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Educational programs in early education and care services

Last updated: January 23, 2024

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Quality programs for children preschool age and under in services such as long day care, family day care or preschool/kindergarten settings, are developed to support and guide children in all areas of their learning and development, in ways that take into account each child’s interests, ideas, strengths, experiences, culture and needs.

What is an educational program?

All services approved under the National Quality Framework (NQF) are required to have an educational program that is based on an approved learning framework. This is a mandated requirement under the National Law, meaning that all approved services must have an educational program.

There are two approved learning frameworks in Australia, one for children preschool age and under, and another for school age children and young people. The approved learning frameworks are:

The educational program must also consider the development needs, interests, ideas, theories and experiences of each child and young person, and reflect the individual differences of each child and young person.

What is the approved learning framework for children preschool age and under?

There is no set way a program must look for children preschool age and under. However, all programs should consider children’s learning and development and be guided by the approved learning framework. Whether the service is a long day care or a family day care, all services will need to implement a program under the approved learning framework. Each service will have its own unique service philosophies and approaches to educational theories which may change the way in which they implement the EYLF V2.0.

The EYLF V2.0 is based on a set of five learning outcomes which act as the foundation for any educational program. The educational program must contribute to meeting the requirements of the five outcomes. Although each program will look different, you should be able to see how the learning outcomes are identified and met.

The five learning outcomes of EYLF V2.0 are:

Outcome 1: Children have a strong sense of identity

Through this outcome, children learn about themselves and develop their own identity through relationships with other children, their families and communities. Educators will support children to explore their identities by interacting with others and encouraging them to overcome challenges. As children develop their sense of identity, they explore different aspects of physical, social, emotional and cultural learning through their play, relationships and friendships.

Outcome 2: Children are connected with and contribute to their world

This outcome recognises that children learn, grow and develop within a range of different communities that include families, local communities or early childhood settings. Children who are closely connected to these communities are supported to have a positive sense of identity.

Educators will encourage children to be active contributors to their world through responsive relationships that are based on their interests, knowledge, ideas, theories and skills. When educators create environments where all children can experience respectful relationships with people and the environment, their development is positively supported.

Outcome 3: Children have a strong sense of wellbeing

Wellbeing relates to both physical and emotional aspects. When children have a strong sense of wellbeing it encourages their feelings of belonging, trust and security.

Educators help to support children's wellbeing by providing children with the capacity to develop their resilience, manage their emotions and develop self-regulation skills. When educators respond sensitively and respectfully to children's emotional states, they are building their confidence and encouraging their sense of wellbeing.

Outcome 4: Children are confident and involved learners

Through this outcome, children develop understandings of themselves and their world through active, hands-on investigation.

Educators will create learning environments that encourage children's engagement and participation. This is achieved by educators incorporating and acknowledging children's interests, ideas, theories, skills and knowledge within the program. When children are confident and involved in the program, they are using skills such as curiosity, persistence and creativity.

Outcome 5: Children are effective communicators

Communication extends beyond the spoken word and includes non-verbal gestures and cues, written text and visual representations of communication. From birth, children are communicating and seeking to make connections through the exchange of ideas, thoughts and feelings.

Through this outcome, educators will support children to communicate using a range of tools such as visuals and music to express themselves. Literacy and numeracy are also important aspects of communication that educators will incorporate into the program to assist the development of communication skills.

What does an educational program for children preschool age and under look like?

An educational program will look different in each service dependent on its structure, service philosophies, context, understanding of educational theories, and the interests and needs of its children and families. There are some key inclusions that you may commonly see across educational programs such as a play-based approach and the implementation of routines and caregiving as opportunities for learning and growth.


How are programs planned?

Planning a program for children is a process in which educators design experiences and activities aimed at developing and extending each child’s ideas, theories, skills and interests. While all services are required to plan for children, the way this is implemented will look different in each service.

The program may be:

  • a written plan that is based on documented records of observations and interactions with children and focuses on a series of learning areas
  • it may be in the form of project work which includes many areas of learning and experiences, explored through a concept or idea that has been led by the children.

Educators will plan for children through a constant process of thinking clearly about what experiences are being provided for children and why.

How can families learn more about the educational program?

The best way for families to find out about the program is to speak with educators in the service.

Some useful questions that families can ask include:

  • What activities and experiences are provided for children in the service?
  • How is the daily program accessible for families?
  • How do the educators in the service decide what activities, materials and experiences are provided for children?
  • How do educators find out whether children are benefiting from and enjoying the program being provided?
  • How can families be involved in planning and evaluating programs for children?

Many services will explain the way they structure programs to families during the enrolment and orientation process or through documentation such as a family handbook or orientation pack. However, all families have the right to ask educators about the program that is planned for their child, and information should also be shared with families about their child’s learning, development, achievements and any issues or concerns that may be identified.

How can families be involved in planning the program for their child?

A quality educational program will also incorporate information from families about their child’s knowledge, skills, ideas, abilities, cultural backgrounds, interests and experiences outside of the service.

Although services may take different approaches to their communication with families, some of the ways that services may seek information include:

  • Daily conversations with families during drop off and pick up
  • Meetings for families to reflect on and contribute to program planning and decision making.
  • Communication books or apps that are used for families and educators to exchange information about the child or young person at home and at the service
  • Creating surveys, topical forms or other requests for families to contribute to the educational program.

To find the best approach to supporting your children in the educational program, speak with your service educators.

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