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Children must be taught how to think, not what to think

Volume 2 Issue 7 February 2018 CHANGING TEACHERS’ LIVES EVERYDAY, EVERY WAY!

Margaret Mead

STRAIGHT TALK

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Nichola Pais

Playing and Learning

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uriosity in children is but an appetite for knowledge. The great reason why children abandon themselves wholly to silly pursuits and trifle away their time insipidly is, because they find their curiosity balked, and their inquiries neglected,” wrote John Locke. As parents and educators who deal with children constantly, we know full well that children are utterly curious creatures. It is by exploring, questioning, and wondering, that they learn. So, how do we foster a child’s inherent tendency to discover and learn through cause and effect, and allow learning to occur unhampered? Fear, disapproval and absence – these are the extinguishers of a child’s natural curiosity. A child whose world is in disarray will cling to his comfort zone and shun novelty. Constant “don’ts” also snuff out curiosity, as children absorb the same fears and attitudes of their caregivers. The absence of a caring adult also extinguishes a child’s sense of wonder, as the child lacks the sense of safety necessary to fuel his sense of discovery; the lack of a person to share the discovery with also subdues the pleasure and reinforcement from that finding. Both parents and teachers play a key role in encouraging this curiosity-fuelled learning. As adults, we must provide opportunities for children to explore, play and apply. Play – that word that is often misconstrued by those who don’t know better, as a waste of time! – pays huge dividends in a child’s education. For a child, play is natural, spontaneous, enjoyable, rewarding and self-initiated. Even play that is engaged in not for its learning outcomes, promotes growth and development. Whether Functional Play which sees children using their senses and muscles to explore and experiment with materials and learn how things go together, or Constructive Play in which children learn the use of different materials, put things together based on a plan, and develop and use strategies of reaching their goal, there is no underestimating the value of play. Dramatic or Pretend Play allows children to take on a role, and use words and gestures to depict the role they are playing, while Games with Rules help children learn to play with others, control their behaviour and conform to a structure of pre-set rules. And at the end of it, it is the co-operating and collaborating in which lies the enjoyment. It’s time we treated play with the respect and gravitas it deserves. Child’s play is serious stuff!

Published for the month of February 2018 Total number of pages 72, including Covers

FIND US ON

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CONTENTS

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52 COVER STORY

EXPERT SPEAK : Insights from global early childhood experts

ECE : Need of the Hour Industry experts discuss the challenges and desirable improvements in Early Childhood Education in India

Leading ECE Experts from across the globe share ideas, insights and best practices for improved early childhood care and education

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65 TECH FOCUS : EdTech for Early Childhood Education

48 COVER STORY GLOBE TROTTING : ECE AROUND THE WORLD While global trends in Early Childhood Education around the world are changing, progress has been slow.

‌Because the early bird catches the success curve From informal play-based learning recommended by the National ECCE Policy, to the need for a common standard across the country regarding quality and curriculum, to the importance of well-trained teachers, a brief A to Z of Early Childhood Education in India.

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OP-ED : The Economic Advantage Of Investing in ECE


YOURS TRULY EMBRACE TECH

TECH INTEREST

Many teachers and children are subject to more than 6 hours a day of education technology in their classrooms, as well as their schools. Is it helping provide children with the skills they need for the jobs of the future or disconnecting them from the world around them? A recent report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development suggests there could be a detrimental effect. I would beg to differ with the experts on this based on my personal experience. I would recommend these experts to evaluate the way technology is used in the classroom. Technology can open up new ways of learning and bolster core skills. Experiments by Prof. Sugata Mitra have found children aged 6 – 12 who had no prior experience with computers intuitively figured out how to operate the machine, overcoming both language barriers and educational gaps in the process. In fact, they went on to teach each other based on the interest of their peers. When technology is used to its potential and with purpose in the classroom, it can provide children with a range of skills which will help them become 21st century ready. Michael Gonsalves, Panjim, Goa

Amongst the many first rate articles you publish in ScooNews, I am particularly impressed with the content you provide in the regular columns like Tech IT Out and Take 2. Your article on Social Bookmarking Tools for Teachers was comprehensive and brilliant and I believe other teachers will also find it helpful. Rama Sastri, Bengaluru, Karnataka

FINE EXAMPLES The cover story which featured educational influencers was so apt and much-required. We got to know about so many people who are working hard to fulfil their respective goals in the field of education. Their work definitely needs to be glorified as they set examples for our future generations. Malini Raja, Bangalore

NIFTY NEWS I love reading the trending news items as you cover news from all across the globe. It educates us about the trends in education in different countries and cultures. I was quite surprised to know that the highest paid YouTuber is a boy of just 6 years! Keep up the good work, Scoonews. Jhanavi Menon, Hyderabad

BABY & BULLYING I recently came across a wonderful video on BBC about a baby, Naomi who is helping tackle bullying at school. The seven month-old is part of a Canadian programme, Roots of Empathy, founded by Mary Gordon. The long-term goal is building a more caring, peaceful and civil society, where everybody feels a sense of belonging. The students get a visit from Naomi and her mother, every few weeks. The children realise that Naomi is even more vulnerable than they are. This helps elicit care for her. “If children just had the capacity to own their feelings, to understand them, to know how to talk about how they feel, they would not be islands, and our mental health would go up,” points out a Roots of Empathy instructor. The programme uses a baby as a vehicle to help children find the vulnerability and humanity in the little baby, so that they can then flip it back to their own experiences. The children realise the sudden universe of ‘Everybody in the world feels the same as me – we are not so disconnected’. It’s very hard to hate someone if you realise they feel like you. It’s very hard to be bullying someone if you realise that. Studies show this programme reduces bullying and aggression over the school year. As an educator, I do believe this programme would work wonderfully in our country as well and is worth emulating. School admin, are you listening? Alfa Patel, Mumbai

INNOVATORS ENCYCLOPAEDIA I enjoyed reading your article on Top Ed Influencers. Your well-researched issue is an encyclopaedia on the best

educational innovators in India. It will help teachers and educators be more aware of what is happening in the education sector and the amazing work being done. Kirti Kiran, Jaipur, Rajasthan

PERTINENT PROFILES It is heartening to see that there are so many people in our country working on bringing our education standards onto a higher ground to compete with the world platform. Enjoyed reading the profiles of the people who bring disruption in education! An eye-opener for sure! Deepak Ravindran, Bangalore

CLASSROOM DESIGN The article about the design of the classroom making a difference in student learning was definitely enlightening. I also enjoyed reading your January issue about the various disrupters in the education world. Swapna Bhaskaran, Bangalore

IMPORTANT SUBJECT As a teacher working with special needs children, it is heartening to see this sensitive and important subject being given voice in your cover story for December 2017 issue. Kudos to your editorial team and as we embark on this New Year, I wish you all the very best for 2018! Ayan Mukerji, Durgapur, West Bengal

RESPECT PLEASE It is unfortunate that due to the dispute over the film, Padmaavat starring Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor, a few schools in Gautam Buddha Nagar district in Noida had to remain closed after a school bus of GD Goenka was attacked in Gurgaon. I find this turn of events extremely unfortunate. There is no law in the land higher than the Supreme Court and all must abide by its judgements. We need to inculcate respect for the law in our children – something that is difficult to accomplish when fringe elements are allowed to run amok. It is time to wake up and take remedial action now! Mitra Rai, Kolkata

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Please recycle this magazine and remove inserts and samples before recycling


OP-ED

THE ECONOMIC ADVANTAGE OF INVESTING IN ECE

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Dr Swati Popat Vats, President Early Childhood Association, advocates the coming together of all stakeholders involved with children and childhood issues, to raise children to be healthy, happy and holistically developed individuals, contributing positively to the nation

Dr Swati Popat Vats writeback@scoonews.com

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e say, ‘Children are the future’ – and that’s true – but there’s a fundamental problem with that idea. It suggests that... they’re just kids now, but later, when they become the future, we can start taking care of them... with colleges and universities, a better economy, a better job climate. But that’s wrong. The most critical time that you have with children is – ‘right now’. It’s the first five years. Children go through a period of rapid learning in the first five years. The most embedded parts of our personality – our attitudes and moral values, our emotional tendencies, our learning abilities, potential to think rationally, persist with challenge, use language, suppress impulses, regulate emotions, respond to others’ distress, cooperate with peers, cognitive and social skills, healthy habits are all a product of experiences that we have between the ages of 0 and 5. That’s when we learn how to adapt and respond to the world. Early childhood is divided into two areas, ECC - Early Childhood Care and ECE - Early Childhood Education. ECC is from inception to 3 years and ECE is from 3 to 6 years. Brain research and neuro science have proven that 98% of the brain develops in the first six years. A person’s personality is fixed by age 5,

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OP-ED how he/she will handle emotions, learning, social issues, problem solving and how he/she will behave, all this is fixed by age 5 and so by not investing in early childhood we are somewhere happy with creating maladjusted youth, thinking school and college life will change them! Fool’s paradise! The importance of ECE is best understood, with an excerpt from New York Times editorial by Nicholas Kirstof in which he concluded..."Look, we'll have to confront the pathologies of poverty at some point. We can deal with them cheaply at the front end, in infancy. Or we can wait and jail a troubled adolescent at the tail end. To some extent, we face a choice between investing in preschools or prisons.” Countries around the world, even those as small as Belize and Malaysia have realized that investing in early childhood will mean better, well-adjusted, intelligent adults. Which would mean lesser investment in remedial centers, youth defects, and offences. Why spend crores on rectifying adolescents when a small part of the budget spent on early childhood could have saved us, as a country, a lot? Our present ICDS program is one of the largest in the world; it has a strong reach across the length and breadth of India. One of its weakest points though is teacher training and ensuring that children enrolled are given stimulation and nurtured in a learning environment. It has a good nutrition programme but when it comes to giving these children a foundation for lifelong learning, we find this programme failing. The most impressive advocacy and research to prove the long term benefits of ECCE was done by Nobel Laureate James Heckman. He highlighted in his report that "Governments should do more for children aged 0 to 5 years old, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, and not wait till they get to ECE Programs or primary school. They ignore a powerful body of research in the economics of human development."... "For early childhood programmes targeted at disadvantaged children, there is no trade-off between equity and efficiency as there is for most other social programmes. Every dollar invested in high-quality early childhood programmes for disadvantaged children produces a 7 to 10 percent annual return on investment

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President Early Childhood Association, Dr. Swati Popat Vats, authors this advocacy article. The Early Childhood Association aims to bring together all the stakeholders who are involved with children and childhood issues, be it parents, teachers, policy makers, doctors, law makers and lawyers, government, NGOs, media, corporate houses etc. to create a ‘village’ that will be able to raise the children of India to be healthy, happy and holistically developed individuals that contribute positively to the nation.

through increased productivity and lower social costs." The ACER report has always pointed out how our primary children in government schools are still struggling to learn the basics, well that would continue to be so if we don’t realize the important fact that the foundation of learning, teaching the brain ‘how to learn’ is laid in the early years, and that is why if the brain is not nurtured in ‘how to learn’ it will not be successful in ‘what to learn’. Analysis of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) also shows that in most countries, students who had attended at least one year of early learning perform better than those who had not, accounting for students’ socioeconomic background (OECD, 2015, p. 326). Without clarity of purpose, our country risks another ‘brain drain’, in the early childhood years, when 98% of the brain develops. The vast differences in the early education experiences of a child in the ICDS programme and a private programme make it unlikely that the two children will ever perform equivalently in school and later employment arena. And thus it makes sense in investing in Early Childhood Education, as highlighted by James Heckman, the following benefits of ECE: Reduced costs in remedial education, healthcare, and criminal justice participation down the line.

February 2018

Preschool helps develop the early building blocks of educational success – learning colours and numbers, understanding patterns, realizing that printed words hold meaning. It socializes children. Any language, hearing or developmental problems a child may have are picked up early. If, for every rupee invested, we get back Rs.7 then how is it not economically viable? The problem is, in India, Childcare and Early Childhood Education (ECE) is traditionally viewed from welfare or education perspective; it’s time we viewed it from an economic perspective as well. A perspective that countries like USA, UK, Australia and many others have benefitted from. The problem is not that we don’t want to care for our children. People just need to know how. Parents, teachers, the government – all the stakeholders in the future of our children – we go about it on a trial-by-fire basis, learning each time as the child grows up. But we need a more structured, a more uniform way to do this. ...At the Early Childhood Association of India, that is our mission – to help the country invest in taking care of its youngest citizens. We urge private players to ensure the following for quality in ECE by invest-


ing in and supporting the following basic quality standards in Early Childhood Education. A well-researched and developmentally appropriate curriculum. Play way holistic learning of not only the 3 R’s but also of life skills. A round the year support and training for teachers. A strong parent partnership programme. Supporting each child’s overall growth with regular assessments and goal setting. Safety and security. Regular upgradation of curriculum and teacher training based on theory and recent research in the field. At ECA we have proposed ‘Adopt your nearest Anganwadi’ project to the private players. But again they are facing hurdles when they approach anganwadis for the same. So we suggest the government have a private sector partnership to improve the implementation of the ICDS program.

MISSION STATEMENT OF THE EARLY CHILDHOOD ASSOCIATION To empower parents, teachers, and professionals to explore and develop holistic programmes and environments for children, that will look after their well-being, relationships, need for family and community, need to belong and communicate and thus helping each and every child grow up to be healthy in mind, body and spirit. www.ecaindia.org, email- ecaadmn@gmail.com

OUR APPEAL TO PRIME MINISTER SHRI NARENDRA MODIJI… At the Early Childhood Association we are worried about the future of early childhood care and education in our country. It is time the government stopped ‘babysitting’ this sector and started respecting and investing in it, both through proper budgetary investments and ‘thought through’ long term beneficial policies that serve both the privately run centers and the government run too. With multiple policies in multiple areas and states which are limited to only ‘outlining rules’, it will end up deterring the committed and passionate early childhood educator from setting up quality centers, which in turn leads to more ‘profiteering minded’ people coming into this sector who will bribe their way through all these so-called new laws and policies and end up giving low quality education and care to the children. We humbly and strongly urge the government to look into 10 key areas One nation-One Policy - Be it for starting preschools or curriculum or safety etc. there should be one common policy with defined nonnegotiable points for every state to follow. States can then add relevant cultural or area specific points.

Create a lead Ministry for Early Childhood Care and Education or let Early Childhood Care and Education not be a concurrent subject. Consultative process before defining policies, laws and regulations in Early Childhood Care and Education - government should involve important stakeholders before defining laws or policies, involve associations like Early Childhood Association, parents and center owners as we know the ground reality of how and what needs to and can be implemented. Define the developmentally appropriate curriculum and assessment for all ages in the early years centers, so that a child in Delhi or Chennai is not being exposed to different learning expectations that are not in line with their age or stage of development. No distinction between private and government programs in policy, when it comes to curriculum framework, minimum wages, safety standards and learning goals.

Minimum teacher qualification tied to minimum wages. Teacher-child ratio to be defined with maximum in-group. A curriculum framework to avoid schoolification of ECE. Budget of ECCE to be increased and divided between care and education. Parent education to be given importance Several future presidents and prime ministers are in early childhood classrooms in our country today; so are the great writers of the next decades, and so are all the so-called ordinary people who will make the decisions in a democracy. Now, more than ever, the nation is looking to its leaders and ministers at all levels to roll up their sleeves and get things done. Countries thrive when its leaders invest in smart, evidence-based programmes with proven success. Quality Early Childhood Education is a shining example. I hope our appeal for Quality in Early Childhood Care and Education reaches our dear Prime Minister and all the state leaders.

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TRENDING

Teachers’ safety ignored by school admin In the light of a recent incident of a student under the influence of alcohol lashing out at a female teacher questions have been raised regarding the safety of teachers at schools. Not being the first of such incidents, the teachers not only from the particular school but other schools, as well as the various unions expressed security concerns before the director school education, Rubinderjit Singh Brar. Students misbehaving with teachers has become a common practice even to the extent of physical assault. The growth of such incidents is because there is more focus on children’s safety and teacher’s security is ignored. “This incident has clearly raised the issue of security of teachers. The administration and the society must

consider teachers along with the students as an integral part of the education system. But in the recent past, teachers have been ignored and students have been well looked into,” said President of SSA Teachers Welfare Association, Arvind Rana. Most of these incidents don’t come to the forefront as it is usually settled through a compromise. “We have a number of times demanded for PCRs outside schools to curb these types of incidents but nothing has been done. The administration is least concerned about out security. Another recent incident of assault in another government school is in our knowledge, where a similar incident happened with a male teacher. But the matter was suppressed after an apolo-

USD 700,000 for second phase of school for girls in Pakistan The second phase of a school for girls in Pakistan will be funded by the Big Heart Foundation (TBHF)’s Girl Child Fund, a Sharjah-based global humanitarian charity. The initiative is in keeping with its dedication to ensure that children have access to education, thus enabling them to contribute to the development of their communities. The project will be funded in cooperation with the Malala Yousafzai launched ‘Malala Fund’. Being constructed in Swat Valley, which is Yousafzai’s home district in Pakistan, the donation of USD 700,000 will support the second phase of development of the school, which will be complete in April 2018. Eleven classrooms will offer education to 350 girls, while the educational services and school infrastructure will gradually expand to accommodate 1,000 students. It is learn that TBHF Girl Child Fund will also partially cover the first two years of the school’s operational costs, including staff salaries, medical and security expenses, transportation, uniforms, books and stationary.

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gy from the student. Last year also, a student assaulted a teacher. The administration should take preventive measures to avoid such attacks which are increasing due to alleged drug menace in and around schools and colleges,” said the President of UT cadre educational employees union, Swarn Singh Kamboj. The unions also questioned the presence of the child protection committees at a time when a student has attacked a teacher out of his (alleged) addiction to alcohol. Key demand made by the union were to take strict action against the culprit, take suitable steps for safety of the teachers, exemplary punishment should be given to the defaulters by registering FIR against them, and the deputing of PCRs outside schools.

BRINGING FINLAND TO DELHI The centre in New Delhi is examining the education model that is used in Finland to teach their students. Finland follows a model that focuses on a child learning at their own pace. The Prime Minister’s office sent a note to the Human Resource Development Ministry to study Finland's system, highlighting the 100 per cent government funding, flexible curriculum and teaching methods, and the high salary of and rigorous training for teachers. Though an excellent initiative, according to academics and education experts, some are sceptical about its implementation in India. Anup K. Rajput, head of elementary education at the National Council of Educational Research and Training, said the Finland model of learning focused on "social constructivism" - a theory that stresses human development in the social context and generation of knowledge through interaction with others. “They believe in education that values both inside-classroom and outside-classroom experiences. They promote learning at ease. They have individualised curricula to help learners proceed without pressure,” Rajput said. Teachers in Finland and countries in Germany are highly trained and paid. Their education model does not fail any student and there are no exams. Their model designs their teaching methods and curricula according to the child’s aptitude. A researcher at the National University of Educational Planning and Administration said that teachers’ in India are poorly paid and in many states they are hired on contract and have no job security and so it would be difficult to implement the Finland model in India.


