Early Years Learning Framework

2.0 Children are connected with and contribute to their world
Experiences of relationships and participation in communities contribute to children’s belonging, being and becoming.

From birth children experience living and learning with others in a range of communities. These might include families, local communities or early childhood settings. Having a positive sense of identity and experiencing respectful, responsive relationships strengthens children’s interest and skills in being and becoming active contributors to their world. As children move into early childhood settings they broaden their experiences as participants in different relationships and communities.

Over time the variety and complexity of ways in which children connect and participate with others increases. Babies participate through smiling, crying, imitating, and making sounds to show their level of interest in relating to or participating with others. Toddlers participate and connect with other toddlers through such gestures as offering their teddy to a distressed child or welcoming a new child enthusiastically. Older children show interest in how others regard them and understandings about friendships. They develop understandings that their actions or responses affect how others feel or experience belonging.

When educators create environments in which children experience mutually enjoyable, caring and respectful relationships with people and the environment, children respond accordingly. When children participate collaboratively in everyday routines, events and experiences and have opportunities to contribute to decisions, they learn to live interdependently.

Children’s connectedness and different ways of belonging with people, country and communities helps them to learn ways of being which refl ect the values, traditions and practices of their families and communities. Over time this learning transforms the ways they interact with others.

2.1 Children develop a sense of belonging to groups and communities and an understanding of the reciprocal rights and responsibilities necessary for active community participation

This is evident, for example, when children:

  • begin to recognise that they have a right to belong to many communities
  • cooperate with others and negotiate roles and relationships in play episodes and group experiences
  • take action to assist other children to participate in social groups
  • broaden their understanding of the world in which they live
  • express an opinion in matters that affect them
  • build on their own social experiences to explore other ways of being
  • participate in reciprocal relationships
  • gradually learn to ‘read’ the behaviours of others and respond appropriately
  • understand different ways of contributing through play and projects
  • demonstrate a sense of belonging and comfort in their environments
  • are playful and respond positively to others, reaching out for company and friendship
  • contribute to fair decision-making about matters that affect them

Educators promote this learning, for example, when they:

  • promote a sense of community within the early childhood setting
  • build connections between the early childhood setting and the local community
  • provide opportunities for children to investigate ideas, complex concepts and ethical issues that are relevant to their lives and their local communities
  • model language that children can use to express ideas, negotiate roles and collaborate to achieve goals
  • ensure that children have the skills to participate and contribute to group play and projects
  • plan opportunities for children to participate in meaningful ways in group discussions and shared decision-making about rules and expectations

2.2 Children respond to diversity with respect

This is evident, for example, when children:

  • begin to show concern for others
  • explore the diversity of culture, heritage, background and tradition and that diversity presents opportunities for choices and new understandings
  • become aware of connections, similarities and differences between people
  • listen to others’ ideas and respect different ways of being and doing
  • practise inclusive ways of achieving coexistence
  • notice and react in positive ways to similarities and differences among people

Educators promote this learning, for example, when they:

  • reflect on their own responses to diversity
  • plan experiences and provide resources that broaden children’s perspectives and encourage appreciation of diversity
  • expose children to different languages and dialects and encourage appreciation of linguistic diversity
  • encourage children to listen to others and to respect diverse perspectives
  • demonstrate positive responses to diversity in their own behaviour and in conversations with children
  • engage in interactions with children that promote respect for diversity and value distinctiveness
  • explore the culture, heritage, backgrounds and traditions of each child within the context of their community
  • explore with children their ideas about diversity

2.3 Children become aware of fairness

This is evident, for example, when children:

  • discover and explore some connections amongst people
  • become aware of ways in which people are included or excluded from physical and social environments
  • develop the ability to recognise unfairness and bias and the capacity to act with compassion and kindness
  • are empowered to make choices and problem solve to meet their needs in particular contexts
  • begin to think critically about fair and unfair behaviour
  • begin to understand and evaluate ways in which texts construct identities and create stereotypes

Educators promote this learning, for example, when they:

  • notice and listen carefully to children’s concerns and discuss diverse perspectives on issues of inclusion and exclusion and fair and unfair behaviour
  • engage children in discussions about respectful and equal relations such as when a child dominates in the use of resources
  • analyse and discuss with children ways in which texts construct a limited range of identities and reinforce stereotypes
  • draw children’s attention to issues of fairness relevant to them in the early childhood setting and community

2.4 Children become socially responsible and show respect for the environment

This is evident, for example, when children:

  • use play to investigate, project and explore new ideas
  • participate with others to solve problems and contribute to group outcomes
  • demonstrate an increasing knowledge of, and respect for natural and constructed environments
  • explore, infer, predict and hypothesise in order to develop an increased understanding of the interdependence between land, people, plants and animals
  • show growing appreciation and care for natural and constructed environments
  • explore relationships with other living and non-living things and observe, notice and respond to change
  • develop an awareness of the impact of human activity on environments and the interdependence of living things

Educators promote this learning, for example, when they:

  • provide children with access to a range of natural materials in their environment
  • model respect, care and appreciation for the natural environment
  • find ways of enabling children to care for and learn from the land
  • consider the nature of children’s connectedness to the land and demonstrate respect for community protocols
  • share information and provide children with access to resources about the environment and the impact of human activities on environments
  • embed sustainability in daily routines and practices
  • look for examples of interdependence in the environment and discuss the ways the life and health of living things are interconnected