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The Early Years Learning Framework: Do some Children not Fit in?

Posted on April 15 2024 Categories: ,

Sometimes, a parent might feel that their toddler or preschooler is not a ‘good fit’ for a structured learning environment in a daycare centre.

Here we’ll examine a typical early years learning framework and the notion that some children might not fit into it due to their developing personality and character.

An early years learning framework

At its heart, this concept is about helping children grow their cognitive and social domains plus make a start developing what will be called at a later age, their academic skills.

This is undertaken in an experiential and fun context. This is not about designing a program and shaping children to it but rather developing activities dynamically to fit individual children within a collective environment.

Asociality versus reserved children

Some parents believe that their child will not engage well in collective activities. This may lead to concerns about the fit between an early years learning framework in

Kindy and their child’s inclinations.

True asociality in children under the age of 8 is very rarely encountered, though it is not unknown.

Children are indeed very variable in the extent to which they seem comfortable engaging with others. Some may happily work or play with one or two other children but seemingly be much more reserved in larger groups. Others might be very happy engaging with children they know well but desperately shy and ‘closed’ if they’re with adults or children they don’t know.

Childcare centres will be very familiar with the multiple variations here and they will have techniques to ensure that such children are gently encouraged out of their shells and into the early years learning framework where they’ll be having fun and learning with others at the same time.

Such children are often referred to as ‘reserved’ rather than demonstrating asociality. This is a perfectly normal phenomenon and one that simply reflects the diversity of life and personality types we call “human”.

Reserved children almost always respond to positive encouragement and quickly join in with their classmates.

Asocial or asociality in children versus antisocial
The terms ‘asocial’ and ‘antisocial’ are sometimes used interchangeably but this is seriously incorrect and misleading. They are two very different things.

Asociality
Although unusual much before the age of 7-8, some children may, from a surprisingly young age, show behaviours that are termed ‘asocial’.

This means that they have a preference to play, work and spend time, in their own company rather than that of other children. In extreme cases that preference might include anyone else at all but more commonly, they accept joint activities with parents and siblings but are reluctant to spend time with anyone else.

The causes are not fully understood though the symptoms are known to be associated with other disorders such as ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and extreme introvertism. It might also indicate that a child is unusually intellectually gifted and is finding peer-group children and materials normal for their age to be boring and unstimulating.

However, the fact that a child appears to prefer their own company is NOT cause for immediate concern nor does it necessarily mean they have any form of disorder. They may well simply be shy/reserved and need to be gently encouraged to engage with others through the above-mentioned techniques.
If a childcare centre believed that their asocial behaviour was outside of expected levels, they would raise this with the parents at the earliest opportunity and further specialist investigation may be required.

Antisocial
This is a potentially serious condition that is typically first diagnosed in the age range of 3-5 years.

It is usually manifest through aggressive, disruptive or destructive actions towards shared activities or other people’s possessions. It may also be demonstrated by disrespect and verbal outbursts towards others around them, including adults. A less pronounced form may result in authority figures simply being ignored or mocked.

Despite numerous studies, the exact causes of antisocial behaviour are poorly understood. Historically it has been stated to be more common in boys than girls but there is some suggestion today that this finding is incorrect.

This condition usually requires professional diagnosis and subsequent treatment.

Please note though – a child who seemingly doesn’t like playing or spending time working with other children or adults is not demonstrating antisocial behaviours!

Summary
Almost all children take well to an early years learning framework that is adaptive to their individual needs.

In some cases, children may need to be gently encouraged to lose some of their reservations to fully participate but the result is almost always a success and a happy child!

At Leap Start Early Learning Child Care, we follow the EYLF Framework while incorporating STEAM Learning in our own unique method called “Accelerated Neuro Response” or otherwise known as the ANR education program.
You can learn more about it by booking a tour and visiting our centre. Click here to book your tour.