Author:
Department of Education

The Three-Year-Old Kindergarten teaching toolkit webpages provide information to support the planning and delivery of funded Three-Year-Old Kindergarten programs across Victoria. The web pages include evidence-informed practice and pedagogical support, exemplar videos, reflective questions, and links to resources and research.

While the website has been designed to support the delivery of Three-Year-Old Kindergarten in Victoria, it's also relevant to educators working across other early childhood education and care settings.

About the Three-Year-Old-Kindergarten teaching toolkit

The Three-Year-Old Kindergarten teaching toolkit was designed to support teaching teams to deliver high-quality educational programs aligned to the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework (VEYLDF). Its design is reflective of the learning and development needs of children participating in funded Three-Year-Old Kindergarten programs, in both single and multi-aged groups.

The Three-Year-Old Kindergarten teaching toolkit draws on research and advice from early childhood experts, as well as experienced early childhood leaders and educators. The teaching toolkit has a focus on six critical areas for children's learning and teacher practice (see below).

For questions on the teaching toolkit email 3YO.teaching.toolkit@education.vic.gov.au

Background to the Three-Year-Old-Kindergarten teaching toolkit

The Three-Year-Old Kindergarten teaching toolkit was developed in 2019 to support Victorian early childhood teaching teams with the roll-out of funded Three-Year-Old Kindergarten from 2020.

The teaching toolkit was the flagship professional learning and practice support provided to services in their first years of delivering a funded Three-Year-Old Kindergarten program. It included website content, a box of educational resources, and a two-day live virtual professional learning program.

From 2020, all services in Victoria delivering funded Three-Year-Old Kindergarten were sent a teaching toolkit box of educational resources.

The box of educational resources was designed to be a shared resource for teaching teams delivering Three-Year-Old Kindergarten and was strictly limited to one per service. No further boxes are available. However, much of the material is available on these web pages, and limited items are available to order. See the box of educational resources for further information.

The teaching toolkit provided a once-off professional learning program for all Victorian services delivering funded Three-Year-Old Kindergarten. Kindergarten services could send up to two staff members from their teaching team to attend two non-consecutive days of workshops.

This time-limited professional learning offering was designed to help services in their first years of delivering Three-Year-Old Kindergarten to:

  • build understanding and awareness of best practice teaching and learning methodology for children participating in funded Three-Year-Old Kindergarten programs
  • have increased capability to provide a high-quality Three-Year-Old Kindergarten program
  • confidently utilise the box of educational resources to support teaching practice
  • apply learnings in their local context, including in either single or multi-aged groups.

The teaching toolkit two-day professional learning program concluded in November 2022. Over 2,700 teachers and educators accessed this professional learning across 2021 and 2022.

Reflective practice

​Strengthening reflective practice in a Three-Year-Old Kindergarten program. ​

Overview

Reflective practice is the cycle of ongoing learning that occurs when teachers and educators take the time to stop, think, challenge and change their practices. This allows professionals to see new perspectives and ideas, to advance children’s learning and development.

Reflective practice is one of the eight Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework (VEYLDF) practice principles. It supports critical thinking and changes in practice in a Three-Year-Old Kindergarten program.

VEYLDF Practice Principle Guide: Reflective Practice (PDF – 2.12MB)

As funded Three-Year-Old Kindergarten is delivered for the first time in Victoria, reflective practice allows early childhood professionals to improve their teaching.

Teachers and educators should think about their own practice and reflect on how it could be adapted and enhanced to suit the needs of children attending Three-Year-Old Kindergarten.

Examining and understanding how three-year-old children learn will help you reflect on what changes can be made to your existing kindergarten programs. It will also help to inform what teaching practices and approaches best meet the needs of this age group.

Jump to questions to support reflective practice

Reflective practice is an enabling strategy which supports and enhances teaching and learning. This is set out in the VEYLDF as well as in the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF)

Reflection and critical thinking are most effective for individuals and with teaching teams that are open to change.

Collecting relevant evidence helps to challenge and inform decision making. It helps to identify improvements in practice. Reflective practice helps teachers and educators to understand practices from different perspectives. It helps them to adapt their actions and responses in the future.

Early childhood professionals who engage in reflection on their practice:

  • think about the impact and effectiveness of their current practices and environment
  • are likely to review their everyday practices and find ways to improve
  • are open to the exchange of ideas and shared decision-making
  • develop positive partnerships with children and families, as well as other professionals
  • are more likely to learn, develop and strengthen their capacity as a team.

Translating these opportunities for professional growth into actions is the next step in reflective practice. It is the ability to identify alternatives and to trial these, which translates the ‘thinking’ component of reflection into the ‘active’ component of reflection.

Enabling reflective practice

The next step in reflective practice is to trial new ideas.

Use new evidence-based ideas such as:

  • pedagogical conversations
  • reflective journals
  • professional inquiry
  • mentors or critical friends
  • professional learning programs.

Opportunities to reflect on practice arise as part of an educator's everyday practice.

This includes when changes happen. For example, a new program such as Three-Year-Old Kindergarten or as part of reviewing your service’s Quality Improvement Plan(opens in a new window).

Reflective practice can be spontaneous and responsive to a situation. It can also occur as part of a plan where teachers and educators are investigating a specific component of their practice. Ideally this would be part of a commitment to continuous improvement.

There are many approaches that teachers and educators can use when undertaking reflective practice. The VEYLDF offers the Early Years Planning Cycle Resource for the VEYLDF(opens in a new window).