23 CBSE schools to boycott RTE admissions due to non-payment of dues 23 CBSE schools from Nagpur have decided to boycott the RTE (Right To Education) admission process for 2018-19 academic session because of non-payment of dues by the Maharashtra government. These schools are part of a newly formed organisation called Nagpur CBSE Private School Management Association and have written to the Deputy Director of Education making it clear that they won't be registering their schools online for RTE. So far, the education department has not replied. The letter signed by association chairperson, Neeru Kapai has made it clear that unless and until all RTE dues are cleared, their member schools won't be admitting any students. Kapai is co-founder of Modern School which has two

branches with almost 5,000 students. Another organisation called the Independent English Schools Association (IESA) which has both CBSE and state board schools as its members, will be taking a final call on RTE admission boycott soon. As per the RTE Act, private unaided (nonminority) schools reserve 25 per cent of their seats for free admissions to students selected by respective state governments under RTE norms. In lieu of these free admissions, schools receive a fixed amount per year, per child. For academic session 2017-18 this fee was approximately Rs.17,000 per child. However, payments by the government have been sporadic with many getting part payments amounting to hardly 30 per cent of their total dues.

EDUCATION EMPOWERS INDIVIDUAL, FAMILY, SOCIETY AND NATION – PRAKASH JAVADEKAR The 65th meeting of the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) was held under the Chairmanship of Union Human Resource Development Minister Shri Prakash Javadekar on January 15, 2018. A number of decisions were taken at the meeting, in part flowing from the agenda, and in part stemming from concerns raised by the state governments. The following resolutions were adopted:1. It would be our endeavour to launch ‘Operation Digital Board’ in all schools in five years. This will be undertaken jointly by Centre, State, CSR, and community. This will improve the quality of education. Students will be empowered with 360 degree information with interesting learning experience and teacher accountability will also increase. 2. We are committed to ensure Quality, Equity, Accessibility, Accountability and Affordability in education by proactive action and plan. 3. We are committed to promote Swacch Bharat, Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat, Padhe Bharat, Sugamya Bharat and physical education. 4. We resolve to promote human value education, life skill education, experiential learning to bring out good human beings out of the education system. Speaking on the occasion Union Minister for Human Resource Development Shri Prakash Javadekar

emphasised that education is a national agenda which empowers the individual, family, society and the nation. He highlighted some recent steps such as codification of learning outcomes, national academic depository, digital initiatives that strengthen education, training of 15 lakh untrained teachers, re-introduction of class X board examinations, and the status of no detention policy. He endorsed that the States requirements of additional funds is well justified. The meeting was attended by the Union Ministers, Smt. Maneka Gandhi, Minister for Women and Child Development, Shri Thawar Chand Gehlot, Minister of Social Justice & Empowerment, Shri Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Minister for Minority Affairs, Col. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports (Independent Charge), Shri Satya Pal Singh, Minister of State for HRD. The Union Minister for Women and Child Development, Smt. Maneka Gandhi suggested introduction of career counselling from 9th class, synergise with WCD Ministry for effective implementation of Pre-School Education with anganwadis. She suggested employing women drivers and helpers in school buses, sensitising young students about good and bad touch by showing the film Komal in all schools. NCPCR launched POSCOEBox, an online complaint system for confidential registration of complaints regarding sexual offence against chil-

dren. To promote greater tolerance among students belonging to different religions, she suggested like earlier Moral Science classes, religious books of all religions may be exposed so that students can start appreciating other religions. Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, Shri Thawar Chand Gehlot suggested more efforts to ensure that students from socially disadvantaged sections, girls, differently-abled are enrolled and continue in their studies without dropping out. He urged for a check on privatization of education, and also to provide a socially equitable education and inclusion of Dr Ambedkar’s Panch Teerth in curriculum. Union Minister for Minority Affairs, Shri Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi highlighted the importance of inclusive education so that no section of society is denied good quality education, and the promotion of activities of Sadbhavna Mandals started by MoMA to provide skill development programmes, sports and health programmes.

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TRENDING Higher spend for ed in budget, demands Assocham The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) which represents the interests of trade and commerce in India, and acts as an interface between industry, government and other relevant stakeholders on policy issues and initiatives, has sought an increased outlay for education in the upcoming budget. The industry body has also pitched for exempting higher education from the Goods and Services Tax. The chamber has informed the Finance Minister that with external state regulation and risk of agitation in the campus, higher educational institutions are unable to absorb the new tax burden and cannot pass the same on to the students via increase in fees. In their letter addressed to Arun Jaitley, they wrote, “The Union Budget 2018 would be the first after imposition of GST... A time has come for correcting the distortions which were earlier brought in by repeated amendments in the Service Tax for education sector. The last amendment brought in March 2017, denying tax relief for listed services for higher educational institutions, needs to be immediately withdrawn and end the untenable discrimination against higher education institutions.” The chamber also sought tax exemption on construction, maintenance and repair of buildings of educational institutions. It pointed out that the expert recommendation and national view had been for a minimum public outlay of 6 per cent of GDP for education sector from the current 4 per cent. “There is a crying need, more so now for higher public expenditure on education at all levels — from schools to universities, advanced research institutions,” they appealed.

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Entrepreneurship in education a must, says EU The European Commission has opined that pupils' education must be improved through work experiences while at school, increased knowledge of the European Union and better digital skills. These proposals are part of a wider EU strategy that concerns the future of citizens' education. EU education commissioner Tibor Navracsics averred that pupils don't have the right attitudes “to face a volatile job markets and fast changing societies.” He believes that this is why students should have at least one entrepreneurial experience before they leave compulsory education, in primary or secondary schools.

The commission has also called on member states to create platforms to bring together schools and businesses, train teachers, and create mini 'companies' within schools. The commission believes that entrepreneurial competences help to develop attitudes including creativity, initiative-taking, teamwork, understanding of risk and a sense of responsibility. Another initiative that the commission will promote is the development of digital skills to bridge the gap between the use of digital technology in everyday life and in education. Ninety percent of jobs today require digital literacy.

UNICEF chief to engage private sector to help children The new leader of UNICEF says that they are taking a new approach in 2018 by engaging with private companies to help prepare young people for productive lives. Executive director Henrietta Holsman Fore said she plans to draw on her experience in the business and development worlds. She chose the civil war-torn nation South Sudan for her first international trip since taking over the UN agency at the start of the year because this is where aid workers face the greatest risk worldwide. At least 28 aid workers were killed in the East African nation last year, according to figures released by the UN this week. Fore urged South Sudan President Salva Kiir to make the country’s people his “first priority” and called the country’s dire situation “a crisis for children.” South Sudan’s civil war is now in its fifth year and it has killed tens of thousands and displaced millions. Children have borne the brunt of the conflict. Over 2.4 million children have been forced to flee their homes. More than a quarter of a million children are severely malnourished and at imminent risk of death. Over 19,000 children have been recruited into the conflict. At least one in three schools has been damaged, destroyed, occupied or closed. And more than 1,200 cases of sexual violence against children has been documented. Here, over 70 percent of children are out of school, the highest proportion of children without education in the world, according to the UN. Fore plans to use education and work programmes including local and multinational companies that can bring children between the age of 10 and 18 into their work and teach them skills.

February 2018


Education reaches Afghan girls online

It is heartening news for children in Afghanistan. The Kandahar Institute of Modern Studies (KIMS), which is a private education centre that has been operating in the Taliban hub of Kandahar, has been enabling the education of women and girls through online tuition from teachers thousands of miles away in the US and Canada. This is especially significant as the Taliban militants had outlawed education for females and restricted women to their houses after they had seized control in the southern Kandahar province in the 1990s. The Taliban had gone on to extend their rule across almost the whole of Afghanistan, until they were finally subdued in late 2001. Kandahar had experienced horrendous terrorist attacks, suicide car bombings,

attacks on civilians, and acid attacks on girls for more than a decade. But now it is regarded as one of the less strife-torn regions of Afghanistan, which is still facing rebellion. In these times of relative peace, women’s education is starting to receive some attention again. KIMS, for instance, has been facilitating the education of girls via online facilities in Kandahar free of charge. So far, 550 girls have benefited from the project. The online education centre is aiming to expand its activities in the future. The growing refrain among women in Afghanistan is that times are changing and education for women is vital for the country’s development. That girls should be allowed to learn and serve the nation, is a sentiment that is spreading.

‘130 million girls aren't in school and 500 million women can't read or write’ According to Golden Globe nominated British-Nigerian actor David Oyelowo, “If we don't make investments into global education, we're risking mass displacement and destabilisation as the effects of extreme poverty, climates, and ideology threaten our world.” Oyelowo hopes that when world leaders gather for a pivotal education financing summit in Dakar, Senegal on February 2, they will deliver. As both a British and Nigerian citizen, he has seen and heard both sides of the argument for supporting countries such as Nigeria – and regions such as Africa – in the fight against poverty, extremism, inequality and corruption. Through his work and experience around the kidnapped Chibok girls of Nigeria, he learned how profoundly education can affect a girl’s life-chances – delaying early marriage, reducing family size and boosting her lifetime earning potential. These benefits also have a ripple effect, helping to lift families and communities out of poverty, hunger, and disease. He believes that educating girls can lead a developing nation to long-term economic development, prosperity and stability. He also believes that aid money fails to deliver when there is no clear strategy to fight corruption and no public plan for how the money will be spent. He supports the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), which supports innovative, citizen-led solutions that involve people in how their education budgets are spent. The GPE gives citizen-led organisations the resources they need to track whether aid money is really getting to those schools that need it, and to ensure students are receiving the quality education they have been promised. This approach protects against corruption and improves value for money. He believes that all aid should be programmed in this smart, strategic, data-driven and highly accountable fashion.

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TRENDING The RTE has been able to increase enrolment of students in schools but a large number of students are dropping out as guaranteed education under RTE Act ends at the age of 14. This is one of the key findings of the Annual School Education Report (ASER-Rural). The drop in enrolment is higher for girl students. A reason for the dropout could also be the 'no detention' policy under which students cannot be failed until class 8. This is the first time that ASER has surveyed students older than 14. The survey shows that while only 4.7% males and 5.7% females at age 14 were not enrolled in a school, at age 18 the percentage of male students out of school shoots up to 27.8 and for female students, the figure is 32.1%. While the survey found 42% of all youth to be working, 76.8% of males and 89.4% females were involved in household work. The study found 79% of the people to be involved in agriculture, almost all on family farmland. The report also generated professional aspirations with men being more

Poll finds large number of students dropping out at 14

inclined to joining the army, the police or becoming engineers, while the

women showed a preference for careers in teaching or nursing.

Man raises funds to educate poor children by selling tea

D. Parkash Rao, a Class 11 dropout who sells tea near Gopabandhu Bhawan at Buxi Bazar in Cuttack city, has received many accolades for his humanitarian work. The tea-seller makes a little over Rs.700 a day. He has set up a school, Asha-Aswaswana (Hope and Assurance), with a mission to uplift children of economically deprived sections of the society, including slum dwellers and daily-wage earners. The school opened its doors in 2000 in Rao’s two room tenement but has over 75 students now who are mostly children of domestic maids and daily wage workers. The school is from pre-nursery up to class 3 and on passing out from this school the children get admission at the local primary and upper primary schools. Mr Rao said, “I always live with a mission. I know I cannot do big things and donate huge sums of money for charity, but at least I can bring a change by imparting education to underprivileged children.” Students from reputed institutes from the city visit the school to help teach these students. Mr. Rao makes around Rs.21,000 per month, out of which he pays the four teachers he has employed in his school a salary of Rs.2000 each. The remaining funds take care of his family. Mr. Rao is fluent in English, Hindi,

Telugu, Bengali, Odia and Urdu. He receives no aid from the government but he serves food to his students with his meagre resources. “My mother worked as a housemaid. We four siblings used to survive on a single meal a day. Sometimes, we starved. So, I decided to at least provide mid-day meal to my students,” Mr Rao said. He also said, “When I was a student, I dreamt big — a good education and then a good job. However, poor financial condition forced me to give up my dreams. I began helping my father D. Krishna Rao, a World War II veteran, who ran a tea-stall to support a family of six members. I dropped out of Class 11. Now I don't have any regret of giving up my dreams. Educating these children gives me enough satisfaction.” Rao has also been donating blood for the last four decades. So far he has donated blood 213 times and blood platelets 17 times. Having been admitted once to This hospital for treating tuberculosis in his spinal cord and paraplegia, he had realised how rural patients were struggling to get blood. “Many of my former students, who are now pursuing higher studies, are doing well in their respective courses and classes,” Mr Rao said, with pride. He also identifies the hidden talent in the slum children and grooms them. Some of the children have excelled in sports and other activities.

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EXPERT SPEAK

Asking Good Questions to Foster Deeper Thinking Cindy Terebush, CPC, CYPFC, is the author of Teach the Whole Preschooler: Strategies for Nurturing Developing Minds. She has spent almost 20 years working in the field of education, with experience teaching and directing in daycare, preschool and school age programs. A sought after speaker and professional development provider, she is a Child Development Associate (CDA) Professional Development Specialist & Lead Instructor and a New Jersey Workforce Registry Approved Trainer & Technical Assistance Specialist.

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Cindy Terebush, author of Teach the Whole Preschooler: Strategies for Nurturing Developing Minds, on developing critical thinking, socialization and other skills by asking the right questions

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o you want to stretch the thinking of young children? You don’t need fancy and expensive toys, tablets or endless worksheets. In fact, those items can impede deeper learning. You need something that cannot be purchased. You need an understanding of good questions. Good questions make people think. Good questions in the early childhood years lay a foundation for later reading comprehension and scientific analysis. They help children to think on a higher level than they would if you were not in the room. Really meaningful questions cannot be answered with a simple yes, no or one word answer. They require us to take a moment, ponder the situation and consider our reply. You know what good questions are – they make you say, “Hmm – that’s a good question. I have to think about it.” Though we recognize them when they are asked of us, we too often only ask simple, one-dimensional questions when we speak with children. If you are going to ask a question when speaking with your child and it starts with “What is..,” or “Which one….” please stop. “What” and “Which one” questions tend to require only a quick answer that doesn’t encourage critical thinking. I was working with two children who were up to their elbows in paint. Both young children painted what looked like blobs to me but I know that they are meaningful to the children. An adult came over to the table and said, “What is that?” One child responded, “A car.” The other child pointed to his painting and said, “My dog.” I turned to the children and said, “Tell me about your painting.” The first child who had initially simply said, “Car” now added, “It’s a fast race car that goes on a track like my cousin showed me.” We were able to have a conversation about race cars, her cousin and a new vocabulary word that I introduced – aerodynamic. The second child who painted the dog said, “Mine is my dog. She has a big cone on her head.” We talked about when the dog got the cone from the veterinarian. I asked why the dog has the cone and how the

cone helps the dog. Engage young children’s capacity to think about their actions, help them to learn the conventions of conversation and create critical thinkers throughout the day by asking: Why? It is their favorite question and should be ours, too. When young children make statements, I ask, “Why?” Why are you wearing that headband today? Why did you go to grandma’s house? Why do you want to use the Play Doh? When we ask why, not only do children have to consider their actions, they see us as curious. Adults who model curiosity help to promote wonder and curiosity in children. How? and How else…? Draw analysis out of the children by asking them to consider how things happen rather than telling them. Ask them how else something might be done or what else they could try. Analytical thinking will help them with so many school and life lessons as they continue to learn and grow. Tell me about… I want to have discussions so I have to encourage children to tell me about objects, experiences and events. “Tell me about…” encourages elaboration on a thought and descriptive language. “Tell me about…” includes: Tell me about your day. Tell me about your favorite part of the

day. Tell me about your picture. Tell me about your favorite part of what you made. Tell me about your class. Tell me about a funny thing that happened. There are so very many “Tell me abouts...” Any open ended question … that requires more than one or two words to answer. Any question that does not have a right or wrong answer so children can bravely state their opinions and thoughts about their world. Not everything should be graded or feel like a quiz and certainly there is room for subjective thinking in conversation. In today’s world, young children will need critical thinking skills to discern fact from fiction. They will need to have an advantage if they have developed socialization skills and not just technology skills. They need us to help them to think more deeply so they can become the creators, innovators and great thinkers in a time when those skills may lack. Gone are the days of endless socialization outside until the street lights come on. We learned so much from our interactions out in the neighborhood. If we are intentional, we can help children to learn those skills from our good questions.

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EXPERT SPEAK

Nature Pedagogy – The art of teaching inside, outside and beyond Claire Warden is an International consultant and author based in Scotland. Her many and varied roles have included Deputy Headteacher, Policy advisor and a Lecturer in Education. Her consultancy delivers Nature Pedagogy and International Forest Schools training through practical, hybrid and online training courses and webinars. www.claire-warden.com Claire is the founder of the International Association of Nature Pedagogy www.naturepedagogy.com

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Claire Warden sheds light on nature pedagogy, which is an approach to teaching and learning which puts nature at the heart of what we do

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ducation is a blend of experiences, which draws on culture, community and curriculum. Everywhere I work there exists a unique blend of educational elements, which create wonderful learning spaces for children and young people. There are also spaces that are adequate, but which are not inspiring places to learn. These schools and settings tend to have invested too much in the functional aspects of tables and chairs, without considering

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that tables do not make a school; dynamic teaching and empowered learning does. There is a global movement to learn outside the classroom, to find a way of integrating the natural world into all our work, in order to make it more meaningful, real and effective for children and young people. In some countries, the drive has come from a sustainability agenda, whereas others have health concerns rooted in sedentary childhoods, whilst research drives other groups to explore how children learn and how we can create an educa-


tion system that supports citizens for the future. Irrespective of the agenda, the message is clear; children enjoy learning in environments, which embrace the natural world. The question is really one of how we can best achieve this. Is a plant on a table enough, or do we need to embrace a more dynamic way of teaching, which builds on children’s fascination with the natural world? There are many aspects to consider the inside learning environment, accountability to a curriculum, the quality of school grounds, the resources available, or indeed the enthusiasm of the adults to be outside. All of these can be addressed through a deeper understanding of nature pedagogy, which is an approach to teaching and learning which puts nature at the heart of what we do. Nature pedagogy runs beneath many recognised models of education, such as Forest School, Nature Kindergartens, Nature Schools, and Outdoor Nurseries, as well as being fundamental to more traditional outdoor play areas, outdoor classrooms or school grounds. When nature pedagogy is fully embedded, it links learning across three nominal spaces, from inside the building, outside into the school grounds and beyond into the wider environment and community. Many models, such as Forest School, go beyond the school boundary to places where nature is less controlled. This may be a forest, beach or park, which provides an environment for play and learning that develops physical, cognitive, emotional and social skills within the context of activity. Through researching many models of outdoor learning, I developed a continuum of nature-based practice. It allows us to consider the quality of our practice within the context of nature pedagogy. When we analyse the use of time, space, resources and the adult role we see patterns develop. At the right hand end of the continuum are the models of education that integrate nature pedagogy into their practice. In this holistic pedagogy, cognitive development is integrated with the emotional, social and physical health of children. This is achieved in a number of ways e.g. through designing an effective indoor space, time spent in nature and the contexts and methods used for learning. In a system that requires evidence for assess-

Diagram 1. The Nature Pedagogy ContinuumŠ Claire Warden 2015. Learning with Nature- Embedding Outdoor Practice. Sage Pub.London.

ment, the learning is made visible through Participatory Planning in a Floorbook. These collaborative, group books promote the thinking skills of curiosity, problem solving and analysis, creativity through engaging enquiries, or projects. This allows teachers to integrate learning wherever it takes place. It could take place inside the classroom, but this is then applied to nature-based contexts in the school grounds and then extended through more far-reaching experiences in nature. The example below is taken from a project on stability and structures. The Floorbook pages show the application of knowledge about pivot points and balance in the creation of a den outside. The experience changed children’s thinking, which was evident when they came to draw their structures inside the classroom. The flow of learning across the spaces of inside to outside and beyond into the community is a key part of this approach. In the central area of the continuum are models that spend some of their time engaged in learning outside the classroom. One of these models is Forest school and is a model of working with children for regular (often weekly), short visits to a forest or beach. Children from 5-12 years old spend at least half a day away from the classroom in a natural space in the local community engaged in a pro-

gramme of traditional skills of using tools, shelter building and cooking on a fire, understanding of the natural world and risk assessment processes. Through the process of small, meaningful, achievable, realistic targets (S.M.A.R.T.) children develop self-regulation, confidence, social interaction and enthusiasm through active, energetic learning. I have seen children transformed when they move outside the confines of a school. Forest school develops a positive space where children are encouraged to push their own boundaries physically, mentally and emotionally. In a world that has removed childhood from children, the short blocks of time are often their first introduction to the freedom of childhood, where they can climb trees, make a den with friends and share stories around a fire. Through training adults to understand and use nature pedagogy, we can move outside the confines of a building to embrace all that the natural world has to offer. When a teacher can see learning taking place, whether it is during a halfday Forest School session or embedded across teaching and learning, they begin to realise how little value the tables and chairs really have! What really makes a difference is a dynamic teacher and a natural world of fascination to explore.

