Early childhood settings
Children learn and develop within the context of their family and their community; and families are children’s first and most enduring educators.
Early childhood educators recognise the connections between children, families and communities and the importance of reciprocal relationships and partnerships in supporting children’s mental health and wellbeing.
How can early childhood education and care settings support family and community partnerships?
The Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework and national Early Years Learning Framework emphasise the importance of professionals’ engagement with family centred practice by respecting the pivotal role of families in children’s lives
This partnership approach is based understanding each other’s expectations and attitudes, and building on the strength of each others’ knowledge. In genuine partnerships, families and early childhood professionals:
- value each other’s knowledge of each child
- value each other’s contributions to and roles in each child’s life
- trust each other
- communicate freely and respectfully with each other
- share insights and perspectives about each child
- engage in shared decision-making.
Using a genuine partnership approach enables early childhood professionals to promote children’s mental health and wellbeing, especially when they:
- use families’ understanding of their children to support shared decision-making about each child’s learning and development
- create a welcoming and culturally inclusive environment where all families are encouraged to participate in and contribute to children’s learning and development experiences
- actively engage families and children in planning children’s learning and development
- provide feedback to families on their children’s learning and information about how families can further advance children’s learning and development at home and in the community
- ensure that the interests, abilities and culture of every child and their family are understood, valued and respected
- support families to develop a sense of place, identity and a connection to the setting
- build connections between the early childhood setting and the local community.