Belonging, Being and Becoming are integral parts of identity.
Children learn about themselves and construct their own identity within the context of their families and communities. This includes their relationships with people, places and things, and the actions and responses of others. Identity is not ﬁxed, it is shaped by experiences. When children have positive experiences they develop an understanding of themselves as signiﬁcant and respected, and feel a sense of belonging. Relationships are the foundations for the construction of identity – ‘who I am’, ‘how I belong’ and ‘what is my inﬂuence?’ In early childhood settings children develop a sense of belonging when they feel accepted, develop attachments and trust those that care for them. As children are developing their sense of identity, they explore different aspects of it (physical, social, emotional, spiritual, and cognitive), through their play and their relationships. When children feel safe, secure and supported they grow in conﬁdence to explore and learn.
The concept of being reminds educators to focus on children in the here and now, and of the importance of children’s right to be a child and experience the joy of childhood. Being involves children developing an awareness of their social and cultural heritage, of gender and their signiﬁcance in their world.
Becoming includes children building and shaping their identity through their evolving experiences and relationships which include change and transitions. Children are always learning about the impact of their personal beliefs and values. Children’s agency, as well as guidance, care and teaching by families and educators shape children’s experiences of becoming.
Experiences of relationships and participation in communities contribute to children’s Belonging, Being and Becoming. From birth children experience living and learning with others in a range of communities. These might include families, local communities or early childhood settings. Having a positive sense of identity and experiencing respectful, responsive relationships strengthens children’s interest and skills in being and becoming active contributors to their world.
As children move into early childhood settings, they broaden their experiences as participants in different relationships and communities. Over time the variety and complexity of ways in which children connect and participate with others increases. Babies participate through smiling, crying, imitating, and making sounds to show their level of interest in relating to or participating with others. Toddlers participate and connect with other toddlers through such gestures as offering their teddy to a distressed child or welcoming a new child enthusiastically. Older children show interest in how others regard them and understandings about friendships. They develop understandings that their actions or responses affect how others feel or experience belonging.
When educators create environments in which children experience mutually enjoyable, caring and respectful relationships with people and the environment, children respond accordingly. When children participate collaboratively in everyday routines, events and experiences and have opportunities to contribute to decisions, they learn to live interdependently.
Children’s connectedness and different ways of belonging with people, country and communities helps them to learn ways of being which reﬂect the values, traditions and practices of their families and communities. Over time this learning transforms the ways they interact with others.
Wellbeing incorporates both physical and psychological aspects and is central to Belonging, Being and Becoming. Without a strong sense of wellbeing it is difﬁcult to have a sense of belonging, to trust others and feel conﬁdent in being, and to optimistically engage in experiences that contribute to becoming.
Wellbeing includes good physical health, feelings of happiness, satisfaction and successful social functioning. It inﬂuences the way children interact in their environments. A strong sense of wellbeing provides children with conﬁdence and optimism which maximise their learning potential. It encourages the development of children’s innate exploratory drive, a sense of agency and a desire to interact with responsive others.
Wellbeing is correlated with resilience, providing children with the capacity to cope with day-to day stress and challenges. The readiness to persevere when faced with unfamiliar and challenging learning situations creates the opportunity for success and achievement.
Children’s learning and physical development is evident through their movement patterns from physical dependence and reﬂex actions at birth, to the integration of sensory, motor and cognitive systems for organised, controlled physical activity for both purpose and enjoyment.
Children’s wellbeing can be affected by all their experiences within and outside of their early childhood settings. To support children’s learning, it is essential that educators attend to children’s wellbeing by providing warm, trusting relationships, predictable and safe environments, afﬁrmation and respect for all aspects of their physical, emotional, social, cognitive, linguistic, creative and spiritual being. By acknowledging each child’s cultural and social identity, and responding sensitively to their emotional states, educators build children’s conﬁdence, sense of wellbeing and willingness to engage in learning.
Children’s developing resilience and their ability to take increasing responsibility for self-help and basic health routines promote a sense of independence and conﬁdence. As they experience being cared for by educators and others, they become aware of the importance of living and learning interdependently with others.
