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The purpose of this individual assessment task is for you to report on a contemporary issue that impacts on early childhood education.
This assessment task requires you to report on the issue and implications for early childhood teaching. The audience for your report is early childhood professionals in the Australian early childhood context (this includes Foundation-Year 2 educators). The report is to be written in third person.
Structure of the report
Please use the following subheadings in your report:
2. Description and significance of the issue
4. Implications for children’s development and growth
5. Implications for teaching in the early childhood context
Include a reference list; the list will not form part of the word count.
Content of the report
The task requires you to:
1. Choose ONE issue studied in Weeks 4-7 (either child protection, sex education, child obesity, body image and health, health-related conditions).
2. Introduce the issue and the structure of your report in a brief introduction. (Aim to write no more than 150 words.)
3. Describe the issue, including information on the significance of the issue within the Australian early childhood context, as well as a definition from the literature. Provide evidence to support your response. (Aim to write 300 words.)
4. Who are the stakeholders involved with this issue (including external agencies), and what actions might they take to ensure children’s health and wellbeing is addressed? (Please include the most relevant stakeholders. You can present this information in a table – see over for an example. Aim to write 300 words in this section.)
5. What are the implications of this issue for children’s development and patterns of growth? (Aim to write 250 words.)
6. What are the implications of this issue for teaching in the early childhood context? (Aim to write 350 words.)
7. Conclude your report with a brief summary of key learnings from your exploration of this issue. (Aim to write 150 words.)
Sample table for point 4
Issue Stakeholders Actions
e.g. Obesity Parents • Provide nutritious food
Nutritionist • Run education sessions with parents
• Provide educational resources to the centre
Early Learning Centre • Develop guidelines for food and exercise provision
• Run professional development sessions with staff
• Invite guest speakers to address parents and carers
Exercise physiologist • Run formal exercise activities
• Provide information to centre staff
• Provide information to parents
Allied health professionals
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The Study resources section has helpful guides on completing assessments, including information on referencing in APA, and a guide on submitting your assignment with Turnitin.
This assessment will be submitted via Turnitin. See the Assessment 2 section of Blackboard for more detailed information.
1. Knowledge of a contemporary issue.
2. Knowledge of implications for children’s development and for teaching.
3. Written expression.
Your work will be assessed using the following marking guide:
Distinction [D 70-79%] To be awarded a Distinction for this task students must meet all the requirements of the credit level, but with more insightful analysis, critical evaluation, capacity to engage an audience, and competence in written communication. • Diverse perspectives are considered in the report which includes analysis and synthesis of key ideas and concepts related to the issue. Wide reading through independent research and this informs this section of the report.
• Comprehensive knowledge of the implications of this issue is clearly evident through the depth of the discussion, the relevance of the implications to the issue and the stakeholders and the insightful integration of literature that supports the discussion. Wide reading through independent research informs this section of the report.
• You have used an active voice, a broad and fluent vocabulary, and a range of cohesive devices (key words, pronouns, conjunctions, reinforcement, highlighting, similarity, and the like). You have also used a range of sentence types to add interest and energy to your writing. Tenses are consistent, and punctuation allows for your meaning to emerge without ambiguity.
High Distinction [HD 80-100%] To be awarded an HD for this assignment students must meet all the requirements of the distinction standard, outlined above, and then they must go beyond that. • Knowledge of a contemporary issue is evidenced in the discussion of alternative perspectives, and critical analysis of related information. There is a maturity and sophistication to the work, demonstrated through in-depth discussion of a contemporary issue.
• Knowledge of implications for children’s development and for teaching is clearly demonstrated through a discussion which canvasses alternative perspectives. Critical analysis of related information. There is a maturity and sophistication to the work, demonstrated in-depth knowledge of the implications of the issue for children and for teaching.
• Any errors that remain in the work do not detract from the overall quality of the report, or of the meaning communicated. All external sources are referenced according to APA referencing conventions.
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Weekly reading to assist with assessment
This week and over the following three weeks, we explore some contemporary issues, which are the topics for Assessment 2. This week we will cover child protection and sexuality education.
