Professor Claire McLachlan is Dean of the School of Education, Federation University Australia, where she leads education programmes across 3 campuses in Victoria, Australia. Claire has a strong track record of research on early literacy, early childhood curriculum, teachers’ beliefs and practices, assessment and evaluation.
The place of literacy in university child care settings in Victoria: an analysis of learning opportunities for infants, toddlers and young children.
This paper presents findings of observations of literacy learning opportunities in Federation University child care settings in Victoria, Australia. The results of data collected in three child care centres with a population of 450 of infants, toddlers and young children is presented. The data collection used the ELLCO (Smith & Dickinson, 2002) and ECERS-3(Harms, Clifford & Cryer, 2015) and non participant observations and findings are presented. The implications for strengthening literacy practice in early childhood with diverse communities is explored.
There is robust evidence to show that children develop the requisite knowledge, skills and abilities to become literate in the early years and that these foundational skills, developed prior to school entry, have long reaching benefits in education (National Early Literacy Panel, 2009; Bernstein, West, Newsham, & Reid, 2014). Research shows that when teachers increase their understandings of literacy acquisition and transform the pedagogies they use with young children, there are increases in children’s literacy outcomes (Cunninghmam et al., 2015; McLachlan & Arrow, 2014). The purpose of this research was to identify the literacy environment children in university childcare experience, as part of strengthening pedagogies for infants, toddlers and young children. This project was the first stage in an ongoing project investigating literacy learning in the FedUni Children’s Centres in Victoria, Australia. This initial phase involved non-participant observations of children (n=450) in all FedUni Children’s Centres at three university campuses. In addition, the Early Language and Literacy Classroom Observation toolkit (ELLCO Pre-K) (Smith & Dickinson, 2002) was used to examine 19 items in 5 critical areas: Classroom structure, curriculum, language environment, books and book reading, and print and early writing. The ECERS-3 (Harms, Clifford & Cryer, 2015) was used to examine the quality of the environment available to children. The purpose was to identify the typical literacy experiences that infants, toddlers and young children experience and to support teachers to reflect on and strengthen the play-based curriculum offered. This presentation will examine the findings of the data collection using the ECERS-3, ELLCO and non-participant observations, which suggest literacy practice needs strengthening. The implications for review of early childhood curriculum, strengthening teachers’ pedagogies and future research with diverse child care communities are explored.