Working with Children is divided into Units as follows:
Table 1: Compulsory and Elective Units
||ELECTIVE UNITS (Select 2)
|Unit 1 – Practical Component
|Unit 2 – Safety and Young Children
|Unit 3 – Child Growth & Development
Unit 4 – Guiding Children’s Behaviour
|Unit 5 – Play and Learning
||Unit 6 – Careers with Children
|Unit 7 – Nutrition and Health
|Unit 8 – Children and Technology
|Unit 9 – Sustainable Practices
UNIT 1 – PRACTICAL COMPONENT
To complete this Practical Component, the learner must develop skills that assist them to interact effectively with those around them whilst providing a safe and stimulating environment appropriate for children.
Learners will observe children in the child care environment, communicate their observations to illustrate their understanding in multimodal responses and participate in classroom discussions regarding observations. Observations may relate to the team environment, activities, aspects of safety, recognition of developmental stages, nutrition and health, etc...
The compulsory Practical Component is ongoing and will be delivered through involvement in the community. Examples of practical learning environments include, but are not limited to:
- school/college based play group
- community based groups
- neighbourhood house and community centre
- child care centres
- children services providers
- young mothers programs
- working with Early Learning Programs
- working in Kindergartens/primary schools
- mentoring programs
- Playgroup Association and community based children’s activities
- family and child related situations.
Through involvement in the community learners will develop skills in:
- positive and appropriate interaction with children and others
- personal presentation and communication
- planning and participating in safe and age-appropriate activities
- identifying the developmental stages of children and characteristics of developmental theories
- modifying environments and activities to suit developmental stages, improve safety and respond to diverse cultural differences
- assessing effectiveness of activities and resources
- applying theoretical and practical skills developed in other compulsory units and electives
- identifying the national frameworks of child care education and legislative requirements of child care provision.
UNIT 2 – SAFETY AND YOUNG CHILDREN
One of the most important responsibilities of child care providers is keeping children and employees safe in the child care environment. Whether children are in child care centres or home-based care, providers are responsible for ensuring safety both inside and outside their child care setting.
Learners will investigate responsibilities in a range of contexts as well as specific legislations that provide guidelines for providers’ responsibilities. They will identify the safety and design needs of the workplace, activities and modes of interaction or delivery, characteristics of safe and unsafe activities, toys, resources and environments and apply their understanding in practical engagement in the child care environment. Resources may be developed to illustrate learnings.
Topics will include:
- nursery and equipment
- first aid:
- cuts, abrasions, stings, bites, falls, poisoning
- certification and training
- cleaning, sanitising and disinfecting in child care
- preventing illness from contagious disease (e.g. colds and flu)
- pets in the child care environment e.g. ‘show and tell’; class pet; mobile animal farms/nurseries
- safety in the home
- safety outdoors
- water, sun, pedestrian and bicycle, playground equipment, excursions, using public transport, travelling in cars
- materials and resources
- duty of care to yourself and children
- legislation and frameworks influencing the provision of safe environments.
UNIT 3 – CHILD GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT
As this compulsory unit is comprehensive and integral to the course, it will be delivered throughout the duration of the course and may be integrated with elective topics. It is designed to complement the Practical Components of the course. It focuses on the changing abilities and needs of children, according to physical, cognitive, social and emotional development from infancy through to the pre-teen years and the factors that might impact on that development. This influences the way in which children engage in the child care environment.
The key areas of study for this unit are listed below. This is not exhaustive and may be complemented with any further suitable areas of study, including the study of topical contemporary issues.
Key areas of study will include:
- ages and stages of development. Children’s development is characterised by distinct stages, influenced by both genetic and environmental factors, as they move from infants to young adults
- developmental theories (e.g. Piaget, Vygotsky, Bruner, Bandura, Skinner):
- social environment:
- family structures, personal relationships, cultural, socio-economic factors, gender
- physical environment:
- the home, child care, play group, school, playgrounds/parks, community links, hospital, friends
- emotional environment:
- attitudes, positive and negative attention, reinforcement, self-esteem
- cognitive environment:
- developing appropriate learning experiences/activities for a range of thinking and learning skills including language, attention, planning, problem-solving and memory
- providing equipment and apparatus for experiential learning
- children with needs.
UNIT 4 – GUIDING CHILDREN’S BEHAVIOUR
Guiding children’s behaviour can be challenging for both families and the child care provider in child care environments where there is a range of personalities, exciting opportunities and distracting elements for children, as well as a range of social and cultural backgrounds impacting on behaviour.
