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Resources to Inspire Connection and Belonging

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Each new day brings invitations to form and strengthen bonds with others who children spend time and new experiences with. There are many reasons to celebrate and connect through both special events and within everyday learning and play in which children

Written by: Early Educational Advisor - Jo Harris  

When planning activities and experiences to mark seasonal occasions such as Mother’s Day, it is an opportunity to introduce the topic of family in addition to the learning and conversations that evolve naturally.

Here are some useful tips you might want to incorporate into your intentional planning to make more out of an annual event that encourages closer inspection and focus upon the family and communities that are integral to early childhood development. Embedding the Being, Belonging and Becoming within your curriculum:-

  • Assist children to live in the present, and the opportunity to embrace the wholeness of the flow of life
  • Help both the family and children to meaningfully engage with the wider world outside of the family home through a carefully planned program
  • Encourages independence and autonomy for children to make choices and decisions that affect how they live and learn
  • Appreciate children and their families individuality

Having the support of educators and other adults to allow children uninterrupted exploration is possibly the best gift we could give. Displaying photo frames with images of children and their loved ones whilst they are away from them can create comfort and security. 

Each morning as they arrive at their service, older children could also be encouraged to write their names onto a sign in sheet in pencil that is secured to a clipboard, or hang a picture of themselves on a wooden family tree to show their attendance.

 

Offering chalk and chalk boards, white board and markers or art materials including finger paint are ideal for relaxed exploration and creation in which there are opportunities for educators to learn more about those most important to children. Finding the perfect sized stick can be the ideal writing tool when moved around in sand or dirt.

Most children enjoy sharing their experiences from home with their peers. Celebrating a birthday with a pretend cake is a genuine right of passage for young children, that could be anticipated by looking at a poster or calendar during a morning greeting routine. This is an opportunity for each child to feel recognised, supported and valued, individually and as a member of a group.

 

 

Resources designed to inspire Connection and Belonging

Each new day brings invitations to form and strengthen bonds with others who children spend time and new experiences with. There are many reasons to celebrate and connect through both special events and within everyday learning and play in which children discover what they have in common with each other.

A simple group time in which children are invited to show or tell others their important events can have a positive influence on their social and emotional development. Introducing a sand timer can support children to understand the concept of time passing. As each person speaks and the others listen, they are able to regulate their expectations of speaking, listening and turn taking.

Reading the big book Let's Learn about Families or completing a family puzzle together as a group which can then be offered as part of the learning program, children have a chance to see themselves represented, which may encourage them to share their learning with their peers.

This is an important way to open up the concept of diversity and inclusion by recognising that all families and communities have the same basic needs, focusing on what there is in common between people of different cultural backgrounds.

Another important way to plan for learning about families is through activities that include the animal kingdom. Teaching the children the skills to play the Wild Animal Family or Domestic Animal Family Match includes sorting, matching and classifying them as well as promoting discussions about where and how they live.

Setting up small world play spaces with the Penguin Portable Play Family or Pig Family play set can create the connection between animal and habitats with the included accessories, or added to other loose parts play resources to extend learning supporting their creativity and imagination. Exploring the properties of high quality, food grade silicone rubber, the Moluk Oogi 4pc Family Set is a resource that can support tactile play as children experiment with their bendable hands, arms and feet. During their play they can use trial and error to test how they connect to each other to stay in place.

 

 

Supporting play and developing relationships with family inspired resources

Inspiring children to acknowledge and understand the importance of Indigenous culture can be possible by interacting with the Aboriginal Humpy Camping and Fire Set with materials like felt, wood and crochet set that represents a traditional family. This could then lead to other conversations that encourage an interest into other traditions and cultural practices that are thousands of years old but still hold relevance today.

The Fairy Felt Cherry Blossom Family and Fairy Felt Gnome Family Tree Set can become little worlds for children to be lost in their imagination whilst exploring concepts of family and friendship in small world play.

It is easy for children to create narratives in which each character can learn about relating to others, inspired by the aesthetically pleasing colours and materials that promote safety and security to express their needs and feelings.

Investing in a large set of a Multicultural Wooden Family can be a significant resource to add to block play areas. Set up in baskets and added to the shelves, children can be active in finding the character or characters they want to include to tell their stories in play. Alternatively, a large set could be split into smaller families to become part of small world play activities.

Supporting the development of children’s’ imagination and creativity, allowing them to add to, take away or combine different kinds of materials invites the possibility of extending their play and learning. Encouraging them to make their own doll furniture for the Timber dollhouse to use with the bendable doll sets to resemble items in their own home is a positive way to celebrate creativity and individuality.

Following the guidelines of the Early Years Learning Framework, National Quality Framework and implementing strategies that support the concepts of Being, Belonging, Becoming, it can be much easier to generate space and time to focus on the cultural backgrounds of children, educators and their families and wider communities.

When embedded into an early childhood program, there is scope for building genuine relationships which can only benefit the children’s experience of quality care that contributes to their optimal level of development.

Bellbird is an Australian family business whose humble origins were established to create an organisation that promoted the importance of belonging and connection. The vision of providing quality resources that are targeted to supporting quality early education, which will inspire curiosity, creativity and imagination, is to contribute to future generations of world citizens.

To find out more about how Bellbird promotes and values the importance of family to early childhood development please explore more of our blogs here in the Bellbird Educator Resource Centre.

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