If you had to describe 2019 in one word for your childcare centre or childcare career, what would it be? Rewarding? Excellent? Tiring? Frustrating? Of course, you certainly don’t need to narrow it down to only one word. But it is time to reflect on the year that was. What went right? What didn’t work out so well? Are there things you want to replicate for 2020, and what needs to change.
Experience is a brilliant teacher. If we take the time to be reflective about our approach to early childhood education there is so much to learn and gain. This is about fostering a reflective practice, by reflecting on daily, weekly, monthly and yearly experiences in early childhood education and learning from them. Encourage everyone in your team to reflect on the year that was and make notes.
Here’s how to get the most out of your reflection time:
Reflect on what worked well
When it comes to reflecting on your achievements it’s important to also reflect on things that worked well. What was GREAT this year? Can it be done better?? How can it be done next year? Turn the actions that had amazing outcomes into processes that you can follow time and time again. Don’t forget to celebrate these wins too, You deserve it!
Focus on your challenges
Here are a few of the most common challenges faced in early childhood and ways we can use reflective practice to better tackle them in 2020:
1. Low occupancy at your centre: Attracting more families to centres is currently a common challenge. If your occupancy isn’t where you want it to be, let’s discover what you can do to improve it.
Consider your objective: You want to attract more families to enrol at your centre.
Reflect: You put some flyers at local cafes but didn’t get any leads.
Plan: You might consider to change your marketing strategy. Try to promote your service via social media platforms.
2. NQS Rating Assessment: You were hoping to be assessed as Exceeding this year but didn’t get there. Understand how you can achieve this goal.
Consider your objective: You want to improve your centre’s NQS Rating and be assessed as Exceeding in 2020.
Reflect: You have put a lot of effort into your documentation but have realised through your assessment report that you need to focus on a few other areas.
Plan: Create a strategy that directly addresses each of the National Quality areas and is integrated into your curriculum so that it becomes an embedded approach for your centre.
3. Daily routines and the flow of the day: If you find you and your educators are spending too much time settling children into the next activity despite your best efforts, it’s time to reflect.
Consider your objective: You want children to transition smoothly between activities.
Reflect: You tried using different times of the day for different activities to make it run more efficiently. You thought this could result in the children being more settled. It hasn’t improved.
Plan: In 2020 you will try using dedicated transitional songs, as used in the Bonkers Beat programs. These have been proven to aid the transition and will help your days flow.
In fact, the Bonkers Beat free trial is a great place to start when brainstorming ways to address your year’s challenges. Access the Bonkers Beat free trial here.
4. Keep a record
So you can maximise your reflections when this time comes around next year, document your objectives, plans and ideas, and their outcomes. Here’s an example:
2020 objective: Gain more enrolments for your centre.
Ideas on how to achieve this: Hold an Open Day or Information Night to showcase your service and demonstrate your centre’s point of difference.
Outcomes: An increase in enquiries and enrolments from people who attended the events .
By documenting this process you can keep track of what worked, what didn’t, what you’ll do again and what wasn’t worthwhile. This can save you time and money, plus get you the results you are after.
Reflective practice should guide our planning for the future. It gives us the best chance of improving outcomes for children, families, educators and the centre. We encourage an individual approach to reflective practice as well as reflection in group settings as this can foster productive discussion. Everyone’s thoughts count and reflecting as a group is essential.
Getting this reflection process under way now will see you in the best position for next year.
If you want to achieve great things in 2020 – the time to start is now!
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