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EXPERT SPEAK

Happiness in Early Childhood Curriculum Karma Gayleg works as Programme Leader and Coordinator for Early Childhood Development in Bhutan. He has had the opportunity to work with communities, international agencies and non-government organizations. A member of international agencies such as ARNEC and the World Forum for Early Childhood as a Global Leader for Young Children, Steering Committee Member and National Representative, his expertise is in early childhood programme development, management and governance; curriculum development and training of early childhood professionals.

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Karma Gayleg, Bhutan on the need for happiness in early childhood curriculum to enable children to grow up to be able to maintain their own well-being and respect and contribute to others’ as well

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hildren are born and raised in different situations. Many children grow up in the confines of multi storied apartments with excessive exposure to unguided electronic media, unlimited screen time and little orientation to the natural world and society. Many others grow up in difficult circumstances with little nourishment for the body and the mind, some not even having seen a book or a toy until they go to school. In both cases, there is either an over stimulation or a deficit in areas where they have to develop well if they are to succeed in in school and in life. The environment in which children grow up today is inconsistent and unstable, with constantly changing social and economic dynamics, making it hard to imagine how the future in which children will live and work will turn out to be like. The uncertainty poses significant challenge for society and families in how children should be nurtured and prepared. In such a landscape, the need to raise and prepare future citizens who are knowledgeable, resilient and caring people, firmly rooted in their identity with wings that can navigate winds of uncertain change seems to be necessary, now more than ever before. Even as trends in the direction in which the world is headed change and the confusion over how to prepare citizens of the future remains unclear, the fact that building strong and resilient children begins in the early years remain irrefutable as the science of early childhood development continues to grow more emphatic. Because of this, it is now clear that experience builds brain architecture and that the first five years are the most sensitive and critical for laying the foundation of

a strong architecture for an optimally functioning brain. The need for interventions that provide meaningful experiences for present wellbeing and future success appears indispensable. So, what Dorothy Nolte has said, ‘children learn what they live’, seems to be something both theory and wisdom agree with for strong foundations, and the quality of what children experience in their childhood as a key determinant of how they learn and develop. This implies that the early childhood curriculum be designed to provide wholesome quality experiences that contribute to building knowledge, skills and attitudes in all areas of development, with emphasis not just on cognitive abilities but also on social and emotional competencies. This necessitates the search for a curriculum that blends developmental science and traditional wisdom. In Bhutan, the idea of Gross National Happiness is a central underpinning for all endeavours in social and economic development, where the four domains of equitable economic development, cultural promotion and diversity, environment conservation and good governance are emphasized. Happiness as espoused in the concept is defined not just as individual gratification over attainment of personal goals but includes contentment, communal harmony and peace. In the context of the wider aspiration for happy individuals and harmonious communities, there is an expectation of positive human development outcome, where human qualities of self-discipline, empathy and compassion are desired. Considering that much of the values, attitudes and dispositions of human beings are formed and shaped in the early years of life, the need for proper care and stimulation of young children, particularly from conception to age eight, is recognized as being fundamental to an individual’s holistic development and wellbeing. Thus, the amalgamation of happiness as an aspiration fits well with theory both in design and practice for an early childhood curriculum that is grounded in the immediate environment within which children grow up and guided by principles of developmentally appropriate practice. If the early childhood curriculum is to be child centred and contextualized as science suggests, the early learning and

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EXPERT SPEAK

development standards should form the basic framework for any programme that aims to promote holistic development, with the age specific standards and indicators as curriculum goals and a curriculum implementation guide essentially to show how the principles can be implemented. Such a model of curriculum emphasizes the need to not just promote development in cognition, language, literacy, numeracy and arts but also addresses wellbeing and happiness. In addition to the conventional learning goals in emergent literacy, math and science, the happiness perspective in an early childhood curriculum includes the following goals, which are aligned with both theoretical principles and the goals of gross national happiness. Learning self-help and life skills Even though self-help is emphasized in early childhood curriculum through daily practices in self-care activates and engagement in chores, there is often not enough emphasis on social emotional learning and life skills to develop social, emotional and thinking skills. The happiness oriented curriculum places equal emphasis on social emotional learning to help children develop the five core competencies which are self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, social relation-

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ships and responsible decision making, through creating congenial environments and meaningful activities. Learning of culture and language Children do not develop in a vacuum. Culture is the bedrock on which children build their understanding of their immediate surrounding and make sense of the world. Language, particularly the home language is the tool that helps children understand culture through communication and interaction with parents, adults and other children. From the happiness perspective, inclusion of learning of the home language and culture in the curriculum contributes to not just building knowledge about children’s own culture and that of others, but also fosters confidence in exploring, inquiring and learning and gives meaning to what they learn. Culture and language could be promoted through project based activities, immersion in cultural activities such as festivals, events, stories, songs, dance, music and art. Learning about and from the environment (environment conservation) For children to grow up as individuals who understand, appreciate, respect and care for the environment, they need to

February 2018

have opportunities to experience, learn and observe such attitudes and behaviours being exhibited and encouraged. Therefore, a happiness curriculum should include and emphasize learning from and with the environment, integrated in the physical environment, practices, activities and content of programmes. Learning Mindfulness Mindfulness is an important skill for children as well as adults, which helps to be present in the moment and focus on the task on hand. Mindfulness training is basically meditation, which helps to maintain peace of mind, concentrate and maintain focus for longer time. The inclusion of mindfulness in the early childhood curriculum can help to reduce distractive and agitative behaviour and enhance attention span, concentration and clear thinking resulting in effective learning. Happiness should be an integral part of the early childhood curriculum because children should be able to grow up to be able to manage themselves and be happy, no matter what they do or where they live in the world, so that they grow up being able to maintain one’s own well-being and respect and contribute to others’ wellbeing and happiness.


EXPERT SPEAK

Supporting effective ‘school readiness’ within all children Kathryn Peckham MA (Ed) AFHEA is an Early Childhood consultant and author. She has many years of experience bringing about progressive change throughout a wide range of early childhood settings and environments. Active participation with All Party Parliamentary Groups, lecturing, writing and research in early childhood, she works with a range of settings, helping them implement best practice from around the world, combined with knowledge of delivering practice in the real world.

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Kathryn Peckham believes key personal attributes and relevant experiences need embedding throughout early childhood, to secure the building blocks needed for future success

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reparing children for the rigours of formal education has roots within the earliest stages of life. A process often grossly misunderstood, demands for children ‘ready to learn’ arouses deep tensions, flying as it does in the face of deeply held beliefs regarding children’s holistic learning needs and abilities to learn from birth. The term ‘school readiness’, originally introduced in England as a performance indicator for Children’s Centres, has more recently become equated with assessment at the end of Reception year at school when children are typically five years old. Such narrow views of what constitutes an ‘ideal learner’ raises several questions; • How can assessment at the end of Reception indicate readiness for formal schooling which has, in many significant ways, already begun? • In what context are judgements being made, and by whom? • Can all significant achievements be effectively judged within prescribed goals? • Can any set criteria be meaningfully matched to all children regardless of background and early childhood experiences? • What impact could this have on practice and priorities? As we consider the overwhelming influence of effective beginnings on children’s futures we must explore practice beyond learning goals and government directed assessment targets to consider deeper attributes of holistic learning in the support of children and their families. By recognising children’s diversity and the wide-ranging abilities and skills required within the formal classroom we can begin to challenge the current rhetoric of children starting from deficit positions, seen somehow as potentially ‘unready to learn’. Being ready and able for an auspicious start to school life is the right and need of every child. Preparing children for this transition, into an environment with many developmental, individual, interactional and contextual challenges, is a holistic process spanning all preceding years, involving home, school and setting. With adult prospects recognisable within skills and abilities already established at 22months-old, the influential impact of effective parenting, the home environment, maternal and child health and early childhood care and education is clear. With direct impact on language

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EXPERT SPEAK

acquisition, self-regulation and confidence, early influences are felt throughout children’s school experience and into adult life, effecting employment, social integration and criminality with effects felt throughout the family structure. However, school leaders in disadvantaged communities often report weak parenting skills, impacted through negative parental experiences, mental health issues and low aspirations for their children. Limited life experiences offered to these children results in complex challenges including low levels of social skills and communication. These challenges must be met by understanding the relative ease with which vital early experiences can be offered to all children within sensory experiences and environments ready to adapt to their needs. Born eager to learn, children react to all lessons offered to them as basic brain architecture and the systems deployed within its development sees growth with every sensory experience. Demonstrating its potential most eloquently within situations that matter, such as encountering problem solving scenarios, it does not do as well within demonstrated displays of knowledge, as in rote learning or test conditions. Predisposed to engaging in multifaceted, hierarchical, cyclical and spiralling learning processes more com-

plex and important than the simple bestowing of information, these lay the building blocks for more complex functions of problem solving, reasoning and planning to follow. However, these capabilities are in danger of being lost if natural attempts at learning are undervalued or superseded by other demands. Children disengage as opportunities to make decisions and self-direct diminish. If their earliest experiences are unmatched to their learning needs or are out of context with their reality, as is often experienced by children living in difficult situations, or where there is an emphasis on pre-determined outcomes within pre-determined timeframes, such deeply unfulfilling and frustrating learning experiences can introduce a sense of failure. Psychological and social issues often follow, specifically disadvantaging the children whose experiences beyond school limit their ability to succeed within this model – the very children we most need to reach. If children’s natural learning processes are denied, limited, devalued or continuously interrupted, the message is introduced that their natural attempts at learning are simply not worth their efforts. Children need: A voice - Opportunity to express their opinions and feelings, meaning, reasoning and thinking as children

learn to vocalise ideas and experiences, through imaginative discussions, listening and responding others in increasingly sophisticated ways To be encouraged - Supported, challenged and stimulated, children will rehearse, adapt, revisit, improve and perfect understanding in ways meaningful to them, becoming independent learners. Quality relationships - through social, cooperative play, social skills and behaviours, self-confidence, independence and the ability to cooperate with others flourish, supporting feelings of belonging and well-being. Risky challenge - allowing for careful judgment where possible harm is balanced against potential benefit children learn through their errors, misunderstandings and conflicts. Creative opportunities - free from adverse stresses of conformity or imposed sense of failure. All set within self-motivated, diverse, accessible and practical experiences of real-life problem solving and exploration. Set within children’s own timescales, they are permitted freedom to initiate and combine experiences, to practice and explore intellectual processes, together with time to wallow and consolidate. As intrinsic motivations, interest, confidence and selfregulation blooms, diverse thinking and reflection found in symbolic and abstract thought has an opportunity to flourish. Meaningful opinions, stories and perspectives shared through their own narratives are more easily shared and deeply understood within cooperative situations as contextual and interesting environments allow for an emotional togetherness. Children who start school well, happy to explore, to take risks and experiment, even when making mistakes, start school with a belief in their own abilities. They have a greater chance of future success, unlocking their potential with repercussions felt throughout a lifetime. But to realise this, key personal attributes and relevant experiences need embedding throughout early childhood, securing the building blocks needed for future success. For more information and practical guidance on developing the features of lifelong learning please access my book, Developing School Readiness, Creating Lifelong Learners or get in contact at www.kathrynpeckham.co.uk.

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EXPERT SPEAK

Bridging The Gap To Successful & Happy Little Ones Sue Atkins is an internationally recognised Parenting Expert, Broadcaster, Speaker and Author of the Amazon best-selling books “Parenting Made Easy – How to Raise Happy Children” & “Raising Happy Children for Dummies" one in the famous black and yellow series as well as author of the highly acclaimed Parenting Made Easy CDs, Apps and resources. She has just launched her new ‘Can Do Kid’ Journal to give children the gift of self-esteem and self-confidence, as well as ‘The Divorce Journal for Children’ & her Parenting Club. Sue produces ‘The Sue Atkins Parenting Show’ a weekly podcast which is bursting with Sue’s practical ideas, techniques and down to earth strategies for raising happy, confident, resilient children with strong self-esteem. Sue offers practical guidance for bringing up happy, confident, well behaved children from toddler to teen.

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Sue Atkins on the importance of creating a strong parent partnership within childcare settings for raising happy, confident, resilient children

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arents are the most important people in their children’s early lives. Children learn about the world and their place in it through their conversations, play activities, and routines with their parents, families and carers. Parents can also support children’s learning in outof-home settings, such as childminding settings, crèches, playgroups, preschools, and primary schools, therefore by working together parents and practitioners can really enhance children’s learning, development and confidence. Most parents are keen to support, nurture and become involved in their

child’s learning but parents need support at some time or another due to lack of confidence, lack of knowledge, or lack of experience, then coupled with possible financial worries, family issues, a major life change like the loss of a loved one, or ill health so during those times they may need extra help, support and understanding. Time constraints, social and economic background, cultural identity, discrimination, poverty, previous negative experiences, literacy difficulties, language, or different disabilities, can also make it difficult for parents to participate in their children’s learn-

ing and development as much as they might like to. Some parents worry that they will be judged and are shy to come forward to ask. Therefore, parent partnerships can benefit all children and can be especially important for these families. Parents are children's first and most enduring educators as well as their primary role models, so nurturing a strong and positive partnership with parents and carers is essential if early years practitioners are to plan effectively for a child's learning. A genuine commitment to working cooperatively with parents should be a feature of any high-quality setting and should impact on every aspect of practice. Practitioners build up invaluable expertise, knowledge and understanding in how young children learn and in how each child interacts within that setting. But it is the parent who knows their child best, and unless there is a sharing of information between practitioners and parents, a child's learning needs will be neither fully understood nor, ultimately, met, as part of the whole child’s experience is missing. Working together builds bridges of understanding, not walls between you. Why are parent partnerships so important? • Parents know their children best • It helps the child to feel safe and secure while in the setting if they see that their parents feel comfortable there. • To create a shared level of expectation • To information share about new levels of development, any concerns and any new likes or dislikes • To keep up to date with what is happening outside the setting, especially if the home situation may be causing problems for the child • Parents can feel secure to seek advice, help and support should they need it • To make transitions throughout the setting smooth • Improve practice and outcomes for the children, ensuring every

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EXPERT SPEAK face go a long way to building good relationships. Meetings should be conducted in an atmosphere of mutual respect and practitioners should act as genuine listeners, responding to what they hear from the parent and not allowing discussions to be driven by a pre-set agenda based on what has been observed in the nursery. Make sure your attitude is free from judgement, criticism and thinking that you know better. There should be an emphasis on celebrating what the child has achieved and on looking for ways of building on their current interests and achievements together. You are all part of a wonderful jigsaw supporting the child. The best attitude and ethos to develop is a holistic one where planning together enhances the child’s all round long term learning and positive experiences. Sharing information about the curriculum child has their full individual needs met. Sharing information about the child It’s a good idea to have the mind-set and attitude of openness and sharing as that will create natural opportunities for talking to parents about their child's learning informally, and spontaneously. If practitioners manage their time effectively, they can be available for informal conversations at dropping-off and picking-up times, so allowing a culture of informal information sharing to develop. A trusting and warm relationship between key worker and parents begins with the initial contact meeting, and it is crucial that, from the start, parents understand that staff value and actively welcome their knowledge and understanding of their child. However, it may not always be possible for practitioners to speak to parents on a day-to-day basis about their child's learning milestones, current interests or recent experiences. Parents' working hours may prevent them from having daily or even regular contact of any kind with the nursery, and a twoway diary can be useful where contact time between practitioner and parent

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is limited or even a quick email works if the tone is conversational and friendly. Learning Journals, coffee mornings, cake sales, advice workshops, interactive display boards, progress summary sheets and regular newsletters are also all great ways to keep parents up to date with latest topics, events and the learning that has taken place that week, month or term. On some occasions, it may be the key worker who is unavailable to talk to the parent, perhaps because of other professional commitments. In such cases, practitioners should make it clear to the parent that they will arrange a convenient time to discuss the child's progress as it is important to them to liaise and interact with them personally about the child in their care. The message is clear, ‘Your child matters and is important to us.’ Practitioners should try to engage both parents where possible and to make sure that their setting is a place where both male and female parents or carers feel at ease, relaxed and comfortable. Where there is a true commitment to parent partnership, practitioners can be innovative and creative in their time management to ensure that they reach all parents. A cup of tea and a smiling

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• In a high-quality setting, practitioners will share with parents, information about the Foundation Stage curriculum and about young children as learners, as opportunities arise. Group parents’ meetings are an excellent way to: • Explain the setting plans and assessments and a child's learning within the six areas of learning • Discuss the importance of the learning process • Highlight high-quality learning experiences with no concrete outcome • Emphasise the importance of child-initiated learning • Talk about schemes • Discuss appropriate expectations and contexts for learning. Creating a strong parent partnership is highly important within childcare settings for raising happy, confident, resilient children. There can be challenges along the way when trying to communicate with parents, however by trying different tactics and strategies eventually you will find effective ways to build that important bridge between home and nursery that will empower children to bloom, thrive and blossom.