The week starts with the case of Chloe Valentine. The tragic ending of Chloe’s life raises many questions:
• What is child abuse and why does it happen?
• What should teachers do if you suspect there is such a case in your care?Hello and welcome to week 4. Continue to consider your beliefs, and how they might be challenged, as we go through a range of issues relating to the healthy and active child.
Over the last three weeks, we have defined what constitutes health, wellbeing and development in the Australian early childhood context, the approach to health and ecological system in relation to health and wellbeing. We have also examined your health and wellbeing. If imagine we are holding a camera, our lens has been focused on the immediate early childhood setting for the past three weeks—what is happening inside the early childhood environment and the influences from the wider context.
Over the next four weeks, our camera will move beyond the early childhood environment to the outer layers. We will examine the following contemporary issues in relation to health and safety in early childhood education and the wider society:
• Child protection and sexuality education
• Child obesity and exercise
• Gender and health
• Health related conditionns and patterns of growth
This week 4,
we will examine child protection and sexuality education.
Let’ begin the week with the story of Chloe Valentine (ABC News, 2015) Chloe was four years old when she died from her injuries in Jan 2012. Her mother and step-father had forced Chloe to ride a 50-kilogram motorbike; and the injuries were the result of her repeatedly falling from the motorbike. It was not a one-off incident. Before her death, Chloe had been the subject of more than 20 notifications to child protection (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2015). Chloe’s grandmother believed her own daughter was not capable of looking after Chloe and she had planned to have her granddaughter under her care permanently. She had prepared a bedroom for Chloe (Edwards, 2015) However, Chloe was never able to make it. The debate regarding Chloe’s case is still going on as our society looks for a solution to prevent another case of child abuse. However, the child protection notifications have increased recently (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2014). On the one hand, this increase shows heightened awareness of child protection; on the other, it shows the many unresolved challenges in protecting Australian children.
“In Australia, state and territory governments have the statutory responsibility for protecting children from child abuse and neglect” (Australian Government, 2015). For early childhood teachers, it is our legal responsibility to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children. This duty of care is legally binding in a teacher-child/pupil relationship. Duty of care is defined as “an obligation, recognised by law, to avoid conduct fraught with unreasonable risk of danger to others” (Fitzroy Legal Service, 2013).
Reading one this week has more information about child protection. Reading one covers the following topics:
• What is child abuse and why does it happen?
• Child protection legislation including issues on mandatory reporting requirements across different states, and working with children screening
• The educator’s role in protecting children including how it is linked to the National Quality Framework, how to spot and respond to child abuse; ethical issues, and working with other agencies
• Children’s right in relation to child protection
I strongly encourage you to learn as much as you can about child protection and when you are on professional placement ensure you ask your colleagues about the policies and procedures that apply in that particular setting.
Next, we talk about sexuality education in the early years
Sexuality education is a part of the Australian Curriculum, under the Health and Physical Education (F-10) (ACARA, 2014) strand and is therefore compulsory to teach in schools. Although sex and sexuality often overlap, the two terms are not exactly the same. According to the World Health Organisation, “sex refers to the biological characteristics that define humans as female or male… In general use in many languages, the term sex is often used to mean “sexual activity”. Sexual Health Australia “recognises that sexuality is an integral part of every human being”. A person’s sexuality can include feelings and desires or practices involving someone of the other sex, the same sex, or both. Furthermore, at different times most of us will experience various emotions related to sexuality – excitement, confusion, anguish, happiness and other feelings. These emotions may be intense or, at other times, mild. Developing comfort and confidence about sexuality is a natural part of growing up.
There are two key things we know about children’s sexuality development (Richardson & Schuster, 2004):
1. Children learn about sex from the world – Children are surrounded by sexual messages and sexuality education has a major role to play in helping them develop a critical approach to some of these messages.
2. Children are inherently sexual – Sexual development is relevant to every age and stage of life, with corresponding needs for information and skills related to physical and emotional change, puberty, reproduction, relationships, and gender.
