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Early Childhood Resource Hub
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Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children

General strategies

Indigenous participation in early childhood education and care: Qualitative case studies

This 2016 report aims to better understand the factors that encourage and discourage participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in early childhood education. Reading it will give you some ideas about how your service can better welcome and sustain involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.

The report presents the findings of case study research undertaken in seven communities across Australia.

Presentation of the connections between factors that can facilitate or create barriers to the participation of Indigenous families in early childhood education

Diagram showing five facilitators and barriers to participation in ECEC which are geographical; communication, language and literacy; culture; organisation of services; and financial. With geographical are issues with placement of services within the community and access to transport. Within communication, language and literacy are marketing, bridging the gap, literacy and numeracy, and communication between parties. Within culture are family life, conflict within communities, trust and safety, and moving on in to the future. Within organisation of services are governance and ownership, cultural awareness, community consultation, staff relationships, key figures in community, service buildings, staffing, and working with other services. Within financial are access to initiatives, associated costs and funding changes.

Diagram reproduced from Analysis of Indigenous Participation in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC), prepared by the Social Research Centre.

The majority of respondents considered that the most important factor influencing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families’ participation in ECEC services is trust. Other identified factors include: cost, location, culture, communication and the service itself.

The study also provides practical considerations for the development of early childhood education services. These factors identified include: communicating the benefits of early childhood education services to parents and carers, encouraging the uptake of community liaison officer roles, introducing a dedicated transport service, employing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff members and introducing in-home programs.

Early years education for Aboriginal families: What research has told us

This poster captures some of the important elements of the Indigenous participation in early childhood education and care: Qualitative case studies report into what works with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.

I am strong in my culture

This 16-page story book from SNAICC includes beautiful artwork. It supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children to value their cultures and to identify particular strengths.

Learning from good practice: Implementing the EYLF for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children

The Good Practice Profiles report explores the ways in which 14 services with experience working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families implemented the EYLF outcomes, principles and practices.

Becoming 'two-way strong'

'When Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their families encounter a kindergarten program for the first time, they will generally experience a contemporary Western world view of childhood, learning and development ... [Foundations for Success] outlines strategies educators can use to support children become two-way strong [so that] children build deep and strong foundations in both the traditional and contemporary cultures and languages of their families and community, and those of the broader world, allowing them to move fluently across cultures without compromising their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander identities.'

You will find some very useful ideas and examples in this 80-page PDF, which supports educators to implement a program that connects with families and communities and builds on the cultural knowledge, strengths and perspectives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

It is worth delving deep for concrete examples of practice and for some ideas about planning, documenting and reflecting on practice. Foundations for Success aligns with the EYLF. Some of the videos listed below were made to support this set of guidelines.

Strategies for supporting children

This 3-minute video features Denise Cedric from the Yarrabah community who presents some ideas for empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the areas of belonging, being and becoming.

Language development

Supporting first, second and third languages

Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children speak more than one language. Explore some strategies for supporting language development for these learners by watching this 6-minute video.

Supporting literacy development

'As Indigenous people, we do love a yarn. We like to tell each other stories, and I think that's the key to supporting literacy development with and amongst our little people.' – Dr Sandra Phillips, a Wakka woman, writes about literacy development.

Numeracy focus

Mathematics in everyday life

'All cultures had forms of mathematics that were inside their language and the way they see the world… It doesn't have to be the one plus one equals two ...' This 3-minute video explores how to engage children with mathematics.

Being a communicator: Numeracy

In this 4-minute video, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander early childhood educators show how local environments, songs and play can be used to explore mathematical thinking and extend numeracy concepts and vocabulary.

Supporting numeracy development

The Patterns and Early Algebra Preschool (PEAP) Professional Development Program was a numeracy program that engaged 66 early childhood educators and 255 children aged between 4 and 5 years over three years. The aim of the program was to improve mathematics learning outcomes for young Aboriginal children as they transitioned into their first year of formal schooling. Read more about the positive impact of this program in this PDF.

Health focus

Being healthy and safe: Safety and security

This 4-minute video explores some great practical strategies for ensuring that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children feel safe, supported and confident in their learning environments.

Closing the gap: Ear and hearing health

In addition to identifying the signs and symptoms of middle ear disease and associated hearing loss in children, early childhood educators can introduce a number of system-level and service delivery improvements to prevent and manage the impacts of middle ear disease and associated hearing loss.

Connecting with local community

Napranum Early Childhood Centre

Look at how the children and staff from this service make an impact within their local community in this 4-minute video.

Abbreviations

  • EYLF: Belonging, Being and Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia
Supported by the Australian Government.
© 2016 Commonwealth of Australia, unless otherwise indicated
Supported by the Australian Government.
© 2016 Commonwealth of Australia,unless otherwise indicated