Play & Learning: Early Years Teacher’s Role
Children need a safe and secure learning environment in which they feel safe. In this environment they should be given ample opportunities to explore and understanding their feelings, emotions, experiences from which they will construct knowledge. Teachers can engage the children by offering with a range of quality learning experiences that will encourage ‘active learning, problem solving, effective communication, creativity, social adjustment and participation’ (EYCG, 2006, p. 1).
Early childhood teachers play an important role in the learning experiences of their charges. They must set up and maintain active learning within their classrooms and to do this they must understand the children. This includes developing an understanding the children’s background, family situations, parental expectations, play experiences and prior learning experiences. Early childhood teachers must build functional relationships or partnerships with the children, their families or primary caregivers, the communities and with other professionals to establish and promote children’s learning (EYCG, 2006, p. p.23). As they Guide suggests, these are Effective partnerships with common goals and expectations support holistic learning.
When working with children the early childhood teacher must provide a learning environment where the children feel safe and respected and the children will be encouraged to learn. In this environment the teacher becomes aware of the individual learning styles of the children and will plan learning experiences, which are meaningful for all involved.
A working partnership also needs to be constructed with the families or primary caregivers of these children, as they’ve been the cornerstone of prior learning and development. Early childhood educators must accept the vast diversity in family structures and lifestyles and must ‘be genuine in their attempts to involve families meaningfully’ (EYCG, 2006, p. 25). Teachers must be willing to accept the contributions made by the families. By encouraging sharing, talking, and communications with the families, both teachers and families support their child’s learning. For myself it is really important to establish that line of communication between parent/s and teachers.
When considering the wider community, it’s vitally important for early teachers to understand the social and cultural implications of their children’s communities. It’s important to have a working partnership with the community at large as children value and see as important the knowledge of their own community.
Professional collaboration enables teachers to have a broader knowledge base from which to create effective learning programs (EYCG, 2006, p. 25). These partnerships are created with fellow teachers, teacher aides, admin staff, and doctors – basically anyone who’s has supported the children in previous learning or developmental programs. In creating a professional partnership, teachers
· ‘support their own working in establishing learning environments that support children’s learning
· keep up to date with current changes in their field
· build deeper understandings of children and use this knowledge to develop programs that encourage participation
· and act as advocates for children in educations, social and community contexts’ (EYCG, 2006, p. 25).