debt outcome.

Ability to take advantage of government subsidies and grants There are several avenues for grant funding or subsidies in each state, and they are accessible to most services who meet the criteria. In relation to government subsidies, it is important that your educators are ensuring that sign-in sheets are filled out correctly and absences are recorded to ensure that your submitted data is correct and you are getting all the funding you are entitled to. For grants, it is important to be aware of and capitalise on the funding that is available, such as kindergarten funding, health care card subsidies, as well as the various other grants that can assist your bottom line. It pays to do your research.

Managing expenses: wages, consumables, resources Keep a close eye on your roster to ensure that it is in line with your occupancy. This makes your wages more manageable. Collecting recycled materials and asking for material donations from the families (such as yoghurt containers, architect paper, log offcuts) in your service not only assists with your resource budget but also contributes to the sustainability of the environment. Your team should look for new ways to use recycled and natural materials in the experiences that they are providing for the children.

Compliance with government regulations Non-compliance with the National Law and Regulations can lead to the service receiving onthe-spot fines and short time frames to remedy the compliance issue. This will cost you time and money to fix, which will eat into your potential profit. Ensuring your service is compliant requires ongoing maintenance of your policies and procedures, but has the positive flow-on-effect of ensuring that families in your service are happy with the care that you are providing and will recommend you to others.

Ability to market your service It is difficult to increase occupancy if people do not know you exist. Providing the highest possible care to the children and families in your service is great for marketing as word-of-mouth referrals are far reaching. Best of all, it costs nothing! There are a number of other marketing strategies that you could use such as hosting open days, distributing flyers, and having your service team participate in local events, such as fun runs. You don’t have to spend a fortune to get great results.

Quality improvement Making quality improvements to your service does not need to be an expensive exercise. Start off with making small changes that reflect your budget and build on this as the year progresses. A small outlay can make a huge impact in your service and shows families that you are committed to improving and growing.

Jae Fraser, General Manager of Operations, G8 Education,

64 • BELONGING EARLY YEARS JOURNAL • volume 1 number 2 • 2012

human resources management

Workplace relationships: making difficult relationships work better By Greg Sando

You can’t choose your colleagues, but you can have workable relationships with them.


workplace is full of dynamic relationships: between colleagues and management as well as staff with varying levels of seniority. Not all workplace relationships are functional or easy to maintain; some are difficult, conflictive or disrespectful. Given that we cannot choose workplace relationships, this article will look at ways to approach and deal with difficult relationships in a work environment. Conflict and difference occur in most relationships, including those in the workplace, and they are not an indication of a dysfunctional environment. But ongoing conflict, and actions that do not fit the organisation – such as a clash of expectations – need an effective process to deal with them. Without a proper method to resolve differences, the workplace can become intolerable, potentially affecting performance, and leading to ‘contamination’ of the whole environment. In some instances, the entire team can feel uncomfortable and unhappy when two staff members are unable to work through their issues. Some behaviours such as workplace bullying, discrimination

and harassment are illegal, and there is an obligation to both stop and prevent them. Like other relationships, workplace relationships work best when there is good communication appropriate to the situation. Good communication should not step out of the negotiated and implied boundaries worked out by the roles, the people present, the context and the situation. Similarly, good relationships occur when people relate well to each other within the established boundaries. Often these parameters are spelt out in employment contracts, position descriptions and procedure documents. In times of conflict, the need for good communication is necessary to keep the workplace functioning and resolve the problem. A key factor of successful workplace relations is respectful communication and negotiation. These skills should be developed within the workplace culture where colleagues communicate respectfully with each other; managers and seniors give due diligence when explaining their decisions and policies, at least when