The EYPC is a reflective tool for teachers and educators to examine various aspects of their practice and build their teaching skills. The EYPC can be used individually or in a teaching team.

The EYPC has five steps to support teachers and educators to develop and deliver high quality education programs for young children.

Collect information

Collect evidence and information of a child’s, or a group of children’s, learning and participation within the program. This information can be collected and documented in a range of ways over time. Further information is available on assessment for learning.

Question/analyse

Analyse the information collected. Draw on evidence from a variety of sources – including the VEYLDF, early childhood theories and available resources. This may include using resources from the Box of Educational Resources. Question and understand the decisions you are making about your teaching practice.

Plan

Develop an educational program to extend and support children’s learning and development. This includes planning specific learning goals for individual children as well as, or in addition to, goals for the group.

Act/do

Support and scaffold children’s learning through the implementation of the educational program. Use a range of teaching techniques that are best suited to achieve the planned outcomes for children’s learning and development.

Reflect/review

Engage in a process of reflection in order to evaluate children’s learning and development and identify the next stage of learning. Reflect on the effectiveness of the teaching techniques used. Consider how children’s learning might be made visible through documentation.

Characteristics of effective reflective practice

The aim of reflective practice is to support early childhood professionals to examine and improve aspects of their practice. This, in turn, helps to advance the learning and development of children attending a Three-Year-Old Kindergarten program. Characteristics of effective reflective practice include:

  • to set goals and how to achieve them
  • monitoring, thinking about and improving teaching practice
  • improving your teaching using evidence and research
  • being open-minded, able to respond, and inclusive
  • discussion with colleagues at your kindergarten and beyond
  • ability to adapt your teaching using frameworks and new evidence or ideas
  • make informed judgements, to decide whether to continue or change an element of your teaching practice.

All aspects of teaching practice can be improved through reflective practice. Engaging in reflective practice helps teachers and educators to find ways to continually improve. Reflective practice helps to develop a helpful and collaborative culture of professional inquiry. We can learn from our practice and explore improved ways of working in more depth.

Connections to the VEYLDF

The VEYLDF recognises reflective practice as a process that supports evaluation of teaching practice. It fosters a culture of learning. The VEYLDF’s EYPC outlines a process for early childhood professionals to use as part of their practice in order to question, analyse, act and reflect on evidence they have collected as part of their practice.

The implementation of a Three-Year-Old Kindergarten program provides an opportunity for services to focus on and strengthen their culture of reflection. This supports children’s learning and development, as early childhood professionals assess children’s progress against the VEYLDF Learning and Development Outcomes.

Questions to support reflective practice

Funded kindergarten helps teachers and educators to notice similarities and differences between three- and four-year-old children. This helps to best support all children’s learning and development.

The following questions ask about a culture of reflection:

  • How could reflective practice help improve your teaching?
  • What does a quality early childhood program look like for three-year-old children?
  • How do assessment practices help children's learning at kindergarten?
  • What best practice helps three-year old children to learn?

Having watched the video above, consider the following questions:

  • What changes can be made at your service that allow time for reflective practice and exposure to a range of diverse ideas?
  • What ground rules have you established in your teams to ensure active listening and respectful reflective practice?

Connection to the box of educational resources

  • A box of educational resources has been provided to all services funded to deliver Three-Year-Old Kindergarten from 2022.
  • It includes support for teachers and educators to engage in reflective practice.
  • Some resources included in the box are available online for free. (The links are listed below).
  • A small number are only available in hard copy.

Resources available online

Resources included in the box

Letters to Carla ... about 3 year olds

This book is a series of letters from an experienced teacher who understands how young children learn. On page 40, ‘Considering Celebrations’, it describes the important role of celebrations for young children. Celebrations can provide opportunities for reflective practice in a kindergarten program.

Order a copy of Letters to Carla. Wims Online(opens in a new window)

Powerful interactions – How to connect with children to extend their learning

This reflective guide supports understanding about what ‘powerful interactions’ are. You can learn about how to make them happen and their importance in facilitating children’s learning.

Order a copy of Powerful interactions. Wims Online(opens in a new window)

Other resources

References

Pollard, A., with Collins, J., Simco, N., Swaffield, S., Warin, J., and Warwick, P. (2002) Reflective Teaching: effective and evidence-informed professional practice. London: Continuum.

Assessment for learning

Undertaking assessment for learning in a Three-Year-Old Kindergarten program.

Overview

Assessment in the early years is designed to discover what children know, understand and can do. (Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework (VEYLDF), p. 13). Assessment for learning and development is one of the eight VEYLDF practice principles.

The National Quality Standard 1.3 Assessment and Planning explains the importance of each child’s learning and development. Assessing children's learning requires observation, analysing learning, documentation, planning, implementation and reflection.

Jump to questions for reflective discussion

VEYLDF Practice Principle Guide: Assessment for Learning and Development (PDF, 2MB)(opens in a new window)

Children learn from birth. Each stage in their learning and development has an impact on what comes next. Teachers and educators assess children’s learning using the five learning outcomes from the VEYLDF. This helps them to understand where children are at, and what their needs currently are. It also helps them to meet children's future needs.

Teachers and educators get to know how each child learns in their Three-Year-Old Kindergarten program over time. They observe the similarities and differences that co-exist in different groups of children. It is important to notice these similarities and differences. Look for changes in children’s learning and development in the assessment process.

Assessment and documentation are important in the communication between teachers and families. Teachers and educators should use their expert knowledge of child development to talk with each child's family about the child's progress. Teachers and educators should include the family's views on their child’s development in their assessment.