EXPERT SPEAK

What does ‘respect’ mean for infants and toddlers in early childhood centres? Toni Christie is the Director of Childspace Early Childhood Institute in Wellington, New Zealand. She holds a Master's degree in Education and her research interests include infants and toddlers, environment design, nature education and leadership. Toni enjoys her many roles as Director, author, editor, marriage celebrant, speaker, musician, wife and mother.

From inviting infants to engage and waiting for their approval prior to interacting with them to interpreting children’s intentions by peacefully observing them, Toni Christie explores how respect is the most significant aspect of care and education

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espect is the most significant aspect of care and education with infants and toddlers in centre-based care. Defined as ‘treating with consideration’, respect was the overarching feature underpinning the

values and actions of teachers in a recent research project undertaken in a New Zealand infant and toddler centre. The overall aim of the study was to explore these practices for the benefit of other practitioners wanting to emulate a similar environment.

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EXPERT SPEAK Introduction This article is based on the findings from my master’s thesis completed in 2010. I undertook a qualitative case study that investigated the practices of primary care, freedom of children’s movement to enhance their physical capabilities, and respect for children’s confidence and competence. The case study centre caters for twenty children under two years of age and is open from 7.30am until 6pm Monday to Friday. The ratio is 1:4 with a centre manager who works on the floor but outside of the ratio. The centre is divided into three distinct areas; the infant room, the toddler room and an outdoor area. There are eight infants with two teachers in the infant room and twelve toddlers with three teachers in the toddler room. My research was conducted in the infant room and the teaching staff observed and interviewed for the research were the two infant teachers and the centre manager. Observation data was gathered by nonparticipant pen and paper observations and video recording. Documentation records such as ERO reports, prospectus information, children’s individual discovery projects, wall displays, newsletters and information for parents were useful in triangulating data generated by observations and teacher interviews as well as a parent focus group interview. A thematic coding of observational and interview data was used to interpret and analyse the data. Teachers at the case study centre engaged in ways that would suggest they accept each person as an individual with rights and freedoms. Teachers invited children to engage with them, and no action would be initiated for or with a child without his or her agreement. This agreement was shown through the children’s cues and gestures, to which the teachers were all highly attuned. Teachers slowed their pace intentionally and offered children choices in their care and education. Close observation of the children by the teachers enhanced their ability to interpret individual children’s needs and wants. The teachers would then offer support for children rather than intervene unnecessarily. Ethics of care The ethics of care discourse provided

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an important background to my study. The notions of empathy and respect at the heart of the ‘ethics of care’ discourse are prevalent in the feminist moral theory literature (Goldstein, 1998; Dahlberg & Moss, 2005; Noddings, 1984; Tronto, 1993). The general premise of the ethics of care debate is that “caring is not something you are, but rather something you engage in, something you do” (Goldstein, 1998, p. 247). The word ‘care’, as it pertains to teaching, is often linked to feelings, personality traits, or a person’s temperament. However, Goldstein argues, this simplistic view of care obscures the “complexity and intellectual challenge of work with young children” (p. 245). Noddings (1984) is in agreement with Goldstein and states: “Caring involves stepping out of one’s own personal frame of reference and into the other’s” (p. 24). Noddings calls this motivational shift of putting aside your own choices, preferences, ideas, and really receiving another person as “motivational displacement” (p. 24). This shift “compels the one-caring to give primacy, even if momentarily, to the goals and needs of the cared-for” (Goldstein, 1998, p. 246). This motivational displacement coupled with peaceful observation (see later section) will lead the one caring to support the one cared for in a manner most suited to the cared for. For example, a teacher may believe that a child has no need or use for a security toy, but in reading the gestures and cues of the infant (peaceful observation) may offer the infant their security toy against their own beliefs (motivational displacement).

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Teachers invite children to engage Interactions with children at the case study centre would most often begin with some form of invitation to interact by the teacher. Usually this would take the form of a verbal invitation accompanied by outstretched open hands with palms facing up. After this initial verbal and physical invitation, the caregiver would wait for a response. The response time from the child varied. The one constant in this sequence of events was that nothing happened until the child agreed: Interaction between Kea [teacher] and Charlotte [infant] (All participants’ names are pseudonyms.) “Would you like a nappy change?” she says the words and offers opened arms and hands. When Charlotte doesn’t react Kea says “I’ll wait until you are ready.” [Adding] “You let me know when you are ready” Charlotte thought for about 30 seconds and then bumshuffled, waving her hands over to Kea who scooped her into her waiting open hands and arms and took her for a nappy change. (Observation from video)

data transcribed

In this exchange the child is offered the choice and therefore holds the power over when her nappy is changed. This was very typical of the interactions at


the case study centre. A teacher would initiate with a verbal invitation, always accompanied by open hands held out as a gesture of invitation. Then the teacher would wait for the child’s assent which would usually be a physical sign such as tipping forwards into the open arms or putting their hands up to be carried or moving closer to be picked up. An invitation and explanation is a simple matter of respect. This can be understood in another scenario: for example, imagine being asked, being heard, and holding the power yourself in matters affecting your physical wellbeing. For most adults this is accepted as a basic human right. Now imagine someone physically lifting or interfering with you in any way to which you have not consented. In the second instance, when you were not invited or consulted, the experience is one of powerlessness. You might feel more like an object rather than a human being with individual thoughts, opinions, freedoms and rights! Unhurried time In order to give infants unhurried time, teachers themselves have to make a commitment to slow down and be emotionally ‘present’ with infants (Kovach & Da Ros-Voseles, 2008). The following is an example of how teachers were unhurried in their interactions with infants at the case study centre: When Tui comes back to the nursery Kea has been cuddling Max and Tui heats his bottle. She gently removes his jersey. This is a slow process and she talks to him about how she is moving his body. Tui takes Max and the bottle through to the sleep room. Tui cuddles Max as she feeds him his bottle. Ben is not yet asleep and he calls out when Max makes some sounds prior to his bottle coming. Max stops to have a look at the moving stars and Tui waits patiently until he wants his bottle again. She tries again but Max moves his head indicating he has had enough… “OK shall we put you to bed then?” She puts Max into his bed and strokes his head. She hums along with the music that is playing and Max makes little snuffling sleepy noises while she hums. He plays with her hand which is not stroking his head. Ben lets out some sounds and Max makes a small complaint. Not enough for Tui to take him out of bed. Max yawns and Tui rubs

his chest gently. Max experiments with sounds and Ben joins in a little bit. Now Tui is rubbing his chest gently with one hand and his head with the other. Max’ eyes close and Tui stays with him a while longer continuing to rub his chest. When she is sure he’s asleep she gently removes her hand from his chest and fluidly secures the side of his cot and removes herself from his cot. She sits listening to Ben for a while: I think she is deciding whether she should allow him to see her as till this point though he has heard her he hasn’t seen her. He holds his hands out to Tui to indicate that he needs her. She picks him up and suggests they go and change his nappy. (Observation data transcribed from video) The observation above is evidence of the teacher’s commitment to slowing her pace and providing valuable, uninterrupted, quality time and attention to the infant. When she does this she demonstrates her ability to empathise with the infant and understand from his perspective what the experience of going to sleep at the centre must feel like. One parent at the focus group interview described a workshop (run by the teachers at the case study centre) where she and her husband, along with other partners present, had to feed each other:

When asked about this in the teacher interviews they would explain their intention is to reinforce the idea that this is the children’s space and teachers do not want to do anything that will disturb that slow, peaceful space and pace. This practice of taking adequate time deepens teachers’ awareness and knowledge of each child, sensed by their behaviour, body language and expressions. In the case above, the cues suggested Max might be a bit tired. Talking to him about tiredness and suggesting a sleep allowed the child to be the decision maker in the process. My research indicated that when teachers give their time they show value for the person with whom they are engaged. When we rush an interaction we run the risk of leaving the person with whom we are interacting feeling unsatisfied and undervalued by the experience. Each child will have his or her own rhythm and pace. Respectful practice involves stepping out of personal rhythm and pace and adjusting to that of the infant. For adults generally this is going to mean slowing down a great deal in order to observe and interpret needs, invite children to engage, wait for their response and then engage in the interaction at the child’s pace. Choices are offered

We were role playing and one was the child and the other the adult and we had to role play the scenario where they are rushing the child. Her partner was feeding her yoghurt and talking on his cell phone at the same time and wasn’t allowing her the time to swallow. She said by the end of it she was covered in yoghurt and really angry but the exercise taught her a great lesson about following the child’s lead for when they are ready and how long they might need to swallow. Also, she was annoyed about him talking on the cell phone instead of paying attention to her. (Janine: parent focus group interview) Another aspect of unhurried time is the conscious decision that teachers have made to move slowly and fluidly in the infant room. They move as though they do not want to disturb anything. On several occasions I observed teachers moving slowly and softly, with small, quiet, and fluid movements.

On several occasions I observed teachers offering children choices and one of the most common was to offer children a choice in the colour of the bib they wanted to wear for a mealtime. This was something that happened prior to every meal time and was part of a sequenced routine for children. Wearing a bib indicated that they would have their meal next. I noticed that the action of choosing a bib aided children’s ability to wait for a turn. At mealtimes there were always choices for food prepared by the cook so teachers could cater to children’s individual tastes. Also choices about when children were hungry and wanted to eat were decided by the child. Teachers would offer food and if it was not accepted they would put it away to offer later. Teachers at the case study centre felt that offering children choices was an essential element of their philosophy and practices. Below are examples of the Centre manager’s opinion on the

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EXPERT SPEAK subject of choices: It is important to offer children choices. You know especially infants – they don’t get a lot of choice about anything really. So offering them a choice in anything that involves them gives the power over to them. They can see and feel how powerful they are in decisions which directly affect their wellbeing (Huia: teacher interview). It is important to talk to them about what is going to happen next and giving them the opportunity to respond and be a willing participant. By giving children choices (particularly infants who are often overlooked in this area), they will soon get the idea that their opinion is valued (Huia: teacher interview). Offering choices and inviting children to engage are both important parts of the programme provided at the case study centre. In both of these aspects the teachers consider it essential that they wait for a response. Suskind (1985, cited in Petrie & Owen, 2005, p. 144) calls this time between teacher invitation and child response “tarry time”. This is another important aspect of offering choices which links to the concept of unhurried time. When a choice is offered, teachers need to allow time for a response (and this may take longer than expected in ‘adult time’), and then react according to the wishes of the child. I agree with Brumbaugh (2008) who sums up why it is important to offer children choices succinctly: “When educators trust children to make choices concerning their daily events and activities, they not only create a sense of autonomy, but also an environment of respect” (p. 175). Peaceful observation My findings indicate that through subtle signs and gestures in the presence of sensitive, attuned observers, even the youngest child can express his or her opinion and therefore have his or her human rights upheld (United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, 2003). It is through observation that teachers learn what the child wants, needs, likes, dislikes and also what they are capable of and what their emerging capabilities are. This peaceful observation enables teachers to go further than just feeling empathy. They go beyond “what would I want if I were her?” to actually consider “what does

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she want?” An example was when Kea put away a child’s pacifier because she had thought she did not need it: The child didn’t complain but looked anxious so Kea gave it back and said “Do you feel you need that?” Liv put it down beside her and continued to explore without it. In the example above, Kea felt Liv had no need or use for the pacifier but by paying close attention to the emotions of the child who did not complain but simply looked anxious, was able to interpret the desires of the child. The ethics of care discourse (Goldstein, 1998; Noddings, 1984) would suggest that peaceful observation led Kea to give Liv the pacifier against her own better judgment (motivational displacement) because the ethics of care involve respecting another person enough to understand what they might actually want as opposed to what you think they might want. This same ideology explains why I observed teachers over-riding the guidelines of free movement on occasion at the case study centre. Even though teachers believed strongly in the idea of natural motor progression and un-aided motor development, they would pick up a child who became upset lying on his back, or help him roll back onto his back if he was upset on his tummy, or prop a child to sit if this was a practice they were more

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used to from home. By paying close attention or engaging in attentive, receptive engrossment (Goldstein, 1998) the teacher displaces her own motivation and acts as the child wants, as opposed to the teacher’s own perception of what the child wants. This ability to really see from the perspective of another requires close attention on the part of the teacher. I have labeled it peaceful observation as neither teacher nor child is making any demands of the other. Teachers support rather than intervene The teachers at the case study centre all felt very strongly that support rather than intervention was a mark of respect for the child. They felt that adults generally try to do too much for children and this can have a damaging effect on the child’s perception of themselves as confident and competent learners. The following were some of the comments from the teacher interviews: Our infants are exposed to an environment that respects them for who they are, their wairua (spirit) is nurtured, honoured and celebrated. Our programme encourages our babies to feel secure and safe to make independent choices in all areas of their learning and development. I believe this teaches them a


positive and healthy self-image and, ultimately and optimistically, a healthy world view (Tui: teacher interview). I think respecting children’s confidence and competence provides them with the mana (self-esteem) that comes with working through feelings and emotions. When infants are allowed time and support to work through feelings like frustration they learn to self-regulate, collect themselves and focus. They also learn to trust and feel emotionally secure if they need that extra hand from someone else. Knowing when to lend that hand is really important. Children are capable of so much more than people often give them credit for (Tui: teacher interview). [We believe in] giving children the freedom, and encouraging them to become confident explorers. Being there to support, but not interfere as they figure things out, for example how to use their own bodies to get to where they want to go in their own time (Huia: teacher interview). Brownlee (2009) talks about “a baby’s sacred quest for competence” (p. 4) and discusses why trusting children and waiting and watching is far more beneficial to the child than rushing in to ‘save’ or ‘rescue’ them. When a child learns to master anything on his or her own there is a sense of power and competence that no amount of watching an adult do it for them could possibly hope to emulate.

Summary Actions demonstrating respect include: developing nurturing relationships, predictability, empathy, considering the child as a capable and equal human being, being fully ‘present’ and undertaking peaceful observations to respond sensitively. Respect involves intentional caring or an ethic of care where the teacher is intentionally able to displace her own motivation in order to truly understand the needs and wishes of the child. When teachers invite children to engage, and wait for their agreement prior to engaging, infants are afforded control over their situation. Teachers show respect for infants with their practice in early childhood centres by: •

Inviting infants to engage and waiting for their approval prior to interacting with them.

Interpreting children’s intentions by peacefully observing them and paying close attention to their body language, cues and gestures.

Recognising that infants may prefer an unhurried approach to their individual care routines, learning and development, for example, being flexible and responding according to the needs and rhythms of the infants as opposed to working by the clock.

A team approach is an important element In the same way that it has been shown that teachers show respect for children they also demonstrate it amongst themselves. The teachers developed some sound strategies for ensuring they have a shared understanding of what it is to be respectful of each other. The team contract created by the current teaching team at the case study centre is a good example. This contract is a document the teachers developed together by brainstorming everything that each felt was important. Everything in the contract had to be agreed to by all the parties and this has given the teachers a shared understanding of respectful behaviour. Most importantly, because it was worked out together, each of the team has ownership of the ideas the contract contains.

Recognising that infants need to develop a strong and reciprocal relationship with at least one other person in the environment and implementing a primary caregiver system to cater for that primary need.

Offering infants choices about what is to happen for them and waiting for a response to the choices that are offered.

Being available to the infant and supporting them in their learning, but resisting the urge to intervene unnecessarily in their problemsolving efforts and mastery of their own physical development.

Recognising the need for a strong philosophy and deep level of respect for children, families and the whole team at the centre.

The teachers at the case study centre have a vision about how their centre should feel and what experiences will be like for infants and toddlers who

attend. The most important part of realising this vision is that every one of the teaching team shares the vision. Part of the philosophy with children is that teachers trust them to be confident and competent learners but the first level of trust necessary within the environment is amongst all of the adults who are participating. References Brownlee, P. (2009). Ego and the baby, or why your colleagues huff and puff when you trust infants. In Yeah baby! 2009: A collection of articles for teachers and parents of infants and toddlers. (pp. 4-5). Wellington, New Zealand: Childspace Early Childhood Institute. Brumbaugh, E. (2008). DAP in ECE: Respect. Kappa Delta Pi Record. 44(4), 70- 175. Dahlberg, G., & Moss, P. (2005). What ethics? In G. Dahlberg & P. Moss (Eds.), Ethics and politics in early childhood education (pp. 64-85). London, England: Routledge. Goldstein, L. (1998). More than gentle smiles and warm hugs: Applying the ethic of care to early childhood education. Journal of Research in Childhood Education. 12 (2), 244-256. Hammond, R. (2009). Respecting babies: A new look at Magda Gerber’s RIE approach. Washington, DC: Zero to Three . Kovach, B., & Da Ros-Voseles, D. (2008) Being with babies: Understanding and responding to the infants in your care. Silver Spring, MD: Gryphon House. Noddings, N. (1984). Caring. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Petrie, S., & Owen, S. (2005). Authentic relationships in group care for infants and toddlers – Resources for infant educarers (RIE) principles into practice. Philadelphia, PA: Jessica Kingsley. Tronto, J. (1993). Moral boundaries: A political argument for an ethic of care. New York, NY: Routledge. United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child. (2003, October). Concluding observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child: New Zealand. (UN Doc. CRC/C/15/Add.216). Geneva, Italy: Author.

