Reflection is a significant activity when it comes to early childhood educators. It is so because these professionals contribute to the continuous development of children. According to the Department of Education and Training (2016), reflection on professional practice “is linked with continuous improvement” (p. 8). That is why the given section will comment on a policy that I have implemented and analyze whether my teaching practice followed the policy regulations to make education inclusive.
Identifying a Policy
During my last professional placement, I worked with the Inclusion and Equity policy. It ensures that all children are “treated equitably and with respect, regardless of their background, ethnicity, culture, language, beliefs, gender, age, socioeconomic status, level of ability” and others (Early Learning Association Australia, 2014, p. 1). That is why I dealt with a 4-year-old girl who might have autism and language delay. These diagnoses were offered because she repeated words, avoided eye contact, refused to play outside with other children, and cannot pronounce many words correctly.
Choosing One Aspect
Since it is reasonable to consider a single aspect of the policy, I would comment on the partnerships with families who have children with disabilities. The Department of Education and Training (2016) stipulates that families have a significant impact on children’s learning and development. The Victoria State Government (2019) also demonstrates that this policy aspect establishes productive relationships between educators and families, contributing to the satisfaction of children’s needs and interests. Furthermore, Kemp (2019) indicates that such families often report barriers, including long waiting lists and the lack of resources, for their children to benefit from learning opportunities. Consequently, good partnerships are required to ensure that children with disabilities have access to education and develop personally and academically.
Critical Analysis of Teaching Practices
The selected policy and its single aspect influenced how I implemented teaching practices regarding partnerships with families. э
- Firstly, it is an educator’s responsibility to plan goals and activities for every child to contribute to their growth. Hornby and Blackwell (2018) admit that teacher-parent meetings are a typical process for educators to gather such information. Thus, I cooperated with parents to ensure that the proposed teaching activities meet the expectations of all the children and their families.
- Secondly, it is worth mentioning that teaching practices should follow the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) recommendations. According to Lowrey et al. (2017), the UDL “addresses learner variability by facilitating the removal of barriers in the curriculum” (p. 225). Thus, after I collected information from families that have children with disabilities, I analyzed that information to ensure that meeting one child’s needs would not create new barriers for others.
- Thirdly, I understood that partnerships with families would involve various barriers. Morton and Gibson (2003) admit that a typical issue arises when teachers take the role of experts and give commands to parents. That is why I established polite and friendly relationships with parents and relatives of children with disabilities. It became possible because I avoided forcing parents to act or behave in a particular manner. My teaching practice was to offer recommendations and draw attention to feedback from the families.
- Fourthly, it is necessary to mention that my professional practice followed family-centered approaches. According to Movahedazarhouligh (2019), the idea behind them is that it is impossible to view a child in isolation from their family. In this case, possible practices include collaborative progress monitoring, performance-based feedback, discussion, and others (Movahedazarhouligh, 2019). That is why I worked with children and their families to ensure that the learning process was beneficial for all members.
- Furthermore, the policy highlighted the necessity to cooperate with other specialists. For example, the Department of Education and Training (2016) states that early childhood educators should collaborate to improve the quality of children’s learning experiences. As for my professional placement, it would be useful to seek the assistance of a psychologist and a speech pathologist. These medical professionals would confirm the 4-year-old girl’s diagnosis, which could help meet her educational needs.
- Finally, one should admit that my practices were inclusive and followed social justice principles. These phenomena stipulate that all children have access to education irrespective of their social background, health status, and others (Wong & Turner, 2014). That is why my professional practice provided all children and their families with sufficient information and support to ensure that young students could achieve the best educational outcomes.
Addressing Professional Values
It is possible to mention that my practice addresses professional values. Since Purdue et al. (2011) admit that many teachers do not have adequate knowledge and experience, I invest significant efforts in understanding the theoretical concepts, including the curriculum, philosophies, and policies. Furthermore, Onaga and Martoccio (2008) state that the ability to cooperate with families is an essential skill for teachers. The information above has demonstrated that my professional practice addressed the given value.
It is also necessary to stipulate that I tried to follow the National Quality Standards (NQS). According to the Australian Children’s Education & Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) (2018), Quality Area 1 indicates that teachers should plan an educational setting to meet the needs of all children. My professional practice allowed me to understand that it is necessary to address the peculiarities of children with disabilities. Quality Area 4 shows that educators should also collaborate (ACECQA, 2018). I have just emphasized the importance of cooperating with a psychiatrist and a speech pathologist. Quality Area 6 highlights the necessity to work with families to achieve the best children’s educational results (ACECQA, 2018). Thus, it is possible to mention that my practice meets this requirement because I draw significant attention to cooperation with families.
In conclusion, it is reasonable to state that my practice meets the values that are admitted in the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework. The Department of Education and Training (2016) shows that it is necessary to establish partnerships with families and professionals, achieve equity in classrooms and others. Thus, I work with parents and other professionals to ensure that I can identify children’s needs and address their abilities.
Australian Children’s Education & Care Quality Authority. (2018). National quality standard.
Department of Education and Training. (2016). Victorian early years learning and development framework: For all children from birth to eight years.
Early Learning Association Australia. (2014). Inclusion and equity policy [PDF document].
Hornby, G., & Blackwell, I. (2018). Barriers to parental involvement in education: An update. Educational Review, 70(1), 109-119.
Kemp, C. R. (2016). Early childhood inclusion in Australia. Infants & Young Children, 29(3), 178-187.
Lowrey, K. A., Hollingshead, A., Howery, K., & Bischop, J. B. (2017). More than one way: Stories of UDL and inclusive classrooms. Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 42(4), 225-242.
Morton, M., & Gibson, P. (2003). The rhetoric and practice of partnership: Experiences in the context of disability. Connecting Policy Research and Practice: The Social Policy Research and Evaluation Conference, 1-14.
Movahedazarhouligh, S. (2019). Parent-implemented interventions and family-centered service delivery approaches in early intervention and early childhood special education. Early Child Development and Care, 1-12.
Onaga, E. E., & Martoccio, T. L. (2008). Dynamic and uncertain pathways between early childhood inclusion policy and practice. International Journal of Child Care and Education Policy, 2(1), 67-75.
Petriwskyj, A. (2010). Who has rights to what? Inclusion in Australian early childhood programs. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 11(4), 342-352.
Purdue, K., Gordon-Burns, D., Rarere-Briggs, B., Stark, R., & Turnock, K. (2011). The exclusion of children with disabilities in early childhood education in New Zealand: Issues and implications for inclusion. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 36(2), 95-103.
Victoria State Government. (2019). Inclusive practice for kindergartens.
Wong, S., & Turner, K. (2014). Constructions of social inclusion within Australian early childhood education and care policy documents. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 15(1), 54-68.