Teachers and educators assess children’s learning for many reasons. Primarily, they assess children in order to understand each child’s developing knowledge, understanding, skills and capabilities.

Effective assessment for learning practices support early childhood professionals to identify and understand:

  • what each child knows and can do (including strengths, interests, attitudes and dispositions) each child’s attachment patterns and relationships
  • how to support their transitions (including between rooms and services)
  • how each child is progressing developmentally
  • each child’s physical health and emotional wellbeing
  • how to help children to master developing skills
  • how to extend each child’s developmental and learning needs
  • which children may benefit from access to additional supports and services
  • if the planned experiences for a child or group of children were effective (Harley, 2006).

Early childhood professionals engaging in effective assessment practices should ensure that:

  • They are authentic practices. Teachers and educators assess children’s learning and development in places where children regularly learn, socialise and play.
  • They are ethical practices. Teachers and educators assess children in ways which honour their diversity of culture, gender, and abilities.
  • They are ongoing. Assessment practices are intentional, dynamic and occur over time.
  • They identify and celebrate children’s progress.
  • They are diverse. Teachers and educators know that there are a range of ways to assess children’s learning. They assess children's learning in a range of ways, choosing the best approach for each child at each point in time.

Assessment documentation making children’s learning visible

Making learning visible helps to recognise the capabilities of children who attend Three-Year-Old Kindergarten. It is important for teachers and educators to talk with families about their child’s progress. This helps strengthen the connections between the kindergarten service and family.

Effective assessment practices include the points of view of children and their families. This supports a child’s learning and development. It also helps to find opportunities to celebrate children's successes.

Teachers and educators can keep records of children’s thinking and ideas. These records show children’s progress against the VEYLDF learning and development outcomes. This also encourages teachers and educators to reflect on their practice.

Questions to reflect on as part of this analysis include:

  • What is the child learning? How are they learning and how do I know?
  • What do I know about what the child can do, what they need help with, and what are they ready to learn? How do I know what they are ready for?
  • What do I know now about this child’s strengths, culture, learning and development?
  • Are there any gaps in the learning? Are there things I expected to see that are not evident yet?

There are a range of ways in which teachers and educators can keep records of children’s learning. Examples include keeping a record of:

  • children's work
  • photographs, plans and drafts of play and work in progress
  • audio/video recordings of children and teachers and educators in action
  • comments and interviews with children
  • child observations.

The key to assessment for learning is the collection of meaningful documentation. Teachers and educators can then reflect on this when planning the next stages of children’s learning.

Assessing learning

Assessment should be strengths-based and reflect a whole-of-child approach. It should show high expectations for the learning of every child attending a Three-Year-Old Kindergarten.

This will include a focus on children’s:

  • knowledge
  • acquired and emerging skills
  • attitudes and dispositions
  • next stage of learning
  • continuity of learning.

The VEYLDF’s early years planning cycle invites early childhood professionals to collect evidence of children’s learning. Professionals should do this over time and use this information as part of the assessment process.

The VEYLDF learning and development outcomes provide a common language and focus for teachers and educators to notice evidence-based concepts that advance children’s learning and development.

Connections to the VEYLDF

The VEYLDF encourages teachers and educators to use a range of assessment tools and keep progress records of children’s learning. This should be part of regular practice when assessing children’s progress against the five learning and development outcomes in the VEYLDF: identity, community, wellbeing, learning and communication.

Assessments can include discipline-specific assessments such as health and language assessments. Teachers and educators can use these more specific assessments when working with colleagues from other early childhood professions.

The VEYLDF’s early years planning cycle(opens in a new window) guides teachers and educators to collect evidence of children's learning. They use this evidence to judge, plan and act. They also use it in their assessment of children's learning.

Questions for reflective discussion

To support assessment for learning, consider the following questions.

  • How would you describe your current approach to assessment?
  • How will you track and assess children’s progress, using the VEYLDF learning outcomes?
  • How do the learning outcomes in the VEYLDF, help guide assessment for learning at your kindergarten?
  • What assessment processes do you currently feel confident using and why? Which forms of assessment would you like to know more about, strengthen or change, and why?
  • How can teachers and educators strengthen their partnerships with families? How can this help strengthen your approach to assessment?

Having watched the video above, consider the following questions:

  • Are colleagues in your service meeting to discuss their observations and records?
  • Are your assessment practices creating a clear understanding of each child’s learning, including their knowledge, understandings, skills, and capabilities?

Connection to the box of educational resources

A box of educational resources was provided to all services funded to deliver Three-Year-Old Kindergarten in 2022. It included resources to support teachers and educational leaders. This will help in assessment for learning.

Some resources included in the box are also freely available online and these links are listed below.

Resources included in the box

Birth and beyond – meaningful practice for babies and toddlers

This resource supports teachers and educators to understand the learning needs of three-year olds. It will help teachers and educators to transfer this knowledge into teaching programs. This resource will help teachers and educators to understand children's stages of learning development. For example, what learning has occurred before the children start Three-Year-Old Kindergarten.

Order a copy of the Birth and Beyond resource: Wims Online(opens in a new window)

Child development – the developing child, communicating skilfully and nurturing competent learners

This resource focuses on three key areas: the developing child, the child as a skilful communicator, and the child as a competent learner.

