Program provides extra support at Glenorchy
Research consistently shows that children in vulnerable circumstances
benefit the most from access to quality early learning, however supporting these children and families presents many challenges for centres.
Goodstart’s Family Connections program recognises these challenges and through the program, educators at 30 centres around the country have been able to enhance their practice, develop more supportive relationships with families and in turn deliver better outcomes for children.
One centre running the program is at Glenorchy
and Centre Director Larissa Bellete uses the program to help her educators develop strategies for children and families and look deeper into their individual challenges.
“Children at our centre with behavioural issues need support (so) we needed to understand what was happening outside of the early learning environment.
“At the base of this, educators needed to understand the circle of security concept which provides a safe place for children to return to when they feel overwhelmed, hurt, or insecure and then venture out when they feel confident.”
Learnings from the Family Connections program have enabled educators to identify the triggers of behavioural issues, name the emotions with the child, support how they are feeling and help them settle into the learning environment.
This has not only benefitted children but also educators who are spending less time correcting behaviours.
“One of our children would start his day really well but as more children entered the room with their families, he’d become very overwhelmed and would act out.
“Through observations the educators were able to identify the trigger for this behaviour was the increased noise of families arriving in the room which made him feel insecure in his environment.
“We established a welcome space for the child, managed family groupings in the room and ensured an educator was always present as a safe pair of hands when he needed security.”
Welcome spaces have been a key strategy for the centre in supporting children and families during arrival and departure times.
“A welcome space is an intentional experience or activity we set up to enable children to be transferred from the safe hands of their parent to their educator.
“An educator is present through the whole experience and it gives the child time to settle into the environment until they feel confident, knowing that their educator is back at the welcome space if they need them.”
Play stations around the centre work on a similar concept and have been set up to help keep educators in the moment and identify small cues through children’s interactions.
Creating play stations with educators constantly present creates a secure base and allows more meaningful learning opportunities and conversations to take place with children.
The centre has also established a relationship with a local women’s shelter, which enables them to support vulnerable women and children with access to early learning.
“Many women at the shelter need to start again and are suffering trauma. Through building a relationship with the shelter, we now know when they have a family needing to access early learning.
“We have shared our learnings from Family Connections with the team at the women’s shelter so they know that we can meaningfully support these families through their journey.”
In May 2017, Goodstart Glenorchy was formally assessed as Exceeding all seven National Quality Areas, an achievement shared by just 11% of centre-based services nationwide.