Working with communities

Working with communities

The AEDC provides evidence to support the critical work of the early childhood education sector in delivering the best development opportunities and outcomes for children. There are a number of ways in which early childhood educators can work with and support communities to help shape the future and wellbeing of Australian children.

Build community partnerships

Early childhood education services can be a principal player in bringing stakeholders together in a community partnership to strengthen the network of support around children as they grow and develop through their early years and into school. Community partnerships, and focusing on improving outcomes for children, will ultimately lead to positive outcomes for early childhood education services, families, school and the community as children experience better support through their early years.

The AEDC provides community-level data on children’s development and provides a platform for early childhood education services, schools and other early years services to work together in supporting local children. Possibilities include collaboratively planning transition programs, and planning for the needs of children arriving at school.

Early childhood educators can discuss their community AEDC results with a range of stakeholders to engage them in action that seeks to improve outcomes for the children of their community. Examples of stakeholders that early childhood educators can engage in a community partnership include:

  • families
  • peers, leadership, and committee of management (within early childhood education service)
  • other local early childhood education services
  • local schools and school educators
  • local government
  • early years partnerships
  • community members.

Raise awareness of the importance of early childhood development

The five AEDC domains provide a common language for early childhood educators to discuss children’s development with families, schools and communities.

The AEDC is a powerful tool for early childhood education services to raise awareness of the importance of early childhood development and lead action towards improving outcomes for children. With expertise in children’s development, the early childhood education sector is well-positioned to generate community momentum towards improving children’s developmental outcomes in their local community.

Share the importance of early childhood development with families

Parents and families are children’s first and most important educators and have a significant ongoing influence on children’s development. Other environmental influences include access to quality early childhood education services, schools and community resources.

The cumulative effect of these influences, and the interaction between influences, determines how well children will develop and take advantage of opportunities that early childhood education services, schools and communities provide.

In children’s early years it is important for educators to work collaboratively with families to maximise children’s development. The AEDC can be a useful tool for educators and/or schools and communities to partner with families in raising awareness of the importance of the early years and how to best support children.

Convey the developmental focus of early childhood education

Educators in early childhood and school settings may seek a shared understanding of each other’s practice in order to facilitate children’s development with minimal disruption from the early years and into school.

In conveying the developmental focus of early childhood education the AEDC can be a useful to frame learning and development outcomes and demonstrate how these outcomes are facilitated in the years before school. For example, when showing an activity to a school educator, early childhood educators can use the five AEDC developmental domains to describe the intended developmental outcome(s).

Develop initiatives to support children 

Understanding developmental vulnerability

The AEDC can help early childhood education services, schools and communities to better understand the degree and concentration of developmental vulnerability and the needs of children in their community.

By understanding children’s development, early childhood educators, schools and communities can begin to examine the ecological or environmental factors that may be influencing child-development outcomes in their community.

Protective and risk factors

Protective and risk factors exist within children’s early childhood education environment as well as their family, community and the broader national economic, political and cultural environments. For example participation in high-quality early childhood education is known to be a protective factor.

Risk factors are cumulative; therefore their impact on children and families depends on the child’s age and length of exposure. The younger the child, the more vulnerable they are to risk factors. The longer the child is exposed to risk factors, the greater the likelihood of less-favourable outcomes later in life.

Single risk factors on their own are not usually sufficient to explain adverse developmental outcomes in children. Outcomes are often determined by more than one risk or protective factor. Being aware of children’s development and protective and risk factors can help the early childhood sector plan for the needs of children, supporting them on their journey through early years and school.

Early-childhood educators can use the AEDC to reflect on the protective and risk factors that may affect whether local children are developmentally ‘on track’ and work collaboratively with schools and community early years services in planning to better the development of all local children by the time they start school.

Support a smooth transition to school

AEDC results give early childhood services, schools and the broader community an opportunity to reflect on children’s development by the time they arrive at school and to plan for optimal school transition.

Children’s learning and development exists on a continuum. For this reason, it is important that early childhood education services and schools centre their practice around the child, and work together in supporting children’s development from early childhood through to school.

Transition to school encompasses a wide time-span starting well before children arrive at school and continuing well afterwards. In addition to early childhood services, schools, support agencies, and child, family and community services all play an important role in this transition.

As a population measure, the AEDC reports on early childhood development across the whole community. Community-level information provides educators from early childhood education services and schools a common language for children’s development and common data to reflect on and plan for optimal school transitions.

AEDC community results also provide a rationale to create and strengthen networks between early childhood educators, schools and the community. This enables new ways of working together to ensure children's wellbeing and a smooth transition to school. Possibilities include more collaborative practices, coordination and integration of services, and shared resources.

Early childhood education services can work collaboratively with schools to plan coordinated transition programs, consistent transition messages for families and other strategies to be better prepared for children arriving at school in the future.