The words ‘theories’ and ‘perspective’ are used interchangeably throughout the Early Years Learning Framework or the EYLF as it is affectionately known. The EYLF is a document that guides early learning Educators practices and supports best practice outcomes for children in an early year setting.
As part of each of our Sanctuary Educator’s commitment to Early Childhood Education and Care, we regularly critically reflect and draw on theories and perspectives to help shape our ever-changing practice. Our teaching teams understand how these views impact their understandings of children’s learning and development and how these influence what they do each day with children in child care.
A theory is a group of ideas that explains a certain topic within the domain of children’s learning and development. What theories provide are ‘ways of knowing’ that influence thinking and impact our practice in particular ways.
Perspective is the way something is seen. In this instance, it refers to looking or viewing and then taking a particular stance. From theories, sets of assumptions are formed about how children learn and develop and what teaching and early learning could and should look like. These assumptions influence the way educators think and act, and they have an impact on their ideas and beliefs.
Educators view the world in certain ways. They understand and explain what is occurring within the learning environment based on the theories they know about. The theories they know about resonate with their own experiences, thinking and understanding of early childhood.
Why is it important?
These theoretical perspectives – the views stemming from theories are what educators operate from daily when working with children.
To choose a perspective is to also choose a value system and, unavoidably, an associated system of beliefs.
Thinking deeply about one’s practice and then linking it to the theoretical perspective that informs that practice, enables educators to act in a more informed way to change practice.
This leads to praxis, which is defined as reflection and action coming together and thus performing the transformative process of change.
Critical thinking and questioning are helpful processes. They enable us to ask critical questions about theories and practices, we know so well, enabling us to uncover issues that may not have come to our attention unless these common-sense understandings are challenged. - Kilderry (2015)
By drawing on critical theories, child care educators can highlight ‘taken-for-granted’ beliefs, understanding, assumptions, and dominant and disempowering disorders that could be present in the teaching and learning decisions they make.
The purpose is to promote the language of ‘possibility’ whereby new intellectual spaces are opened up for educators to rethink their pedagogical practice.
Theories enable educators to draw upon a range of perspectives to understand a child’s learning and development. It provides an opportunity for educators to discuss different theories and beliefs and to investigate why children act in their own certain ways. It also allows Educators to challenge traditional ways of seeing children and helps develop a deeper understanding between Educator and Child.
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