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The Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework (VEYLDF) provides a comprehensive way of thinking and working with young children that supports their continuity of learning as they move through the various settings from home and early learning services to school.

The VEYLDF identifies eight interrelated Practice Principles that illustrate the most effective ways for teachers to support children’s learning and development:

  • Reflective practice
  • Partnerships with families
  • High expectations for every child
  • Respectful relationships and responsive engagement
  • Equity and diversity
  • Assessment for learning and development
  • Integrated teaching and learning approaches
  • Partnerships with professionals
Find other useful resources and further information about the VEYLDF.

High expectations for every child

This fact sheet explores the VEYLDF Practice Principle 'High expectations for every child'

Why is it important to have high expectations for every child?

  • The ways that children see themselves as learners affect how they learn and develop. When you convey your belief in children's ability to meet an expectation that is a stretch for them, and they see themselves as competent and capable with agentive power, they are more likely to persist with challenging tasks and improve their learning outcomes.
  • When you, as a teacher, acknowledge children's rights and hold them accountable, you are demonstrating your belief in children's potential to achieve. All children have the right to have their ideas and opinions respected and to see the inclusion of their ideas in broader decision-making in the classroom or in relation to their individual learning plans.

What does it mean to have high expectations for every child?

Working with high expectations means that you can build on each child's strengths by matching tasks with their potential – you neither underestimate nor overestimate their abilities, thereby ensuring engagement and success over time. This expectation of success is a powerful lever for engaging with families and other professionals. Through a collaborative engagement with families and other professionals, you can support all children's learning and development. When you work together in a cohesive way with high expectations, you are supporting all children's learning and development.

In the classroom – Nellie Gibson, Junior School Leader and Learning Specialist, Princes Hill Primary School

'Listening with deep intent to children in my learning spaces is perhaps one of the most important things I do daily as an educator. Feeling listened to and then seeing this listening transform into a moment of further learning is a powerful experience for learners and educators. When children see how much I value their learning by carefully curating displays of their theories, thinking and expressions, they feel that they are part of the whole process – an important part.

As a staff team, we are always communicating to children that we expect great things from them. I think as a team, we are learners, with an openness to trying new things and to listening to children's curiosities.

I believe we honour each child's individuality and sense of group through our practice of active listening. We, as a team, use a mixture of one-on-one conferencing, whole-group meeting time and small-group targeted inquiry time. We feel this allows for differing energies and comfort when communicating thinking and learning.'

How do I do it? Top tips

  • Commit to having high expectations for every child's learning and development. Value children's strengths and differences, and communicate to them your belief in their ability to succeed.
  • Show sensitivity and be responsive to the messages the learners convey about themselves as well as their own and their family's unique abilities.
  • Be aware of the impact of low expectations, prejudice and a lack of attention on any child's learning and development..
  • Ensure that every child experiences success and is motivated to accept new challenges through which they can learn and grow. This will require some differentiation in the learning experiences you provide for learners.
  • Recognise that some children require different opportunities, spaces and specific supports to learn effectively and thrive.

Respectful relationships and responsive engagement

This fact sheet explores the VEYLDF Practice Principle 'Respectful relationships and responsive engagement'

What are respectful relationships and responsive engagement?

Trusting, secure and reciprocal relationships with children and their families help inform a teacher’s knowledge of children and their interests, skills and abilities. These relationships, and the knowledge of the children that these relationships foster, are the foundation for teachers working effectively. These types of relationships create a secure base that allows children to feel safe, connected and able to try new things, and they work as a buffer for children to help regulate behaviour.

Being attuned to children and families is a way of working responsively. This means being aware of, receptive to and connected with families. A way of describing responsive engagement is the concept of ‘caring presence’. Caring presence requires an awareness of each child that is more than an awareness of their physical presence and is dependent on your active engagement in interactions with them.

Respectful relationships and responsive engagement apply to relationships with both families and children, and all aspects of the learning program should encourage children to develop these types of relationships with others. Working this way requires teachers to respect the values of each family even when they differ from their own.

Why are respectful relationships and responsive engagement important?

Respectful relationships with the significant adults in children’s lives build and strengthen secure attachments that are fundamental to all children’s development. Relationships are deeply connected to children’s thinking and learning. For children to learn about negotiation, collaboration, problem-solving and considering the perspectives of others, children require supportive scaffolding from positive adult engagement. This supportive scaffolding occurs best in the context of respectful relationships and responsive engagement. These relationships not only promote emotional security and a sense of belonging but also teach children how to form strong bonds and friendships with others. Embedding these ideas in the ‘everyday’ of children’s school lives will promote their confidence and empower them in developing relationships with others.

In the classroom – Kelly Colson, Junior School Teacher, Eltham College

‘A fundamental part of a successful year for students, teachers and parents is the ability to work closely together and form positive relationships with each other. Developing mutual respect and trust is paramount in building healthy relationships and in turn creating high-quality engagement for all stakeholders.

I highly value and believe in the importance of forming partnerships between the school and home as these partnerships present opportunities to demonstrate respectful relationships and responsive engagement.

As teachers, we begin each new Prep year with ‘Home Visits’. This unique opportunity allows the teacher, student and family to begin to build a rapport and a strong partnership, and develop relationships while assisting each child with a positive transition to Prep. Seeing a child in their home environment offers a personalised approach and, importantly, allows me as an educator to learn about the child’s culture and context. I can engage in valuable conversations with parents prior to the school year starting. On the child’s first day of school, parents are feeling comfortable that I know their child, their child knows the space and I understand the needs of their young learner.

Parent helpers are welcomed in our classroom and are an integral part of our learning community. This practice enables parents to observe the atmosphere and inner workings of the room and feel connected to the space and their child’s learning. Throughout the year, we also conduct student-led exhibitions. This involves inviting families into our Neighbourhood space, and this event provides an opportunity for each student to share with their family their learning achievements. This is a beautiful illustration of students taking responsibility for their successes and identifying and articulating responses to what they have learnt.

In each one of these classroom practice examples at my school, the opportunity for all members of the partnership to have a voice is evident. If we are seen, heard and connected, then we have a strong sense of belonging.’

How do I do it? Top tips

  1. Demonstrate sensitivity and initiate warm, trusting and reciprocal relationships with children and their families.
  2. Support families’ choices and decision-making.
  3. Develop learning programs that are responsive to each child and build on their culture, strengths, interests and knowledge.
  4. Hear and take into account the views and feelings of each child.
  5. Recognise and deepen children’s understandings about other people and how values and beliefs influence a child’s world.
  6. Demonstrate respect for and understanding of the views of other professionals and families when communicating and interacting across cultures.