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Learning in the Early Years

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In fulfilling the Mission of the Catholic Schools Office, schools are called to enable students to achieve the fullness of life. In doing this, primary schools acknowledge the special nature of the early learner (birth to 8 years old), and the need for personalised transition, age appropriate pedagogy and intentionally considered learning environments.

The early learner is a child of God, coming into the primary school setting with their unique interests, abilities and stories, that stem from differing experiences with family, home life, prior-to-school settings and their world.

The two key national curriculum documents that inform curriculum in early learning are: Belonging, Being and Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia (EYLF) and the Australian Curriculum for New South Wales. It is important for educators to understand the way that the principles, practices and outcomes of the EYLF are reflected in the NSW syllabuses for the Australian Curriculum, particularly in Early Stage 1 and Stage 1.

The EYLF:

  • establishes the foundations for effective learning in school and throughout life
  • has a specific emphasis on learning through exploration and play
  • emphasises the importance of communication and language (including early literacy and numeracy) and social and emotional development.
  • applies to settings that cater for birth to 5 year olds and also the transition into school
  • identifies a set of priorities for learning in prior-to-school settings, which are prerequisites for successful, equitable learning via the Australian Curriculum.

The Australian Curriculum for New South Wales:

  • builds on the key learning outcomes of the EYLF
  • includes agreed curriculum content that is designed to help all young Australians to become successful learners, confident and creative individuals, and active and informed citizens.
  • applies to learners from Early Stage 1 to Stage 5
  • prioritises literacy and numeracy in the early years of schooling

The Australian Curriculum and the EYLF provide coherence and continuity between prior-to-school education and that of early primary school. Educators in both settings are required to design learning experiences that are intentional and planned, to allow for rich learning experiences that are developmentally and pedagogically appropriate.

When students enter primary school in the Diocese of Lismore at Kindergarten age, their experiences, learning and relationships are valued and respected with the family acknowledged as the context in which children learn first.