BELONGING EARLY YEARS JOURNAL • volume 1 number 2 • 2012 • 65

human resources management

Where there is a poor relationship, the organisation must attempt to mend it. Similarly, where there is conflict, resolution must be sought they are questioned; and staff members politely accept decisions and policies, with the ability to respectfully challenge them in situations where they disagree. If there is a difference, such as the manager not accepting the policy of the board, or a staff member not liking the nature of a request, it needs to be discussed in a way that addresses the issue without criticising the person. The first steps are usually informal – comments or gestures indicating that you do not agree or condone the action, and casual meetings before more formal ways are sought to address the problem. As an organisation, it is helpful if there are clear and simple guidelines or procedures that everyone is able to implement. Where there is a poor relationship, the organisation must attempt to mend it. Similarly, where there is conflict, resolution must be sought. Sometimes it is about taking the time, emotional energy, resources and bravery to explain the difficulty and confront

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the issue before it gets bigger – the notion of not ‘sweeping issues under the carpet’. The first step is to be overt by saying, ‘I have a problem with …’ or ‘I disagree with this practice...’ and to explore the issue. What is it that each party finds difficult? There needs to be a respectful expression of each person’s needs and concerns. Both parties need to explore options for resolving the conflict, and consider what they want changed for the relationship to work. Each party should evaluate these proposals and ideas and consider whether the suggestions are acceptable, and if the staff and organisation can facilitate them. Ideally, these problems should be addressed early and quickly in the workplace. But often relationships deteriorate until the parties are not able to hold these discussions between themselves, and they may be reluctant to admit their problems to the organisation, even if they desire a resolution. Businesses need to assist their employees through these issues to prevent staff taking extra time off, resigning, or potential legal issues arising from workplace conflict and bullying claims. A business might engage a mediator if matters cannot be resolved within the workplace. A mediator is an independent expert engaged to facilitate discussion, and to explore solutions and ways to restore an effective workplace. The mediator will ask the parties to express their thoughts and develop their ideas, and get them to consider the alternative and make compromises on some of their expectations. Where it is likely to be constructive, the mediator may give suggestions for resolving the issues. The process can be negotiated, such as who participates and

human resources management

whether there is a report made for the organisation. The outcomes may be informal agreements between the parties (or no agreements), or agreements to be co-implemented by the organisation. Another avenue for resolution is for the individuals to receive coaching or counselling on how to best manage difficult situations and relationships – through control of their reactions and better strategies to work with people who they have had a history of conflict with. As may be evident, workplace relations have similarities to other relationships; they need to be negotiated between the parties, based on mutual respect, and work best where there is effective communication appropriate to the situation, ensuring issues and conflict are dealt with promptly. And like all of our relationships, they need ongoing work and revision, and sometimes we may need to turn to others to help us through tough times. Greg Sando, Creating Common Ground Suite 1/10 Little Chapel Street, Prahran T: 0417 644 407 Greg Sando is a nationally accredited mediator and family dispute resolution practitioner.

         Frustrated by the pressure and time involved in finding quality staff? Fed up with the inconsistency in quality from casuals? We feel your pain. Having worked in childcare we knew that there had to be a better way to recruit quality staff, that’s why we set up Buzz Childcare Recruitment. We make it our business to understand your needs and those of your families. We rigorously screen candidates whether it is for a permanent or a casual position to meet your requirements. Why don’t you give us a try and experience a new approach to recruiting early childhood staff.

Call 02 8437 5200 or visit 322872A_Buzz Childcare | 1831.indd 1

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BELONGING EARLY YEARS JOURNAL • volume 1 number 2 • 2012 • 67

nutrition + menu planning

Adding iodine to your menu Almost half of Australian children are not consuming enough iodine, potentially impacting their brain development, metabolism and growth. PhD scholar Anna Walsh explains why.


hildren in southern areas of Australia are not receiving enough iodine, according to the most recent study on the nutrient. The Australian National Iodine Nutrition Survey, 2003, revealed that almost 50 per cent of Australian children are not eating sufficient amounts of iodine, with iodine deficiency more apparent in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. Children residing in Queensland and Western Australia were reportedly consuming acceptable amounts of iodine; however,

Iodine is a naturally occurring micronutrient, or trace mineral, found in soil, foods and water. Iodine can be consumed by eating foods such as nori (seaweed), iodised salt, milk products, eggs, seafood and fortified breads. Notable amounts of iodine can also be found in drinking water and some fresh produce; however, the amount of iodine found in specific foods will depend on where the food is grown or how it is made.

