Creating a child centred OSHC program in EarlyWorks
It’s easier than you might think!
This is a question we often hear from services enquiring about using EarlyWorks, so I have done a lot of thinking about what the answer is. And the good news is, it’s not that complicated.
To be inclusive of all children, the program does not need to include individually planned experiences for each child. What it does need to do, is cater for the needs of each child within the programmed experiences. And there are some fun and engaging ways of ensuring individual interests, and developmental needs are included in each week’s program:
Involve the children in documentation:
- Invite children to create the narrative in journals – a brilliant way of getting their take on what the weekly highlights and lowlights were, and then taking those into account when planning for the following week. (For example, if the children write: “We LOVED playing table tennis! A lot of the kids would like to play it more than once a week!” The following week you might offer table tennis on two days rather than one.)
- Hand the camera over to the children – a great way to see what they saw, what they learnt, and what they chose to ignore. (If a number of children took photos of the table tennis activity, that would support the journal narrative, and make it clear there needs to be more table tennis in the program.)
- Capture children’s interests through a feedback wall – encourage the children to share their feedback on what they liked and didn’t like, as well as ideas for future activities, or changes to the environment and routines. Keep a record of the feedback wall in EarlyWorks, by taking a photo and including it in each week’s journal. Then it can be directly linked to the planned experiences for the following week through the journal.
Involve families in documentation:
- Families can comment on Observations, Journals and Photos in EarlyWorks, and those comments used to inform the next week’s program.
- Invite families to share their ideas as well as important occasions through Parent Comments in EarlyWorks. This is a wonderful way to find out about family values, cultures, beliefs and expectations and acknowledge those in the program.
Involve all educators in documentation:
- Ensure all educators’ voices are heard in
documentation by encouraging all educators to contribute child comments and
program comments and use these to tweak the program for the following week.
- Use individual and group observations as well as journals to inform and tweak the program for the following week.
The program does not need to include individual experiences for every child based on individual observations of every child. We just need to ensure that the experiences we provide, and the environment we create works for each child. For example:
- If one of the educators notes in an educator comment that a child is getting stressed at having other children get too close to their Lego creations, move the Lego to a low traffic area (change to the environment).
- If a parent has let us know through a parent comment that their family is undergoing a lot of stress and change, we might give that child a chance to be a superhero in a drama activity so that they feel empowered (tweak an experience).
- If several children have indicated on the feedback wall that they would like to make friendship bracelets, include the materials for friendship bracelets in the craft area (add resources).