Order a copy of the child development resource: Wims Online(opens in a new window)

Health and wellbeing – growing and developing physical and emotional wellbeing

This guide explains the three strands of development: growing and developing, physical wellbeing and emotional wellbeing. Read an introduction to children’s development and their physical wellbeing on page 17. The resource describes physical development, sensory processing, sleep, rest and a healthy diet.

Order a copy of the health and wellbeing resource: Wims Online(opens in a new window)

Resources available online

See the VCAA Assessment of children as confident and capable learners literature review(opens in a new window). It helps to identify progress towards VEYLDF Outcome 4: Children are confident and involved learners.

Other resources

References

Harley, E. (2006). Assessment in the early years. Birth to 8 years. Assessment in the Early Years Newsletter, 1, 1-4.

Wellbeing

Supporting children’s wellbeing in a Three-Year-Old Kindergarten program.

Overview

This page focuses on understanding and responding to children's emotions, and supporting effective transitions and routines for children attending Three-Year-Old Kindergarten programs.

What it means for children to have a strong sense of wellbeing

The Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework (VEYLDF) defines wellbeing as 'having good mental and physical health, including attachment, positive affect and self-regulation' (p. 20). It recognises wellbeing as a key learning and development outcome.

Children attending a Three-Year-Old Kindergarten program have many opportunities to learn about themselves and those around them. This helps them to build a strong sense of wellbeing.

Teachers and educators play a critical role in supporting the wellbeing of children. They ensure that children are included, welcomed and supported when attending kindergarten.

Jump to questions for reflective discussion

Children’s relationships with teachers and educators, and other children, are important. Relationships support children's current and future learning and development. They also support wellbeing and secure attachments.

Secure attachments bring:

  • emotional warmth and security
  • confidence to explore
  • autonomy
  • positive expectations and ideas about future relationships.

Teachers and educators should explore the ways that attachments are formed and sustained. They should manage transitions and routines and support the emotional wellbeing of children. Teachers and educators need to be intentional in all aspects of their practice. They view wellbeing as an integral part of the kindergarten program and not separately from the educational program.

VCAA wellbeing practice guide

Wellbeing practice guide.

Understanding and responding to children's emotions

Learning to express and regulate emotions is a skill that children develop over time. They learn through trial and error and with the support of the adults around them.

Having high expectations and attending to the emotional needs of three-year-old children will support children to develop a strong sense of wellbeing.

The VEYLDF explains, 'teachers can help children build social and emotional skills and strategies – such as perseverance, sociability and self-esteem' (p. 6).

Teachers and educators can show sensitivity and attentiveness to the emotions children feel and express. This helps children to develop trust and reciprocal relationships. When early childhood professionals deliver educational programs to meet the needs of children at the kindergarten, they create a learning climate where children feel safe, secure and respected.

To achieve this, early childhood professionals should:

  • spend one-on-one time to get to know each child attending Three-Year-Old Kindergarten
  • ensure all children are included and welcomed, especially children from diverse backgrounds
  • support children who may be experiencing vulnerability
  • ask families for information to help their child starting at kindergarten
  • be sensitive and alert to the needs of every child
  • have strategies to respond to individuals and group needs of children.

All educational programs can support children to develop emotional literacy. Emotional literacy is the ability to identify, understand and respond to our own emotions and those of others.

Emotional literacy improves children's interactions with other children. It also helps children to deal with transitions and unexpected situations.

To support the emotional literacy of three-year-old children, try:

  • helping children to name their feelings, identify emotions of others and develop empathy for others
  • reading stories to children about emotions and helping children to identify the emotions displayed by the characters
  • encouraging children to talk about their feelings and the feelings of others
  • modelling how to deal with a problem calmly
  • teaching children how to safely and appropriately express their frustrations.

Teaching children to understand and manage their emotions will help them to learn with other children attending Three-Year-Old Kindergarten.

Effective transitions and routines

Children's wellbeing really improves with well organised routines in kindergarten. Some children may be attending an early learning setting for the first time, so routines will be new to them.

Routines are part of every good kindergarten program. At kindergarten, these can include small and large group times. Children sometimes share mealtimes with other children. They also join in activities at different times during the day.

Routines provide a reliable rhythm to the day for children. An adaptable kindergarten program will incorporate children's individual needs and interests alongside routines.

Children often need help to move from one experience to another. For example, moving from outdoor play, to washing hands and then to a meal. These are known as 'transitions’. These daily transitions should be predictable, age appropriate and sensitive to children's needs so that children are more likely to have a positive experience.

Routines and transitions offer ample opportunities for learning. They help to build trust and caring relationships with children. Helping children understand daily routines and transitions helps their learning and development. Teachers and educators can observe children's involvement in play experiences and when to begin a transition. Sometimes transitions and routines can be delayed for the benefit of children's learning.

Connections to the VEYLDF

Wellbeing is one of the five VEYLDF learning and development outcomes.

Outcome 3: children have a strong sense of wellbeing

Teachers and educators help support the physical, social, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of children.

This is evident when children:

  • show an increasing capacity to understand and manage their emotions
  • show an increasing ability to understand the feelings and needs of others
  • show trust and confidence.

Outcome 1: children have a strong sense of identity

Outcome 1 explains that children's safety, security and feeling supported is important, so that children develop independence, resilience, and inter-dependence. This is evident when children:

  • build secure attachment with one and then more familiar educators
  • use effective routines to help make predicted transitions smooth.

Questions for reflective discussion

To support children attending Three-Year-Old Kindergarten to have a strong sense of their wellbeing, take some time to reflect on the following questions.

