Anarchy & the EYLF Pirates

Refuse. Resist. Rebuild.

What did you do on the weekend? (No.2)


So I was watching ‘The Bachelor’ and the producers had organised photos and memorabilia from each of the girls’ lives to show the bachelor. I turned to my partner and said “gee, they are kinda taking a bit of a risk here- presuming that everyone has this normal previous life in which they would want to display. What if the girl was like ‘Umm… I lived in and out of foster care until I was 18 and I have no photos or mementos from my childhood’ or ‘My family abused me and I ran away’ or ‘I used to be a drug addict’?”

The next day, I was reading on an early childhood Facebook page about sending home ‘family weekend sheets’ for families to write on there what they did over the weekend. The educators had the intention of ‘following up on those interests’ and ‘getting family input into the program’. Fair enough.

But then I think about the children I have taught who have been physically abused by a parent; who have watched their dad beating up their mum; who have been sexually abused; who live with a family member with a mental ‘illness’; who have had the incredible devastation of a parent passing away unexpectedly; who have lived the quiet sadness of being neglected and I think what would be written on their ‘weekend sheet’?

Do we send home these sheets expecting the normal representations of childhood- I went to the park, I played with my sister, we ate fish and chips at the beach?

Do we send them home, pretending we are Jonathon Silin, and invite the ‘other’ representations of childhood? (Jonathon Silin wrote extensively in the 80s about early childhood and AIDS; not pretending that children are innocent beings who only do ‘child’ things. He writes profoundly of these ideas in his book “Sex, Death and the Education of Children: Our Passion for Ignorance in the Age of AIDS”.)

I think sometimes the ‘family weekend sheets’ might marginalise the families who do not have ‘normal’ lives. I think we send them home with particular expectations of what should be returned. Do families understand what we are expecting to receive? Does this pass judgement on what childhood ‘should’ look like and damn anyone who does not or cannot conform? And then what happens when we get other sorts of representations we don’t expect? What if a child and their family created the following ‘weekend sheet’:

“Me and my mum painted posters about Invasion Day and made a banner for our car.”

“I marched at Slut Walk with my dad. Everyone was saying you can’t touch someone if they don’t like it.”

“I watched movies with my big brothers. We watched ‘Saw’ and it was really scary, but I wasn’t scared.”

Would we ‘follow up these interests’ in the way we intend to follow up playing at the park or going to the zoo or having lunch at Grandma’s house?

So I wonder…

What are we actually asking families to share with us?

Do we do this with the expectation that families have normative lives?
Why do we want to see the representations of their weekend lives?

What are we going to do with all this information?
Are we committed to following up the unexpected, perhaps controversial, interests?
Are we prepared to understand that not everyone has a home life they want to represent and share?


Do we respect a family’s right to not share their every moment of life with us?

(Do we tell families what we do every weekend?)


© Awilda Longstocking 2014

Anarchy & the EYLF Pirates



7 comments on “What did you do on the weekend? (No.2)

  1. Aunt Annie's Childcare
    February 10, 2014

    Ah, this desperation to ‘include’ the family in the most tokenistic of ways gets my goat. For starters, sending home a form like that is yet another imposition on parents’ time with their children. Why the hell should they spend that time trying to tick our boxes instead of interacting with their kids or the rest of their world? And of course, whatever gets written on that form will be meaningless in about 99% of cases (and that’s 99% of the 1% that actually make it back).

    It smacks of the teacher trying too hard to appear like she’s fulfilling a criterion.

  2. Gabrielle
    February 10, 2014

    Such a good point. It reminds me of a time when our school decided to ditch traditional homework and send home a homework grid that included activities such as playing a board game with a parent, going for a bike ride. It was well intentioned and sounded good on paper but in the end it just felt like we were being preached to.

  3. Captain Chaloner Ogle
    February 10, 2014

    Perhaps you should read a little of Bronfenbrenner, he is best known for his bioecological systems theory (1977). This model provides us with a framework for looking at the different factors that influence human development. Bronfenbrenner acknowledges the importance of biological factors for development, but also points to the fact that, more than any other species, humans create the environments that help shape their own development. Development always occurs in a particular social context and this context can change development. Bronfenbrenner maintained that human beings can therefore develop those environments to optimise their genetic potential.

    So please ensure you know nothing about children’s lives outside your centre. I would hate for you to ‘program’ for their development, let alone EYLF outcomes or use your professional judgement.

