Outside School Hours Research Hub

Vignette 3 – Adult roles

Ava’s staff team have been thinking about the roles they take up during children’s play. During a planning meeting, one team member, Tyson commented that he has started to take a more active role one child’s play. Tyson observed that 7-year-old Maddy seemed very interested in craft activities but was often reluctant to join in with other children.

Tyson had a good relationship with Maddy and they often talked about things that she liked to do at OSHC. Tyson found that by participating in activities he thought Maddy might like, that she would sometimes join in. In this way, Tyson was able to encourage Maddy to try new activities. Once she had joined, Tyson monitored Maddy’s confidence and comfort in the activity, allowing him to make an informed decision about when he could move on to other tasks. 

The educators in Ava’s team have realised that this strategy works for many children who are hesitant to join in groups, particularly the younger ones who are new to OSHC. The educators have realised that this also benefits children by encouraging them to try activities that are new to them. It gives the children a sense of security when trying new things. The team have now adopted this as a purposeful strategy and look for opportunities to use it with hesitant children. The staff have to be judicious about when they take on this role, as they do not have the resources to do it for every activity. They also recognise that sometimes children prefer to play without adult involvement. 

Outcome 1: Children and young people have a strong sense of identity

Children’s identities are shaped by experience and constructed through play and relationships. In this vignette, Tyson supports the ongoing construction of 7-year-old Maddy’s emerging identity. Tyson recognised that being present in some play activities helped to make Maddy feel safe and able to participate. Tyson took a low-key approach to Maddy’s participation. By merely being present in the activity, he allowed Maddy to make the decision about whether she wanted to participate, respecting her agency and right to make her own choices and decisions.   

Tyson’s approach made it possible for Maddy to try activities that were new and unfamiliar. This supported her to experience success in new activities and see herself as a capable participant. The strategy also helped Maddy to participate alongside peers, enhancing her sense of belonging, connectedness and wellbeing. By taking part in new experiences, Maddy is able to take up new social roles, constructing her identity in diverse ways. 

Outcome 3: Children and young people have a strong sense of wellbeing

Wellbeing includes psychological and social as well as physical aspects. When children feel safe, happy and satisfied, it influences how they interact with play experiences and social environments. In this vignette, the gentle encouragement provided by Tyson supported Maddy to engage confidently in new activities and persevere with them. His approach allowed Maddy to feel safe when accepting new challenges, increasing the likelihood that she will participate happily and experience feelings of success.

Outcome 4: Children and young people are confident and involved learners 

Tyson’s actions in this vignette contributed to Maddy’s identity as a confident and involved learner. Educator’s understandings of individual children help them to provide environments and spaces that support their participation in learning and play. Tyson’s positive relationship with Maddy, allowed him to understand what is important to her and what might support her participation in play when she is reluctant. Tyson’s work demonstrates empathy and sensitivity to Maddy’s feelings when she is feeling uncertain.   

By making new activities feel more safe, Tyson makes it possible for Maddy to participate in a wider variety of rich and meaningful experiences and therefore develop a greater sense of what she knows and can do.  This approach to encouraging participations encourages children to be curious about new experiences, try new ideas and take up new challenges. This contributes to Maddy developing a wider variety of skills and knowledge, and therefore help her to feel confident as a learner and participant.

Research project being conducted by Professor Kylie Smith and Dr Bruce Hurst from The University of Melbourne and Associate Professor Jennifer Cartmel from Griffith University

This research project aims to find out about how Outside School Hours services plan and program for gender equity. Outside School Hours services are unique and we want to understand what these changes mean and look like in practice. The research will do this by asking you to share your perspectives on the practices you employ in your service. It will also ask you about your knowledge and attitudes towards gender equity work with primary age children.