The role of routine, ritual and belonging in creating a sense of place
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The role of routine, ritual and belonging in creating a sense of place

by Freya Lucas

February 21, 2023

The term ‘sense of place’ refers to the way in which spaces and places are created in early childhood education and care (ECEC) and other environments for children and adults to show that this is a space of respect and care.


Along with a sense of place, routines and activities support children to develop a sense of belonging and attachment, a major goal for both parents and ECEC professionals. The piece below shares some tips for creating a sense of place. 


Unique and tailored


A sense of place isn’t something that can be copied or purchased. Each place and space in the ECEC sector is different and unique, and is shaped by the people within it. Creating a sense of place takes time, consideration, reflective practice and care. 


Some questions which can help to kick start this process include: 


  • What’s special and unique about your service? 


  • How do you create these special qualities?


  • How can you make your program even more special? 


  • What steps can you take to move this through from ideas to realistic goals? 


Ritual and routine 


There are multiple ways for ECEC services to create a sense of routine, and to build ritual elements into the learning day. When processes are repeated, they become comfortable and familiar, and help children to feel safe and secure in their environment. 


Over time, some rituals and routines become tradition, and are weaved into the historic fabric of the service. 


In an ECEC context, some examples of routine and ritual include: 


  • Songs for special parts of the day: hello, goodbye, transitions


  • Predictable routines for tidying up, or moving from one place to another


  • The way in which special days such as birthdays are acknowledged


  • Consistent schedules: on Monday, we visit the local park
  • Annual family events, such as end of year celebrations


How do you foster a sense of belonging? 


Creating a sense of belonging is not as simple as printing out a belonging tree and gluing on photos of families. 


Making a place feel safe, secure and fun takes time, and belonging requires effort to grow. Focused and planned ideas are important. 


Here are some ways in which belonging can grow:


  • Invite family members into the program and be flexible with opportunities for them to join in


  • Create an environment where there are links to home with neutral colours, soft lighting and comfortable furnishings


  • Listen to families, find out their hopes and dreams for their child, and allow them to share with you what they believe is truly important


  • Let the environment reflect the work of the children and allow their input to drive the curriculum.


For more resources about creating a sense of belonging, please see here

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