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since mandatory iodine fortification was introduced into the Australian food supply, the most recent iodine status of Australian children is yet to be determined. Iodine is an essential component of a child’s diet as it can influence their learning ability, moods, behaviour, metabolism and physical growth. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the impact of iodine deficiency is described as the leading cause of preventable mental impairment among young children. Iodine is essential for thyroid hormone production. The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped organ located at the base the neck which produces hormones that influence brain development, metabolism and growth. Both mild iodine deficiency and iodine excess have been associated with reduced IQ scores in affected children. Ensuring that children consume the right amounts of iodine is essential for normal growth and development. In 2009, Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) introduced mandatory use of iodised salt as an ingredient in bread products sold in Australia, complying with the WHO’s recommendation to prevent endemic iodine deficiency disorders. Bread was considered to be an appropriate food vehicle for iodine fortification, because a large proportion of the population, including children, regularly consume it.

nutrition + menu planning

Bread products that are required to be fortified with iodine include: bread loaves (including white/ multigrain/wholemeal), sweet and savoury breads and rolls, bagels, focaccia, English muffins and flatbreads. Not all breads contain added iodine; pizza bases, breadcrumbs, pastries, cakes, biscuits and crackers are not required to be fortified. Similarly, organic breads are excluded from the mandatory use of iodised salt. Furthermore, if homemade breads are baked from raw ingredients not containing iodine, those breads will not contain notable amounts of iodine. Guidelines produced by FSANZ stipulate that during the manufacturing process, salt used in bread must contain an average of 45 micrograms of iodine per kilogram. The amount of iodine available in each individual piece of bread may vary depending on the manufacturer. It would be expected that one piece of sliced bread would provide approximately 30–40 micrograms of iodine per serve. The recommend daily intake (RDI) for iodine changes according to the age of a child. The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend children between the ages of one and eight years consume at least 90 micrograms of iodine each day, and children aged nine to 13 years consume at least 120 micrograms of iodine daily. Over the period of a lifetime, the human body only requires one teaspoon of iodine in total. This means only very small amounts need to be consumed on a daily basis, but it is these small amounts that are very important.

Significantly, consuming too much iodine can be detrimental to the thyroid gland. This occurs in countries where the drinking water contains high amounts of iodine or the national cuisine typically includes nori (seaweed). It is unlikely that Australian children eating a varied, balanced diet are at risk of consuming too much iodine. To benefit from the iodine fortification initiative, a child’s diet can be prepared using iodine-fortified foods such as bread, bread rolls, bagels, focaccias, English muffins and flatbreads. In addition to frequent bread consumption, a child’s diet should also include a variety of milk products, eggs, fish or meats, fruits, vegetables and water. Appropriate iodine nutrition can be achieved through a varied diet and daily consumption of iodine-enriched foods.

Foods containing iodine

Approximate micrograms (ug) of iodine per serve

One sushi roll


One glass of milk


One fillet of steamed ocean fish


One single-serve tub of flavoured yoghurt


Two slices of bread


One small can of tuna


Iodine-enriched sandwich fillings: • tuna and avocado • salmon and cream cheese • chicken and whole-egg mayonnaise • homemade bread-crumbed chicken • lamb and greek yoghurt. Although much research has been done to understand the importance of iodine in the diet, the changing food supply and evolving food preferences of children generates the need for continuous monitoring of the iodine status of Australian children. Contact the Iodine Research Team at the Children’s Nutrition Research Centre, The University of Queensland via or phone (07) 3636 9294 to find out how to contribute to the ongoing research. Anna Walsh PhD scholar Principal Researcher for the Queensland Iodine Nutrition Survey.