  • What are you looking for when observing and understanding children's wellbeing?
  • Can you give equal attention to relationships across all aspects of the daily program? (e.g. group time, eating times and when children are outdoors?)
  • Do your relationships honour the image of children presented in the VEYLDF? How?
  • How do you support children's emotional literacy?
  • What are the range of appropriate experiences to teach and learn about emotions?
  • How do your co-workers define wellbeing for children?

Having watched the video above, consider the following questions:

  • Why is it critical to focus on wellbeing of children in your program?
  • What are some strategies that are working for you?
  • How are the transition routines and structures at your service supporting children’s wellbeing?

Connection to the box of educational resources

A box of educational resources has been provided to all services funded to deliver Three-Year-Old Kindergarten in 2022. The resources focus on educator practice to best support children's wellbeing. Some resources in the box are also available free online.

These links are listed below, while some others are only available in hard copy.

Resources available online

Resources available in the box

Everyday learning - executive function in the early years

This booklet helps teachers and educators to understand the importance and foundations of executive function and how children's development can be supported.

Order a copy of the everyday learning resource(opens in a new window).

Secure transitions - supporting children to feel secure, confident and included

This booklet describes secure transitions as being about relationships. It looks at attachment, making time to 'be with' children, transitions and separations. It describes supporting children from culturally diverse backgrounds.

See page 15 titled 'Transitions'. There are ideas for 'warmups' to support children to make friends. Building children's connections with other children helps their wellbeing. You will see practical ideas on how to support children's friendships when they move to a new kindergarten. Order a copy of the secure transitions resource.

Other resources

Communication

Embedding appropriate and effective strategies to support children’s oral language, literacy and numeracy learning.

An insight into language development

Communication is one the five Learning and Development Outcomes of the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework (VEYLDF). It highlights that children are effective communicators. The development of children's communication skills is central to their wellbeing and identity. It also helps children to build a sense of agency and develop friendships (p.22).

Children communicate their curiosity, interests, needs and emotions to those around them from birth. Three-year-old children start using more words and longer sentences when communicating with others. As children’s vocabulary grows, children can better express their feelings and emotions to adults and to other children.

Teachers and educators need to plan how they support children's developing communication skills.

Jump to questions to support reflective practice

Core elements of communication for three-year-old children include:

  • a safe, welcoming, healthy and engaging environment for security and exploration
  • opportunities to practise and maintain their first language
  • teachers and educators who support young children by using a range of communication strategies
  • teacher demonstrations of how to use more words and longer sentences, and using examples like labelling, statements and extended questions.

Receptive language skills are seeing and hearing. Expressive language skills develop through interacting with people, and interacting with natural and constructed environments.

Progress in developing receptive and expressive language skill happens in different ways and at a different pace for each child. Kindergarten programs should offer children experiences to develop their receptive and expressive language skills.

Teachers and educators in Three-Year-Old Kindergarten programs should support children's development of multiple types of language development. These include non-verbal language development such as the artistic languages of movement, dance and the visual arts.

In a Three-Year-Old Kindergarten program, teachers, educators and families can work together, helping children to speak in their home language. They may also seek support from other professionals to help a child continue to develop their home language.

What we mean by literacy learning

According to the VEYLDF, literacy includes 'a range of modes of communication, including music, movement, dance, storytelling, visual arts, media and drama, as well as talking, viewing, reading and writing' (VEYLDF, p. 52). Children need to develop literacy in all areas. These skills help them to make sense of different situations.

Children attending a Three-Year-Old Kindergarten program learn to:

  • see themselves as capable literacy learners and creative communicators
  • recognise purposeful literacy in the environment (signs, books, charts, recipes)
  • welcome opportunities to share literacy events. These include, story circles, song writing, decoding signs, book corners and words on computer screens.

Teachers and educators working with children at kindergarten should place great value in how they communicate with children. Teachers and educators can support children's language development by:

  • using open ended questions
  • engaging in back-and-forth interactions
  • responding to children's communication attempts
  • providing children with new words and phrases to use.

The Literacy Teaching Toolkit has high-quality integrated teaching and learning approaches for language and literacy development. These are appropriate for use in Three-Year-Old Kindergarten programs.

What we mean by numeracy learning

According to the VEYLDF, numeracy includes 'understandings about numbers, structure and pattern, measurement, spatial awareness and data, as well as mathematical thinking, reasoning and counting' (VEYLDF, p. 52).

Mathematical concepts develop through everyday communication experiences. Teachers and educators guide children's development of numeracy skills.

Children attending a Three-Year-Old Kindergarten program learn to:

  • see themselves as capable numeracy learners (including creating patterns for and with others)
  • recognise purposeful numeracy in the environment (labels, street signs, calendars, recipes)
  • welcome opportunities to share numeracy experiences (weighing and measuring, acting out number songs, counting, decoding signs, using computers)
  • apply mathematical concepts in everyday situations (building towers, allocating spaces, solving problems).

Teachers and educators guide young children's numeracy development by:

  • using numeracy learning in everyday experiences such as cooking and construction
  • exploring numeracy development in play-based approaches to learning
  • using numeracy language when communicating with children.

The early childhood numeracy and mathematics resource(opens in a new window) has advice for teachers and educators to engage children to understand:

  • numbers and algebra – investigating patterns, symbols, and relationships
  • measurement and geometry – exploring mathematical concepts. Including the size, shape, position and dimensions of objects
  • statistics and probability – sorting, understanding and presenting information from groups of objects.

