Taken together, these essays develop a new paradigm for understanding childhood as children experience these years. Rethinking Childhood edited by Peter B. Pufall and Richard P. R46 Dewey Decimal Classification Richard P. Unsworth is a senior fellow of the Kahn Liberal Arts Institute at Smith College where he was dean of the chapel and a professor of religion. Unsworth Part One: Introduction 1.
Unsworth 2. What Is a Child? When Is a Child?
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Her areas of expertise include long-term care policies, chronic illness and disability, interdisciplinary scholarship, contemporary social theory and qualitative research methods. Recognized as one of the most prolific social work researchers in Canada, Dr. Prior to completing his PhD, Dr. Weinstock's research explores the governance of certain types of liberal democracies, and the effects of religious and cultural diversity from an ethical perspective on the political and ethical philosophy of public policy. He has published many articles on the ethics of nationalism, problems of justice and stability in multinational states, the foundations of international ethics, and the accommodation of cultural and moral diversity within liberal democratic societies.
There were no benches at preschool. At our school there are two Apas [female teachers]. One is a bit like the Apa at preschool. She used to be very kind to us.
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She never scolded or hit us. Of the two Apas in my present school, one sometimes scolds us but never hits us. She hits us whether we learn our lessons or not, sometimes for no reason. The Apa in the preschool never hit us. Now we have to stay at school longer then we did at preschool. Our school starts at nine in the morning and goes on till half-past twelve. And we have to study at home. The Apas give us lots of homework. When we were in preschool there was no homework.
We played all the time. It was a lot of fun then. If preschools and schools are to be equal partners in the future, one tradition taking over the other must be avoided. Early childhood and primary education services must work together to create a new and shared understanding of the child. What policies are needed to foster a shared understanding of the child, learning and knowledge so as to create a strong and equal partnership between ECEC and primary schooling? How can expectations of ECEC and schools best be negotiated among schools, early childhood provisions, families and communities, including putting in place clear lines of communication?
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In constructing successful transitions, what is the contribution of professional leadership, at both early childhood and primary phases? Relationships between primary education and the early childhood sector are often one-sided, with the school system dominating. Policies are needed that work towards a strong and equal partnership. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child recommends a rights-based approach to early childhood programmes, including initiatives surrounding transition to primary school.
There are widespread organisational differences between early childhood and primary school, and associated differences in culture and philosophy. Discontinuities and lack of coordination are common even within OECD countries with well-established education systems. In countries where universal basic education has yet to be achieved, the challenges are even greater. Five major aspects require attention: curricular, pedagogical, linguistic, professional and home-to-school continuities.
Children themselves generally approach transitions as a positive challenge. School systems must be organised to respond to that challenge. A strong and equal partnership The institutional contribution to successful transition presupposes frequent contacts between early childhood services and the school, in the context of a strong and equal partnership. The reality is, however, that relationships between primary education and the early childhood sector are often one-sided.
This needs to change, and the educational role of the early childhood sector needs to be recognised. The creation of a special class for children the year before they begin compulsory school, bringing early childhood pedagogy, with its holistic and investigative approaches to learning, into the school, points to the importance of such institutional arrangements. Schools in other countries provide continuity in educational processes in a different way, through bringing down the sequential and discipline-based educational processes of the primary school into early education.
Certain weaknesses are apparent in this approach. Young children placed in an over-formalised, school-like situation from their early years are denied the experience of an appropriate early childhood pedagogy where they can follow their own learning paths and learn self-regulation at their own pace. Research carried out in France, the United Kingdom and the United States of America suggests that while young children from literate and supportive families may do well in instructional classrooms with 20 or more children present, this is not necessarily the case for children coming from low-income and second-language backgrounds Barnett and Boocock, ; Barnett et al.
Smaller classes and more individual attention are needed for these children. More commonly, the pressure is to introduce schoollike teaching into early childhood. Successful transitions within a rights-based approach From General Comment 7: The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child calls on States parties to ensure that all young children receive education in the broadest sense Many countries and regions now provide comprehensive early education starting at 4 years old, which in some countries is integrated with childcare for working parents.
States parties have a key role to play in providing a legislative framework for the provision of quality, adequately resourced services, and for ensuring that standards are tailored to the circumstances of particular groups and individuals and to the developmental priorities of particular age groups, from infancy through to transition into school. They are encouraged to construct high-quality, developmentally appropriate and culturally relevant programmes and to achieve this by working with local communities rather than by imposing a standardized approach to early childhood care and education.
United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, The policy context: diversities and discontinuities The age at which children move from preschool into primary school varies considerably, even within OECD countries. In most countries, the age at which compulsory schooling begins the compulsory school age, CSA is 6 years, though in a few cases it is 5 or 7.
Class sizes in primary schools also vary. The average in OECD member states is Similarly, the length of the school day varies. These structural differences are often linked to cultural differences, expressed in different understandings of purpose, of the child and worker, of learning and practices. The cumulative effect can be considerable. The average child:staff ratio in these centres is 7. The average child:staff ratio is In both types of school, she will be with teachers and subject to a detailed curriculum.
