Writing Guide:

TCHR2003: Curriculum Studies in Early Childhood Education (Term 3, 2024)
Summary
Title Assessment 1
Type Critical Review
Curriculum in early childhood education refers to the planned and unplanned experiences, interactions, and environments that support children’s learning and development from birth to age five (Fleer, 2018). This holistic approach encompasses both formal and informal learning opportunities across physical, social, emotional, and cognitive domains.
Educators utilize children’s play as a primary vehicle for curriculum implementation in early childhood settings. Play-based learning allows children to actively construct knowledge through hands-on exploration, social interaction, and meaning-making (Edwards and Cutter-Mackenzie-Knowles, 2020). By observing children’s interests and developmental needs during play, educators can intentionally plan experiences that extend learning across curriculum areas.
The Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) and National Quality Standard (NQS) provide important guidance for curriculum planning and implementation. For example, EYLF Principle 2 emphasises partnerships between educators and families to inform curriculum decisions (Department of Education, 2022). NQS Quality Area 1 focuses on educational program and practice, requiring educators to develop programs based on each child’s strengths, interests and needs (ACECQA, 2023).
When observing educator-child interactions during activities, it’s valuable to identify relevant EYLF Practices such as responsiveness to children, intentional teaching, and learning through play. Connections can then be made to NQS Quality Areas like QA 5: Relationships with children.
The EYLF Learning Outcomes offer a framework for recognising children’s learning. For instance, Outcome 4: Children are confident and involved learners may be evident when children demonstrate curiosity, persistence, and imagination during an activity (Department of Education, 2022).
Linking observed learning to the Australian Curriculum Foundation Year helps bridge early childhood and school-based approaches. Relevant Learning Areas could include English (e.g. ACELA1429 – Exploring sounds and words) or Mathematics (e.g. ACMNA001 – Connecting number names and quantities) depending on the specific activity (ACARA, 2022).
This overview provides a starting point for addressing the assessment criteria. Be sure to expand on these concepts with specific examples and deeper analysis of theory and practice in early childhood curriculum.
References:
ACARA, 2022. Australian Curriculum, Version 9.0. Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, Sydney.
ACECQA, 2023. Guide to the National Quality Framework. Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority, Sydney.
Department of Education, 2022. Belonging, Being and Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia. Australian Government, Canberra.
Edwards, S. and Cutter-Mackenzie-Knowles, A., 2020. A conceptual play-based framework for examining environmental education and sustainability in early childhood education. Sustainability, 12(11), p.4465.
Fleer, M., 2018. Conceptual Playworlds: the role of imagination in play and learning. Early Years, 38(3), pp.289-300.

TCHR2003: Curriculum Studies in Early Childhood Education (Term 3, 2024)
Summary
Title Assessment 1
Type Critical Review
Due Date Friday, 19 July 11:59 pm AEST/AEDT (Week 3)
Length 1500 words
Weighting 50%

Submission Word document submitted to Turnitin (for written assessments).
Unit Learning Outcomes This assessment task maps to the following ULOs:
ULO1: describe and justify curriculum in early childhood education and care
services
ULO2: understand and demonstrate conceptual knowledge related to key
learning areas for children from birth to five years
ULO3: argue, with reference to the literature, how curriculum key learning areas can be applied to support children’s learning
ULO4: create and analyse learning environments of curriculum key learning areas for children’s development and learning explain the role of the early
childhood educator

Rationale
This unit develops conceptual knowledge of the holistic and integrated approach to curriculum in the early childhood setting for children aged from birth to five years. Students learn about the importance of play, the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) (2022), National Quality Standard (ACECQA, 2020) and use an integrated approach of the learning areas (Australian Curriculum Foundation Year; English, Humanities and Social Sciences, Health and Physical Education, Languages, Mathematics, Science, Technologies, and The Arts).

Task Description
As an early childhood educator, it is important that you have a good understanding of theory, Early Childhood curriculum framework (EYLF), National Quality Standard (NQF), and Australian Curriculum Foundation year) and to be able to justify how early childhood educators use play to plan and implement curriculum for young children in early childhood settings. Assessment 1 requires you define curriculum in early childhood education, discuss how educators use play to implement the curriculum and critically reflect on teacher and children’s interactions during an early childhood activity with relevant links to EYLF, NQS Quality Areas (QA), and Australian Curriculum Learning Areas (Foundation Year). This assessment task will enable you to demonstrate a good working knowledge and understanding of early childhood education curriculum, frameworks, theory, and concepts. Note: For this unit, the terms educator and teacher are interchangeable.

