What is the EYLF?
The Early Years Learning Framework, or EYLF, is a set of standards, practices and principles to guide early childhood workers with the education and development of children between the ages of 0-5 years old. The framework was established by the Council of Australia Governments, in conjunction with the early childhood sector. It is based on substantial empirical evidence indicating that the first years of a child’s life are crucial with their ongoing learning and development. The EYLF makes up a key component of the National Quality Framework (NQF) governing childcare centres in Australia.
It is important to understand that the EYLF is not a curriculum or syllabus. Instead it a combination of strategies and learning objectives that provide early childhood educators the ability to create their own educational programmes and activities. A key reason for EYLY is to ensure a consistent standard of education across childcare facilities in Australia. The EYLF has a strong focus on play-based learning, and emphasises the importance of communication and language, as well as social and emotional development in children.
The Three Fundamental Concepts
There are three overarching concepts characterising the lives of a child’s development – belonging, being and becoming. From before a child is born they are already creating connections with their family, community and culture. It is through these relationships, that children will experience their first opportunities to learn, and begin forming their own identities.
Having a sense of belonging is critical for human existence, and even more so for young children. It is important that a child feels like they belong to their families, communities and within general society. It is through these relationships, that a child will start to form their own identity and establish the foundation of who they will eventually become.
The act of being, essentially means letting children be children. Childhood is a time to explore the world and discover the up’s and down’s of life. It entails overcoming the general challenges of day-to-day life, and learning about themselves, as well as the world around them.
The first years of a child’s life involves an enormous amount of change. It will be the first time for everything, and as such play an integral part in shaping who they will become. This concept simply outlines the importance of growth in a child’s development, and to accept that children are constantly changing.
Early Childhood Pedagogy
An educators ‘Pedagogy’, is the joint combination of their skills, professional experience, knowledge of children, and social awareness, in the delivery of education. When educators establish meaningful relationships and safe environments, they are more capable of delivering more relevant and contextual learning experiences. Educators decisions play an important part in facilitating a child’s learning and must utilise their creativity, intuition and imagination in order to provide suitable learning encounters.
3 Core Elements of the EYLF
The EYLF consists of three interrelated elements – Principles, Practices, and Learning Outcomes – that are pivotal for establishing education strategies and their curriculum. The curriculum includes all the actions and events the children experiences, whether planned or not, that occur in an environment designed to foster their development and learning. Educators will need to draw on individual knowledge of each child, as well as their own professional knowledge, to support a model of curriculum decision-making.
There are five EYLF Principles to help guide educators. Established through a combination of research and contemporary theories, the principles focus on assisting individual children with their progress towards the Learning Outcomes.
• Secure, respectful and reciprocal relationships
• High expectations and equity
• Respect for diversity
• Ongoing learning and reflective practice
This relates to how educators put their Principles into action. This could be through their time spent with the children, their families or the wider community. The EYLF promotes children’s learning by drawing on a rich variety of pedagogical practices by:
• Adopting holistic approaches
• Being responsive to children
• Implementing play-based learning
• Intentional teaching
• Establishing Positive learning environments
• Valuing social and cultural contexts
• Continuity of learning and transitions
• Assessing and monitoring children’s learning
The Learning Outcomes provide milestones for educators to identify achievements in a child’s learning progress. The outcomes observable, and recognise that children learn in different ways, with varying capabilities. Over time children start to engage with more complex situations, which maybe transferable to other environments. Educators should respond and guide each child differently in the pursuit of these outcomes.
• Children have a strong sense of identity
• Children are connected with and contribute to their world
• Children have a strong sense of wellbeing
• Children are confident and involved learners
• Children are effective communicators
For further information about the Early Years Learning Framework:
- Official Early Years Learning Framework documentation
- Families’ Guide to the Early Years Learning Framework
- Educators Guide to the Early Years Learning Framework
- Or visit the Department of Education and Training website.
Additional EYLF discussion and research papers are also available:
- A national quality framework for early childhood education and care – A discussion paper
- A Research Paper to inform the development of an Early Years Learning Framework for Australia
- Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) in action – Educators stories and models for practice