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EXPERT SPEAK Dr Swati Popat Vats is the founder President of Early Childhood Association India. As President of Podar Education Network, she leads over 350 preschools and Daycares as founder Director of Podar Jumbo Kids. She is also National representative for the World Forum Foundation. She is Nursery Director of Little Wonders Nursery (UAE) that has branches in Jumeirah and Sharjah. She has received many accolades and awards for her contribution to Early Childhood Education and has been conferred the Fellowship of Honor from the New Zealand Tertiary College. She was the founder consultant for the Euro Kids preschool project in India and helped set up TATASKY’s children’s television activity channelACTVE WHIZKIDS. She is the founder expert on the world’s first video based parenting website www.born-smart.com that helps parents understand and nurture brain development in the first 1000 days. Swati has coined the term ‘Kiducation’ for early childhood teachers and parents to help them understand that young children need education from the point of view of their development. In her career spanning over 32 years, Swati has authored many books for parents and children and is a strong advocate of nature based learning in the early years and promotes brain research based teaching and parenting in her workshops across the globe. Swati tweets and blogs on education and parenting and can be followed on @swatipopat or www.kiducationswatipvats.blogspot.in

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Brain-based Kindergartens that Play and Learn

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Swati Popat Vats shares guidelines on why and how children should play and learn

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inety-eight percent of the brain develops in the first five years. Every child is born with the same number of neurons, almost a 100 billion, but it needs stimulation and nurturing to help these neurons make connections, trillions of connections. This means the brain does not develop automatically, necessitating ‘brain friendly’ practices for a well-balanced and steady brain growth. The brain needs stimulation, complimented with ‘brain friendly’ practices like, routines, rituals, stimulating toys, more choices, child led activities, open ended questions, logic games, toys, and outdoor activities to nurture brain development. The brain is the ‘center’ of all learning and growth. Nurturing and stimulating the brain would lead to happier and healthier learners. As described by the father of Kindergarten - Frobel, early childhood education is a ‘garden for children’. Stress, comparison and competition, threats, drill based learning, rote learning are all brain antagonistic and should be avoided in kindergarten. The brain releases cortisol, a chemical that helps deal with stress, when there is too much stress, then cortisol destroys brain connections leading to memory, attention, and learning problems. Brain research states that learning something within a meaningful context increases memory Teachers must use known concepts as a starting point to introduce unknown concepts going from simple to complex. Let’s say in a scenario if you are talking to children about ‘my city’, then it is important they first know about ‘myself ’, ‘my family’, ‘my home’, and then ‘my city’. So if children know the story of Goldilocks, then the character Goldilocks can be used to teach them about three magic words - Thank you, Sorry, Please. By going from the simple to the complex, a learning link is created which helps kids relate and recall. Movement and exercise nourish the brain Cross lateral movements like marching, climbing, dancing should be implemented. This helps the left and right sides of the brain communicate, helping kids use their brains efficiently. One of the constant struggles for primary school children and their teachers is children not being able to write and not being able to sit or focus to complete a task. Well, early years’

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EXPERT SPEAK specialist Dr Rebecca Duncombe, who led a study monitoring children of school age in UK, found a higher number of kids experience problems with their balance and coordination ultimately affecting their ability to learn in class. “A child’s physical development level impacts their ability to complete simple tasks such as sitting still, holding a pencil, putting on their shoes, and especially reading – all skills essential for school,” she said. This happens to our children in India, because we coop up children for hours together in a desk-chair prison and make them do ‘worksheets’ and ‘workbooks’ that can show us their achievement of having learnt to ‘write’. Children need movement to develop their body and brain. Diet is known to activate memory Kindergartens should make sure the diet of young children is healthy, for overall brain growth. Ensure that parents are made aware of healthy food choices. Motivate parents to avoid junk food, packaged foods especially with additives as they are known to cause attention, focus and behavioral issues. Especially control the salt and sugar intake. Understanding why children misbehave or can’t wait for their turn The pre frontal cortex, or what is commonly known as ‘the thinking brain’ or ‘executive brain’, is still not fully developed in young children. This ‘thinking brain’ helps us control our emotions, impulses; helps regulate memory, retention, and logic. Young children lack impulse control and selfregulation and so trying to control them would be a futile effort. In addition, young children lack the ability to delay gratification making them unable to control their impulses leading to lack of self-regulation. Simple every day activities can help teachers nurture these skills in children. The common garden ‘slide’ helps nurture brain development. As children wait to climb (patience), then climb the steps (effort) to reach the slide and then get the exhilarating slide down (reward) teaches young kids self-regulation and impulse control. This simple outdoor equipment is a great tool to help children learn to delay their gratification. The game ‘Simon Says’ too helps young kids with impulse control and self-regulation. Play it often in your daily routine. Parachute play is best to promote pro-social behavior in young children. When these essential pre frontal skills are nurtured, young children will feel

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more in control leading to lesser conflict and behaviour issues in the classroom. It’s a fact that positive emotions greatly boost memory growth The brain has an emotional filter known as ‘amygdale’, filtering all incoming stimuli and information. It accepts information and stimuli, only if it is ‘stress free’. This implies the more positive emotions we introduce our kids to, more the memory development. Therefore, to make your children learn for life, keep all activities, interactions, and stimulus happy and positive. If a child’s emotional center identifies stress, it then prompts the brain to fight, flock, flight, and freeze back. It simply means when the learning environment is stressful, kids tend to cry or throw a tantrum (fight), want to run away from the activity (flight), start behaving aggressively as a class (flock), are unable to reply or respond (freeze). In addition, follow routines and rituals in kindergartens Routines give a sense of predictability to young children helping them feel in control - elevating their positive emotions. Rituals add a touch of fun and novelty. This helps in children looking forward to enjoying them. This simply means when a routine table is followed every day it makes children more settled. After completion of an activity, if simple transitions such as singing a cleanup song, clapping hands, shaking your head, jumping up and down are made into little rituals then kids are happy and focused. How to learn? Or, what to learn? Brain research and neuro science has proved that 98% of the brain develops in the first six years. So it is imperative that parents and teachers use this crucial period to teach the young brain ‘how to learn’ and not ‘what to learn’. When we teach children how to learn they learn to be independent thinkers, problem solvers and logic seekers. When we train their brains what to learn then we have only one result rote learning, a brain that cannot think, understand or relate or conduct executive brain functions, it can only remember. The first thing that we need to focus on is to bring back the engine of early learning – Play Almon and Miller used this analogy of describing play as the ‘engine of learning’, “as an engine is a machine that

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creates the force and is self-propelling, so with play as the engine of early years and primary years curriculum, self-directed learning is achieved.” For play-based kindergartens to become successful in our country we need to educate parents who are mostly ‘incredulous’ and upset when a child comes home from preschool and says happily that he played! Parents are clueless that most of the learning required in the early years happens through play. Play fertilizes brain growth. Play is the work of childhood and important foundations of learning are laid through simple play. So should we do away with all ‘learning’ in Kindergartens? Play isn’t the enemy of learning; it is learning’s partner. Play is the fertilizer for brain growth. Play is learning for kids. Did you know that the foundation of geometry and physics is laid in the kindergarten years? Yes, it is. Children interact with the basic principles of geometry and physics when they play with blocks! And that is why the kindergarten years are important and so is play in these years, because after all play is the work of childhood. Why should kids play? Every educationist and educational philosopher has advocated the need for hands-on play-based learning, be it our own Mahatma Gandhi who devised the 3 H method of education which involves the Hand, Heart and Head or good old Montessori who believed that play involves all the three aspects essential for learning namely, the muscles and senses and the brain. So here are 10 ‘brainy’ reasons based on brain research on why children should play… 1 Touching, feeling, exploring, making, breaking are all activities that enrich the senses and this helps new synapses develop in the brain. 2 Free play, or play that involves choices, logic and thinking helps enhance the frontal lobe. 3 The hand and the brain need each other - brain expert Wilson states that neurologically, "a hand is always in search of a brain and a brain is in search of a hand". 4 Use of the hands to manipulate three-dimensional objects is an essential part of brain development. 5

Imaginative play, role-play are part of symbolic play. Symbolic


play is when a child can use a symbol or object to represent another item, for example he uses a piece of block to be a telephone etc. When a child is able to experience symbolic play he will definitely be able to excel in reading and writing activities as reading is nothing but representing a picture or word in a symbol (all letters and words are symbols) 6 All play should make kids enjoy as positive emotions enhance memory and no play should be stressful or too competitive as our bodies release harmful chemicals under stress, which are not good for the brain 7 Play that is self-initiated, involving trial and error, problem solving, and has cause and effect is good for developing neural pathways 8 Play helps develop language skills as the more sensorial experiences the child has, the more the child will want to talk about it and hence language development will be enhanced. 9 Memory increases by revisiting information frequently - so play often as children like to play the same games every day. That is fine as long as the interest lasts. 10 Cross lateral movements keep both sides of the brain working - so the more creeping, crawling, marching play activities the child is exposed to, the better for his brain. How? Cross laterals are arm and leg movements that cross over from one side of the body to the other. Since left side of the brain controls right side of the body and vice versa, the two sides are forced to communicate when legs and arms cross over. With brain research facts available to teachers today, it is important that teachers make the right choice of turning their classrooms into learning and nurturing spaces and not drilling and coping spaces. I urge teachers to use this Play based Curriculum Framework of the National Policy on ECCE- India, which has Suggested Developmentally Appropriate/ Age appropriate activities for our kindergartens: For Children Under 3 Years Focus on health, nutrition, and early psychological stimulation through free play and a lot of adult child interaction. Eg. (infant games, traditional songs and syllables, access to variety of play materials, individualized adult attention and interaction, opportuni-

ties to explore, early introduction to stories, infant books, drawings etc.) in a safe, spacious and clean environment. For Children Between 3 to 4 years Planned play based programme for all round development with more of free play. Continuous opportunities for more free activities but some guided programmes too. Opportunities to listen to stories, learn rhymes, create, indulge in imaginative play, ask questions, do simple problem solving, experiment to promote active and interactive learning and generally have a ‘feel good’ experience for a positive self-image. For Children Between 4 to 6 years • Moving towards an increasing ratio of adult guided vs. free play activities, and more of large group activities for 4 - 5 years and focused more on specific school readiness for 5 - 6 years, in increasing complexity in all of above. • Reading readiness: Eg. Picture sound matching, shapes, phonetics, increasing vocabulary, verbal expression, developing bond and interest in reading through picture books, storytelling, chart etc. • Writing Readiness: Eg. Eye hand coordination, interest in writing,

left to right directionality. Math: Developing skills in classification, serration, pattern making, reasoning, problem, solving, forming, concepts: pre number and number concepts and space concepts and vocabulary, environment concepts. • Motor development: Fine motor development through activities such as beading, pegboards, and puzzles and large muscle development through running, jumping, balancing activities etc. • Creativity and aesthetic appreciation: Creative drama, cultural activities, field trips etc. The programme should be relevant to individual and societal needs. The age demarcations are indicative and activities have to be planned according to the developmental level of the children. Lise Elliot in her path-breaking book, What’s Going On In There? says, “The brain is without doubt our most fascinating organ. Parents, educators, and society as a whole have a tremendous power to shape the wrinkly universe inside each child's head, and, with it, the kind of person he or she will turn out to be. We owe it to our children to help them grow the best brains possible.” (L Eliot (1999) •

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EXPERT SPEAK

ECE Here & Now Dr Kamini Prakash Rege is Assistant Professor, Department of Human Development, College of Home Science Nirmala Niketan, Affiliated To University Of Mumbai - India. She is also Treasurer, Early Childhood Association – India. Email: kaminirege@gmail.com

Dr Kamini Prakash Rege believes in the need for Quality Standards as a tool to promote equitable quality ensuring optimum developmental opportunities for children

Acceptable Standards At present, in India, as in many other countries, there is a great diversity in the nature of programmes available for ECCE. The number of players in the field is increasing; this multiplicity of service providers has led to diverse models of ECCE entering the field, bringing with them a multitude of philosophies of childhood and education, often without examining the cultural and contextual relevance of the models. However, there is no cer-

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tain qualification for an individual to enter the field of ECCE, and there have hardly been any attempts made to lay down some guidelines to ensure that the ECCE services offered are of the right quality and serve the best interests of the young child. At times, many of these ECCE provisions are detrimental rather than being beneficial to the young child. Therefore, it follows as a logical corollary to set some acceptable standards for ECCE in order to ensure improved quality across all the programmes and provisions available to the young children across the country.


Professional Development In India, the role and functioning of the nature of programmes available for ECCE are changing and so is what is expected of teachers. Teachers are asked to teach in increasingly multicultural classrooms; to place greater emphasis on integrating students with special learning needs in their classrooms; to make more effective use of information and communication technologies for teaching; to engage more in planning within evaluative and accountability frameworks; and to do more to involve parents in schools. No matter how good pre-service training for teachers is, it cannot be expected to prepare teachers for all the challenges they will face throughout their careers. Education systems therefore seek to provide teachers with opportunities for in-service professional development in order to maintain a high standard of teaching and to retain a high-quality teacher workforce. Effective professional development is on-going, includes training, practice and feedback, and provides adequate time and follow-up support. Successful programmes involve teachers in learning activities that are similar to ones they will use with their students, and encourage the development of teachers’ learning communities. There is growing interest in developing schools as learning organisations, and in ways for teachers to share their expertise and experience more systematically. The development of teachers beyond their initial training can serve a number of objectives including: • to update individuals’ knowledge skills, attitudes and approaches towards the new teaching techniques and objectives, new circumstances and new educational research and recent advances in the area; • to enable individuals to apply changes made to curricula or other aspects of teaching practice; • to enable schools to develop and apply new strategies concerning the curriculum and other aspects of teaching practice; • to exchange information and expertise among teachers and others, e.g. academics, industrialists; and • to help weaker teachers become more effective.

Ensuring Quality The approach of Quality Standards is informed by the principle that quality is a multifaceted concept and its enhancement should be seen as a dynamic and a continuous process and not an end in itself, wherein organisations move towards optimum by adopting a cumulative approach towards quality improvement. This would lead to continuous improvement in the services offered by centres in a manner that meets the needs of the young child. It is a tool to promote equitable quality. A graded approach is being adopted wherein the essential criteria will be laid down in a graded and weighted form. The purpose of the Quality Framework is to provide directives for areas known to be important for ensuring the optimum developmental opportunities for children. It also involves developing appropriate support mechanisms to ensure that quality is achieved and maintained. Standards and norms are crucial: • To promote professionalism in the field • To promote, reinforce and safeguard quality services for all young children • For systematic development of this field Services and programmes for the children in the age group of 0 – 8 years have to be developed keeping in mind

the developmental abilities i.e. developmental domains, milestones and needs of the child. Pedagogies used in ECCE programmes should emphasize the holistic development of the young child, also keeping in mind the needs of special children. Both care and education are important, and the linkages between them need to be explored and drawn on. Interlinkages across domains should also be addressed as the domains of development are not exclusive to each other. The pedagogy should reflect the learning of the child in his/her context. Transactions should be based on understanding of the context of the child and the social background of the family. It is important to recognize the family as the first context where learning and development for all children takes place. The family and parents are of paramount importance in the delivery of ECCE programmes and services. A harmonious relationship with positive linkages to the family and parents ensures that the best interests of the child are kept in mind for optimum development. The child is an active agent in learning, and this has to be encouraged and facilitated in order to allow him/her to develop his/her full potential. The child should be free to make choices, explore and experiment, for which the child should be provided with such opportunities in the surroundings. The voices of the children, along with the

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EXPERT SPEAK

voice of the special children, need to be listened to, in order to ensure that their interests are being met by the practitioners, researchers, teachers, professionals and various stakeholders. Quality ECCE programmes should value and respect diversity of all kinds – cultural, linguistic, caste, gender, class, disability etc. Quality programmes should promote a sense of belonging among children from the varied Indian cultural heritage whether from high socio-economic strata or from low economic strata, abled group or disabled group. Programmes should embrace diversity by introducing variety of rich and varied experiences, thus allowing children to value and respect diversity.

Protecting Children We teach our young children all sorts of ways to keep themselves safe. We teach them to watch the hot stove, we teach them to look both ways before they cross the street, but more often than not – body safety is not taught until much older – until sometimes…it is too late. Talk to your children. It is never too soon. It doesn’t have to be a scary conversation. Don’t wait another day. Start these conversations today. Here are the 10 most important areas to cover: • Talk about body parts early: Name body parts and talk about them early – very early. Use proper names

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for body parts – or at least teach your child what the actual words are for their body parts. I can’t tell you how many young children I have worked with who have called their vagina their “bottom” and other various names. If a child needs to make a disclosure of abuse – this can make their story confusing. Teach them that body parts are private: Tell your child that their private parts are called private because their private parts are not for everyone to see. Explain that mommy and daddy can see them naked, but people outside of the home should only see them with their clothes on. Explain how their doctor can see them without their clothes because mommy and daddy are there with them and the doctor is checking their body. Teach your child body boundaries: Tell your child matter-of-factly that no one should touch their private parts and that no one should ask them to touch somebody else’s private parts. Parents will often forget the second part of this sentence. Sexual abuse often begins with the perpetrator asking the child to touch them or someone else. Tell your child that body secrets are not okay: Most perpetrators will tell the child to keep the abuse a secret. This can be done in a friendly way such as, “I love play-

February 2018

ing with you, but if you tell anyone else what we played they won’t let me come over again” or as a threat – “This is our secret. If you tell anyone I will tell them it was your idea and you will get in big trouble!” Tell your child that no matter what anyone tells them, body secrets are not okay. Let your child know that they should always tell you if someone makes them keep a body secret. Tell your child that no one should take pictures of their private parts: This one is often missed by parents. There is a whole sick world out there of paedophiles who love to take and trade pictures of naked children online. This is an epidemic and it puts your child at risk. If you only talk about body safety you might be missing a risk factor. Tell your child that no one should ever take pictures of their private parts. Teach your child how to get out of scary or uncomfortable situations: Some children are uncomfortable with telling people “No” – especially older peers or adults. Help give them excuses to get out of uncomfortable situations. Tell your child that if someone wants to see or touch private parts they can tell them that they need to leave to go potty. Have a code word your child can use when they feel unsafe or want to be picked up: As children get a little bit older, you can give them a


code word that they can use when they are feeling unsafe. This can be used at home, when there are guests in the house or when they are on a playdate or a sleepover. Tell your child they will never be in trouble if they tell you a body secret: Children often tell me that they didn’t say anything because they thought they would get in trouble too. This is often reiterated by the perpetrator. Tell your child that no matter what happens – when they tell you anything about body safety or body secrets they will NEVER get in trouble. Tell your child that a body touch might tickle or feel good: Many parents and books talk about “good touch – bad touch” – but usually these touches do not hurt or feel bad. Try and stay away from these phrases, as it can confuse a child that is “tickled” in their private parts. I prefer the term “secret touch” – as it is a more accurate depiction of what might happen. Tell your child that even if they know someone or even if it is another child – these rules are the same: This is an important point to discuss with your child. When you ask a young child what a “bad guy” looks like they will most likely describe a cartoonish villain. Be sure to mention to your child that no one can touch their private parts. You can say something like, “No one should touch your private parts. Mommy and daddy might touch you when we are cleaning you or if you need cream – but no one else should touch you there. Not friends, not aunts or uncles, not teachers or coaches – no one. Even if you like them or think they are in charge, they should still not touch your private parts.”