BELONGING EARLY YEARS JOURNAL • volume 1 number 2 • 2012 • 69

play area designs

Up close and personal with an earthworm

Worm farms: a wiggly way to introduce sustainable practice By Kiri Combi

This article is the first in a six-part series that will look at the role of early childhood settings in promoting sustainability in education.


he philosophy of ‘education for sustainability’ refers to the role of educators in advocating and demonstrating sustainable practice to their children, to increase the knowledge of future generations. The practice of disseminating sustainability information through early childhood settings was shown as essential in a 2002 UNESCO report. The ‘Education for Sustainability’ study reviewed the impact of education in promoting sustainability across a 10-year period. It found that early childhood education could facilitate sustainable practice, because it is the foundation for lifelong learning.

that sustainable development is depressing and therefore inappropriate for children; and that, sustainability is too large an issue to be ‘dumped’ on young children. Nelson Mandela famously said, ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world’. With this in mind, I established EcoPreschools Seaforth and EcoPreschools Balgowlah, in 2003 and 2007, respectively. As I experimented with integrating sustainable practices in both centres, I noticed the challenges identified by UNESCO. There were not many early childhood educators who were knowledgeable in the field of sustainable practice. I had to educate my staff in this new way of thinking. The educators were receptive to these new skills, and I found the children were excited by them. The community welcomed sustainable practice, and it

Moreover, the study found that early childhood settings act as a juncture where a large cross-section of the community converges. If we look at the number of children enrolled in childcare across the country, and the diverse nature of their backgrounds, early childhood settings seem perfectly placed to promote and perpetuate new types of education that should be available and accessible to all, especially sustainable practice. The UNESCO report identified two major stumbling blocks when implementing education for sustainability in early childhood settings: educators’ perceptions

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Feeding the worms

play area designs

Fertilising the garden with ‘worm juice’

became the main point of difference in marketing EcoPreschools to the community. Sustainable practice can be introduced into the curriculum in small steps. Setting up a worm farm is a small but satisfying measure children can partake in. You will need three trays, 1000 live worms, a bedding block, a worm blanket, two cups of food scraps, a watering can, a coconut husk, already softened in water, gardening gloves and less than one square metre of space to install it. The worms live, breed and eat in the top tray, also known as the ‘bedding’ tray. This is where you place the food scraps. The worms eat food scraps and their waste product falls into the middle tray, called the ‘castings’ tray. This tray can be emptied every few months and the castings can be used to fertilise the soil in the garden. The bottom tray is where the worm juice collects and this can be used as a liquid fertiliser. When setting up the worm farm, take the softened coconut husk and spread it evenly over the top tray. This is the worms’ bedding. Place worms and a couple of cups of food scraps over the top. Cover with a worm blanket, such as a hessian bag or old towel and place the worm farm lid on top to close and secure the worms. These tiny recyclers will help to downsize your centre’s rubbish and enrich your garden soil. Worms eat anything organic, even an old shirt, leather belt or paper. But they don’t really like onions! Be careful of feeding them too much meat, because it can attract flies and eventually maggots. Children can be involved in every part of the set-up. This helps them to grasp an understanding of the worm farm cycle. Once the farm has been established, jobs can be rotated among the children to collect food scraps and feed the worms three times a week. The worms need water twice a week. Worm juice can be collected after watering the farm. It needs to be diluted at a ratio of 1:10 for use as fertiliser on the vegetable patch.

