ACECQA Newsletter Issue 9 2019

Educator with child outside in garden

 

ACECQA CEO Foreword 

Welcome to the September Newsletter.

One of the most important components of quality education and care is the relationship children have with their teachers and educators.  This relationship gives children a sense of belonging and is the basis for their emotional, social, physical and cognitive development.  We know from research and experience that a strong and supportive relationship helps children to recognise and regulate their feelings and behaviours, supporting development of what is known as ‘executive functions’.

It's important for teachers and educators to be positive, warm and consistent with children to establish and maintain these relationships.  This takes a lot of energy and a deep understanding of our own needs and emotional state.  In fact, international and Australian research is exploring workload and the pressures on teachers and educators in early education and care, and recognising that teaching is an emotional practice as teachers and educators '… must interact with children and adults every minute in the work time, must continually control their emotions to complete their jobs' (Hong & Zhang, 2019, Early childhood teachers' emotional labor: a cross-cultural qualitative study in China and Norway in European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 27:4, p.479-493).

This month, we bring attention to how to build your resilience so that you take care of your own emotional needs.  As the airline industry urges when reminding us about the oxygen masks before take-off – it's important to take care of yourself first so that you can help others.

We are also keen for you to keep taking every opportunity to talk with your families about quality in your service.  As a nation, we need to move the conversation from “childcare” to “early development and education”. We all want children in Australia to have the best start in life.

I hope you find the following articles helpful.


Bringing mindfulness into the everyday

Educator interacting with children at table OSHC

ACECQA plays an important role supporting the sector to develop a high quality early childhood education and care workforce. High quality service practice cannot be delivered without service leaders and educators being motivated to perform at their best level. Wellbeing should not just be a priority outside of work, but at work as well.

You’ve probably heard the word mindfulness. While not a new concept, interest in mindfulness has skyrocketed in recent decades becoming a ‘buzzword’ in our modern world.

What exactly is mindfulness? Simply put, mindfulness is the practice of being in the moment. It is a process of intentionally bringing attention to what is happening in the present and the moment to moment awareness of thoughts, feelings and sensations and the surrounding environment. It involves slowing down our often busy minds and paying attention to the here and now with an attitude of non-judgmental acceptance, openness and curiosity.

The importance of ‘being’ and of the ‘here and now’ in children’s lives is well recognised in the approved learning frameworks, and it is of equal relevance to the work, lives and wellbeing of educators.

With research touting significant benefits of mindfulness practice, bringing it into everyday practice and taking time to pause is important in fostering overall wellness and wellbeing. This involves taking time to focus on being in the present moment. Recognised benefits of this include improved focus and productivity, reduced stress, enhanced cognitive performance, increased resilience and self-awareness and improved social awareness and self-confidence.

As a point of reflection - How often do you slow down? How frequently do you press the pause button, calm your mind and anchor your awareness in the present moment?  

Education and care services are undeniably busy. When we get caught up in our day we can sometimes lose connection with others and ourselves. Building on the quality of your presence requires a commitment to prioritising your wellbeing and involves carving out time and weaving healthy habits into your day. Mindfulness is simple (relatively), takes just a few minutes, and can be practiced anywhere, making it a practical addition to your everyday self-care. So, why not make today the day you commit to prioritising your wellbeing?    

Being healthy and living well is important. ACECQA has a Wellbeing Wednesday series of posts just for educators on our Facebook page. Follow us for useful tips, resources and information on educator mental health and wellbeing including ‘mindfulness’. Keep an eye out for our #educatorwellbeingwednesday hashtag.


Australian Reading Hour – take the time

Educator reading with child at service

Australian Reading Hour is on today to remind us of the benefits of reading and to encourage all Australians to take part by stopping our usual routine at some stage today for an hour and reading during that time.

Every day is an opportunity for educators and teachers to encourage the children at their education and care service to engage in reading. It’s important to reflect on how we embed literacy in our service, especially in ways that are meaningful for children.

One of the approved learning frameworks, Belonging, Being and Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia (EYLF), states that ‘experiences in early childhood settings build on the range of experiences with language, literacy and numeracy that children have within their families and communities’ and that ‘positive attitudes and competencies in literacy and numeracy are essential for children’s successful learning’ (p.41).

Reading supports children to become effective communicators - to make sense of the world and to understand how words can inspire and bring alive imaginations. In this way, reading books develops children’s language, knowledge and creativity, as well as setting a great habit for a lifelong love of reading.

To find out more about how you can get involved not just today, but every day, visit The Australian Reading Hour’s website.

Further reading and resources

Starting Blocks – Reading with preschoolers

We Hear You – Australian Children’s Laureate 2016-2017: Q&A with Leigh Hobbs


Promoting your NQS rating to families and communities

NQS rating logos

Have you requested your National Quality Standard (NQS) rating logo?

One of ACECQA’s functions is to provide service information to help families make informed choices about children’s education and care.

Approved providers must display each service's quality rating so that it is clearly visible to anyone from the main entrance. Making sure the quality rating is clearly displayed and promoting the NQS logo may help generate conversations with families about the professional role of teachers and educators, help them to understand service quality and inform them about the elements that make up a quality service.

NQS ratings with explanations

 

Most services receive one of three ratings: ‘Working Towards’, ‘Meeting’ or ‘Exceeding’ NQS.

‘Working Towards’ the NQS does not mean that a service has failed the assessment and rating process. As the NQS was designed as a comprehensive system showcasing high expectations of quality in Australia's services, 'Meeting' really does indicate a high and challenging bar has been met. 'Working Towards' shows that the service is on a continuous quality journey with identified areas for improvement.

Our latest Snapshot shows that two-thirds of services previously rated Working Towards NQS improved their overall quality rating after reassessment.

The NQS logos can be used in promotional materials, websites, social media, email signatures, flyers or brochures. Displaying these logos is a great way to share your service’s strengths and commitment to quality improvement.

To find out more about how you can promote your NQS rating, visit our website


Starting Blocks new registered trademark

Children playing with map at service

We are committed to educating and informing families and the community about the importance of early childhood development, what quality education and care looks like under the National Quality Framework, and the important role our teachers and educators have in helping families give their children the best start in life.

Starting Blocks is an initiative by ACECQA which makes it easier for the sector and governments to share and use resources. Its primary aim is to provide families with information to help them learn about quality education and care for their children, whether at home or at an education and care service.

Following families’ research commissioned by ACECQA, its logo now features StartingBlocks.gov.au in full, making it clear it’s a government website. Our aim is to provide you and your family with trusted information, all in one place.

Starting Blocks new registered trademark

 

We encourage services to download updated StartingBlocks.gov.au collateral to share with families and communities and follow StartingBlocks.gov.au on Facebook.