Connections to the VEYLDF

The VEYLDF reminds us that 'Children's rich spoken language, as well as their gestures and actions, underpin the development of basic literacy and numeracy concepts' (p. 28).

Outcome 5: Children are effective communicators

Outcome 5 notes that interacting in order to make meaning is at the heart of literacy and numeracy learning. This is evident when children:

  • respond verbally and non-verbally to what they see, hear, touch, feel and taste
  • demonstrate an increasing understanding of measurement of number using vocabulary to describe size, length, volume, capacity and names of numbers.

Outcome 4: Children as confident and engaged learners

Outcome 4 reinforces that children, through play, can demonstrate their literacy and numeracy knowledge and processes. This is evident when children:

  • use play to investigate, imagine and explore ideas
  • create and use representation to organise, record and communicate mathematical ideas and concepts.

Questions for reflective discussion

To support children to be effective communicators, think about the following questions:

  • Are there times in the day when you are most likely to notice children's interest in literacy and numeracy?
  • Are there indoor and outdoor spaces where you are most likely to notice children's interest in literacy and numeracy?
  • Which educator practices best support the communication skills of young children?
  • How will teachers and educators build their understanding of the diverse contexts of children?
  • How will you plan for children's literacy and numeracy learning?
  • How will you plan for multilingualism? For non-verbal and verbal children's interactions?
  • What supports you to develop your knowledge of developing children's literacy and numeracy skills?

Having watched the video above, consider the following questions:

  • What does a language-rich environment for children look like in your setting?
  • How are you scaffolding children’s literacy and numeracy learning?
  • How does play support this?

Connections to the box of educational resources

A box of educational resources has been provided to all services funded to deliver Three-Year-Old Kindergarten in 2022. It includes resources that specifically focus on supporting children's communication. Several relevant resources included in the box are also freely available online and these links are listed below, while some others are only available in hard copy.

Resources available in the box

From lullabies to literature: stories in the lives of infants and toddlers

This resource provides practical strategies for promoting language and literacy. They link to developmental milestones. See page 39 titled 'The Special Role of Books'. This explains the importance of books in children's literacy and communication development. It explores the role of books in strengthening relationships. Books teach children about diversity and difference.

Indigenous first discovery pack

This resource includes three board books:

  • Animals, People and Places
  • At the Billabong
  • Indigenous First Discovery Teachers Guide.

The board books are used to introduce symbols from Aboriginal culture to young children.

Resources available online

Other resources

Environments for learning

Creating responsive and inclusive environments that maximise children’s learning and development in a Three-Year-Old Kindergarten program.

An ecological model: factors influencing environments for learning

When planning learning environments, teachers and educators need a complete view of children’s learning. This requires paying attention to children’s physical, personal and social development, as well as their emotional and intellectual learning and development. It also includes children's contexts, including family, culture and experience.

The Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework (VEYLDF), refers to the Ecological Model (adapted from Bronfenbrenner 1979).

The Ecological Model explains that ‘all children influence and are affected by the environments that surround them’ (p.5).

The Ecological Model acknowledges that children should be central in educational program planning. There are a range of contexts which have an impact on a child’s learning and development. These include the social, environmental, political and economic context.

The physical, emotional, and intellectual environments in a Three-Year-Old Kindergarten program are important. These three environments have a direct relationship to each other. When combined, they support the advancement of children's learning and development.

The physical environment impacts how children learn and behave. This includes:

  • the way a room is set up
  • how welcoming a space 'feels'
  • the ease of movement from one space to another
  • the space being inclusive
  • availability of resources that inspire children to engage in learning.

These factors can enhance learning or make learning less easy.

The emotional environment includes the things that educators say or do to make children feel safe, welcomed and valued. This includes:

  • children feeling supported to try and test ideas out
  • children being supported to work towards goals without negative consequences when things don’t go as planned.

When early childhood professionals take into account the emotional environment, they recognise that they play a critical role in establishing and maintaining an environment conducive to learning.

The intellectual environment is also important. This includes:

  • providing children with the ability to be challenged, to test ideas, and to demonstrate their theories in practice
  • practicing intentional teaching, and scaffolding children’s learning, both of which are important pedagogical practices
  • creating an environment which provides challenges for children
  • engaging in assessment practices in order to identify where children are currently at and plan experiences which extend children’s current levels of competence
  • teachers and educators establish and maintain an emotional environment that is conducive to children's learning.

Creating thinking spaces for three-year-old children

Environments matter. Teachers and educators should draw on the VEYLDF Practice Principles when making decisions about their kindergarten environments. They should consider the flow of the program and think carefully about the experiences they’ve planned, and how they support the individual, the group, and the learning and development needs of all children.

Learning environments include well-selected resources and the use of time and space. Planning for a Three-Year-Old Kindergarten day supports children's agency, safety and security. Time considerations may include:

  • managing transition times between experiences and routines
  • how choices are offered
  • ensuring children have enough time to practise and extend their learning
  • creating balance between calm, restful experiences and more active experiences.

These considerations will support children’s individual learning and development needs. They will contribute to the overall flow of the kindergarten program.

Well planned learning environments ensure all children effectively participate. They cater for all children’s individual strengths, interests and requirements. This planning makes links between the educational program goals and the materials required to achieve this. This ensures all children’s learning is maximised.

The materials and resources on offer should invite curiosity, exploration and challenge. Teachers and educators should plan an environment that provides opportunities for children to play alone or in smaller and larger groups.

Children should be encouraged, through their environment, to explore and test ideas. They should feel supported with transitions across the day. Equal attention should be paid to both the indoor and outdoor environments.