The policy challenges in the Majority World involve even greater complexity, inequality and lack of coordination, especially where ECEC is growing in a policy context where universal basic education has yet to be achieved Arnold et al. Structural differences are often linked to cultural differences.
The environment into which children move when they enter primary school is not uniform, involving structural and cultural differences. To ease the transition do we formalise the informal Unfortunately the former seems to be the trend. Curriculum continuity Children often experience sharp differences in the curriculum when they begin primary school.
Whereas early childhood curricula tend to be organised by domains of learning cognitive, physical, social, etc.
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Shaeffer , p. Some countries have tried to provide more curricular coherence by developing an integrated curriculum for pre-primary and primary school, organised around the development cycles of the child. Where possible, transitions are planned so that children stay together with their friends as they move from preschool to primary school.
Primary school and preschool teachers are trained in the same pedagogic framework and even use the same seven core modules individualisation, learning environment, family participation, teaching strategies for meaningful learning, planning and assessment, professional development, social inclusion.
The organisation of the Step by Step curriculum is based on age, not grade, since primary school entrance age varies. At preschool I only played! Just painting! Classrooms here are to work. Here at primary I work a lot and I get tired Pedagogical continuity Supporting pedagogical continuity for children as they move from one educational setting to another requires learning environments that foster positive teacher—child interactions.
Smaller classes are necessary. Reducing the numbers of children attending school before they reach the normal age for school entry could greatly help address the problem of overcrowded classrooms in some countries Arnold et al. In some cases, closer linkages between early childhood programmes and schools can build on the strengths of both pedagogical approaches. For example, primary schools can become more child-centred, and early childhood programmes can focus more on fostering the skills children need to succeed in school OECD, Planning for pedagogical continuity goes beyond ensuring institutional and curriculum coordination.
Teachers and curriculum developers need to take into account the differences within any group of children, in their family circumstances, prior experiences and abilities Petriwskyj et al. It is important for both primary schools and early childhood programmes to focus on continuity of pedagogy and methods across the early childhood age span.
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The experience of Norway The development of kindergarten within Norwegian society was accompanied by both an implicit and an explicit struggle against the traditions associated with school. It has been claimed that the kindergarten and the primary school are founded on different philosophies, organisational models and pedagogical practices and the transition from one to another needs special attention Germeten, ; Larsen, The Kindergarten Act offers an understanding of the concept of learning very different from a traditional school-based concept.
The law emphasises that This expresses an understanding of learning which is neither focused on achievement goals nor mainly controlled by the curriculum. Children are the primary agent of their own learning processes. Furthermore, the social and cultural tasks of the kindergarten are underlined when the Act states that Once a child can read and write in his or her mother tongue, the skills are transferable to other languages. Mother-tongue instruction is also important for promoting gender equality and social inclusion. Girls who are taught in their mother tongue tend to stay in school longer, perform better on achievement tests, and repeat grades less than girls who do not UNESCO, In many countries, children arrive at school with numerous local languages, are then inducted into a regional or national language, but then have to learn English or another global language if they are to progress to higher grades Woodhead, This is especially true in situations where children feel solidarity with friends in making transitions.
Early childhood programmes tend to foster parental involvement, yet this is not always carried through into primary schools. In the Madrasa early childhood programme throughout East Africa, early-grade primary school teachers communicate with teachers from their feeder preschools Mwaura, In Guyana, early childhood and primary school teachers work together in school, home visits and other after-school programmes.
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Such strategies encourage connections and coherence in teaching styles across two distinct levels Charles and Williams, Joint initial training can help teachers develop a common knowledge base and common practices upon which to build partnerships. Sweden has taken a broader approach. All teachers, including those working in compulsory school with children aged 6—16 , preschool with children aged 1—6 and after-school programmes, follow a common core of courses and then specialise in a particular area of teaching. Achieving comparable status and pay for professionals working in different sectors would be desirable in order to equalise power relationships.
Early childhood practitioners have traditionally had lower status and training in many countries, compared with primary school professionals. Long-term harmonisation would be desirable; short term, all who work with children should be respected as equal members of the team, bringing different, but valuable, skills, knowledge and experiences to their work with young children Neuman, A key source of professional continuity is when professionals working in each sector make respect for the rights of the child their starting point, though this is not yet common practice.
Practitioners with different status and training should be respected as equal members of the team, valued for the diversity of their contributions. Achieving successful transitions The transition from preschool to school is an important moment for many young children. It can be a stimulus to growth and development, but if too abrupt and handled without care it carries — particularly for children from disadvantaged backgrounds — the risk of regression and failure.
Transition to school generally has a highly positive connotation for young children. Young children desire to move forward and the challenge of transition can be deeply motivating for them OECD, , a. To achieve successful transition for all young children, more research is needed on the organisation, aims and pedagogy of both the preschool and the early classes of primary school.
Young children have a deep desire to communicate and imitate. What are best practices regarding training and support for ECEC and primary Grade 1 teachers, especially in relation to literacy and language development — and how do these work out in different contexts?
How can teacher training, in-service training and school organisation best support professionals working together in the best interests of children? References Alidou, H. Arnold, C. Barnett, W.
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