By Rachel Ho on 7 Jul, 2023

Critical reflection and ongoing professional learning is one of the underpinning principles of the EYLF V2.0, with critical reflection being mentioned 20 times throughout the framework. Critical reflection provides a space to evaluate our work.  

This principle guides educators to see themselves as “co-learners with children, families and community, and value the continuity and richness of local knowledge…” The way in which we perceive and respond to something is deeply rooted in our values, beliefs, needs and life experiences, so we must acknowledge the variations from person to person and wonder about the myriad of ways we have existed over generations of cross-cultural influence. 

As an early childhood educator, reflective practice is instilled in the ways in which we work towards quality improvement. We know how vital our work is and its impact on the children, families and communities we work with. Becoming an early childhood educator gave me a purpose and sense of self that I didn’t have previously. It fuelled a desire to want to be and become a better educator (and person) because I knew my growth meant something—not just to me but for a greater reason. 

The benefits of adopting a growth mindset

Critical reflection and adopting a growth mindset have been the key to forging my path of professional growth and the learning that has come with this makes me ever more curious and inspired.  

I continue to hear or see things that challenge me, whether it be a practice I observe or something I am struggling with in my own practice that I haven’t yet learned to navigate. Seeking new ideas and perspectives that are beyond our understandings will stretch our ways of thinking. I have learned to stop fighting and instead see challenges as an opportunity to learn something new. I’ve learned to question my ways of doing with kindness and acknowledge my biases when they were revealed to me.  

Some of the questions I like to ask myself are: 

  • What does this tell me about a person and their story? 
  • While this isn’t something I would typically do, how might applying a new approach help me to support this child in this situation? 
  • What else could I be considering here? 
  • What impact does my decision making have on this child/my colleagues/families I work with? 

Note: Page 18 of the EYLF V2.0 includes overarching questions which may guide further critical reflection 

Facing what's uncomfortable and gaining courage from curiosity

With each new perspective I’ve experimented, adapted, and grown. I’ve played with applying knowledges to different situations because there is no one right way. The process still feels uncomfortable, but curiosity gives me the courage to confront the things that make me instinctively recoil. 

The space of professional learning is continually morphing to the changes of the early childhood education and care landscape. Every contribution to research and each new idea and diverse perspective that we allow into our own ways of thinking creates space for the next. We become more accepting and willing to hear the richness in knowledges beyond our own. I’ve learned to soften and embrace the challenges because I now know it signals the cusp of new skills and capabilities to add to my repertoire. 

Critical reflection is a skill. It takes practice, openness and compassion.

So, have those hard conversations with your colleagues, confront the things that are challenging you with an open mind, book yourself into that training, read that book, and reach out to colleagues and fellow educators.  

However you choose to engage in your professional learning, I encourage you to pursue it with fierce curiosity.  

After all, nothing ventured, nothing gained. 

Further reading about this topic: 

Amplify!: A reflection on inclusive early eduation
Teacher Tom: Collecting perspectives
Amplify!: AI and ethical considerations

CELA Professional Development relating to this topic: 


About Rachel

Rachel is an early education specialist at CELA. Before joining CELA, she was an early childhood educator working on Wangal-Gadigal Country at The Infants' Home in NSW. She is passionate about using reflective practice to drive curiosity, wonder and courage in pedagogical decision making. She is also a firm believer in advocating for care as curriculum and practicing respectful care pedagogy.

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