Jump to questions for reflective discussion

Connections to the VEYLDF

The VEYLDF acknowledges the importance of the environment on children's learning and development. Teachers and educators plan children's learning around the built environment and the social environment.

Equity and diversity is one of the eight VEYLDF Practice Principles. It promotes the creation of responsive environments that provide inclusive and equitable opportunities for all children, to advance their learning and development outcomes.

Other VEYLDF Practice Principles that support responsive and inclusive environments for learning include:

Respectful relationships and responsive engagement

Teachers and educators should ensure children experience safe and stimulating learning environments.

Integrated teaching and learning approaches

Teachers and educators should create physical and social environments that expose children to learning experiences and physical activity, both indoors and outdoors in the natural world.

Questions for reflective discussion

To explore the role of environments within a Three-Year-Old Kindergarten program, consider the following questions:

  • What kind of environments allow all children to thrive and grow as learners?
  • Does the physical environment support the inclusion of all children in learning opportunities?
  • Does the environment encourage safe risk-taking?
  • What resources support young children's learning and development?
  • Does the environment support collaborative learning?
  • Does it support social skills development?
  • Does it allow time for children to play alone?
  • How can young children's learning be maximised in the outdoor environment, and how does this look in the educational program?

Having watched the video above, consider the following questions:

  • Do your indoor and outdoor environments include high expectations within your Three-Year-Old Kindergarten program?
  • How can teachers and educators use the outdoors as a great place of learning and possibility?

Connection to the box of educational resources

A box of educational resources has been provided to all services funded to deliver Three-Year-Old Kindergarten in 2022. It includes resources that specifically focus on creating environments for learning.

Resources available in the box

Children's imagination: Creativity under our noses

This book presents observations of children's imaginative and creative thinking. It explores what sparks children's imagination and how to nourish children's creative thinking.

See Page 68 titled 'Learning from children'. This focuses on being present alongside children, learning to be still and observing. It offers opportunities to value the art of listening and valuing children's thinking and play.

Imaginative play every day, music every day, read every day

These three wall friezes provide illustrations and ideas for engaging in play with young children.

Just discover!

This resource provides experiences for connecting young children with the natural world.

It emphasises hands-on, play-based learning opportunities.

Order the Just Discover series pack here(opens in a new window) (includes Just Discover, Just Imagine, Just Investigate, Just Improvise).

Just imagine!

This resource explains how to establish stimulating creative play experiences for children.

Just investigate!

This resource provides science and technology experiences for young children. It emphasises hands-on, play-based learning opportunities.

Just improvise!

This resource has practical ideas for providing innovative play experiences for children. Teachers and educators are supported to find new ways and reasons to improvise in creating learning environments.

Resources available online

Other resources

Collaborative partnerships

Building and sustaining collaborative partnerships with families and other professionals to best support children’s learning and development.

Collaboration with families

Families are a child's first teacher. This is recognised by the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework (VEYLDF) Practice Principle Partnerships with Families (PDF, 1.6MB)(opens in a new window).

Families are critical to the growth, learning and development of children. They are also immensely important to a child’s sense of belonging.

Families should be involved with their child's experience of a kindergarten program. This is central to supporting the child to grow and develop.

To support strong and authentic partnerships with families, teachers and educators should:

  • accept the unique needs and circumstances of all families and children
  • partner with families to build shared knowledge of their children
  • build clear and shared expectations of how to include families in the educational program
  • share what they are observing and planning to support children's learning and development
  • ensure communication with families is honest and caring
  • identify and assess families' hopes for their children attending a kindergarten program.

Collaboration with families will look different in each kindergarten program. Assessing the local needs, requirements and resources will impact on collaboration with families.

Some practical ideas to support collaboration with families may include:

  • inviting families to share how they would like to be involved
  • starting off with a small initiative, for example, inviting families to spend more time at the kindergarten when their child first starts
  • asking families about how they would like to be involved in the kindergarten program
  • thinking about reasons why families may feel hesitant to participate in the kindergarten program, and making sure all families are able to be included.

Collaboration with other professionals

Collaborating with other professionals who work with children and their families is an important way to support children’s learning and development.

This is highlighted in the VEYLDF Practice Principle, Partnerships with Professionals (PDF, 1.3MB)(opens in a new window).

Jump to questions for reflective discussion

Teachers and educators should collaborate with other relevant services and agencies in their local communities. They should be aware of the types of services families seek support through, such as the local Maternal and Child Health Service or allied health professionals.

Teachers and educators who support a child’s learning and development can share their knowledge with other professionals. This may assist other professionals who support that child.

At a service level, effective leadership can enable the development of this collaboration.

This includes, for example, the allocation of time to connect up. Sustaining these relationships with other professionals requires teachers and educators to be pro-active in reaching out to colleagues.

Collaboration requires an ongoing commitment to working together. It requires being willing to get involved, and working to share a common vision and clear aims for children. This takes time and cannot be rushed.

There may be existing opportunities in local communities to connect with. The following examples are ideal to build these types of relationships:

  • local early years networks
  • transition networks
  • leadership forums
  • shared professional learning opportunities.

Teachers and educators working in Three-Year-Old Kindergarten programs should develop processes to work with other professionals. They should share relevant information about a child’s learning with the child's family and other early childhood professionals.

Over time, services will see the benefits of collaborations for children, families and professionals. One such benefit may be improved continuity of learning for children in Three-Year-Old Kindergarten programs.