Since my time operating the EcoPreschool centres, I have moved on to creating kits for childcare centres to help others introduce sustainable practice. The resulting body of works culminated in my Backyard in a Box series, consisting of six modules, each containing an instructional video, teacher training manual and resource kit. There are modules on establishing a worm farm, composting, kitchen gardening, resource recycling, and animal husbandry (guinea pigs and chickens). The modules comply with the learning outcomes of the Early Years Learning Framework. The worm farm module contributes to the learning outcome where children connect and contribute to their world. The worm farm helps children to understand why earthworms are sometimes referred as the ‘lungs of the earth’. Teaching childern about worm farms introduces them to terms such as ‘castings’ and ‘worm juice’. Children familiarise themselves with the worm farm construction through the three trays with three different processes, all of equal importance. Educators facilitate the learning of waste discrimination, the specific diet of an earthworm, and what conditions are required to ensure healthy breeding. Childcare settings already operate like small communities, where educators often job-share or are required to work together to achieve common goals. Education for sustainability also requires this same community-minded approach in the children. A roster system to care for the worms ensures a shared responsibility among the centre’s children. Introducing sustainable practice through efforts like worm farms demonstrates to children that their own behaviour will contribute to their health and wellbeing as well as the wellbeing of others. They also understand the connection between their own behaviours and the benefits that follow thereafter, all contributing to an understanding of how they are connected with and can contribute to their world. This also creates a sense of agency, where children are able to see the results of their action – or inaction, as it is in some cases. The purpose of EcoPreschools’ Backyard in a Box is to inspire and prepare today’s children for lifestyles that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. For more information about Backyard in a Box, email or visit All images courtesy of Kiri Combi.

BELONGING EARLY YEARS JOURNAL • volume 1 number 2 • 2012 • 71

who are we? what we do really well! SELMAR Institute of Education is one of Australia’s leading Registered Training Organisations, delivering dynamic, fullyaccredited courses in Children’s Services, Aged Care, Training & Assessment and the Quick Service industry. We offer high quality training both on-campus and in the workplace, for employers who recognise the value of up-skilling and empowering their employees to meet evolving business needs. We believe in the importance of leading and educating the workforce of tomorrow, and empowering businesses to secure, manage and develop human potential.

We don’t say NO, we say HOW !

We do this by:

Our mission is to provide students with learning opportunities which enables them to grow and fulfil their potential.

Working closely with industry to develop our courses

Having the best trainers, facilitators and assessors who have the relevant course acumen and experience

Creating a positive and nurturing learning environment for our students

This is captured in our Values: •

We are fun, fast and energetic team

We are the best at what we do

We set our sights high and we make it happen

Being flexible yet rigorous in our teaching and assessment

We are open and honest

We care about our clients and always do the right thing

Subjecting ourselves to external quality audits and endorsements

contact one of our Regional Managers to discuss your learning & development needs.. Eastern



Jessica Williams

Kerry Lenoble

Rebecca Greenwood


0424 197 571


0415 297 230


0415 431 195




405,405 405,405 Annual Annual kilometres kilometres travelled travelled to meet to meet clients clients needs needs

3,420 3,420 Previously Previously enrolled enrolled Children Children Services Services students students

1,160 1,160 Current Current Children’s Children’s Services Services students students studying studying withwith SELMAR SELMAR

240 240 Centres Centres in which in which we have we have Work Work Place Place Training Training students students

181 181 Centres Centres in which in which ourour Campus Campus students students are are hosted hosted

33 33 SELMAR SELMAR Assessment Assessment & Training & Training Staff Staff dedicated dedicated to service to service thethe Victorian Victorian Children’s Children’s Service Service Industry Industry


learning learning and and development development partner partner toto meet meet your your workforce workforce development development needs needs

3 Wellington 3 Wellington Street Street St Kilda St Kilda Victoria Victoria 3182 3182


Certificate III in Children’s Services Certificate IV in Children’s Services (Outside School Hours Care) Diploma of Children’s Services (Early Childhood Education & Care) Diploma of Children’s Services (Outside School Hours Care) Advanced Diploma of Children’s Services


Director network meetings Professional Development workshops


Certificate III Education Support Certificate IV Education Support Diploma of Education Support


Certificate IV in Training & Assessment


• •

Food Handlers’ Certificate Course Food Safety Supervisor Course

ACCCO – industry recommended and award-winning For more information please contact ACCCO or AATS T: 1300 139 406 or

Belonging Vol1 No 2  

childcare Belonging Vol1 No 2