Invisible to visible: Mapping the continuum of literacy learning experiences in an early years setting
The face of early childhood education continues to change. In Australia, the national early childhood guidelines, Early Years Learning Framework (2009) and the National Quality Framework have articulated and defined the work of early years' educators in a range of areas, including literacy. Both frameworks state that their aim is to maintain the focus of the Development Strategy provide all Australian children with an educational foundation to support them throughout their lives. In this climate, and some years after the implementation of these guidelines, it seems timely to examine the literacy programmes, practices and perspectives of prior-to-school environments as they prepare children to transition to the early years of primary school. This paper reports on the findings of a study that aimed to explore the nature of literacy programmes, practices and perspectives, and in particular how such programmes support educators and children in one prior-to-school setting, as they prepare to transition to the first year of formal schooling. Analysis of the experiences offered in prior-to-school centres revealed a number of learning experiences that illustrated Bernstein's notion of visible and invisible literacy learning pedagogies. It was found that viewing these learning experiences along a continuum from invisible to visible pedagogical practices was a useful framework for categorising the range of experiences in which the children engaged. It is suggested that such a continuum would be a useful framework for both prior-to-school and kindergarten teachers to better support children as they transition across settings. However, we must add a caveat, namely, that such a framework should not lead to increase pressure on prior-to-school settings to increase 'visible pedagogical practices' in order to 'teach' literacy skills.