Task Instructions
Write a critical response to the following three points to demonstrate a good working knowledge and understanding of early childhood education curriculum, frameworks, theory, and concepts.
1. Define what curriculum means in early childhood education and provide a rationale for your statement using the unit content and readings to support your discussion (100 words).
2. Discuss how educators use children’s play to plan and implement curriculum in early childhood education settings. Justify your response by using theory, EYLF, NQS QA, using the unit content and readings to support your discussion (500 words).
3. Observe the teacher and children’s interactions during an early childhood activity in the video provided in the Assessment 1 folder.
a) Identify and discuss relevant EYLF Principles and Practices the educator is using to promote children’s learning and make relevant links to the NQS Quality Areas (300 words).
b) Identify 2 relevant EYLF Learning Outcomes the children are learning during the activity. Describe a relevant example of what you see in the video that demonstrates the EYLF Learning Outcomes (300 words).
c) Identify 2 relevant Learning Areas (Australian Curriculum, Foundation Year, with relevant content description codes) this activity may be covering and describe an example from the video, for each of your selected Learning Areas (300 words).
• Use APA 7 referencing throughout and double-lined spacing, Times Roman 12-point Font.
Resources
NQS QA= National Quality Standard Quality Area https://www.acecqa.gov.au/nqf/national-quality-standard
https://www.acecqa.gov.au/sites/default/files/2018-07/RevisedNQSHandoutA4.pdf
EYLF = Early Years Learning Framework https://www.acecqa.gov.au/sites/default/files/2023-01/EYLF-2022-V2.0.pdf
ACARA = Australian Curriculum, Assessment, and reporting Authority https://v9.australiancurriculum.edu.au/
Referencing Style Resource
About APA 7th – APA 7th Referencing Guide – Library guides at Southern Cross University (scu.edu.au)

Task Submission

Assessment 1 should be submitted using the Turnitin in the Assessments Tasks & Submission section on the Blackboard TCHR2003 site.
You must label your submission with your surname and initials and the Assessment Task’s name. You must label your submission with your surname and initials and the assessment task’s name, e.g: JSmith student number _TCHR2003 Assessment 1.docx

Special Consideration
Please refer to the Special Consideration section of Policy https://policies.scu.edu.au/document/view-current.php?id=140
Students wishing to request special consideration to extend the due date of an assessment task must submit a Request for Special Consideration form via their My Enrolment page as early as possible and prior to the original due date for that assessment task, along with any accompanying documents, such as medical certificates.

Late Submissions & Penalties
Please refer to the Late Submission & Penalties section of Policy https://policies.scu.edu.au/view.current.php?id=00255

Grades & Feedback
Assessments that have been submitted by the due date will receive an SCU grade. Grades and feedback will be posted to the ‘Grades and Feedback’ section on the Blackboard unit site. Please allow 7 days for marks to be posted.
Please note that re-submissions are not permitted for this unit as per SCU policy.
Assessment Grade Descriptions

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TCHR2003: Assessment 1 Curriculum Studies in Early Childhood Education

Curriculum Studies in Early Childhood Education

Defining Curriculum in Early Childhood Education
Curriculum in early childhood education encompasses a comprehensive, integrated approach to learning and development for children from birth to five years. It represents a dynamic interplay of planned and spontaneous experiences, interactions, and environments that foster holistic growth across physical, social, emotional, and cognitive domains (Fleer, 2018). This broad conceptualisation extends beyond traditional notions of formal instruction, recognising that young children learn through diverse modalities and contexts.
The early childhood curriculum is grounded in the understanding that learning occurs through active engagement with the environment and meaningful relationships. It emphasises the importance of play-based learning, intentional teaching, and responsive caregiving in supporting children’s natural curiosity and drive to explore and make sense of their world (Edwards and Cutter-Mackenzie-Knowles, 2020). This approach aligns with contemporary theories of child development and learning, which highlight the interconnected nature of various developmental domains and the critical role of social interactions in cognitive growth.
Educators’ Use of Play in Curriculum Implementation
Play serves as a fundamental vehicle for curriculum implementation in early childhood settings. Through play-based learning, children actively construct knowledge, develop skills, and form understandings about themselves and their environment. Educators strategically utilise play to scaffold learning experiences and extend children’s thinking across curriculum areas.
The intentional integration of play into curriculum planning is supported by research demonstrating its effectiveness in promoting cognitive, social, and emotional development. Pyle and Danniels (2017) highlight how play-based pedagogies can effectively support academic learning outcomes when educators intentionally incorporate curricular content into playful contexts. This approach allows children to engage with concepts in meaningful, contextualised ways that align with their natural learning processes.
Educators employ various strategies to harness the power of play in curriculum implementation:

Observation and documentation: By closely observing children’s play, educators gain insights into their interests, strengths, and developmental needs. This information informs curriculum planning and helps educators identify opportunities to extend learning.
Environmental design: Thoughtfully arranged learning environments invite exploration and support different types of play. Educators create spaces and provide materials that encourage inquiry, problem-solving, and creative expression across curriculum areas.
Guided play: Educators participate in children’s play to introduce new concepts, extend thinking, and scaffold learning. This approach allows for a balance between child-led exploration and intentional teaching.
Reflective practice: Ongoing reflection on children’s play experiences enables educators to assess learning progress and adjust curriculum plans accordingly. This iterative process ensures that the curriculum remains responsive to children’s evolving needs and interests.

The Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) and National Quality Standard (NQS) provide important guidance for integrating play-based approaches into curriculum planning and implementation. The EYLF emphasises learning through play as a key practice, recognising its role in supporting children’s agency, wellbeing, and engagement in learning (Department of Education, 2022). Similarly, the NQS Quality Area 1 (Educational program and practice) requires educators to develop programs based on each child’s strengths, interests, and needs, with play-based learning as a central component (ACECQA, 2023).
Analysis of Educator-Child Interactions
When observing educator-child interactions during early childhood activities, several EYLF Principles and Practices are typically evident. These may include:

Secure, respectful, and reciprocal relationships: Educators establish warm, trusting relationships with children, creating a supportive environment for learning.
Partnerships with families: Educators collaborate with families to inform curriculum decisions and ensure continuity of learning between home and the early childhood setting.
High expectations and equity: Educators maintain high expectations for all children’s learning and development, providing equitable opportunities for participation and success.
Respect for diversity: Educators acknowledge and celebrate the diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives of children and families.
Ongoing learning and reflective practice: Educators engage in continuous professional learning and reflect on their practice to enhance the quality of their interactions and teaching strategies.

These principles and practices align closely with NQS Quality Areas, particularly QA 5 (Relationships with children) and QA 1 (Educational program and practice). For example, responsive and respectful interactions support children’s sense of security and belonging, as outlined in QA 5.1 (ACECQA, 2023).
EYLF Learning Outcomes provide a framework for recognising and supporting children’s learning during activities. Two relevant outcomes that may be observed include:

Outcome 2: Children are connected with and contribute to their world
Example: Children demonstrating care and respect for the environment during a nature-based activity.
Outcome 4: Children are confident and involved learners
Example: Children displaying persistence and problem-solving skills when engaging with challenging tasks or materials.

Connecting early childhood activities to the Australian Curriculum Foundation Year helps bridge pedagogical approaches across educational settings. Relevant Learning Areas may include:

English: ACELA1429 – Exploring and experimenting with sounds, syllables, and words in spoken language (ACARA, 2022).
Example: Children engaging in rhyming games or sound play during a group story time.
Mathematics: ACMNA001 – Establishing understanding of the language and processes of counting by naming numbers in sequences (ACARA, 2022).
Example: Children participating in counting songs or games during a music and movement activity.

Conclusion
The early childhood curriculum represents a complex, multifaceted approach to supporting young children’s learning and development. By leveraging play-based pedagogies, fostering meaningful interactions, and aligning practice with established frameworks and standards, educators create rich learning environments that nurture children’s natural curiosity and capacity for growth. Ongoing critical reflection and research-informed practice are essential for continually enhancing the quality and effectiveness of early childhood curriculum implementation.
References:
ACARA, 2022. Australian Curriculum, Version 9.0. Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, Sydney.
ACECQA, 2023. Guide to the National Quality Framework. Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority, Sydney.
Cadima, J., Nata, G., Barros, S., Coelho, V. and Barata, C., 2020. Literature review on early childhood education and care for children under the age of 3.
Department of Education, 2022. Belonging, Being and Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia. Australian Government, Canberra.
Edwards, S. and Cutter-Mackenzie-Knowles, A., 2020. A conceptual play-based framework for examining environmental education and sustainability in early childhood education. Sustainability, 12(11), p.4465.
Fleer, M., 2018. Conceptual Playworlds: the role of imagination in play and learning. Early Years, 38(3), pp.289-300.
Pendergast, D. and Garvis, S., 2023. The early years learner. In Teaching Early Years (pp. 15-31). Routledge.
Pyle, A. and Danniels, E., 2017. A continuum of play-based learning: The role of the teacher in play-based pedagogy and the fear of hijacking play. Early Education and Development, 28(3), pp.274-289.
Richards, N., 2024. Validating, Implementing and Generalising the Conscious Control Curriculum to Teach Emotional Self-Regulation Skills to Children with Challenging Behaviours.

Sims, M., 2020. The importance of early years education. In Teaching early years (pp. 20-32). Routledge.

Speldewinde, C. and Campbell, C., 2024. Bush Kinders: building young children’s relationships with the environment. Australian Journal of Environmental Education40(1), pp.7-21.

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