Early childhood settings

Many children attend an early childhood setting. Quality early childhood settings ensure the learning environment support children’s positive mental health.

Children’s mental health and wellbeing is fundamental to their learning and development. A strong sense of wellbeing and positive mental health provides children with confidence and optimism which maximises their learning potential.

All early childhood professionals are responsible for creating an environment which supports children’s positive mental health.

The Children’s Services Act (1996) prescribes that the proprietor and educators are responsible for ensuring that the early childhood setting is operated in a way that protects the health, safety and wellbeing of all children attending the setting. They are also responsible for delivering an educational or recreational program which supports children’s learning and development and acknowledges individual differences.

How can early childhood education and care settings support safe, inclusive, empowering and positive mental health environments?

The Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework and national Early Years Learning Framework provides guidance for early childhood professionals on creating learning environments which support children’s positive mental health and wellbeing.

It is essential that early childhood professionals attend to children’s wellbeing by providing warm, trusting relationships, predictable and safe environments.

It identifies that early childhood professionals:

  • create physical environments that support a range of opportunities for learning and physical activity, both indoors and outdoors
  • plan learning environments with appropriate levels of challenge where children are encouraged to explore, experiment and take appropriate risks in their learning
  • provide babies and toddlers with resources that offer challenge, intrigue and surprise, support their investigations and share their enjoyment
  • provide sensory and exploratory experiences with natural and processed materials
  • provide rich and diverse resources that are familiar to children
  • build connections between the early childhood setting and the local community
  • promote a sense of community within the early childhood setting
  • model and reinforce health, nutrition and personal hygiene practices with children
  • provide a range of active and restful experiences throughout the day and support children to make decisions regarding participation
  • think carefully about how children are grouped for play, considering possibilities for peer scaffolding.