Creating a sense of belonging in the classroom, home and community supports children to thrive in their early years of life.
Early Years Learning Framework
- Children have a strong sense of identity
- Children are connected with and contribute to their world
- Children have a strong sense of wellbeing
Australian Curriculum Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories & Culture
- Communicates effectively by using interpersonal conventions and language with familiar peers and adults. (ENE-OLC-01)
- Communicates ways to be caring, inclusive and respectful of others. (PDe3)
- Communicates stories of their own family heritage and the heritage of others. (HTe-1)
- God loves every person infinitely. ‘Life and physical health are gifts entrusted to us by God and it is everyone’s responsibility to not only take care of oneself but also look to the needs of others. (Catechism of the Catholic Church – CCC2288)
“When children sit, look at the sea that goes with the story, they capture all this message – it is not by accident when we teach our children about the land, about the sea, about the dance.” – Rosemary Gundjarranbuy, Yalu Marnjgithinyaraw as part of Interplay Project, Ninti One
Benefits of belonging
Experiencing belonging, knowing where and with whom you belong, is integral to human existence.
Research tells us that children who feel a sense of belonging and connectedness at their preschool, kindergarten, day care or school will be happy, more relaxed and have fewer behaviour problems than others. They are also more motivated and successful learners.
There are benefits when parents and carers feel a sense of belonging and connectedness too.
Children belong first to a family, a cultural group, a neighbourhood and a wider community. Belonging acknowledges children’s interdependence with others and the basis of relationships in defining identities. In early childhood, and throughout life, relationships are crucial to a sense of belonging. Belonging is central to being and becoming in that it shapes who children are and who they can become.
Some ideas for learning in the everyday
- Find out about your service and what your child does there: Talk regularly with staff and ask questions about your child’s day.
- Support your child’s social and emotional skills: Create opportunities for your child to participate in fun experiences with other children, and support them to include and appreciate others. Give your child encouragement that is specific and values effort over success.
- Talk about your child’s individual needs: Share ideas and information that could help staff plan appropriately for your child. Let staff know if your child is having difficulties.
- Be informed and get involved: Check for notices that are sent home and keep informed about activities. Don’t be afraid to ask if you don’t understand something. Find out if there are ways you can take part at your service, and attend information sessions and social activities.
- Get to know other families: Talk with other families at the service. Look out for new families and help them to feel welcome.
Books to support wellbeing:
The Lizard Gang by Kirra SomervilleBig Rain Coming by Katrina GermeinScaly-tailed Possum and Echidna by Cathy Goonack
Reflect on your knowledge and practice
Consider the EYLF, NSW Syllabus and LPs:
- Where have these children come from?
- Where are you taking them?
Think about the learning that happens in your classroom that builds a sense of belonging.
What do you expect from the early learner?
What do you want parents to know about fostering a sense of belonging?
What are the connections between literacy and numeracy?
This is an opportunity to share what belonging looks like in your classroom.
Engage in a learning conversation with parents
- What can you see in the video that challenges what you think about teaching ‘belonging’ in the classroom?
- Talk about experiences in your classroom that foster a sense of belonging.
- How are other elements of the whole child evident across your classroom and school day? (intellectual, physical, social/emotional and cultural)
- What opportunities can parents create at home to foster a sense of belonging for their child? Consider the activities in the Explore section.