Learners will investigate contemporary strategies and theories on guiding children’s behaviour, the elements that impact on the expression of that behaviour, as well as rights and responsibilities of the child, parent, carer and state. They will investigate contemporary issues of significance, such as bullying, and its impact on child development. The learner will observe strategies within the child care environment and record their observations of how children are encouraged to understand and take control of their emotions and responses. Learners may also consult with parents, carers and others in the child care environment regarding effective strategies and subject specific scenarios (e.g. sibling rivalry), under the direction of child care providers or teachers, to ensure that discussions are managed with respect and sensitivity.
Learners will respond to the following topics:
- define positive and negative behaviour
- define the difference between discipline and guiding children’s behaviour
- types of behaviour
- age appropriate expectations
- strategies for resolving conflict
- autonomy and independence
- factors influencing behaviour
- children with needs
- attachment and separation anxiety
- self-image and self-esteem
- sibling rivalry
- contemporary issues relating to behaviour
- behaviour modification
- parenting styles
- responsibilities and obligations regarding children
- the rights of the child
- the rights of the parent/carer/state.
UNIT 5 – PLAY AND LEARNING
Play is an integral part of learning. Play builds confidence, develops social, language and communication skills, encourages inclusiveness by promoting a sense of acceptance and well-being, develops physical skills and connects and refines pathways in the brain.
Learners will investigate types of play, the theories associated with the types of play, developmental stages of play, the structure of play and the benefit of play. They will also engage in the planning, setting up and implementing of specific play activities and observe play in the child care environment.
Topics will include:
- types of play:
- creative, imaginative, manipulative, experimental, social, discovery, physical
- developmental stages of play:
- solitary, onlooker, parallel, associative and cooperative
- the benefits and value of play:
- play for fun, needs, likes and dislikes
- influences on play:
- gender, culture, environment, media, social contacts, music, writing/scribbling
- relevant and current social factors influencing play:
- families, siblings, socio-economics, peer pressure
- impact of cultural background on play
- indigenous children and play – oral histories, significance of games to indigenous culture
- Reggio Emilia and other philosophies.
Learners may consider the following activities and resources:
- books and stories
- indoor/outdoor play
- family board or card games
- expressive arts and crafts
- toys and play materials
- recycled and reconstituted toys
- entertaining children
- children’s parties
- structured and free play
- setting up play environments
- accessing resources
- nature and its role in play and development
- playgrounds and bike tracks
- super heroes and their impact on children’s play
- music and play.
Learners are to select a minimum of 2 elective units from Units 6–9. Each unit is designed to be delivered over 20 hours (Table 1). Elements of some elective units may have been incorporated into either the preparation for the Practical Component or in Compulsory Units 2–5. Discussion around elective topics may already have taken place to provide an awareness and interest in the chosen areas.
UNIT 6 – CAREERS WITH CHILDREN
Careers with children are varied and can be rewarding, ranging from education and child care, psychology, health, the arts, sports, legal work, social care and guidance as well as the vital role of parenting. Children and young people are the future and any investment in their health, education and well-being is an investment in them ultimately becoming successful, fulfilled adults. Inspiring the next generation can be a challenging and creative career.
Learners will investigate a range of careers for working with children, including education requirements and pathways. They will describe the key knowledge and skills for these roles and the function of and need for these roles (e.g. After School Care programs). Learners are to investigate factors that might impact on the nature of these roles. These may include economic changes (e.g. changing costs of child care provision), social and cultural factors (e.g. supporting children learning English as a second language) or political changes impacting on legislation. The following is not a definitive list and further topics may respond to topical issues as directed by the teacher.
Topics may include but are not limited to:
- family day care
- centre-based care
- neighbourhood children’s centres
- respite care
- nannies, au pairs and governesses
- before and after school care
- vacation care
- early intervention programs
- early childhood teaching
- social work
UNIT 7 – NUTRITION AND HEALTH
Child nutrition and health is fundamental to the well-being of children. Child care services have a responsibility to promote health through good nutrition for children that attend their program(s) and to ensure that staff are familiar with nutrition principles as well as hygiene standards and food safety laws. All children need regular healthy meals, nutritious snacks and adequate fluid intake over the duration of their time in the child care environment. The child care environment can also ensure positive experiences around nutrition and mealtimes for the children in their care. This includes providing a culturally appropriate atmosphere at mealtimes, showing respect for all children and, where relevant, culturally appropriate meals and drinks.
