Element 5.1.1: Positive educator to child interactions

Responsive and meaningful interactions build trusting relationships which engage and support each child to feel secure, confident and included.
National Law & Regulations

National Law and National Regulations underpinning Element 5.1.1

Section 166 Offence to use inappropriate discipline

Regulation 155 Interactions with children

What Element 5.1.1 aims to achieve

Positive interactions between educators and children involve educators viewing each child as capable and competent, with a right to a voice and able to contribute to decisions that affect them. This enables educators to focus their education and care practices on children’s strengths and inclusion in the group environment.

Educators who are responsive to children’s thoughts and feelings are supporting them to develop a strong sense of wellbeing. By interacting positively and meaningfully with children, educators help children to feel accepted and to develop a sense of attachment and trust. Children who are supported to understand themselves experience a sense of belonging that fosters self-esteem. Self-esteem contributes to the development of identity and is critical to children’s capacity to understand their own strengths, abilities and interests. When children feel safe, secure and supported, they develop confidence to explore and learn (Early Years Learning Framework, p. 20; Framework for School Age Care, p. 19).

Positive and responsive one-on-one interactions, especially with children under three years old, are important to children’s wellbeing and their future development. Secure relationships with educators encourage children under three years to thrive, and provides them with a secure base for exploration and learning. As children grow and develop they continue to rely on secure, trusting and respectful relationships with the adults in their lives.

Mutually supportive relationships are important for school age children. Secure, respectful and reciprocal relationships are key to establishing a positive and trusting community in school age care settings, and enable children to develop their independence, leadership and social skills, and a strong sense of identity (Framework for School Age Care, p. 10).

Assessment guide for meeting Element 5.1.1 (for all services)

Building trusting relationships


Assessors may observe:

  • educators:
    • sitting and engaging in relaxed and unhurried two way conversations with children, particularly at mealtimes
    • assisting new children to settle into the program by talking with them or their families about their interests
    • responding openly, positively and respectfully to children’s comments, questions and requests for assistance
    • engaging with children in conversations throughout the day or session, talking about what is happening around them and what they are learning
    • engaging in sustained conversations with each child about their individual interests
    • showing enthusiasm and respect when interacting with all children and their families
    • comforting children who cry or show other signs of distress
    • responding positively to the varying abilities, individual strengths and confidence of all children, and facilitating their involvement in the service
    • acknowledging children’s efforts and achievements and supporting children to experience success
    • adjusting and tailoring their interactions to best support the differing ages and capabilities of children attending the service
    • demonstrating that they know each child well and have developed a unique, reciprocal relationship with each child
    • actively supporting the maintenance of each child’s home language where interactions with the family supports this approach
    • respectfully participating in children’s play and using children’s cues to guide their level and type of involvement
    • modelling reasoning, predicting, reflective processes and appropriate language
    • collaborating with children about routines and experiences and providing opportunities for them to make decisions and choices
  • using appropriate techniques, such as sign language and other resources and tools, to support communication with all children
Birth to three
  • talking with children about what is about to happen during routines and transitions
  • encouraging ‘turn taking’ communication by responding and adding to interactions initiated by children
  • responding to children when they practice and play with language, by repeating the words, sounds and gestures that children use
  • describing objects and events as the children participate in play
School age children
  • respectfully stepping into and out of children’s play, to support children’s decision-making
  • setting up learning environments which support children to learn independently
  • providing opportunities for children to develop relationships by teaching others
Family day care
  • co-ordinators:

    • supporting educators’ relationships with children during home visits and playgroups by sharing their expertise and professional experience
    • developing respectful relationships with children
  • children:

      • demonstrating a sense of belonging, security and comfort in the environment
      • communicating their need for comfort and assistance
      • initiating conversations with educators about their experiences inside and outside the service
      • confidently expressing ideas and feelings and sharing humour with educators
      • asking educators for assistance when they engage in new experiences, take on new challenges and try to complete tasks independently
    Birth to three
    • being supported to build secure attachments with one educator initially and then other educators in the environment
    • using a favourite toy, photograph or comfort item brought from home to help them settle and feel secure in the service (adapted from the Early Years Learning Framework, pp. 21, 26; and the Framework for School Age Care, pp. 20, 22).
    • an atmosphere that is relaxed and positive where children are engaged in experiences that interest them
    • an environment that reflects the lives of the children, their families and the local community
    • practices and routines that observe children and their family and community contexts
    • group sizes and staffing practices that:
      • support the establishment of secure relationships between educators and children
      • support children settling into the service each day
      • meet each child’s requirements throughout the day
      • facilitate effective daily communication with families
    Birth to three
    • predictable and respectful personal-care routines that are enjoyable experiences for children and that enrich their learning
    • many opportunities for children to experience relaxed physical contact and one-to-one interactions with familiar educators.

    Assessors may discuss:

    • ways in which nominated supervisors, co-ordinators and educators learn more about the histories, cultures, languages, traditions, child-rearing practices and lifestyle choices of families using the service
    • strategies used to respond to each child’s preferences and assist all children to develop a sense of security, belonging and confidence in the service
    • how plans for the inclusion of children with additional needs are shared and communicated with educators and staff members
    • the ways in which children’s cues are used to guide the level and type of adult involvement in children’s play
    • how children are encouraged to share their stories and ideas
    • how routines and everyday experiences are guided by children and used to support their learning, based on children’s preferences and the dynamics of the day
    • the ways in which educators use information gained from their observations and interactions with children to extend children’s thinking and learning
    • how educators use their interactions with children to support the maintenance of home languages and learning English as an additional language, following communication with families
    Birth to three
    • how staffing, group arrangements and the environment support children to feel secure and relaxed at the service
    Centre-based services
    • how rosters are planned to promote continuity of, and enhance, relationships with children and families.

    Assessors may sight:

    • examples of information gathered from:
      • families to support their child during the settling-in process
      • other professionals or support agencies that work with children, including children who require additional support and those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds
    • the service’s approach to equity and inclusion, documented in the statement of philosophy
    • plans for the inclusion of children who require additional support
    • evidence that educators and co-ordinators draw on the diverse knowledge, experiences and views of their colleagues when reviewing their teaching strategies and experiences planned for children, to ensure that all children have opportunities to achieve learning outcomes
    • evidence of planned and spontaneous experiences and routines where educators support the engagement of individual children and groups of children in experiences of their own choosing
    • documentation of children’s learning that shows evidence that educators’ interactions with children are used to support children’s developing ideas, skills and relationships.