In this issue of Every Child, editor Jackie Brien caps off 10 years in her role at the magazine and as a member of the ECA Publications Advisory Group with a beautiful reflection on her time with ECA. She has been a diligent and critical contributor to ECA’s mission and work, and everyone in the organisation is extremely grateful for her service.
The big news in the sector since the last issue of Every Child is, of course, the updated approved learning frameworks—the Early Years Learning Framework and My Time, Our Place. In this issue, the core group of academics who participated in the update process walk us through the most significant changes and what they mean for practice within the sector. The story of how the NQF ALF update project carried out its work with sector educators and leaders is certainly a fascinating one.
As ECA’s Year of Play rolls on, Every Child is committed to providing readers with high-quality articles on play to provoke reflection and improved practice. This issue contains two articles on play. The Be You team has contributed a discussion on technology play and how that relates to children’s agency, wellbeing and empowerment. Educators will be particularly interested in the advice the authors provide on involving children in the many ways educators use technology in their settings, even in the process of digital documentation. The magazine’s cover story asks three important questions educators need to ask themselves about children’s play: ‘What are the rules and structure of play?’, ‘How is play a creative process?’ and ‘What is the role of the educator in play?’ The context used by the authors, Dr Sarah Young and Dr Rebecca Lewis, for asking these questions is socio-dramatic play. As readers will discover, there is a lot more going on behind the costumes in this kind of play than simple dress-ups!
There is plenty of scope for pondering social and ethical issues in the magazine. Ruth Barnes and Lisa Layton from Isabel Henderson Kindergarten in Wurundjeri Country in Victoria discuss the intersection of caring for the land and sustainability with respect for Aboriginal voices and seasons. The four-year-olds at the service share the Acknowledgement of Country that they themselves composed. Christy-Lee Antonas and Tanya Steers from Hensman Street Elementary in Perth continue the themes of reconciliation and nature with an important article on the work the children in their service carried out alongside local Aboriginal and Islander Education Officer and Noongar woman Jasmine Fitzgerald. The children’s artistic creations inspired by the Dreaming story of how the swan (maali) got its feathers are outstanding.
In the advocacy space, Cassandra Reitano explains how important it is, especially in the post-COVID environment, for educators to advocate for and with children, for their families and, crucially, for themselves. Speaking of educators advocating for themselves in the post-COVID world, Tamara Cumming and her co-authors share their research on educator wellbeing, undertaken at the height of the pandemic. It is truly heartening that one of the things educators value most is the people they work with, which makes it that much more difficult to see so many of their colleagues leave the sector in this challenging time of low educator retention.
Bethany Yu, the Director of SDN Owl’s House in Sydney, saw opportunity in difficulty during the pandemic at a time when her service was undergoing organisational transition, revising with her staff the service’s philosophy. They came up with an amazing set of initiatives and an inspiring service philosophy all educators can get behind: ‘Respectful + Reflective + Responsive = We Belong’. The effective leadership Bethany showed is the subject of Sining (Melody) Ma’s article. She offers readers several important tips for leading effectively: ‘Use high-level communication skills’, ‘Support educators’ mental health and wellbeing’ and ‘Promote a rewards system’.
We hope you enjoy this issue of Every Child!