This unit investigates core topics as well as those of specific interest to learners. The learner will investigate principles of good nutrition and health from prenatal health through to young children in the child care environment. The following topics form the core of the study and are compulsory, however, additional topical studies may also be introduced (e.g. current studies on child health and nutrition, additives, genetically modified foods, treatment of allergies as well as other topics of contemporary interest.)
Topics may include but are not limited to:
- prenatal health
- breast feeding
- bottle feeding
- weaning and first foods
- feeding toddlers and young children
- personal hygiene
- dietary guidelines
- childhood illnesses
- caring for sick children
- children in hospital
- cooking for and with children
- every day foods, special occasions, food choices
- hygienic environments
- dental health
- school lunches
- cultural experiences with food.
UNIT 8 – TECHNOLOGY AND CHILDREN
This unit provides opportunities for learners to investigate contemporary use of technology in play and learning in the child care environment and in the home. Learners will investigate current theories of the positive and negative impacts of technology as a learning tool for young children, relate this knowledge to developmental theories and observe the use of technology in the child care environment or home.
Topics may include but are not limited to:
- electronic media; film and television; importance of screen time for children
- whether electronic media displaces social interaction
- key factors influencing the impact of technology (e.g. positive parent/carer–child relationship; age appropriate experiences; sleep and good nutrition; impact on physical and emotional health)
- investigate types of educational media, referencing examples
- computer games:
- Are computer games useful in cognitive, social and emotional development of children?
- Do computer games have a place in early childhood programs? Are the use of computer games a problematic issue that needs to be examined in terms of play theories and developmental appropriateness?
- Discuss, workshop and develop a framework for examining computer games in terms of play theories:
- Do computer games have the potential to consolidate existing learning? If so, in what ways? (Piaget’s cognitive theory)
- Do computer games enable children to gain a sense of control over events that they are not able to control in their lives, including traumatic experiences? (Freudian theory)
- Do computer games provide children with an opportunity to act out and explore the roles and rules of functioning in adult society in a safe environment?
- Do computer games operate at literal and figurative levels of meaning? Are games a valuable tool in enabling children to reflect on the rules and means of communication? (Bateson’s theory of communication and meta-communication)
- Do computer games develop a sense of a child’s own self-identity and social identity in relation to others? (Mead’s theory of self)
- Do computer games allow for group work and collaboration?
- Do computer games involve and develop use of symbolic meaning? (Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory).
Adapted from: Verenikina, Harris & Lysaght. 2003. Child’s Play: Computer Games, Theories of Play and Children’s Development.
UNIT 9 – SUSTAINABLE PRACTICES
This unit examines the ways in which the concept of sustainability can be integrated into child care environments, including the home. The study of sustainable practices can be inspiring and empowering for children, parents and child care workers to initiate and achieve tangible outcomes such as vegetable, flower or themed gardens.
Topics include understanding human impact on the environment and teaching sustainable practices to children. A cross-disciplinary approach may be used, integrating elements of human geography, physical geography, environmental science, agriculture and science. Additional topics may be identified that are specific to learner groups and/or locale.
Learners may research and investigate the topics listed, however, with direction, learners may focus on specific topics where there is an extensive practical component planned.
Topics may include but are not limited to:
- definition of ‘the environment’. Why do we need to take responsibility for our impact on the environment?
- are there any current environmental practices integrated into the child care environment of the learners’ practical experience? Could these be expanded or improved?
- buildings and other structures – what constitutes good environmental design?
- waste disposal: composting, worm farming, recycling
- outdoor activities for children: vegetable/herb garden, native plants, flower, growing from seed, impact of seasons
- themed gardens: fairy garden, Mexican garden (using succulents), no-dig garden, sensory garden (colour, smell, texture), raised garden with Perspex viewing window to observe roots, window gardens, native plant or ‘bush food’ gardens
- animals – care, respect; environmental planning for native fauna
- water: coastal and river systems plants and animals; conservation; and use of
- nature of custodial responsibility for the earth; carbon footprint; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ beliefs about the land
- other institutions/environments where children can learn more about sustainability (e.g. museums)
- identify resources examining and providing direction for sustainable practices. What makes a good resource? Identify ideas that might be incorporated into the child care environment of the practicum.