Posts in June 2021

"Have you only played today?"

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Sometimes adults think they should prepare and plan tons of fancy activities for children every week. That is neat and probabaly enjoyable for children (and teachers) occassionally, but what truly is enjoyable for children is free play.

Therefore, make sure to give children days that include mostly free play. It might feel dull or lazy to let children 'just' play, but oh boy - it is not that. Play is actually the best thing you can offer children.

Play has so many positive sides to it, that I even made a rainbow poster out of it!

(This poster idea is commonly used on Finnish early childhood education and here you can see Finnish versions of it.)

During play children get to experience, practise and learn:

  • joy
  • friendship
  • communication skills
  • language skills
  • gender roles
  • identity
  • self control
  • independency
  • equality
  • observation skills
  • focusing
  • thinking
  • creativity
  • planning
  • rules and norms
  • safety
  • empathy
  • emotional skills
  • flexibility
  • creativity
  • sensory experiences
  • body awareness
  • motor skills
  • frustration

Can you come up with some more?

During free play adults do not need to feel useless though.

Is quality childcare inaccessible?

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

"NO!" says Kindiedays, but read what the reality is from a new report by UNICEF.  Where Do Rich Countries Stand on Childcare? ranks the accessibility, affordability and quality of childcare for children between birth and school age. This article is based on the UNICEF's publication by Anna Gromada and Dominic Richardson.

Affordable, quality childcare is inaccessible even in many of the world’s wealthiest countries, UNICEF said in a new report released on 18th June 2021. Finland, Iceland, Latvia, New Zealand and Denmark have the highest quality of childcare and best practices from these countries can be applied and adapted everywhere.

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“To give children the best start in life, we need to help parents build the nurturing and loving environment that is so critical to children’s learning, emotional well-being and social development,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. “Government investment in family-friendly policies, including childcare, ensures parents have the necessary time, resources and services they need to support their children at every stage of their development.”

Guarantee holistic learning for the whole center

Childcare should provide affection, protection, stimulation and nutrition and enable children to develop social, emotional and cognitive skills. These goals can be achieved through high-quality childcare both within and outside the family.

Rather than viewing one form of care as inherently better for children, the report looks at the policy mix and the scope of choice offered to parents who decide to stay with their children, as well as those who decide to use organized care.

Childcare should provide affection, protection, stimulation and nutrition and enable children to develop social, emotional and cognitive skills. These goals can be achieved through high-quality childcare.

Family care is stressful for many parents

Even if family care is a positive experience for most children, it can weigh heavily on caregivers, especially if they are experiencing a time or financial crunch. For many parents, their childhood experiences, mental health and well-being will affect their parenting ability; and successful parenting will become a learnt, not inherent, skill. Caring for a child can be one of life’s most gratifying experiences. Still, without adequate support, parents can become stressed, exhausted and forced to make excessive sacrifices in their education, employment and social life. The next section looks at the informal and formal childcare that can support them.

When parental leave ends, some children attend organized childcare in kindergartens, preschools and other early education centers. It can relieve fatigued parents and enable them to return to work or attain a balance between paid work, self-care and caring for others (Brilli et al., 2016). Such care, if of high quality, benefits children by fostering cognitive and social-emotional skills. Interactions with other children support children’s social, emotional and behavioural development, giving them skills they can use in school and in their lives outside school.

Such care, if of high quality, benefits children by fostering cognitive and social-emotional skills. Interactions with other children support children’s social, emotional and behavioural development, giving them skills they can use in school and in their lives outside school.

Which children benefit from early education?

Early education and care may be especially beneficial in preventing children from disadvantaged backgrounds, and children whose parents left education early, from falling behind their peers in cognitive development in the early years (Heckman and Raut, 2016). In this way, access to early caring and educational experiences outside the home can have an equalizing effect on children’s development and life chances. The main challenge is to ensure that childcare is accessible, affordable, equitable and high quality.

Due to the lack of comparable data, the quality of childcare is measured in this report through the inputs, such as children-to-staff ratio and caregivers’ qualifications. Low ratios and small groups enable every child to get enough attention from the caregiver, which enhances their safety and development.

Results do show that parents are more satisfied with childcare in countries with affordable prices. Enrolment follows both affordability and good opinion of care services.

Goal-oriented teachers' self assessment secures quality

Which countries offer quality childcare?

Luxembourg, Iceland and Sweden occupy the top places; the best performers manage to combine affordability with quality of organized childcare. They also offer generous leave to both mothers and fathers, giving parents choice how to take care of their children.

However, no country is a leader on all four fronts suggesting that there is room for improvement everywhere, even among the more family-friendly countries.

Slovakia, the United States, and Cyprus occupy the bottom places. Weak investments in parental leave and childcare appear to indicate that childcare is seen more as a private rather than a public responsibility.

Iceland, Latvia, New Zealand, Finland and Denmark have the highest quality of childcare. Denmark, Finland and New Zealand combine a low children-to-staff ratio with high qualifications of caregivers to ensure that children get sufficient attention from trained personnel.

What is Finnish ECEC?

Early education during COVID-19 pandemic

Even before COVID-19, some of the world’s richest countries were failing to offer comprehensive childcare solutions to all families. In some instances, this reflected their policy priorities rather than available resources.

Add math into child's day with these tips

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Studies show that a child's math skills at the start of kindergarten are a better predictor of future academic success than reading skills, social skills, or the ability to focus, says Laura Overdeck, the founder of Bedtime Math Foundation.

Therefore, it is important to help children to get comfortable with math concepts like measuring and counting at home.

With these tips you can add some math to your child’s day!

Curriculum lays the base for learning and later education

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

The curriculum should reflect ideas of the children – once it does, everything goes well and learning will be fun!

Early childhood education curriculum lays the base for learning and later education. Quality early childhood education brings several positive outcomes for the children but also for the society. Good curriculum explains good teaching methods:

  • interact in a sensitive manner
  • take into children’s interests into account
  • create learning environments together with the children
  • care for the children
  • enable play and learning

Curriculum is a guide that tells how to offer equal and consistent early childhood education. By working along those guidelines, all children receive the same possibilities for learning.

Offer children activities based on Finnish Curriculum - get free lesson plans!

Childhood is an important phase in life

Early childhood is a major phase in our lives: many developmentally important steps are taken already before going to school. Therefore, what happens in early childhood is important not only because of this moment, but also because of the future.

Curriculum is like a path that starts in early childhood and continues much further, creating a consistent and life-long path of learning.

Let the curriculum serve as a guide path but do not forget that each child is unique! Not all children need to move strictly along the path; some children might jump over some rocks while others slip and slide in muddy puddles and someone moves backwards.

Get Kindiedays and use a curriculum of choice!

Starting point for learning: the children

In early childhood education, child’s previous experiences, interests and skills are the starting point for learning. Children are part of planning, implementation and assessment according to their age level.

Curriculum contains information about the pedagogical activities in early childhood education. It is important that the activities interest the children and are challenging, but not too hard. Activities should encourage children to learn and develop their capabilities.

Children are "the boss"

Curriculum should show the voice of children. Children’s ideas, interests, opinions and thoughts must guide the activities and curriculum forward. It is important for the children to experience being part of the group and get the feeling that their ideas and opinions are important.

Teaching methods and learning environments should encourage children to experiment, test and practise things. Children should also get support for their learning when needed.

Curriculum must give space for play. Play is important for both learning and well-being of children. Play motivates children and brings joy.

Learning through play - What is Finnish ECEC?