The program will support schools with many resources that support teaching, learning and assessment.
Education in the early years has been the late focus of many nations, including India, and yet it lays the foundation for a child’s entire educational career. Evidence tells us that children enjoy learning from an early age and are more likely to succeed later in life.
The new Education Policy 2020 envisions a five-year basic phase of education and the proposal has been welcomed by educators and practitioners in the field of Early Childhood Education (ECE). Once introduced, there will still be a need for integrated education activities at the basic level in line with the policy. Therefore, the need for a high-quality early childhood education program has never been greater.
Children who participate in high-quality early-year programs are better prepared for more classes and tend to perform higher education. A longitudinal study conducted by the Cambridge Center for Evaluation and Monitoring (Cambridge CEM – one of the largest and longest established providers of constructive assessment for children of all ages) revealed that children were 4-5 years old when they were in an effective class in their first year of school. Was related to subsequent achievement at age 16.
But what does an ‘effective’ program look like?
An ambitious early year center should look for a program that provides a solid foundation that young students can build as they progress in their education.
Below are some key elements that educators should look for:
The program should complement social and cultural factors (such as home and community experiences) that shape a child’s learning and development. Children should be involved in their own learning through well-planned experiences that help them develop skills, organization, emotional attachment and self-worth. Learning should encourage a proper balance of physical, cognitive, language and communication and social and emotional development and help children successfully transfer to primary school, from informal, play-based learning to teaching that is more formal.
The curriculum should offer an holistic approach that focuses on the whole child and connects their development to the world and the people around them. It should include learning statements or objectives, which give the program a holistic structure reflecting well-established developmental milestones for children’s learning. Each child has his or her own developmental path, and learning statements should promote progress to enable the development of knowledge, understanding, and skills at a deeper level and in different contexts. The curriculum should focus on important areas such as effective communication, creative expression, mathematics, social and emotional development, physical development and understanding of the world around them. Focusing on these areas will encourage children to communicate, create, collaborate and think critically. These are skills that children need in their early years and beyond.
Professional development for teachers
Good quality training and reflective practice are an essential part of a practitioner’s professional life and a key part of an effective early year program. Schools should look for a program with widespread support to help teachers successfully distribute the curriculum. A good early year training program for practitioners will help them develop the best practice and allow the exchange of knowledge between teachers. It should equip teachers to reflect on their practice and develop strategies that will help them deliver their curriculum with confidence in the classroom.
Tools for measuring progress
Assessment is an important part of elementary school education. It provides valuable insights into children’s progress and can help schools plan and support the next steps in their learning and development. The use of continuous constructive assessment through observation and evidence gathering during learning should be central to a program approach. The program should include tools and resources that can help early-year schools assess and evaluate a child’s learning and development as opposed to the primary parameters.
The program will support schools with many resources that support teaching, learning and assessment. Resources should include skill books, workbooks, and rhyme books that support home learning as well as classroom teaching and activity with specific home links to further reinforce and practice the ideas introduced in the classroom. The program should be equipped with a specific framework that clearly defines the areas of learning and learning goals and provides clarity on how to implement the curriculum through tools, strategies and modules. A clear and well-organized program that will create a rich learning experience with a wide range of resources.
Also, early year programs should prepare young students for a successful transition to an elementary school that helps them move from play-based learning to teaching that is more formal. When they finish such a program, they will be ready for the next step in their education.