Continuity of learning is the continued progress of a child’s learning and development. This is important as a child transitions between learning environments. It includes attending a kindergarten for the first time. It is also when a child transitions from three to four-year-old kindergarten. It relies on strong and effective relationships. It includes sharing of information between early childhood professionals in services and schools. It also includes sharing information with other professionals who work with children. This supports children to experience smooth and successful transitions.

Connections to the VEYLDF

VEYLDF practice principles:

Teachers and educators should work to build collaborative relationships with others. This includes families, health services, family support services and primary school staff. Collaborative relationships take time, effort and persistence. Teachers and educators should respect the diversity of approaches, knowledge and expertise of others. Children learn best when the adults who work and live with them have close and professional relationships.

It is important to develop a culture of reflection when building these relationships. Finding opportunities to expand on successes or make changes to the way professionals work together will be very helpful.

As collaborations develop, teachers and educators will see improved outcomes for children in Three-Year-Old Kindergarten.

Questions for reflective discussion

To support collaborative partnerships, take some time to reflect on the following questions.

  • How does your team define collaboration?
  • What does collaboration look like at your service?
  • Who does your service collaborate with?
  • What actions can you take to enhance collaboration with other service providers?
  • Which services in the local community could you build a relationship with?
  • What expertise can your team share to benefit other service providers?

Having watched the video above, consider the following questions:

  • What opportunities are there for creating and growing a community of learners to enhance knowledge and practice?
  • What other early childhood services are available outside of your setting? How might these enhance outcomes for children and families?

Connection to the box of educational resources

A box of educational resources has been provided to all services funded to deliver Three-Year-Old Kindergarten from 2022. It includes resources that specifically focus on building collaborative relationships.

A number of resources included in the box are also freely available online and these links are listed below, while some others are only available in hard copy.

Resources available in the box

Making links parent partner – A guide for parents about what matters in early childhood services

This booklet highlights what really matters for children and their families in early childhood services. See, Page 16 ‘Partnerships’, which highlights the importance of relationship building with parents and some practical ideas for building these partnerships. Order a copy of the making links parent partner resource(opens in a new window).

Resources available online

Other resources

Box of educational resources

Using the box of educational resources to support your practice and children’s learning in a Three-Year-Old Kindergarten program.

Overview

The box of educational resources offers early childhood professionals delivering a Three-Year-Old Kindergarten program the opportunity to engage with a range of specifically selected hard copy resources, tip sheets, posters, books and online professional learning vouchers.

Several resources included in the box are also freely available online via these pages or this order form(opens in a new window), while some others are only available to be purchased in hard copy, direct from suppliers.

All services in Victoria delivering funded Three-Year-Old Kindergarten have now been sent a Teaching Toolkit Box of Educational Resources. The box of educational resources is designed to be a shared resource for teaching teams delivering Three-Year-Old Kindergarten and is strictly limited to one per service due to the significant cost of the resources. No further boxes are available. It is not available to the public or for purchase.

The box of resources was developed through consultation with sector experts and is intended to provide practical support and resources to teachers and educational teams as they deliver funded Three-Year-Old Kindergarten. All resources align to the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework (VEYLDF).

The box of educational resources divided is into six critical areas:

  1. Reflective practice – program planning and practice
  2. Assessment for learning – younger children's development
  3. Wellbeing – executive function and self-regulation, secure transitions, routines
  4. Communication – oral language, literacy and numeracy
  5. Environments for learning – inclusion, physical spaces, materials
  6. Collaborative partnerships – with families and other professionals.

Unpacking the box of educational resources

A toolkit navigator document (PDF)(opens in a new window) lists all of the resources in the box of educational resources and provides a short description of each item.

The box of educational resources video(opens in a new window) provides information on what’s contained in the box and ideas for how to best use these resources.

Online versions of many of the teaching toolkit resources are freely available through links provided on these pages. See ‘connection to the box of educational resources’ on each critical area page.

Limited hard copies of the following resources may still be available via the order form:

  • Letters to Carla (reflective practice)
  • Powerful interactions: How to connect with children to extend their learning (reflective practice)
  • Birth and beyond: Meaningful practice for babies and toddlers (reflective practice)
  • Child development: The developing child, communicating skilfully and nurturing competent learners (assessment for learning)
  • Health and wellbeing: Growing and developing physical and emotional wellbeing (assessment for learning)
  • Everyday learning series: Executive function in the early years (assessment for learning)
  • Secure transitions: Supporting children to feel secure, confident and included (wellbeing)
  • Children’s imagination: Creativity under our noses (environments for learning)
  • Just discover! series student pack - 1 pack = 4 books (environments for learning)
  • Making links: Parent partners (collaborative partnerships).

Alternatively, resources can be sourced via local libraries or purchased from bookshops or directly from suppliers.

Ideas for using the box of educational resources with your team

There are many ways to engage with the box of educational resources. It is intended to be a set of resources for early childhood professionals to draw on over time to support high-quality practice.

Suggestions for engaging with the box of educational resources:

  • consider the topics you would like to focus on and explore these in detail
  • establish opportunities for focused reading and discussion with your colleagues at your kindergarten service regarding a particular resource or one of the critical areas within the box of educational resources
  • take your time with the resources and revisit them periodically
  • explore the relationship between a resource and your practice (e.g. what challenged you, what excited you and what might you consider implementing in your classroom?)
  • consider undertaking an inquiry project based on one of the resources (e.g. what does literacy in the everyday look like with a group of three-year-old children?).