Childcare is so much more than just playing all day. When your child is in a childcare environment, they are given an array of opportunities to learn different skills and abilities that are fundamental to their early years of development.
Here are some of the essential skills within their key developmental areas that your children develop while at childcare, and how you can keep track of their progress.
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Early Years Learning Framework
Whilst most childcare centres adopt play-based learning, they all use a specific framework known as the Early Years Learning Framework. This framework guides the way the educators set up learning activities for your child, focusing on the importance of physical, linguistic, cognitive, and social-emotional development.
When your child runs around in the outdoor playground, rides a bike, or tries to climb up and down the obstacle course, they are developing their physical skills, particularly their gross motor skills (movements that involve large muscles of the body). This is why outdoor play is such a vital part of any childcare learning program. Your child also practices their fine motor skills (small movements that involve small muscles) when they learn to hold their spoon and self-feed during mealtimes, and when they grasp their crayons during art and craft activities.
With all the toys and activities that are available in your childcare centre, such as puzzles and blocks, your child has the opportunity to progressively build learning skills like memory, attention, and thinking. Sensory activities such as playing in the sandpit, play dough, and water play also facilitate exploration and support cognitive growth.
Language and social emotional development
Being surrounded by other children and other adults means your child will have plenty of different social interactions. This will help your child cultivate their language skills, as well as learn about managing and expressing different emotions. On top of this, the opportunity for your child to socialise with other children will help them develop their social skills, including ones like sharing, cooperating and taking turns.
Keeping track of your child’s learning progress
Most childcare services document your child’s learning progress in an individual child portfolio, which is essentially a collection of records of your child’s development and experiences throughout the year. Traditionally, this is in the form of a book which consists of observations (your child’s artworks, photos and stories of them engaging in play, their conversations with other children and educators). In the last couple of years, many centres have also started using electronic/online portfolios that are easily accessible from your smartphone or computer.
Continue to check your child’s portfolio and contribute feedback as often as possible. Your involvement as a parent in your child’s learning journey at childcare is highly valued, and also very important for your child to thrive in their early years of development.