ECE Awareness Overall, the attitude of the parents in India about the importance of Early Childhood is found to be moderately favourable towards schooling and education of their children. The fact is that there is growing awareness regarding literacy and education; persistent campaigns through mass media around the country and attempts at mainstreaming have significantly affected all sections of the society, including the tribal population. The value attached to schooling and education of children has substantially improved compared to earlier times when lack of literacy and negative attitude towards education were the main barriers for sending children to pre-

school. Previously education was considered as wastage of time and money since its outcome was perceived to be uncertain and unimportant. Presently, the importance and the outcomes of education are highly appreciated by people through persistent efforts at compulsory education and increased awareness through information and technology revolution. The favourable attitude of the parents refutes the earlier findings that parental attitude and involvement is generally negative or low in minority and low socioeconomic status characteristics of households, in particular parental income, wealth, education and occupation, have long been known to be major determinants of educational enrolment and achievement in both developing and developed countries. The family stimulation is the resultant of the influence of cultural and educational profile of the family and active parental attitudes regarding education and attainment of their children. Family involvement is the strongest predictor of child educational outcomes. This dimension associated significantly with children's motivation to learn, attention, task persistence, receptive vocabulary skills, and low conduct problems. Family involvement in education has been identified as a beneficial factor in young children's learning. It is, therefore, a key component of national educational policies and early childhood programs. Much of the research on parent involvement, as it relates to children's outcomes, has emphasized the relationship between specific parent involvement behaviours and children's achievement. Parental involvement at school (e.g., with school activities, direct communication with teachers and administrators) is associated with greater achievement in mathematics and reading. Higher levels of parent involvement in their children's educational experiences at home (e.g., supervision and monitoring, daily conversations about school) have been associated with children's higher achievement scores in reading and writing, as well as higher report card grades. Parental beliefs and expectations about their children's learning are strongly related to children's beliefs about their own competencies, as well as their achievement. Parents who evidenced high levels of school contact (volunteering in the classroom, participating in educational workshops, attending meetings) had children who demonstrated greater social competency than children of parents with lower levels of school contact. Home-based involvement would be most strongly associated with positive class-

room learning outcomes and that direct school-based involvement would predict lower levels of conduct problems. Home Based Involvement activities, such as reading to a child at home, providing a place for educational activities, and asking a child about school, evidenced the strongest relationships to later preschool classroom competencies. These activities were related to children's approaches to learning, especially motivation and attention/persistence, and were found to relate positively to receptive vocabulary. The attitude of the parents signifies that the supporting nature of family in their children’s education. The parental attitude can be negative or positive. The negative attitude of the parents regarding education and schooling can prevent their children from getting education. With less parental support in school work, low level of motivation and poor self-esteem of children can result Positive attitude of the parents can be beneficial to their children in many cases and can be reflected in improvement in class performance, creating interest among children to learn, and higher achievement scores in reading and writing. The growing awareness regarding education makes many families value their children’s education and act favourably towards early years and education of their children. They become a part of the decision-making process of school, and decide their children’s future regarding higher education. Concerns & Challenges Commercialization of the education: Urbanization and industrialization has not even left the educational sector untouched. One can witness this boom with mushrooming of child related centers in every nook and corner of the country. Big brands and companies have now entered the market with the motive of making profits. These companies through their marketing strategies provoke people to take up these ventures but at times these people are not themselves well equipped/ qualified. Commercialization is becoming a major concern which if not handled properly could lead to serious consequences. The professionals should be responsible while planning and developing for young children’s education programmes. They should be responsive towards child’s diverse needs since it is not possible to develop a quality program without understanding the basic needs of a child. Quality of preschool education: For decades we have known that something

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EXPERT SPEAK gains, they are neglecting their roles as parents. Thus, the age range instead of going upwards it is going downward. Teacher’s qualification: It is recommended that all groups of young children (age 3 and older) should have a teacher with Bachelor’s Degree including Early Childhood Specialization. It should be seen that Early Childhood teachers have training and professional competence. Teachers with comparable qualifications and experience should receive the same salary and benefits, whether teaching in a public elementary school or in early childhood education. Staff should have a range of formal qualifications, with a portion of centre teachers and family child care teachers holding bachelor’s degree and administrators holding advanced degrees. Entry level positions should be maintained so that preservice qualifications do not become a barrier to individuals from low socioeconomic strata or minority groups seeking to enter the field.

is a miss in early care and education. Years ago, it was observed that the field was facing a “trilemma”- a nearby inescapable tension among programme quality, staff compensation and affordability of care. Today’s reality is that even with increased communities to ECE from without the government, quality remains embarrassingly poor. Staff salaries are inadequate and high-quality care is not affordable for most parents. While inadequate resources are absolutely the first and major problem, they are not the only issue. How the resources are spent is also critical. In spite of maybe important efforts to improve quality, funds have been inadequate and strategies insufficiently comprehensive to make a real difference in the quality of care most children receive. It is as though we keep planting seeds in the same flower bed year after year without fertilizing the soil, and then wonder why the flowers do not thrive. Multi-culturality: Considering our own country India, the land of multi-culturality and diversity with so many languages, different attires, cuisines and various codes of conducts. A country that has distinct cultures right from Kashmir to Kanyakumari sometimes creates challenges for the preschool

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teacher. They have to deal with a number of culturally and linguistically diverse children in a single classroom, thus providing them appropriate education and care and also have to work effectively with their families. Despite numerous efforts in schools, administration, and teacher training still majority of classroom teacher believe that they are not able to meet all the needs of the children and families from diverse backgrounds. Hence measures are required in this field to train the teachers working with such group of students. They should be sensitive enough to bring best out of a child despite of his/her limitations. Decreasing Age Range of the child in preschool: Previously, the family system in India was the joint family system, the mothers used to be with the child for most of the time, but the times have changed now, the families are not only becoming nuclear but even the mothers are stepping into the jobs. This leaves them with less time to be spent with their children. Today, the parents have found an easy solution to escape from this liability by getting their child enrolled into a preschool at a very young age even when their child’s separation anxiety has not got settled. For their own professional

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Wages do matter: In today’s time when everybody is after money the wages in this sector are not satisfactory enough to motivate professionals to enter this field. Early care and education staff should earn wages linked to those earned by public elementary school teachers, with salaries varying depending on locale. The starting hourly pay for a child care teacher with a Bachelor’s degree should be equal to that of an elementary school teacher with the same levels of training, professionalisation and work responsibilities. This is one of the primary reason that male professionals are not keen to enter in this field as in our society they are considered to be the main bread earner and with such low wages it will be difficult for them to meet the required parameters of their family sustainability. Parent Involvement is essential: Parent involvement with child’s education has become a major issue in this era of increasing concern about the quality of education. Parent involvement includes several different forms of parental participation in child’s life, education as well as his/her daily tasks. Parent involvement during early childhood period helps the child to form and shape his or her own academic self-concept. Pre-school and pre-school teachers play a vital role in involving the parents with the child’s curriculum thus; they should be well trained to do so. But it is often found that lack of planning and lack of mutual understanding between teachers and parents results in ineffective parent involvement.


COVER STORY

…Because the

early bird catches the success curve Nichola Pais editor@scoonews.com

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reschool teachers are nothing more than babysitters. Preschool is way too expensive. Early childhood education is ineffective. Children should be able to play and not have a structured environment…Just some of the many misconceptions floating around about Early Childhood Education (ECE). Research however proves that we commit the gravest mistake by writing off the early years of a child as an unimportant period; and ECE, as an incon-

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sequential filler before ‘real life’ begins. Truly, it is real life, itself ! A child’s cognitive, physical, social and emotional skill development occurs most during this period, which sows the seeds of success in later life. It is the child’s experiences during these crucial early years, which determines its survival and success in life, laying the grounds for learning and holistic development. Supportive family and community care practices, proper nutrition and healthcare, and the right learning opportunities make all the difference to a child’s development in this key phase.

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Early Childhood Education (ECE) has a positive impact on attendance, retention, and learning of children in elementary and higher education. More importantly, interventions in early childhood are seen to have long-term effects on future social adjustment and economic success, and are even passed on to subsequent generations. ECE provides sustained benefits in terms of cognitive learning and socio-emotional adjustment, particularly for children at risk. Yes, it is time ECE received the attention it deserves, from the government, educators and parents. While challenges continue to loom, a


From informal play-based learning recommended by the National ECCE Policy, to the need for a common standard across the country regarding quality and curriculum, to the importance of well-trained teachers, a brief A to Z of Early Childhood Education in India.

quick point-wise overview of the realm of ECE in India…

tional Anganwadis (courtyard shelter) centres in India.

A – Anganwadis

B – Basic Goals

Since 1975, the ministry of Women and Child Development has been providing free-of-charge integrated child development services (ICDS) in the areas of health, nutrition, community awareness and non-formal preschool education to children in rural areas, minority groups, slums, and underdeveloped areas through the Early Childhood Care and Education centres called Anganwadis. As of December 2015, there were more than 13 lakh opera-

Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) has been included as a specific target in the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030, which aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. The objective is to ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education. India is among the 193 coun-

tries that have endorsed the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and is committed to working towards the achievement of these basic goals. The SDG goals recognize that children are agents of change when they channel their infinite potential to create a better world.

C – Common Standard A common standard in ECE is what is urgently required across India. While Early Childhood Care is handled by the ministry of Women and Child Development, the states do not manage the same. Preschools thus create their

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COVER STORY own curriculum, or become ‘preparatory centres’ for standard one. The lack of a clear-cut policy on quality or curriculum means state governments are unable to regulate preschools. A common standard across India would ensure children get the uniform care and education they deserve.

D – Dropout rate Despite the recognition of the importance of ECE by the Government of India, the challenges in implementation still remain. There are still substantial numbers of children not enrolled in preschools. Even in elementary education, while there is a significant rise in enrolments, the dropout rate continues to be a matter of concern, with dropouts being highest in the first two grades of elementary schooling.

E – Educational facility While choosing an ideal early childhood care and educational facility, a parent must look for qualities like consideration, awareness, alertness and compassion. This age group is still not monitored under the Right to Education (RTE), however, owing to the fact that a healthy learning environment greatly impacts a child’s future, ECCE lead institutions have to create a moral compass for themselves. Early childhood educational facilities must instil in children the flexibility to adapt to changing technologies, while teachers must foster learning environments that encourage critical thinking, creativity, problem-solving, communication, collaboration, global awareness, and social responsibility.

F - Franchisee models The concept of private preschooling is fast developing in India. Franchisee models like Kidzee, Podar Jumbo Kids, Eurokids, Kangaroo Kids, Shemrock and Mother’s Pride have made a niche presence in the lucrative and imperative educational scenario. Many of them follow a unique blend of Montessori and Paige’s Early Childhood Learning models and continue to innovate their curricula yearafter-year. The focus is on overall holistic development of the child.

G - Grassroots Educational institutions and government bodies worldwide admit that even if a child from the marginal strata of

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society is exposed to proper ECCE facilities, over the next 20 years of such a child, his or her presence would have significantly contributed to the future of that country’s economy. The child population is a part of the wealth of a nation, if has been exposed to holistic education from the earliest years. This sees the need for investment in ECCE centres at the grassroots level.

H – Holistic development Early childhood care and education is more than preparation for primary school. It aims at the holistic development of a child’s social, emotional, cognitive and physical needs in order to build a solid and broad foundation for lifelong learning and wellbeing. ECCE has the possibility to nurture caring, capable and responsible future citizens.

I – Integrated Child Development Services India supports perhaps the world’s largest public sector integrated programme for children below 6 years of age, known as the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS). This programme was initiated in 1975 on a pilot basis in 35 administrative blocks of the country. A centrally sponsored scheme, the programme has evolved over time and has now been universalized. The services they provide include health, education and nutritional support, community mobilization and non-formal preschool education for 3to 6-year-olds.

J – Justiciable right The Government of India brought in a Constitutional Amendment to the original Article 45 which now states that “The State shall endeavour to provide early childhood care and education for all children until they complete the age of six years.” Section 11 was inserted in the RTE Act to address this gap, which directs the appropriate governments “to endeavour to provide preschool education to all children from 3 to 6 years of age so as to prepare them for primary education”. However, in order to make it a justiciable right, the National Law Commission (2015) submitted its report to the government recommending the need for legislation to make Early Childhood Development a fundamental right of every Indian child below 6 years. It also recommended that preschool education be made part of the RTE Act (2009).

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K – Key phase The earliest years of a child’s life are a key phase in the child’s development. These years determine a child’s survival and thriving in life, and lay the foundations for her/ his learning and development. It is during the early years that children develop the cognitive, physical, social and emotional skills that they need to succeed in life. Research in neuroscience provides strong evidence that the pace of development of the brain is most rapid in the earliest years of life, to the extent that 90 per cent of the brain’s growth has already occurred by the time a child is 6 years old. Research has further demonstrated that children’s early experiences influence brain development, by affecting the formation of the synapses or neural pathways of the brain. Early experiences thus have farreaching effects on the overall development of the brain and on behaviour.

L – Life-skills Promoting life skills in the preschool classroom is equally important. Mastering any kind of life skill takes time and experience. As young children learn in a safe environment to play cooperatively with others, or take care of their belongings, they build important skills and feel successful and valued in doing things independently.

M - Methods Well-intentioned activities and engagement is important for any Early Childhood Care and Education programme. While specialised systems of teaching such as Montessori have formed the basis for many a preschool for decades, newer systems and philosophies like the Playway method, multiple intelligence mapping, and the Reggio Emilia approach of learning through experiencing nature have also been incorporated into the curriculum for children up to 6 years.

N - National Early Childhood Care and Education Policy The government of India, in recent years, has taken steps to strengthen the policy framework for early childhood. The National Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Policy in 2013, and the National Curriculum Framework and Quality Standards provide a comprehensive framework for


promoting access, equity and quality in ECCE. State governments have designed their own curricula in the light of this national framework.

O - Outcomes Investments in high quality interventions for young children are thought to be cost effective ways of improving outcomes both for individual children, especially in the case of vulnerable or disadvantaged children, and for society as a whole. Compelling evidence in developing countries shows that almost 215 million children below the age of 5 have not achieved their full potential due to adverse early experiences and are at risk of developmental delays and school failure. Long-term follow-up of children from birth shows that growth failure in the first 2 years of life has harmful effects on adult health and human capital, including chronic disease, and lower educational attainment and adult earning.

P - Primary Grades Learning assessments show that literacy skills are poor in early primary grades. This shows the importance of helping children, particularly from first generation families, to develop adequate academic and social preparedness for formal schooling through a good quality ECE programme, in order for them to make a smooth transition. Evidence indicates that Early Childhood Education (ECE) programmes can “change the development trajectory of children by the time of entering school”.

Q - Quality The benefits from Early Childhood Education accrue only if the quality of the programme is ensured in terms of standards related to qualified teachers, a validated and developmentally appropriate curriculum, parental involvement, and utilization of feedback from assessments. Good quality ECE programmes have a strong track record of ensuring smooth transition from home/preschool to school. They facilitate adjustment in school, reduce dropout and retention at initial stages and improve learning achievements, thus narrowing inequalities in education.

ness encompasses development in five distinct but interconnected domains – physical wellbeing and motor development, social and emotional development, approach to learning/language development, cognitive development, and general knowledge.

S - Strictly informal In terms of quality and curriculum for ECE, the National ECCE Policy (2013) lays down some priority areas for children, which include early stimulation experiences for children below 3 years; developmentally appropriate, play-based preschool education for the age group of 3 to 6 years; and a structured school readiness component for 5- to 6-year-olds. Even prior to this policy, the National Policy on Education (1986) clearly discouraged any formal instruction of the 3R’s at this early stage of education and emphasized strictly informal play-based learning. The National Curriculum Framework (2013) defined age-specific curricular objectives for each of the subgroups within the under-six age range and laid out the basic principles of providing ageappropriate, play-based, integrated, experiential, contextual and inclusive teaching-learning experiences.

T - Trained teachers Meaningful Early Childhood Education cannot be delivered without a battery of well trained teachers. Teachers’ training programmes need to comprise international best practices and ways and means to adapt them in schools. In India, there is no legal framework that specifies requirements and standards of ECCE teacher training programmes; instead various education channels provide different types of training.

U - UNESCO In the words of UNESCO, “Early childhood care and education is more than a preparatory stage assisting the child’s transition to formal schooling. It places emphasis on developing the whole child - attending to his or her social, emotional, cognitive and physical needs - to establish a solid and broad foundation for lifelong learning and wellbeing.”

R - Readiness

V - Varying frameworks

According to the EFA Global Monitoring Report (2007), the consensus from research is that school readi-

The National Early Childhood Care and Education policy led to the development of state level curricula for

ECCE across states, but implementation has been uneven due to variations in state priorities and capacities. The policy recommends institutionalization of a regulatory and accreditation framework for quality, particularly for the private sector, but this has not yet been initiated.

W - Willing parents Parental involvement plays a vital role in enhancing literacy skills and development of children even more so when their involvement begins in the cradle and extends to the early childhood education centre. Parents are the prime educators until the child attends nursery or starts school and remain a major influence on their children’s learning through preschool period. When parents get involved, children’s schooling is affected through their acquisition of knowledge, skills and an increased sense of confidence that they can succeed in school. There is a need to educate parents regarding preschool education as they might not have a clear idea regarding the purpose of Early Childhood Education and its vital role in preschool years.

Y - Yawning gap Currently around 60% of children below 6 years of age do not avail of any preschool education in the country. In a country as diverse and large as India, achieving universal access is not an easy task. The sheer magnitude in terms of numbers is a major dimension of the problem. The Eleventh Plan has recommended setting up of one ECCE centre for every 40 children in the proximity of approximately 300 people. The yawning gap in provision is estimated to be almost 1.1 million, indicating a requirement of approximately 53 percent of institutions.

Z - Zero to five From the age of zero to five years, healthy positive reinforcement and a happy environment makes a huge impact on the overall development of a child. Such experiences affect all aspects of their development – physical, intellectual, socio-emotional and spiritual. The early years are the brain development years, when attention should be given to a child’s health, nutrition, stimulation, language and emotional development.

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ECE: NEED OF THE HOUR Parvathy Jayakrishnan writeback@scoonews.com

Industry experts discuss the challenges and desirable improvements in Early Childhood Education in India 52

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SMRITI AGARWAL Senior Headmistress, Podar Jumbo Kids Powai

Is the setting of certain quality standards for pre-schools feasible in India? Is the setting of certain quality standards for pre-schools feasible in India? Setting certain standards for preschools is definitely feasible in India. With all her diversity, demographic, cultural and financial differences, India can still regularise certain quality standards such as hygiene, safety, nutrition and well-being of children. Whether it is an anganwadi or a high-end preschool, basic standards can be set, audited and maintained if we take it up seriously. Should teachers undergo a separate training system to deal with children in this age category? Teachers are the hands which sculpt the soft mud into beautiful, desirable and successful sculptures to be proud of. If a sculpture/ artist/ doctor/ surgeon needs to undergo specialised education and training to be a master of their craft or to save lives, how can teachers not require specific, specialised and separate training to handle the age where the human brain is developing to its ultimate potential? We have to look into the training of preschool teachers very scientifically and organically. tained if we take it up seriously. How can we improve the quality of Early Childhood Education in India? We can improve the quality of Early Childhood Education by first acknowledging the need and importance of Early Childhood Education. Only once we understand its importance and attach certain value to it, will we look at investing in it and making it beneficial and a must for each and every child. What can be done to protect young children from being victims of molestation? To protect children from molestation we have to understand two basic formulae which are; children have to be taught and sensitised towards good and bad touch from an early age along with equipping them with the knowledge of what do in which situation. Secondly, the trust factor has

to be reviewed. Children by nature are curious and trust easily. Along with caretakers and adults of the house, children should know who is trustworthy. Most of the time, it is a family member, neighbour, help at home or a known person who is the molester. How well-informed are parents in India about the importance of Early Childhood Education compared to other countries? Awareness is there in India too, but maybe due to our vast diversity, the percentage is lesser than other countries. What India lacks is not only awareness but the understanding of Early Childhood Education. We have to know that Early Childhood Education is not a stepping stone for primary school but an experience and stimulus to develop skills and intelligence for life. It is not a preparatory school but a school for life. What do you think are the main concerns and challenges facing ECE in India? According to me, one of the main concerns and challenges ECE is facing in India is the lack of a separate governing body for ECE. ECE cannot come under education or the Women and Child Development ministry. It requires a body which is made up of ECE professionals, who understand the needs, seriousness, issues and requirements of ECE. A separate ministry which understands the training, curriculum, ageappropriate development and developmental milestones in the early years. All concerns and challenges of safety, security, hygiene, curriculum, assessments and stress in early years can be dealt with if we have norms and regulations for ECE. Proper training and guidance should be given to preschool owners and teachers. If stakeholders can realise that this is not just a business but an extremely sensitive responsibility which is shaping the future then maybe the concerns can be addressed and challenges can be met.

