Let the children play
On 27/5/10, Kate Ellis, the Minister for Early Childhood Education and Child Care, announced that the Commonwealth Government is developing the country’s first Outside School Hours Care Learning Framework.
I can find no details about what the content of this Framework will be, beyond the report in The Australian on 28/5 that ‘children in before- and after-school childcare will be forced (the reporter’s considered word choice) to play outside more and engage in games that involve interaction instead of watching movies and playing video games’.
Further into the article the reporter writes that ‘while the curriculum was yet to be established, Ms Ellis said it would emphasise play-based learning, physical activity and social development’.
Ms Ellis is also the Minister for Sport (and Youth), so it’s hardly surprising that, at least according the obviously jaundiced Oz reporter, she has chosen to describe the initiative in sporty terms.
I am wondering how engaged arts activists have been in contributing to the development of the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care (see the CmwlthGov’s mychild.gov.au website for a brief mention of this initiative).
Apparently, the development Ms Ellis announced is a part of this wider framework.
The reason I wonder about how impactful an arts perspective is being is because both intuitively and rationally (I’ve spent a lot of time researching this topic) I’m convinced that creative play (song, dance, storytelling etc) is foundational to our learning to become, and to enjoy being, social animals.
It seems to me that all those who work with children should have learnt the skills necessary to stimulate children’s creativity, should be competent in a range of processes that facilitate enjoyable and fulfilling creative play and should appreciate the importance of these activities in childhood development.
Furthermore, the curriculum should mandate creative play.
I’m hoping that there is already a bevy of activists on the case because, to my mind, this just might be the most important arts initiative a society might undertake.
For those of like mind, here are some websites that connect to national agencies with responsibilities in this area.
Office of Early Childhood Education & Child Care (within the Dept of Education, Employment & Workplace Relations)
National Childcare Accreditation Council Inc. (responsible for the implementation and administration of the Quality Assurance systems for family day care, outside school hours care and long day care across Australia)
Early Childhood Australia Inc. (national umbrella organisation for children’s services)