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Understanding the Benefits of a Strong Community

As parents and childcare professionals, we all have a common goal: to provide the best possible experiences for the young children in our care. While many factors contribute to a centre’s success, one of the most critical is the development of strong and supportive communities. These communities have open communication, inclusion and respect, shared resources and opportunities, a sense of safety and security, and collaboration and partnership between families, providers, and the wider community. At Eden Academy, we focus on community as it builds the strongest foundations and strengthens all other aspects of our service.

This article explores community in early childhood education. We discuss what it means, why it matters, how it connects to the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF), and what we can all do to make it happen.

Community box at Eden Academy

What is “Community” in Early Childhood Education?

When we talk about community in early childhood, we’re referring to the network of relationships and connections between children, families, providers and the wider community. When these connections are strong, positive, and inclusive, they can profoundly impact a family’s experience in care.

However, a strong this takes time to build and is something that all community members must actively work on and participate in to reap incredible results and benefits. 

The relationships between children, families, and providers are at the heart of this community. Providers play an important role in creating a welcoming and supportive environment for children and families, and by working together, families and providers can ensure that every child has access to the best possible care. This can include sharing information, feedback, and resources and working together to provide educational and enriching experiences for children.

The wider community also plays a vital role in supporting families and providers in their efforts to create a strong community in early childhood education. This can include organisations, local businesses, schools, and other community-based programs. By collaborating and partnering with these organisations, families and providers can access a broader range of resources and opportunities to enhance the quality of care for children.

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Why is Community so Important?

The EYLF emphasises that children who are part of a supportive and inclusive community in their early years develop social-emotional skills and a stronger sense of belonging (Outcome 2.0 Children are connected with and contribute to their world). They also benefit from supportive family and provider networks, which can help them feel valued, respected, and understood.

In addition, a strong community can provide access to resources, opportunities, and learning experiences that may not otherwise be available. This includes access to educational resources, programs and activities, and parent knowledge and expertise that enhance the overall quality of care. When the service and its families participate, it builds stronger relationships between families, providers, and the wider community. This positively impacts its member because they feel a sense of achievement and belonging when included. 

Another key benefit is that it provides a sense of safety and security for both children and their families. When families feel confident and comfortable with their child’s care providers, they are more likely to feel secure and supported in their decision to place their child in care and in their parenting journey as a whole. 

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Building Strong and Supportive Communities

So, how can we work together to build strong and supportive communities in our centres? 

Open communication: Our educators communicate with families daily to update them on their child’s day, their learning and what they are working towards. Trust is built on open communication by being transparent, understanding the family’s needs and concerns, resolving issues proactively, and creating personal connections! We host parent information evenings so they can stay up to date and connected to our program and service. And regularly send out surveys so we can learn how we can improve our practices. 

Celebrating inclusion and diversity: Our Eden communities are made up of people from all walks of life! We have people of all ages, from all over the world, with different genders, abilities, family structures, religions, and unique experiences, perspectives, and goals. And that’s something to be proud of! We always celebrate and encourage this diversity because they are who we are at Eden! How can we grow and learn and raise compassionate and inclusive children without leading the way ourselves?

Partnering with the wider community: We always look for chances to collaborate with local community groups and organisations, like our land’s Elders, libraries, retirement homes, nearby schools, emergency services and businesses. By doing so, we access additional resources and knowledge for our centres, making our program and learning even better! 

Partnering with parents: We understand that parenting is a journey that can sometimes be overwhelming and isolating. We partner with our parents to ensure they have access to support, resources, and information to help them on their parenting journey

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How does a strong community relate to the Early Years Learning Framework? (EYLF)

Community is so essential in the EYLF that it has a whole learning outcome dedicated to it. Learning Outcome 2: Children are connected with and contribute to their world, aims to broaden children’s experiences as participants in different relationships and communities. This helps build strong, resilient, connected communities that benefit children, families, and society as a whole.

Regular engagement supports children’s social and emotional development, as well as their understanding of the world around them. A strong community gives children access to new experiences and opportunities, which broadens their horizons and builds their confidence.

In addition to promoting engagement, outcome 2 recognises the importance of relationships in children’s lives. Positive relationships with family members, teachers, and other carers can help children feel safe, supported, and valued, which can positively impact their overall wellbeing. A strong community can also provide children with role models and positive relationships with adults, which can help to shape their attitudes and beliefs about the world.

The EYLF also understands how important it is for children to understand and appreciate different cultures. When children are a part of a strong community, they get to experience different cultures, customs, and ways of thinking. This can help them to have a wider understanding of the world and be more culturally aware and accepting.

In short, the EYLF knows how important community is for young children. By encouraging children to be involved in their community, have good relationships with others, and understand different cultures, the EYLF wants to help children grow and develop while also building strong and connected communities.

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The Importance of Community

Community plays a crucial role in early childhood education. It involves the connections between children, families, care providers, and local organisations. A strong community provides a supportive and inclusive environment that helps children grow their social-emotional skills and feel a sense of belonging. It also offers access to resources, experiences, and opportunities that improve the quality of care. To develop a strong community, care providers should focus on open communication, appreciate diversity, collaborate with the larger community, and involve families. The Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) also recognises the significance of this involvement in children’s growth and is crucial for building resilient and connected communities that benefit everyone.

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