Learning about healthy lifestyles, including nutrition, personal hygiene, physical ﬁtness, emotions and social relationships is integral to wellbeing and self-conﬁdence. Physical wellbeing contributes to children’s ability to concentrate, cooperate and learn. As children become more independent they can take greater responsibility for their health, hygiene and personal care and become mindful of their own and others’ safety. Routines provide opportunities for children to learn about health and safety. Good nutrition is essential to healthy living and enables children to be active participants in play.
Early childhood settings provide many opportunities for children to experience a range of healthy foods and to learn about food choices from educators and other children. Physical activity and attention to ﬁne and gross motor skills provide children with the foundations for their growing independence and satisfaction in being able to do things for themselves.
A sense of security and sound wellbeing gives children the conﬁdence to experiment and explore and to try out new ideas, thus developing their competence and becoming active and involved participants in learning. Children are more likely to be conﬁdent and involved learners when their family and community experiences and understandings are recognised and included in the early childhood setting. This assists them to make connections and to make sense of new experiences.
Children use processes such as exploration, collaboration and problem solving across all aspects of curriculum. Developing dispositions such as curiosity, persistence and creativity enables children to participate in and gain from learning. Effective learners are also able to transfer and adapt what they have learned from one context to another and to locate and use resources for learning.
In a supportive active learning environment, children who are conﬁdent and involved learners are increasingly able to take responsibility for their own learning, personal regulation and contribution to the social environment. Connections and continuity between learning experiences in different settings make learning more meaningful and increase children’s feelings of belonging.
Children develop understandings of themselves and their world through active, hands-on investigation. A supportive active learning environment encourages children’s engagement in learning which can be recognised as deep concentration and complete focus on what captures their interests. Children bring their being to their learning. They have many ways of seeing the world, different processes of learning and their own preferred learning styles.
Active involvement in learning builds children’s understandings of concepts and the creative thinking and inquiry processes that are necessary for lifelong learning. They can challenge and extend their own thinking, and that of others, and create new knowledge in collaborative interactions and negotiations.
Children’s active involvement changes what they know, can do, value and transforms their learning. Educators’ knowledge of individual children is crucial to providing an environment and experiences that will optimise children’s learning.
Communication is crucial to belonging, being and becoming. From birth children communicate with others using gestures, sounds, language and assisted communication. Humans are social beings who are intrinsically motivated to exchange ideas, thoughts, questions and feelings, and to use a range of tools and media, including music, dance and drama, to express themselves, connect with others and extend their learning.
Children’s use of their home languages underpins their sense of identity and their conceptual development. Children feel a sense of belonging when their language, interaction styles and ways of communicating are valued. They have the right to be continuing users of their home language as well as to develop competency in Standard Australian English.
Literacy and numeracy capabilities are important aspects of communication and are vital for successful learning across the curriculum. Literacy is the capacity, conﬁdence and disposition to use language in all its forms. Literacy incorporates a range of modes of communication including music, movement, dance, storytelling, visual arts, media and drama, as well as talking, listening, viewing, reading and writing. Contemporary texts include electronic and print based media. In an increasingly technological world, the ability to critically analyse texts is a key component of literacy. Children beneﬁt from opportunities to explore their world using technologies and to develop conﬁdence in using digital media.
Numeracy is the capacity, conﬁdence and disposition to use mathematics in daily life. Children bring new mathematical understandings through engaging with problem solving. It is essential that the mathematical ideas with which young children interact are relevant and meaningful in the context of their current lives.
Educators require a rich mathematical vocabulary to accurately describe and explain children’s mathematical ideas and to support numeracy development. Spatial sense, structure and pattern, number, measurement, data argumentation, connections and exploring the world mathematically are the powerful ideas children need to understand.
Experiences in early childhood settings build on the range of experiences with language, literacy and numeracy that children have within their families and communities.
Positive attitudes and competencies in literacy and numeracy are essential for children’s successful learning. The foundations for these competencies are built in early childhood.