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KAISER AHMED Orange International Preschool

Is the setting of certain quality standards for pre-schools feasible in India? Yes, it is so important and it needs to be set up. Basic quality standards in pre-schools will be feasible as long as parents are informed about the advantages of such standards. The prerogative is to be sincere and well-planned in the implementation of quality standards. Should teachers undergo a separate training system to deal with children in this age category? The preschool age is the most important age and a qualified teacher in terms of experience and training can play a vital role in nurturing the kids at such a juncture. The government as well as some reputable preschools must take a call regarding this issue. Appointing a teacher without basic ECE experience can be a big mistake sometimes. How can we improve the quality of Early Childhood Education in India? There is lack of knowledge and awareness among masses about ECE. A nation-wide campaign needs to be started about the importance of ECE. Expert committees need to be set up to monitor the functioning of pre-schools. Parents need to be involved in certain school and home activities. Videos and short movies of perfect implementation of Early Childhood Education in other countries need to be shown and circulated. What can be done to protect young children from being victims of molestation? A proper and well-versed Do and Don'ts list needs to be implemented in schools, public places, at homes and they need to be evaluated from time to time. Strict punishments for offenders and a fast-track legal course may definitely give some good results.

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How well-informed are parents in India about the importance of Early Childhood Education compared to other countries? In India, most parents do not know the importance of ECE. Most parents still consider preschool as a creche. What do you think are the main concerns and challenges facing ECE in India? The main challenge is the ignorance from the government in recognising that ECE has an important role in imparting education, nonavailability of trained staff and ignorance of parents.


SONIA CHUGH Director, Director, Happy Minds International

Is the setting of certain quality standards for pre-schools feasible in India? Why not? There are many such bodies available abroad. Private preschools are free to adapt and implement. Happy Minds International is using guidelines of NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) since the last seven years. But surely, it can be expected from a government balwadi. Should teachers undergo a separate training system to deal with children in this age category? I definitely think, yes. How can we improve the quality of Childhood Education in India? We should have the standard guidelines for preschools for the nation, which can be adapted from already proven successful bodies for curriculum and teachers. For space and infrastructure, minimum requirements standards, should be setup as a part of the guidelines. What can be done to protect young children from being victims of molestation? Education and intervention are the key. It should start from home, with the support of parents. Transparency should be maintained by all schools, where parents should have all rights to be a part of it. What can be done to protect young children from being victims of molestation? To protect children from molestation we have to under-

stand two basic formulae which are; children have to be taught and sensitised towards good and bad touch from an early age along with equipping them with the knowledge of what do in which situation. Secondly, the trust factor has to be reviewed. Children by nature are curious and trust easily. Along with caretakers and adults of the house, children should know who is trustworthy. Most of the time, it is a family member, neighbour, help at home or a known person who is the molester. How well-informed are parents in India about the importance of Early Childhood Education compared to other countries? Early Childhood Education for majority of the parents means reading, writing and competing at an early age. They don't understand that early childhood care is about developing life skills. It's socio-emotional development which takes place first, which is not understood by many. What do you think are the main concerns and challenges facing ECE in India? Early Childhood Education for majority of the parents means reading, writing and competing at an early age. They don't understand that early childhood care is about developing life skills. It's socio-emotional development which takes place first, which is not understood by many.

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RITA BOSE Disharee Montessori House President, Montessori Association of Calcutta

Is the setting of certain quality standards for pre-schools feasible in India? Yes. Should teachers undergo a separate training system to deal with children in this age category? Yes How can we improve the quality of Early Childhood Education in India? a) Fully trained adults for that age group b) An environment (room, furniture, toilets) suitable to them c) Working material should concentrate on hand-eye coordination. More material offered to the hands eg. plasticine d) Less interference of adult while child is working e) Once material is presented to the child let him/ her select what they want to work with. Let the child repeat as many times as he/she wants f) You observe while the child absorbs What can be done to protect young children from being victims of molestation? A proper and well-versed Do and Don'ts list needs to be implemented in schools, public places, at homes and they need to be evaluated from time to time. Strict punishments for offenders and a fast-track legal course may definitely give some good results. What can be done to protect young children from being victims of molestation?

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Stress the use of NO to the child for certain actions of adults, things offered by unknown persons. To be wary when an unknown person says that ‘Your mother has sent me to take you’. What do you think are the main concerns and challenges facing ECE in India? a) Parental ignorance b) Reluctance of parents to recognise any problem in the child physical, intellectual, mental or social c) Availability of correct environment and qualified adults


SANTWANA BASU Casa Dei Bambini, Bhowanipore

Is the setting of certain quality standards for pre-schools feasible in India? Of course! A teacher should have a proper training at least for a year and some work experience. Should teachers undergo a separate training system to deal with children in this age category? Yes How can we improve the quality of Early Childhood Education in India? We are moving towards modernisation. Tomorrow's children have to face changes and challenges. I feel that Vedic mantra chanting is important in a simple form and it should be inculcated in ECE from the beginning. What can be done to protect young children from being victims of molestation? An adult should be taught how to handle children through workshops. Similarly, children should be given certain lessons on what is good touch and bad touch. How well informed are parents in India about the importance of ECE compared to other countries? In larger cities, parents are better aware of ECE but the awareness has not reached the suburbs and rural areas yet. What do you think are the main concerns and challenges facing ECE in India? In West Bengal, people are not aware of the importance of foundation programmes for Early Childhood Education. Over the past decade, the unfortunate reality is that the income gap has widened more between the low poverty group of people. So they do not give enough attention for giving readiness or awareness programme for pre-school.

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BELA KOTWANI Cosmikids Internationaa

Is the setting of certain quality standards for pre-schools feasible in India? Feasibility is a by-product of diligent curriculum curation and orchestration. A suggestion is to assign logistic management to a non-government entity funded with government aid and accountability shared by government and the assigned entity. Do you think teachers should undergo a separate training system to deal with children in this age category? A distinctive training for this age group is not only recommended but must be taken into serious consideration as they are the most formative years of a child’s life. How can we improve the quality of Early Childhood Education in India? Ordinance via the above recommended non-government entity must be created and decorum must be inspected consistently. What can be done to protect young children from being victims of molestation? Indian families are traditional and religion-based which contributes to a strong foundation but on the flipside makes parents timid about having difficult conversations with children. This reservation proves detrimental to a child facing the outside world. Predatory behaviour, incest, molestation are difficult topics. It’s our reaction that gives negative or positive power to a conversation. A neutral and objective conversation with our children at four years of age and regularly thereafter, will make a difference. Let’s not leave this task up to educators and law makers, let’s take care of it at home.

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How well-informed are parents in India about the importance of Early Childhood Education compared to other countries? I think a glimpse of awareness can be seen, however a tendency to have a herd mentality in following the West more for style and elitist recognition is evident. There is a need to stick to our roots, but develop our educational structure for global awareness. What do you think are the main concerns and challenges facing ECE in India? Standardised training, integrity of curriculum, increased parent guilt resulting in trying to parent remotely resulting in a teaching faculty that is caught between ‘a rock and a hard place’ trying to please the parents while maintaining the integrity of education.


What can be done to protect young children from being victims of molestation?

DIANA TYAGI Podar Jumbo kids

Is the setting of certain quality standards for preschools feasible in India? In my opinion, setting quality standards for preschools in India will not be feasible unless we overcome hindrances such as lack of strong leadership, lack of safe orderly classroom equipment and teachers who will focus on the basics of curriculum not having high expectations that actually over exceed the students potential. Moreover, poor pupil-teacher ratio is also a significant obstacle in India, along with lack of constant monitoring via assessment and feedback, coupled with lack of teacher quality (as in my opinion formal qualifications cannot be substituted by lack of passion). Should teachers undergo a separate training system to deal with children in this age category? The education sector is a very dynamic sector and a good teacher needs to be constantly updated with best practices across the world which means re-evaluating and reflecting ones pedagogical skills through professional development and training. After all, at the end of the day a teacher too is a human being and most of her teaching practices and beliefs stem from her own experiences. The need to transform such existing beliefs requires redesigning of professional development modules designed in such a manner that they infuse theory sessions and also focus on generic skills.

Most offenders are known to the child or the family and can sometimes even be family members or relatives. It is important to teach children about good touch and bad touch, educate them that no one has the right to touch their bodies. Similarly, we need to even teach them the right to privacy of other people. It’s very important that no secrets be kept between parent and child and the child should be made comfortable to talk openly to the parents on any issue in this regard. The child should be made aware of special gifts, toys or special outings offered suspiciously by any adult. Also, when a parent enrols the child in the school or a daycare they should be very clear for opting for an organisation that that believes in an ‘open door policy’ and they should regularly monitor and participate in the child’s school activities whenever possible. Constantly sharing of news items and published reports of child sexual abuse with the child is a great way to initiate discussions of safety. Importantly, any child discussing history of sexual abuse should be heard carefully and the disclosure should be taken very seriously and not discarded, as very often children are not believed, particularly if the perpetrator is a family member. How well informed are the parents in India about the importance of Early Childhood Education compared to other countries? Parents in India are unaware of how crucial Early Childhood Education is in helping the child achieve not only ‘school ready status’ but the child’s life outcomes in terms of health and income levels. Unfortunately, private sectors offering so many standalone playschools are entirely unregulated with rudimentary understanding of children’s development. Indian parents’ aspirations differ from parents of other countries, once they make the preliminary investigations regarding the teacher child ratio, fee structure, enquiries regarding basic educational philosophy or how discipline will be handled they pay up and feel their job ends there. Sadly, parents are completely unaware about the brain development being the highest during the first four years of life.

How can we improve the quality of Early Childhood Education in India?

What do you think are the main concerns and challenges facing ECE in India?

As there is no single definition for quality, two principles characterise quality in Early Childhood Education. The first identifies the learner’s cognitive development as a major objective of the educational system and the second emphasises the role of education in promoting values and attitudes and nurturing a creative and emotional development. We need to start with learners ie. those individuals with different attitudes in learning styles having personal attributes influenced by their home and social backgrounds. Thus the learning environment needs to be inclusive thereby building on the strength of the learners. Secondly, we need to improve teaching and learning which means updating the curriculum content by making teaching methods more effective paying greater attention to factors like the language of instruction, regular timely reliable assessments and lastly by paying great attention to policies for selecting, training, supporting, deploying and rewarding of teachers.

In my opinion, one of the main concerns and challenges facing ECE in India today is the fact that full and equal access and achievement in basic education of good quality is lacking. Secondly, the professional status of teaching is at an all-time low and teaching is not considered as one of the most soughtafter careers in India. Moreover, the financial compensation angle is deplorable as it is a highly underpaid job resulting in the profession being dominated by women, thus we see less males preferring to be teachers. The ongoing commercialisation of education results in ‘the modern temples of education’ - with infrastructures equivalent to a five-star resort, classrooms today with air conditioning in them as well as in the buses used to commute to and fro. The lack of intellectual liberty and freedom is what teachers miss in this day and age in their profession which ends at curtailing their motivation to learn, innovate and update their practices.

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NATASHA BARUAH Globe Tot'ers - A Birla Preschool

Is the setting of certain quality standards for pre-schools feasible in India? A well research centralised curriculum with an integrated teaching approach based on the fundamental principles of education proposed by UNESCO i.e. Four Pillars of Education: Learning to be, Learning to do, Learning to know and Learning to live together will definitely set a quality standard in the preschools of India. The value of setting standards will be possible when we recognize and accept that Early Childhood Education is a vital developmental need for all the children and that every child has a right to equitable quality education. Should teachers undergo a separate training system to deal with children in this age category? The focused trainings will help the teachers to enhance their knowledge, the scientific approach to teaching, understanding the teaching pedagogy, child psychology as well as develop enthusiasm and passion for teaching the children. Communication skills of the teacher are very important as it creates effective difference in the child’s life. It is essential to target classroom experiences with hands-on learning guidelines for teachers to ensure learning is happening in the classroom. Therefore, a separate training system will definitely help the teachers to focus on the needs of a particular age group. How can we improve the quality of Early Childhood Education in India? We can improve the quality of Early Childhood Education in India by developing and following a suggestive developmentally age appropriate activity based curriculum that also highlights the various skills and Meta skills the child needs to acquire. Regular training workshops for teachers will help them to enhance their communication as well as enhance their teaching skills. Involvement of family and community through Early Childhood Education forums will also help to educate the people about the vitality of the early years’ education in a child’s life. What can be done to protect young children from being victims of molestation? The following can be done to protect young children from being victims of molestation: a. A trusted adult supervision is required both in case of a girl

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as well as a boy. b. In today’s world our lives have become dependent on support staff due to our busy schedules but it is very important that while appointing them we must do proper background check supported by a police verification. Also speaking to the past employer about them if possible, may help before recruiting them. c. The children should not be left unsupervised. If caretakers are in-charge of the child, strict rules must be shared with them. However, a vigilant eye and regular monitoring will help to prevent accidents. d. Teaching about body safety to the children through good touch and bad touch is very important. It is also very essential to teach about the people who are in their safe circle for e.g. father, mother, teachers etc. and shout for help if required when they experience any discomfort. e. Regular sessions with parents to create awareness need to be conducted for the same. How well informed are parents in India about the importance of Early Childhood Education compared to other countries? The focus of parent’s in India from a young age of their child is on the academic progress of the child. Therefore, due to the lack of proper knowledge and confidence of the parents on the holistic education, the importance of Early Childhood Education as compared to other countries is ignored. Surely and steadily the awareness is increasing due to social media and other resources. The parent of today is looking for schools which provide more experiential learning with understanding rather than rote learning without understanding. What do you think are the main concerns and challenges facing ECE in India? Lack of awareness of the importance of ECE is the main concern and challenge. The organizations promoting ECE are nonaffordable for the people with low average earnings. The initiative by the Government of India in creating widespread awareness as well as taking up intensive teacher training programmes will help the country to reach and preach the Early Childhood Education sector.


KAUSAR LADIWALA Globe Tot'ers - A Birla Preschool Jubilee Hills and Gopanpally

Is the setting of certain quality standards for preschools feasible in India? Yes, surely. The early years of education are the building blocks of a child’s personality. With time, we have seen the cognitive domain of children growing, therefore it becomes essential to set a standard of quality in order to ensure uniformity. Young children learn at different rates across the various stands of their development and not all children master skills and content within an area in the same order therefore setting a quality standard becomes important for achieving skills, acquiring knowledge and developing positive attitudes. The current curriculums that are being implemented in all preschools in India are meeting the latest trends in curriculum development, that have been designed after extensive research in various domains of neuroscience. Should teachers undergo a separate training system to deal with children in this age category? Yes. We think teachers should undergo a separate training system to deal with children in this age category. This will provide teachers with a greater chance of success in their professions. It will provide them with knowledge, experience and the methods to deal with a variety of situations that commonly arise in a classroom. Considering the challenges teachers face in the classroom with children from diverse background, abilities and potential, it becomes essential for teachers to undergo training in order to tackle issues with ease. While all teachers experiment with new lessons and techniques from time to time, teachers without proper training find themselves learning by ‘Trial & Error’. This experimenting comes at the cost of student education. How can we improve the quality of Early Childhood Education in India? Use observation and assessment to support every child’s needs across all developmental domains to ensure growth. Create a link between assessment and planning. Create a culture of continuous quality improvement. Focus first on children’s safety, health and happiness. How well informed are parents in India about the importance of Early Childhood Education compared to other countries? In India, till the late ’90s parents sent their children to school at the age of four years. They approached K-12 schools of reputation, mostly in academics and ensured that their child got admission from LKG and did not have to worry till the child finished class 12. The first three years of the child’s life was spent at home with the mother, mostly playing. With the arrival of

new millennium, there was a visible change in the mind-set of the parents, especially in the metro cities. The new age parents and parenting style had arrived big time in India. This was mostly because of the IT sector development, as the working mothers got an opportunity to research, analyse and discuss about the various options available for schooling her child and provide the best Early Childhood Education. Indian parents have become more aware of the importance of Early Childhood Education in recent times and are almost at par with the parents of the West. This has been possible due to the influence of the Western world, as a result of travel due to work or pleasure. Many eminent educationists from India have visited schools across the world and have adopted their best practices here. What can be done to protect young children from being victims of molestation? Some measures to be taken to protect young children from being victims… a. As a part of curriculum, rhymes on molestation should be a part of the programme, in order to create a sense of awareness among children of that age group. b. During circle time, safety rules and methods should to be taught to the children. (Good touch and bad touch) c. Developing a sense of equality for girls and boys. d. A kid to kid guide to keep private parts private. e. Relevant books to be kept in the reading centre - safe touch education books, your body belongs to you, yell and tell, some parts are not for sharing etc. f. Documents submitted during recruitment of staff (Teaching/Non-Teaching) have to be verified and rectified. g. Seminars and workshops on child’s molestation to be conducted for parents and staff (Teaching/ Non-Teaching). What do you think are the main concerns and challenges facing ECE in India? The challenges faced by ECE in India are: Standardisation of curriculum: The focus is mostly on academic readiness rather than catering to overall child development or cognitive development. Paying equal attention to life skills, and offering fun based exploratory learning activities to the child during these formative years is equally challenging. Moreover, the curriculum needs to be designed in such a way that a child has a smooth transition to the main school. Relevant skills like communication, interpersonal, research, independent thinking need to be enhanced too. Lack of trained faculty: Many states of India where, institutions of teacher’s education are not widely present, availability of trained and experienced teachers are limiting deficits. Schools are therefore, forced to hire lesser qualified teachers, which in turn affects the quality of teaching. Parents’ concerns: A lot of parents have concerns regarding the right age for admission, methodology and choosing a school. Due to nuclear families parents also do not have anybody to guide them on dealing with the children. Onus then comes on Early Childhood educators to do the needful. Issues with language: India being a diverse country has many languages. Getting teachers to understand and communicate in their mother tongue and yet teach in an official language is a difficult task.

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The early childhood years are both exciting and crucial. It is in this phase of life for kids from birth to 5 years that major development takes place. This list of 10 best books on Early Childhood Education offers both comprehensive and practical directives for educating to this very important group of minds. In our list we have something for new teachers, seasoned veterans, and anyone who is interested in the field of Early Childhood Education.

What's Going On in There? How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life by Lise Eliot Drawing upon the exploding research in the field of Early Childhood as well as the stories of real children, What's Going On in There? is a thought-provoking book that charts the brain's development from conception through the critical first five years. In examining the many factors that play crucial roles in that process, What's Going On in There? explores the evolution of the senses, motor skills, social and emotional behaviors, and mental functions such as attention, language, memory, reasoning, and intelligence. This informative and interesting book shows the innumerable ways in which you can actually help children grow better brains.