While there is more information and research on primary and secondary sexuality education, there is very limited information on this topic for children in early childhood (Department of Education and Training, 2014). But if we understand these two key points about children’s sexual development, we can see sexuality as part of the health and wellbeing of a person, and the importance of teaching children how to protect themselves from harm, rather than think about sex and sexuality as taboo.
If we can understand that effective sexuality education can help children build happier, healthier relationships now and into their adult lives, then it is not difficult to understand why sexuality has a place in early childhood education.
I recommend the book, Is this normal? Understanding your child’s sexual behaviour by Holly Brennan and Judy Graham (Family Planning Queensland., 2013). This book is an excellent reference for teachers and parents to understand young children’s sexual behaviour.
The book begins with a statement that “sexuality starts developing from birth. It’s normal for children to explore their bodies and get a sense of being a boy or girl. The sexual behaviours of children relate to their stage of development. They learn through play, observations and relationships and they express sexual behaviours in a variety of ways” (p. 5). Children need support from adults to make sense of their own development and learning. The book sets a broad guide of “the traffic lights” and related examples to understand children’s behaviours. For more information, please listen to an interview with the author, Holly Brennan on ABC (ABC, 2012).
Educating children about their bodies and how they relate to others of the same and opposite gender can help empower them to talk openly if others are acting in ways that seek to harm the child. In this way, effective sexuality education and child protection are linked.
This is obviously a sensitive topic and I encourage you to respond sensitively and professionally to others if they share views different to your own. While we encourage you to share your views, please be extra mindful of your contributions to the discussion this week.
Bye for now …
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ABC. (2012). Radio National – Life matters: Is this normal? Understanding your child’s sexual behaviour. Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/lifematters/is-this-normal3f/3842960
ABC News (2015).Chloe Valentine inquest: A timeline of what unfolded after the 4yo girl’s death. Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-02-27/chloe-valentine-timeline/6262464
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.(2015). Child protection. Retrieved from http://www.aihw.gov.au/child-protection/
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2014).Child protection Australia 2012-2013.Retrieved from http://www.aihw.gov.au/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=60129548164
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.(2015). Child protection glossary. Retrieved from
Edwards, V. (2015).Chloe Valentine: how Families SA failed her. Retrieved from http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/features/chloe-valentine-how-families-sa-failed-her/story-e6frg6z6-1227289453519
Australian Institute of Family Studies.(2015). Child abuse and neglect statistics.Retrieved from https://www3.aifs.gov.au/cfca/publications/child-abuse-and-neglect-statistics
Fitzroy Legal Service.(2013). Duty of care. Retrieved from
ACARA. (2014). Health and Physical Education: Curriculum. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/health-and-physical-education/Curriculum/F-10?y=F&y=1-2&y=3-4&y=5-6&y=7-8&y=9-10&s=PSCH&layout=1
World Health Organisation (2015).Sexual and reproductive health: Defining sexual health. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/sexual_health/sh_definitions/en/
Sexual Health Australia (n.d.) About SHA. Retrieved from
Department of Education and Training.(2014). Sexuality education. Retrieved from
Family planning Queensland. (2013). Is this normal? Understanding your child’s sexual behaviour.Retrieved from http://www.fpq.com.au/publications/teachingAids/Is_this_normal.php
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Hello and welcome to week 5.
This week you will continue working on preparing assessment 2 – the report on a contemporary issue that impacts on early childhood education. Last week we examined child protection and sexuality education . This week we will look at another issue – one that might feel a little more comfortable to talk about.
The focus this week is on Obesity and exercise
People in Australia are becoming heavier than 20 years ago. An Australian health survey shows that almost two-thirds (63%) of the population aged 18 and over are overweight or obese (35% overweight, 28% obese).
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW, 2015), only one-third (36%) of Australian adults have a healthy body weight”
Being overweight or obese has many negative impacts on health.