    Or read David Shakow, he was the founder of the clinical psychologists field in 1949; he said “it’s really important that clinical psychologists get exposure to lots of normal people, It’s really important, because if they do that they will see that there are plenty of sexually abused people who undoubtedly have been through hell and undoubtedly have been through things that most of us cannot understand, but they have survived. And some of them have thrived, in spite of what happened to them.”

    Aren’t you glad scientist have discovered a resilience gene. I was about to give up.

    Or you can keep buying the equipment from the catalogue, chuck in some natural crap place it out on open shelving and say “Yeah we do emergent curriculum and EYLF cause the children select they own activities and we program from their interest”.

    I know I know it is the child’s interest because nothing in a centre was brought in by an adult, its all child lead. Quick wash your hands it’s now morning tea time………

    Make sure you don’t see EYLF as a relationship based curriculum and don’t look at yourself and don’t wonder why parents don’t communicate with you. It is probably that tattoo you have showing that is scarring them away. Remember child care is just a job, just a pay cheque and I truly hope you haven’t influenced your children in your centre with your boring lives of mediocrity.

    Captain Chaloner Ogle

    • Anarchy & the EYLF Pirates
      February 10, 2014

      Hi Captain Chaloner Ogle. Thanks for your comment, although I’m not quite sure whether by ‘you’ you mean me or educators in general. It can’t be me, because I don’t have any tattoos 😉

      I’m not saying knowing about children’s lives outside the centre is irrelevant. Absolutely far from it.

      This is a response I wrote on our linked facebook page:

      I used to get so cross when families wouldn’t return my requests for information about their lives. I planned ways to get more input, to make them have to tell me, to make them feel guilty for not telling me. Sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. Then I realised… hey… what if they just tell me whatever they want to tell me and if they don’t want to tell me anything then that is okay too. (And I also thought… what if I told families as much about my life as I am expecting them to tell me about theirs… that was an uncomfortable thought.)

      I think family input is important and useful. I’m not saying don’t seek it. But we have to use what we are freely and voluntarily given. Forcing it or demanding it is disrespectful.

      And I think that idea is maybe not controversial or radical. But. The NQS states that we need to use children’s interests and we need to build collaborative relationships with families. This changes the intent of finding out what children do on the weekends. It’s for our programming… but it’s also to ‘prove’ the relationship with families. And this becomes difficult. I think it’s obscene to be rated on how relationships are formed with families based on what ‘proof’ exists of this. Relationships with families are incredibly important. But when we need to ‘prove’ the relationships exist, we are sucked into wanting paper trails to become the evidence of the relationship, to show the authorised officer, to do well at assessment, to maintain our status as an expert teacher who can do their job properly. And I think this is part of the allure of ‘what did you do on the weekend’ sheets.

      So I think we have to be open that people may choose to not share their lives and this doesn’t make us a ‘bad teacher’ who can’t prove a relationship with families. We have to be open to thinking about the children and families who don’t live ‘normal’ lives. And we have to be open to committing to what we say we will do with the information we are given.


  4. Carly
    February 10, 2014

    One of the things that has taken me by surprise with this parenting gig, is how intrusive various institutions become in your life. Nobody really cared before about my day to day business, except the occasional doctor visit. When I got home from the hosipital we had visits from maternal health nurses who checked the cot set up in our bedroom. A stranger just looking in my bedroom. They also commented on other things aroundthe house. I know it’s for my child, but by gosh it takes some getting use to. I’m a very private person, so to go from being able to mostly keeping to myself to suddenly having various strangers involved in private and intimate parts of my life is very confronting. It’s an interesting thing to think about.

  5. Captain Chaloner Ogle
    February 14, 2014

    Hey Pirate

    you need to read this book

    Manifesto: Keep Wonder Alive [Kindle Edition]
    Conor Neill

    Download it from amazon onto a kindle (you can download kindle on PC or ipad or iphone.

    Today it is free to down load. The best book you will ever read. Trust me.


  6. Wendy
    March 14, 2014

    a hoy there pirates….. really thought provoking post, and can I say I do like you blog too. We are only people, we all have bias and expectation. I think that being aware of our own beliefs and bias, can lead us to accept views of others…….there are lots of ways to include families and to get feedback. Week end sheets just seem a bit prescriptive to me.

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