Best practice is a broad and at times daunting term. The wisest voices in early childhood education have written extensively about what it is and isn’t, what it looks like for infants or older children and how it plays out in everyday practices from routines to outdoor play. The Early Years Learning Framework captures many of these ideas and explores aspects of best practice that deliver outcomes to children and families. But, for me, best practice is more than articulated strategies and key ideas, although these are critical. At the heart of best practice is the notion that we are interested in being ‘the best’ and that we value the development that this entails. It is a commitment to, as the NQF puts it on multiple occasions, continuous improvement. For some of us, making such a commitment is obvious and exhilarating. For others it represents uncertainty and an unnecessary fixation with what might be.
It is worth noting here that this quest is not about perfection. Many of my colleagues accuse themselves of wanting no less and get lost in the details. The NQS process does not call for flawlessness but rather that, at our best, services seeking excellence should be able to ‘demonstrate [their] commitment to continuous improvement by documenting how [they] will maintain current quality practices and progress them to the next level’ (ACECQA, 2011a p. 6).
So what might a service or a team of educators do to establish and energise a culture of continuous improvement? Below is a collection of different strategies—some grand and far reaching, to be pursued over time; others simple and targeted for quick results.
LIFT stands for "Learning Involving Families & Teachers" - LIFT is a comprehensive solution allowing early chilhdood educators to link families into every aspect of their child's learning and the service's operations. Families can:
- View & comment on daily plans, children's portfolios, newsletters, calendars of events, policies & other documentation
- Share experiences/learning/photos from home
- Parents can print portfolios from home (saving time & printing costs)
- Link other service providers (e.g speech pathologists, OT & other medical specialists)
- Bank level security
- Web based - easily accessed from PCs, tablets & smart-phones
- Each user has their own secure log-in
- Services maintain full control of who has access
- Families can only view their own child's information
- Unlimited number of users (connect all educators, family and extended family to the service)
- Australian product developed and owned by educators for educators