Alarmingly, children are also becoming heavier. “Results from the 2011-12 Australian Health Survey show that one quarter (25%) of children aged 2–17 are overweight or obese, with 18% being overweight and 7% obese.” The situation is not confined to Australia: “more than half (53%) of adults in OCED countries are overweight or obese” (AIHW, 2015).
There are many factors that contribute to this epidemic. The followings are just a few :
• Genetic some people put on weight more easily than others due to genetic disposition. However, given the rapid increase of weight at such a large scale and within such a short period of time, genetic reasons alone cannot provide a valid explanation. There are many other influences.
• One of these influences is Emotional – Eating is not just for physical survival, it is also related to our social and emotional well-beings. Eating gives use pleasure, and is an important part in many social gatherings or cultural festivals. Food gives us comfort and security. It can help us to reduce stress and anxiety. If food becomes the only way to achieve emotional wellbeing, it can lead to overeating and psychological disorders.
• The Modern lifestyle is less active compared to life in the past. We move around in a car instead of using our feet; we spend more time sitting in front of the TV or computers; we eat out more, have more takeaways that are higher in sugar, fat and salt than home-made meals, and all of these combined lead to increases in weight
• Media in our daily life also plays a part. We are constantly bombarded by advertisement tempting us to eat more.
• Unhealthy Food Much of the takeaway food available is tasty and convenient—ready to eat and affordable. We are surrounded by food including food that damages our health. For example, the supermarket is stocked with junk food, and many big supermarkets are open almost all day and everyday (Cameron, 2014)
• Socioeconomic factorsLooking at all the above factors, we can say that the obesity trend is a by-product of the modern lifestyle. But it is not just a personal choice. Statistics indicate that those who are from lower socioeconomic status are more likely to be overweight or obese (AIHW, 2015). Why? One factor can be that healthy food is in general more expensive and less filling than junk food. To save money, people may opt for high energy food at the lowest price that is high in fat, sugar or salt. As we have seen in the ecological system, many factors jointly influence people’s health and wellbeing.
In your reading, Cathie Roberson (2016) starts the chapter with research findings on nutrition in relation to health and wellbeing. She then moves to discuss obesity with a focus on childhood obesity. Physical activities and healthy eating are the two main measures that could prevent and reduce overweight and obesity. We will cover more on nutrition and physical activities later in the unit. While this chapter is written for the American context, given the prevalence of the obesity problem it is also relevant to Australian early education. The chapter provides you with basic information and a starting point to research more for assessment two if you choose obesity as your topic.
Take note of the graphs in the learning materials as they give an indication of the extent of the issue.
That’s all from me for this week – I look forward to talking with you again next week. Bye now.
AIHW. (2015). Who is overweight? Retrieved from http://www.aihw.gov.au/who-is-overweight/#trends
Cameron, A. (2014). Big supermarkets, big on junk food: how to make healthier food environments. Retrieved from http://theconversation.com/big-supermarkets-big-on-junk-food-how-to-make-healthier-food-environments-20347
Welfare, A. I. o. H. a. (Producer).(2014). Childhood overweight and obesity. Retrieved from http://www.aihw.gov.au/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=60129547761
Hello and welcome to week 6.
This is the half way point of the TP – next week of course is Consolidation Week and just a reminder that your eLA will not be available online next week, so if you have questions about the assessment task, it would be best to ask them this week.
Our focus this week and body image and health.
At around 3 months of age babies begin to recognise different faces (Berk, 2013). At the age of two, children can recognise themselves in the mirror or from photos; We can say that children at this age have developed a sense of self.
Toddlers also understand the concepts of “good” and “bad” and how they are related to the self. That is “they develop a sense of shame and pride” (Smolak, 2011, p. 68). From the age of 4, children start to compare themselves with other peers in various aspects, for example, their skills, their physical development and so on.Children’s physical appearance is one of the main dimensions of theirs elf-development (Smolak, 2011).
How is body image related to heath and wellbeing? The Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (2010) define Body image as “how people think, feel about and evaluate their own body. Positive body image has been linked to high self-esteem (particularly for females) and may act as a protective factor against some mental health concerns (such as depression). Positive body image is an important aspect of positive social and emotional wellbeing in young people “ (p.85).
