Belonging is the feelings of connectedness, acceptance and inclusion all mixed together. We know we belong when we feel relaxed, at ease and comfortable in our environment. At YMCA our children don’t just attend an OSHC service, they belong to one! We strive to ensure each child has a sense of belonging the minute they enter our wonderful service.
The My time Our Place Framework which guides educators in their programming and practices identifies Belonging as an underpinning factor in children’s learning and development. The framework refers to belonging as an experience which influences who children are and who they can become. As Outside School Hours educators we have the opportunity to create a community environment where children are confident and able to explore and develop their individual identities.
For children to truly feel a sense of belonging they need to be making meaningful connections with other individuals. By guiding children to develop positive playful relationships with their peers we are fostering a sense of acceptance and inclusivity. In the words of Maggie Dent “Friendships build human connectedness and bondedness and help create life-affirming experiences that can help build emotional, social and psychological competence”. AT OSHC we encourage children to share their thoughts and ideas with others, nurture their friendships and find common interests. By engaging in these positive interactions they are forming meaningful connections and discovering who they are and where they fit in the world.
OSHC is about children having fun, being spontaneous and having opportunities to enrich their childhood with joyful experiences. By children forming positive relationships with others, they are also able to develop an understanding of the importance of acceptance, tolerance and friendship. Connecting with others is forming the foundation of children’s understanding of belonging – a skill which they will be able to take with them through life.
Written by Rebecca Leber, Coordinator at YMCA Gumdale OSHC
ACECQA (2011). Guide to the National Quality Standard. Luke Touhill- Early childhood consultant and writer.