Young children feel encouraged to learn when the people around them recognise their interests and knowledge.

The Early Years Learning Framework talks about this practice as ‘responsiveness to children’:

Responsiveness to children

Educators are responsive to all children’s strengths,
abilities and interests. They value and build on
children’s strengths, skills and knowledge to ensure
their motivation and engagement in learning. (p.14)

Early childhood teachers know how to look for children’s strengths and build on them.

However, if you are non-Indigenous and are working with Indigenous children, it might be worth thinking about your own level of cultural competency, which is 'a set of behaviours, attitudes and policies that come together to allow people to work effectively in cross-cultural situations' (Aboriginal Cultural Capability). It is an attribute educators need to consciously cultivate.

This is an important point to reflect on, as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their knowledges, cultures and languages to this day are not always valued equally and developing cultural competence will lead to recognition of the strengths that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children bring to their learning from their linguistic and cultural backgrounds.

Some strengths associated with Indigenous children...

Some strengths associated with Indigenous children are mentioned here, as suggestions to reflect on. But be careful not to stereotype! Indigenous children are as different from each other as any group of children, with unique interests, preferences and abilities.

Our co-design work with Indigenous communities for ELLIC identified their young children’s strengths as including but not limited to:

  • a playful interest in languages, due to a strong oral culture
  • enthusiasm for and knowledge of a big network of relationships.

Deep local knowledge of Country and waters from own lived experiences and story.