Early Childhood Education - A Training Manual by Margaret Irvine The training techniques and modules presented in this manual published by UNESCO and the Bernard van Leer Foundation will facilitate the implementation of Early Childhood training sessions and enhance the skills of trainers, parents and care-givers. The ideas and practices in this manual will ensure the continued development of active, participatory, experiential learning approaches and their acceptance as an integral part of Early Childhood training programmes.

Powerful Interactions: How to Connect With Children to Extend Their Learning by Amy Laura Dombro, Judy Jablon and Charlotte Stetson Powerful Interactions: How to Connect with Children to Extend their Learning gives teachers of preschool age children insight into what teachers call a teachable moment and the authors call 'powerful interactions'. Written by the authors of The Power of Observation, this book will guide you through these three steps of a Powerful Interaction - Be Present, Connect, Extend Learning - in a series of self-guided lessons enlivened with tips, hints, invitations to reflect, and vignettes.

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How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish This is a sensible, lucid guide to practical and effective communication with your children. Using logical approaches to common problems, Faber and Mazlish demonstrate how to improve relationships with children, to make them less stressful and more rewarding.


Tinkerlab: A Hands-On Guide for Little Inventors by Rachelle Doorley Kids are natural tinkerers. They experiment, explore, test, and play, and they learn a great deal about problem-solving through questions and hands-on experiments. This book is about helping parents and teachers of babies, toddlers, and preschoolers understand and tap into this natural energy with engaging, kid-tested, easy-to-implement projects that value process over product. The creative experiments shared in this book foster curiosity, promote creative and critical thinking, and encourage tinkering--mindsets that are important to children growing up in a world that values independent thinking.

The Complete Resource Book for Preschoolers: An Early Childhood Curriculum With Over 2000 Activities and Ideas by Pam Schiller, Kay Hastings

Basic Montessori: Learning Activities For Under-Fives by David Gettman

The Complete Resource Book is perfect to use as a planning guide or as a resource for responding to children's specific interests. The daily plans have circle time, music and movement activities, suggested books, and learning center ideas. The appendix is jampacked with songs, recipes, and games. Though some of the stuff may seem a bit outdated, this book will give enough structure and practical ideas to the Early Childhood educator to make something personalised with less stress.

Basic Montessori opens the celebrated philosophy and method to a more general public. David Gettman has devised a clear and modern explanation of Montessori's revolutionary ideas about early intellectual development, and provides a step-by-step guide to the Montessori learning activities most commonly used with under-fives. These include activities for introducing reading and writing, counting and decimal concepts, science, and geography, as well as activities that help develop the child's practical and sensorial skills.

How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough How Children Succeed introduces us to a new generation of scientists and educators who are radically changing our understanding of how children develop character, how they learn to think, and how they overcome adversity. This provocative and profoundly hopeful book will not only inspire and engage readers; it will also change our understanding of childhood itself.

How To Get Kids To Say Yes!: Using the Secret Four Color Languages to Get Kids to Listen by Ella Schreiter, Liz Schreiter, Keith Schreiter This book is really good in providing insights into children's personality, what motivates them and how to support them. Kids view the world in different ways. Once we know how they view the world, our words get through. We don’t have to be a psychologist, psychic, or super-parent. We just have to meet kids "where they are." How To Get Kids To Say Yes! helps you recognise which of the four basic personalities fits our kids and then talk to our kids with common words that fit their view of their world.

Bringing Learning to Life: The Reggio Approach to Early Childhood Education by Louise Boyd Cadwell In this book, Cadwell helps educators understand what it means to use ideas from the Reggio Approach in their classrooms. She describes the growth and evolution of the work in the St Louis Region collaborative since the early 1990s.

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THESE 5 EDUCATIONAL YOUTUBE CHANNELS ARE OUR TOP PICKS WHEN YOUR PRESCHOOLERS ARE ASKING TO WATCH CARTOONS OR WHEN THEY NEED TO BE KEPT BUSY FOR A LITTLE WHILE (ENSURING THAT THEY LEARN SOMETHING AS WELL) :

Infobells - Hindi A collection of popular Hindi rhymes presented by Infobells in an interesting and appealing way for younger kids. Your students will enjoy this. http://bit.ly/2rmIIEns

Kids Channel Cartoon Videos for Kids Kids Channel Cartoon Videos for Kids specializes in graphic videos, nursery rhymes and songs for children. With the help of colours and graceful movement children learn and develop their cognitive capacities, imagination, creativity and logical reasoning. http://bit.ly/2rkAyMM

Pebbles live Pebbles live is fun channel for young ones with animated rhymes, stories and lessons. http://bit.ly/2DR8mDy

Mother Goose Club The six colourful characters (adults and kids) on this channel introduce little ones to nursery rhymes and other preschool classics, through movement, song, and skits. You can choose to watch single, short (1-2 minute) episodes or the channel's curated playlists (runtime of around 30 minutes). http://bit.ly/2gjokfq

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ChuChu TV Nursery Rhymes & Kids Songs ChuChu TV offers a collection of colourful educational rhymes for children across various age groups: toddlers (0-3 years) and preschoolers (3-5 years). The cartoons are developed in such a way so as to make kids’ learning experience fun and creative. ChuChu TV is trusted by more than 18 million parents all over the world. http://bit.ly/2BhenXj

February 2018


TECH FOCUS

EdTech for Early

CHILDHOOD Education

writeback@scoonews.com

in the preschool really the solution that’s needed?

dTech is the favourite buzzword among education leaders today. Technology is often perceived as the panacea that will most quickly transform outcomes for millions of children and make the lives of teachers simpler. But is technology

Research shows that children in the age group 3-6 years learn best through social interactions, through play, and by engaging with the environment. To develop essential socioemotional skills, teachers need to interact with children in a fundamentally different way and create a

Vinay Singh

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learning environment where the child feels safe to take risks. The human elements of education cannot be quite replicated by technology in the classroom. However, technology can play an enabling role by providing the teacher and preschools with tools and resources to facilitate their teaching, schedules and communications.

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TECH FOCUS According to the US Department of Education’s Office of Education Technology, the following four guiding principles for use of technology with early learners are: Guiding Principle #1: Technology—when used appropriately—can be a tool for learning. Guiding Principle #2: Technology should be used to increase access to learning opportunities for all children.

DO'S AND DON'TS FOR PRESCHOOL TECH In 2012, the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the Fred Rogers Center produced a joint position statement on the use of technology and interactive media in Early Childhood programs.

BEST PRACTICES Evaluate technology and interactive media carefully before introducing them to children for their support of creativity, exploration, and play.

Guiding Principle #3: Technology may be used to strengthen relationships among parents, families, early educators, and young children. Guiding Principle #4: Technology is more effective for learning when adults and peers interact or co-view with young children. A preschool teacher has to juggle with many tasks throughout the day - communicating with parents, reading to the class, tracking student progress, providing handwriting practice, quizzing students on the basics, watching videos, phonics… the list is almost endless. From staying organized to making use of classroom technology, here’s our guide to using education technology for preschool teachers:

PROVIDE FASTER FEEDBACK TO PARENTS: SeeSaw app helps teachers document and share their students’ learning activities with families, who can immediately know all about their child’s school day.

Provide a balance of other activities for children that include active, hands-on engagement with the world, using the technology as a support. Use technology to support adult-child interactions, such as through the use of interactive e-books.

PRACTICES TO AVOID Prohibit the passive use of non-interactive technologies such as television, videos, and DVDs before the age of 2 in Early Childhood programs, and discourage passive and non-interactive use of technology between the ages of 2 and 5. Avoid technological versions of activities that are not developmentally appropriate, such as electronic worksheets for preschoolers. Don’t allow technology to replace real-world activities. For example, a touch screen can be used to produce art, but should not replace paints, markers, crayons, or other materials. SOURCES: National Association for the Education of Young Children; Fred Rogers Institute

myly helps Schools to manage their Academics, Administration & Communication. https://www.mylyapp.com/

https://web.seesaw.me/ Free cloud storage services like Google Drive, OneDrive and Box.com are great for sharing photos and files with fellow teachers and families, keeping documents in sync between all of your devices, and so much more. These allow you to store and share 5-10 GB of files from the device of your choice. Visit https://drive.google.com or https://onedrive.live.com to learn more or sign-up for a free cloud storage account. Android and iOS mobile apps are also available.

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ClassBoard allows teachers to quickly and easily share images, videos and documents, giving parents a view of their child’s education as it happens. http://www.classboard.school/ Homeroom is an easy way to share what's happening in the classroom with students' parents. Upload class or school photos safely to private classroom albums only parents and teachers can see, away from social media and the internet. https://gethomeroom.com

February 2018

Use of multimedia and technology to expand students’ learning: SafeShare.TV is a student-friendly filter that removes the offensive elements sometimes surrounding YouTube clips. https://safeshare.tv/ AppyStore is an app with videos and curated content designed for children up to eight years of age. http://www.appystore.in Discovery Education is the global leader in standards-based digital content for K-12 with award-winning digital textbooks, multimedia content, professional development, and the largest professional learning community of its kind.


http://www.discoveryeducation.com/

cators.

Karadi Path is a spinoff of Karadi Tales, which provides tailor-made modules that use movement, songs, and stories for language learning. It uses video and audio recordings to create an immersive classroom environment where children pick up the language through listening accompanied by a teacher as a facilitator.

https://www.earlychildhoodwebinars.com/

http://www.karadipath.com/ Disney Story Central is a digital library filled with hundreds of reading adventures, instantly connecting the child to his beloved Disney and Pixar characters.

The TEC Center at Erikson Institute supports Early Childhood educators to make informed decisions about the appropriate use of technology with children from birth to age 8. The carefully selected resources and real-world examples provided by the Center strengthen preschool educators’ digital literacy and their ability to select, use, integrate, and evaluate technology in the classroom and other Early Childhood settings. http://teccenter.erikson.edu/category/early_childhood_educators/

https://disneystorycentral.com/ Tinkerlab provides easy and actionable ways to support your child’s creative journey using fun experiments and innovative art activities. https://tinkerlab.com Networking development:

and

Early Childhood Teacher’s blog is an educational blog for parents and teachers focused on promoting the social, emotional, and academic growth of the Early Childhood learner. http://www.earlychildhoodteacher.org /blog/

professional

Early Childhood Investigations is an ongoing series of conference-quality free webinars for Early Childhood edu-

Teachertube is a site to provide anytime, anywhere professional development with teachers teaching teachers. http://www.teachertube.com/

Twitter can serve as an excellent professional learning network (PLN) that helps you step outside of their classrooms and schools. Collaborate and discuss with other Early Childhood educators to solve problems, share, and refine your teaching practice. #preschool, #prek, #earlychildhood, #preschoolteacher, #kinderchat are a few popular hashtags to follow for updates and information on Early Childhood, kindergarten and young children. https://twitter.com/ Pinterest is like an online pinboard— mostly for collecting visual pieces of multimedia (mostly images). Pinterest is an important venue for professional development—a place to find creative lesson plans, classroom decorations and teaching advice. https://pinterest.com The age old debate about whether technology in the preschool is good or bad is ongoing; however it’s time to talk about how Early Childhood educators can make developmentally appropriate decisions about educational technology on behalf of children and parents in Early Childhood programs.

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GLOBE TROTTING

ECE AROUND THE WORLD

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February 2018


While global trends in Early Childhood Education around the world are changing, progress has been slow.

Anjana Deepak writeback@scoonews.com

C

hildren are a Nation’s future.... Any nation that believes in this term will see the value of investing their energy and expertise in Early Childhood Education (ECE). This would require government, non-government, private sector organisations, agencies and individuals (teachers and parents) to bring in their collective wisdom to illuminate a path towards a comprehensive system of care and education towards preschoolers worldwide. ECE applies to children between the ages of 3-5 years and is often referred to as preschool, pre-kindergarten, day care, nursery school or early education. It helps children to transition from pre-school to elementary school, which ensures a positive impact giving the child a head start towards a bright future.

The Importance of Early Childhood Education Early Childhood Education and care is the first chance to introduce a child to the diversity of our society. This will have a huge impact and will influence their attitude and behaviour in life. Investing in a child’s education at the early stages will help a country eliminate poverty, boost prosperity and will create human capital which will help economies diversify and grow, helping its country reach great heights. Quality is of the essence. Providing quality education to pre-schoolers must have sound philosophies and goals; provide high-quality educational environments; reflect developmentally appropriate and effective curriculum and pedagogy; attend to children’s needs, both basic and special; respect families and communities; employ professional

teachers and staff and implement rigorous programme evaluation practices. The years before a child enters the world of formal education are important for their overall development and to have their worth as human beings recognized. All societies have a universal responsibility to recognise the preschool years as ones in which children should be protected from harm, nurtured in growth, motivated to learn, and equipped to contribute to their society in a multitude of ways. Policies must be created and should not separate the needs of the ‘‘poor’’ or the ‘‘disabled’’ or the ‘‘different’’ from those of children presumed ‘‘disadvantaged’’ or ‘‘normal.’’ Nations should set one excellent standard for meeting the physical, emotional, social, and cognitive needs of all children within their societies. It is imperative that the transition from home to school should not be so drastic as to cause psychological or emotional stress for the child.

elementary school a more peaceful transition. Parents that are actively involved in their child’s education will be able to extend and replicate activities that are experienced at school. This helps them understand what their child might need to work on to increase competency and confidence. Taking the time to see where the child stands in his/her development will help parents discover their strengths and interests and appreciate them for who they are.

Across the Globe Roger Neugebauer from Exchange, The Early Leaders' Magazine, asked the members of the World Forum community on Early Childhood trends around the world. This is what they had to say:

Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia Liana Ghent, International Step by Step

Parental Involvement

Under the educational system of former communist countries, the care and teaching of children 0-7 years was a service provided by governments in kindergartens financed and run by the state or by big enterprises. After the political and socio-economical system changed, many kindergartens either closed down or started charging parents significantly higher amounts for their services. The families that have been most affected by these changes are those with low socio-economic status, language differences, from rural areas, and with challenging personal issues.

Parents playing an active role in a child’s early educational development has lifelong benefits. Establishing the importance of education and developing a network of helpful connections is a critical point which provides the child with aids that make the move to

In an attempt to improve the situation, in some countries a compulsory preschool year has been introduced in primary schools and usually focuses largely on cognitive issues related to readiness for school. But it is not always accessible to children from dis-

The peak for learning new things, improving motor, language and cognitive skills is usually from the age of 3 years. It also helps in the screening process of the child’s development such as health, cognitive development, speech, vision, hearing, coordination, emotional skills and social skills. This helps identify any development or health issues that need to be taken into consideration, to prevent learning delays.

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GLOBE TROTTING advantaged families. Other problems include the high number of children in classrooms, and the fact that in some cases day care is viewed as a business and provided by private non-professional individuals.

The Netherlands, Amsterdam Betsy van de Grift, Partou Kinderopvang The government considers child care as an integral and essential part of economic growth. Especially the fact that a large part of the working population is middle-aged makes it necessary that mothers with young children get the opportunity to participate in the economy and thus increase the economic wealth of the nation and their own emancipation.

Nepal Kishor Shrestha, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu The number of students in the schools in the hilly regions has dropped. In some schools there are more teachers than students. On the other hand, the number of students in the schools in the urban plain areas has increased disproportionately. A single classroom has to accommodate more than 200 students and be taken care of by a single teacher. This has led to a shortage of physical facilities and teachers and adversely affects the academic environment of the schools as well as the overall performance of the children.

Tajikistan Ibod Sharifi, Coordinating Child Centre for International Development, Dushanbe The education system in Tajikistan has gradually deteriorated due to lack of appropriate infrastructures/ schools; lack of education equipment, education materials, and textbooks; brain drain; poor level of educator training and refresher courses for teachers; low payment (average $10-15 per month); and lack of motivation of education and other sectors’ workers who are responsible for child education and care and social support. As a result, these and other barriers increase social exclusion of a growing number of children, a majority of which constitute girls, who lack access to compulsory primary and secondary education.

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Hong Kong Maggie Koong, Victoria Kindergarten and Nursery Hong Kong is in the midst of a thorough education reform programme that, having recognized early childhood as an integral part of education as the foundation of lifelong learning, and as the first stage of all-round development, is deeply affecting the pre-primary sector in several ways. It has called for the harmonization of early childhood services and this has provoked a paradigm shift towards integrated or coordinated ECEC systems leading to improvements in professional training, greater financial support, better monitoring, and less disparity between child care centres and kindergartens.

Jordan Lara Hussein, The National Council for Family Affairs, Amman Jordan is amongst the first countries in the region that developed an Early Childhood Development strategy (ECD) and a plan of action (2003-2007). The ECD strategy has adopted a definition of early childhood that includes the period extending from pregnancy up to below nine years of child age. The ECD strategy encompasses 14 themes covering a range of aspects aimed at providing children with protection and appropriate environment that enhance their growth and development. Since then, Jordan has witnessed a noticeable development in its policies and programmes relating to early childhood in the different sectors.

Canada Dr Laurie McNelles, Mothercraft, Toronto Most regions in Canada are concerned with increasing the level of professionalism associated with the care and education of young children. Many regions in Canada are experiencing a shortage of qualified early care and education professionals. Predictably, some of these shortages are associated with low wages and poor benefit packages offered throughout early care and education. In addition, these shortages are also related to specific cultural considerations as ethnocultural groups build their internal capacity to meet the early care and education needs of children within their communities.

February 2018

India Reeta Sonawat, SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai A large number of children live in an economic and social environment that impedes the child’s physical and mental development. These conditions include poverty, poor environmental sanitation, disease and infection, inadequate access to primary health care, inappropriate child caring and feeding practices. In the private sector, although there are undoubtedly a few outstanding institutions doing wonderful work, the majority are inadequate. The state does not have anybody to describe standards and persons running centres to submit documents that they meet the standards and then the centre is registered. The existence of centres for accreditation, which bring highest standards of quality in early childhood programmes, is out of the question. Globally India is being recognized as a nation whose time has come.

The Future Though most of these global trends in Early Childhood Education around the world, be it in developing or underdeveloped countries, are changing and are upping their ante, progress has been slow. Most countries are now experiencing a high demand for high quality programmes which has stemmed from parent focus on learning outcomes and public funding flowing into early education. Early on parents chose a child care programme based on location - that has changed in recent times. Parents demand to know more about the programme before making their choice. Social media is playing an important role that serves as a forum to review group opinions and ideas while researching a centre. The main factors that influence parents while choosing a centre for their child is the learning environment, parent engagement, teacher experience and training and centre management. When looking at Early Childhood Education, whether received at home, in preschool, in a day-care centre or elsewhere, we must keep in mind the effects on a child’s physical, mental and emotional development. The brain of a child reared in safe, loving and secure environments is more likely to develop in a normal and healthy manner ensuring they are on the right path for a bright future making them worthy future citizens and happy individuals.


ScooNews - February 2018 - Digital Edition  

Special Issue on Early Childhood Education featuring Global Experts on Early Childhood Care & Education

ScooNews - February 2018 - Digital Edition  

Special Issue on Early Childhood Education featuring Global Experts on Early Childhood Care & Education

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