The Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) is a guide for early childhood educators.
Through a series of principles, practices and learning outcomes it sets out key ideas about the ways in which we work with young children.
It is not a curriculum or syllabus. It won’t tell us exactly what we should be doing from day to day or week to week. Rather, the EYLF is a reminder that learning is too important to be left to chance and gives us a guide for children’s learning, development and outcomes.
Who is an educator?
In the EYLF all early childhood practitioners who work directly with children are considered to be educators. This recognises the fact that whatever their specific role, all educators support children’s learning.
Belonging, Being and Becoming
Belonging, being and becoming are all important, but the idea of belonging is central. By supporting children to belong, we provide them with the opportunity to be a part of a community and to work towards achieving the learning outcomes.
As adults we know how stressful it feels not to belong. When we are stressed or anxious we know we aren’t in the right frame of mind to learn. The same is true of children. It is why a sense of belonging needs to underpin everything else that we do.
“The early childhood years are not solely about preparation for the future but are also about the present.” (Early Years Learning Framework, p.7)
Being is about children having the chance to just be themselves. It is about allowing children the time to grow at their own pace rather than feeling that we should be rushing them onto the next stage in their lives.
Childhood does not have to be hurried. Sometimes the best preparation for being five (or four, or three, or two…) is to be four (or three, or two, or one) for whole year.
Time for “being” allows children to:
- experience the joy and wonder of childhood;
- learn about themselves and who they are;
- develop deep and satisfying relationships and;
- become fully involved with new ideas and interests.
Becoming is about who children are growing up to be. It is about our role in supporting them to realise their potential and also in helping them to grow into active members of the community. Being needs to be balanced against the idea of becoming. “Preparation for the future” shouldn’t be our only aim. But we can’t afford to ignore it. Preparation for the future is part of our role as early childhood educators, provided that it is not the only thing we focus on.