Body image is closely related to physical, mental and social health. Last week we talked about overweight and obesity. Children who are overweight or obese are more likely to be unhappy about themselves and are more likely to be teased or bullied at school (Harding, 2010; Lumeng, 2010).
In the cases of anorexia and bulimia, people who have a normal body weight may still think they are overweight or they have eaten too much. They usually go through a cycle of binge eating and forcing themselves to vomit. The number of eating disorders is increasing. In 2012, 9% of the Australian population or 2 million people are affected by an eating disorder. Eating disorders occur in both men and women, and across different age groups including children. However, the risk for women is higher; it affects 15% of the female population (National Eating Disorders Collaboration, 2012).
Children develop ideas about their body images and the self-concepts through their interactions with their peers and adults. Children may get certain message either verbally or non-verbally through their interactions. For example, they may learn from the adults in their lives to dislike their bodies or certain body parts, or to eat emotionally and these behaviours may lead to an increased likelihood of anorexia and bulimila later. This is why professionals who work with young children need to be very mindful of the message they give children about their bodies both intentionally and unintentionally.
Gender stereotyping affects body image, and in the modern western world, it pressures girls and women to be thin. Even among pre-schoolers, boys and girls are aware of their body shapes in relation to what boys and girl should look like (Smolak, 2011). Gender stereotyping is further reinforced by gendered toys, for example, Barbies for girls and ??for boys.
Everybody who has seen a Barbie doll would understand how unrealistically thin the doll is. Research “from the University of South Australia suggest the likelihood of a woman having Barbie’s body shape is one in 100,000” (Winterman, 2009). The same can be said of toys for boys which give unrealistic ideas about what the male physique looks like.
Body image affects girls and women more than boys and men. If you have a quick flick through some magazines, you can see sexualised images of women and girls everywhere. Concerns have been expressed not only by the academic community, but also more broadly in the community, in relation to the sexualisation of young girls.
Of course, fantasies and dressing up are important parts of early childhood. Children like dressing up as adults, and many children’s toys aren’t meant to be real, so why shouldn’t girls be allowed to put on sexy adult dresses? Or should they? Is it a real issue or a non-issue?
If you choose this topic for your second assessment you will need to do some research and make informed decisions regarding body image and wellbeing for children, and come to a conclusion about your views and values But first please go through all the readings that cover these issues in more detail.
It’s a contentious topic that we need to treat with sensitivity. When posting on the discussion board, if you find that someone has a different view to your own, please ensure you respond professionally and respectfully. It is fine to indicate that you disagree with your peer, but please be mindful of how you do that.
That’s all from me for this week. As always, I look forward to some passionate debate on the topic of gender and body image.
Harding, A. (2010). Obese kids more vulnerable to bullies, CNN. Retrieved from
Lumeng, J. C. (2010). Obese kids more apt to be bullied, study confirms. In Reuters. Retrieved from http://www.reuters.com/article/2010/05/03/us-obese-s-idUSTRE6421XQ20100503
Lumby, C., & Albury, K. (2010).Too much?Too young?The sexualisation of children debate in Australia.Media Int. Aust.(135), 141-152.
The National Eating Disorders Collaboration. (2012). An Integrated Response to Complexity – National Eating Disorders Framework 2012. Retrieved from
Winterman, D. (2009). What would a real life Barbie look like? , BBC. Retrieved from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/7920962.stm
State of Victoria (Department of Education and Early Childhood Development). 2011. The state of Victoria’s children 2010. Retrieved from http://www.education.vic.gov.au/Documents/about/research/sovc2010.pdf
Eating Disorders Victoria. (2015). Key Research and Statistics: Overview of eating disorders today. Retrieved from
National Eating Disorders Collaboration.(2012). An Integrated Response to Complexity – National Eating Disorders Framework 2012. Retrieved from
Reynolds, R.C. (2015). Orthorexia nervosa: when righteous eating becomes an obsession. Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/orthorexia-nervosa-when-righteous-eating-becomes-an-obsession-36484
Olds, T. (2015).Even if obesity were a disease, exercise may be too bitter a pill. Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/even-if-obesity-were-a-disease-exercise-may-be-too-bitter-a-pill-37471
Stapleton, P. (2012). Explainer: anorexia and bulimia. Retrieved from http://theconversation.com/explainer-anorexia-and-bulimia-7776
Smolak, L. (2011). Body Image Development in Childhood. From Cash, T.F &Smolak, L. Body Image, Second Edition. New York. Guilford Press Publications.
Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Health.(2011). Children and body image.Retrieved from http://www.health.gov.au/internet/publications/publishing.nsf/Content/gug-carer-toc~gug-carer-familyfoods~gug-carer-familyfoods-image
Daraganova, G & Australian Institute of Family Studies. (2014). The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children Annual statistical report 2013: Body image of primary school children. Retrieved from http://www.growingupinaustralia.gov.au/pubs/asr/2013/asr2013g.html
Hello and welcome to week 7
. I hope you had a chance to catch up last week through consolidation week and that you are refreshed and ready to get back into study.
This week we turn our attention to health-related conditions and implication for inclusion. I’m going to start by telling you a story of 5 year old Harper, from Victoria.
Harper was born with a serious heart condition. When she was four months, she had already gone through a 15-hour surgery to insert a custom-made pacemaker to control her heartbeat. She then spent two weeks in intensive care and another two months in the hospital. In 2013, Harper snapped one of the connections of the pacemaker that resulted in an irregular heartbeat. Harper needed further surgery to replace the pacemaker. It was very difficult for the family including Harper’s two older siblings to see her live in such pain. There was stress and extra financial burden for the family. After the surgery, Harper would be on a long-haul of medication and re-habitation.
This unit is about the healthy and active child and how to ensure health and wellbeing for every child under the age of eight. How about children who have chronic illness, who may be restricted by their health conditions, children like Harper? How do we ensure these children’s health and wellbeing? This is our topic for this week.
The Australian Government defines chronic disease as having an illness that is “prolonged in duration, does not often resolve spontaneously, and is rarely cured completely. Chronic diseases are complex and varied in terms of their nature, how they are caused and the extent of their impact on the community. While some chronic diseases make large contributions to premature death, others contribute more to disability” (The Department of Health, 2012).
Chronic health issues are more common among older people. However “a small but significant number” (The Department of Health, 2012).of children in Australia suffer from chronic illness. The main categories are asthma, diabetes and cancer. There are other chronic health conditions such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy and others that affect sight, hearing, allergic reaction and mobility. Some children are born with a chronic disease; some may develop it later in life.
Chronic illnesses affect children’s development, learning, and wellbeing. Families are affected as well (AIHW, 2014; Health Channel, 2012), just like in little Harper’s case. The reading this week will cover all of the above issues in more detail with case studies and practical suggestions for inclusive education.
In the unit EDU30005 Understanding and Supporting Inclusion we also cover special health care and support for children with disabilities. If you have completed that unit, please return to your notes to remind yourself of some of the issues, and some of the strategies for inclusion.
When we look at our daily practice within the early childhood setting, please don’t forget that health is not only an individual matter but also a socio-political issue. In Australia, the pattern and inequality regarding chronic disease reflects the socio inequality of the wider society. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and people who live in areas of lowest socioeconomic areas are more likely to be affected by chronic disease and other health related issues (AIHW, 2014).
What does this mean for our daily practice? What are the implications for inclusive education? And perhaps more importantly, in what ways can you, as an early childhood teacher, support those children living with a chronic disease, siblings of a child who has a chronic disease, or the child’s family. And just as importantly, what will you need to know about a range of chronic diseases so that you can ensure your teaching and care of young children meets their needs?
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Another topic to discuss with sensitivity and professionalism. I look forward to your engagement in this week’s activity and to reading your own views and ideas and experiences.
The Department of Health.(2012). Chronic disease. Retrieved from
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