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EDFD461 The Pedagogy of Relationships in Early Childhood Education

Unit rationale, description and aim

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child outlines the importance of strong and responsive relationships with young children in collaboration with educators, families and communities. The development of pedagogical approaches to foster these relationships in early childhood ensures improved outcomes for young children.

This unit enables early year’s educators to gain understanding of the importance of families and the broader community in the care and education of young children. Students will explore relevant national and state documents such as the Early Years Learning Framework and the Early Childhood Australia Code of Ethics and their implications for authentic partnerships with families that can ensure responsive care and education of young children from diverse communities. Skills in effective oral and written communication and reflective practice will be developed within this unit.

The aim of this unit is to explore the diverse, complex and changing nature of Australian families and communities and highlight the role of early childhood teachers in building collaborative relationships with children, educators, families and communities through pedagogical decision making and communication.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - explain the ethical and professional attributes and responsibilities of the early childhood professional in their relationships with diverse families (GA1, GA4, GA5, GA8; APST 4.4, 7.3, ACECQA B1, D1, D2, D3, D4, D5, E3, F3)

LO2 - reflect on the purpose and processes for establishing effective communication to foster collaborative partnerships within the context of education and care and broader community for continuity of the child’s learning (GA5; APST, 6.4, 7.3, ACECQA A8, D1, D2, D3, D4, D5, E3)

LO3 - implement pedagogical practices that promote continuity of care and learning ensuring inclusion for each child (GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5: APST 4.1, 4.2, ACECQA A1, A8, C1, C7, D4)

LO4 - analyse the range of family supports available within local, national and international contexts (GA4, GA5; APST 7.3; ACECQA D1, E3).

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 


On successful completion of this unit, pre-service teachers should be able to:

4.1 Identify strategies to support inclusive student participation and engagement in classroom activities.

4.2 Demonstrate the capacity to organise classroom activities and provide clear directions.

4.4 Describe strategies that support students’ well-being and safety working within school and/or system, curriculum and legislative requirements.

6.4 Demonstrate an understanding of the rationale for continued professional learning and the implications for improved student learnings. 

7.3 Understand strategies for working effectively, sensitively and confidentially with parents/carers.

ACECQA Curriculum Specifications

On successful completion of this unit, pre-service teachers should have developed the following specific knowledge

A.     Child development and care

A1.  Learning, development and care

A8.  Transitions and continuity of learning (including transition to school)

B.     Education and curriculum studies

B1.  Early Years Learning Framework

C.     Teaching pedagogies

C1.  alternative pedagogies and curriculum approaches

C7.  contemporary society and pedagogy

D.     Families and community partnerships

D1. Developing family and community partnerships

D2. Multicultural education

D3. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives

D4. Socially inclusive practice

D5. Culture, diversity and inclusion

E.     History and philosophy of early childhood

E3.  Ethics and professional practice 

F.      Early childhood professional practice

                F3.  Professional identity and development


Topics will include:

  • National and international perspectives on care and education in the early years including the pedagogy of listening, ethics of care, circle of security, and Pikler approach
  • Particular focus will be given to Australian Indigenous perspectives on care and education in the early years
  • Pedagogy of relationships- relationships between child, family, and teacher within a quality, social justice and ethical framework
  • Communication and interpersonal skills for effective interactions in a range of contexts of care and education
  • Theories and practices of early year’s pedagogy, in particular creating quality care and learning environments and collaborative relationships with children, families, colleagues and communities.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit applies a social constructivist approach to develop pre-service teachers’ understanding of pedagogical approaches to building respectful relationships. They will have the opportunity to build on their understanding through critical reading, lecturer modelling, active engagement and rehearsing in tutorials. Professional communication will be developed through class discussions. There will be an opportunity for the content to be applied in the professional experience program and students will draw on the ethical, theoretical and practical considerations of this unit for their professional practice.

The unit will involve lectures and tutorials with discussion, written activities and on-going assessment tasks. Teaching strategies may include:

  • Formal online weekly input by the teaching team
  • Hands-on tutorials and discussion sessions that promote peer learning; and
  • Online activities.

Technology Enhanced Learning

The unit will include a Learning Environment Online (LEO) site with resources and online links, announcements, and a discussion board to post questions and reflections that promote critical engagement. It may include:

  • Recorded lectures and lecture notes; tutorial notes / guides
  • Webinars, podcasts, videos
  • Reviews, guided explorations, quizzes
  • Discussion board to exchange ideas and refine learning.
  • Focussed readings addressing a wide spectrum of professional and ethical practices. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment tasks allow pre-service teachers to demonstrate achievement against the course learning outcomes. This unit has a focus on developing understanding of the importance of establishing professional relationships and skills to practice and implement them. Engagement with the learning outcomes is needed to meet expectations of ACECQA criteria and the APST: Graduate level in communicating with a broad range of stakeholders in early childhood. In this unit the assessments focus on the essay outlining understanding of professional roles and responsibilities of effective relationships within such curriculum and policy expectations. This is followed by assessment of ways in which this will be enacted and possible implications for practice.

A range of assessment procedures is used to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes and professional standards and criteria consistent with University assessment requirements.

Minimum Achievement Standards

The assessment tasks for this unit are designed to demonstrate achievement of each learning outcome.

In order to pass this unit, students are required to submit all assessment tasks, meet the learning outcomes of the unit and achieve a minimum overall passing grade of 50%. In addition, assessment item 2 must achieve at least 50% to pass the unit due to learning outcomes 3 and 4 being assessed once in this item.

Electronic Submission, Marking and Return

Assessment tasks are to be submitted to Turnitin. Assessments will be marked and returned via Turnitin in accordance with University assessment policy. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1

Essay exploring and reflecting on the pedagogy of relationships as presented through National and /or State curriculum and policy documents


LO1, LO2

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA8

Assessment Task 2

Professional Relationship based scenario

  • Analysis - drawing on relevant literature and elements of national and/or State curriculum and policy documents
  • Identify and reflect on implications for practice –i.e. pedagogy, teaching strategies, available resources, environments and interactions with children, colleagues, families, and communities, communication strategies


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8

Representative texts and references

Ailwood, J., Boyd, W., & Theobald, M. (2016). Understanding early childhood education & care in Australia. Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin.  

Ewing, R., Kervin, L., Glass, C., Gobby, B., Le Cornu, R., & Groundwater-Smith, S. (2019). Teaching: Dilemmas, challenges and opportunities (6th ed.). South Melbourne: Cengage Learning Australia.

Fenech, M. (2017). Building parents' understandings of early learning and quality early childhood education and care. Every Child, 23(1), 22-23.

Fenech, M., & Ribarovski, J. (2020). Professional communication for early childhood educators: Interpersonal and workplace communication in everyday practice. South Melbourne, Vic: Oxford University Press

Gonzalez-Mena, J., & Widmeyer Eyer, D. (2018). Infants, toddlers, and caregivers: A curriculum of respectful, responsive, relationship-based care and education (11th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill Education.

Grace, R., Hodge, K., & McMahon, C. (Eds) (2017). Children, families and communities (5th ed.). South Melbourne, Vic: Oxford University Press. 

Kocher, L., & Patterson, C. (2018). Pedagogies for children’s perspectives. New York, NY: Routledge.

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