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The introduction of Belonging, Being and Becoming: the Early Years Learning Framework for Australia (EYLF) offers the potential for a change in collective thinking about the social and emotional capabilities of infants and toddlers. Classical theories of young children's development have held that infants and toddlers are egocentric in being and engage predominantly in solitary play. Common perceptions of important social behaviours such as social and emotional perception, action and understanding are thought to develop primarily in the preschool years. Grounded in an image of the child as able to contribute to his or her own learning, the strong theoretical base of the EYLF affords a view of infants and toddlers as intentional and active participants in their world. This article explores popular societal misconceptions of the social and emotional capacities of infants and toddlers, and uses both psychological and contextual research to put forth a more accurate view. Reflection on the philosophical grounding of the EYLF shows the place of infants and toddlers within it, while examples in practice of observations of children and interpretations of educators help support this. Discussion of a strengths-based view of using the EYLF to document and communicate the learning of infants and toddlers shows how early childhood professionals can act as advocates to reconceptualise towards a common view of infants and toddlers as active learners.

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Journal Article

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