Principles and Practices in Early Childhood Education
1. Introduction
In recent years, the importance of early childhood education has become a topic of public interest. According to the US Department of Education, human development is the most rapid in the first year of life. The skills and concepts students learn in the early years truly shape the future successes. However, there are still diverse fields of research in the multiple of connected areas, such as child development, childcare, and early childhood curriculum and policy. Introducing the historical and developmental foundations of the early childhood education field, the book “Principles and Practices in Early Childhood Education” is a resource that covers every topic you can think of in the field. From early philosophers to the pioneers in the early childhood education movement, such as Froebel and Montessori, the book covers the most influential historical and modern theories of early childhood education. The book is compiled and written in such a way that readers should be easily drawn to it. First and foremost, the usage of color is not only to appeal to the eyes, but to promote learning. Each theory, every philosopher, and all pioneers discussed in the book have distinct colors for their titles. When it comes to reading and studying a particular theory, it saves time and prevents confusion in remembering which color is for which theory. Most significantly, the book is a great combination of breadth and depth of its covered contents. Each child is an individual and the book acknowledges the chances of multiple practices that might be better suited for different learning styles; it offers possible suggestions for activities. In addition, the book is filled with fun activities that can make learning engaging. Such activities bolster children’s developmental domains and encourage children to use their creative minds. The book also includes sample activities from the teachers that have used and found them helpful in the current practices. As a result, the book is not just a research compilation, but a manual that offers practicality and efficient practices in the real world. Last but not least, the book continuously emphasizes the focus on the child. It is essential to understand the term “developmentally appropriate practices” and its implications in the early childhood education field when we design activities for children. The materials and activities provided in the book are aligning with the best interest of children’s learning and developmental progress. It is constantly reminding the reader to reflect on how or why is something a method and critically evaluate if it is developmentally appropriate. The milestones of skills and concepts taught at certain age levels are thoroughly analyzed and emphasized in the essay. Overall, the introductory section of the book has previewed the breadth and the depth of the materials presented in the whole essay. The introduction has effectively used to accentuate the significance of early childhood education as well as to provide readers a “road map” about the essay’s trajectory. By analyzing, synthesizing, and critically evaluating both historical and modern researches, “Principles and Practices in Early Childhood Education” is definitely an intellectually stimulating and challenging material for educators, researchers, and anyone interested in the study of early childhood.
1.1 Importance of Early Childhood Education
Early childhood education is a term that refers to the period of time from a child’s birth to when they enter kindergarten, according to Dr. Walter Gilliam, the Director of the Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy. This means that children ages 0-5 are in their early childhood years. “These are such critically important years,” Dr. Gilliam said. “The highest rate of human learning occurs from birth to age 5.” This quote tells us just how much learning goes on in the minds of young children. It is incredible to think that we are capable of more learning in those first few years of our lives than in any other years, even into adulthood. But in fact, the brain doubles in the first year of life and is nearly 90% of adult size by three years old, according to Dr. Jack Shonkoff, Director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. But with all of this amazing development occurring, he says the brain is also very susceptible to negative factors such as stress, abuse, and neglect. This is why it is so critically important for children to receive the quality of care and education that will help to promote healthy brain development- and best prepare them for the many challenges of learning that will occur over the course of their lives. This is where early childhood education comes into play. By providing education and care to young children, it allows parents to work or further their own education, knowing that their son or daughter is in good hands. It also offers the opportunity to socialize with other children, learn to share and contribute to a group, and allow for family, friend, and community involvement. Most importantly, it gives children a head start and helps prepare them for school. With the right resources, a child who has access to quality early childhood education can and will continue to positively progress through their school years, past the college and into their lives as an adult.
1.2 Overview of the Research Essay
Firstly, let us discuss how to choose a research question for the research essay. It is important to select a research question that is focused and researchable. In the context of this essay, the research question must be carefully considered. Given the complexity and duration of the modern early childhood teacher education curriculum, it is impractical to engage all first year students in a complex, multi-stage, participant demographic research project of the type favored by many graduate programs. As well, the resources and time required are simply not available. For that reason, the research question for this essay was on a subject that third year students for whom the internationalism unit is lecture and tutorial based could engage in both data collection and analysis. The research question is “Are academic articles and observations indicating that play is an effective method of improving student learning in early childhood teacher education programs, in both the short and long term, used effectively within the tutorial-based internationalism course and to what effects?” This question allows for a focused essay. The answer to the research question should be developed in the form of an argument that is debatable and supported by the collation and analysis of relevant data. This focus is important. A research essay must demonstrate depth and breadth of research, i.e. more than one or two sources. All students in the unit, including those who sit the lecture and tutorial based version of the course, do have their work examined for incorporation of a thesis statement at the beginning of the writing and its progression through each topic sentence. The students use the same textbooks and the same lecturer, who sets the assignments. However, the data collection and analysis component of the essay can also evidence its ability to meet another set of topics and objectives established by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the Association for Childhood Education International (ACEI) in the standards for an initial licensure degree in early childhood education (NAEYC & ACEI, 2010). First, we find that research can be defined as investigation or experimentation aimed at the discovery and interpretation of facts, revision of accepted theories or laws in the light of new facts, or practical application of such new or revised theories or laws. Through systematic investigation into the study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions, students can begin to participate in a process and thus come to understand that research involves using prevalent knowledge to create new knowledge. In turn, this will allow the student to critically respond to others’ new knowledge and maybe the student’s own discovery so that a society can progress as a whole in times of disagreement. Secondly, research can be defined as the search for knowledge or as any systematic investigation to establish novel facts, solve new or existing problems, and facilitate the creation of new theory. Through these two ideas about what research can involve, students not only come to be a part of a process which creates better knowledge for all but also come to apply their own field of inquiry to understand that research can be interpreted more than one way. Through error, experimentation, and even failure, different problems can be solved in different ways so that a student comes to understand he or she has the ability to problem-solve.
2. Theoretical Frameworks in Early Childhood Education
In the realm of early childhood education, there are many theoretical frameworks. A theoretical framework is a written, formal, and logically consistent arrangement of concepts that guide teachers in deciding what should be taught. “Brain-based learning,” for example, is derived from research in neurology and cognitive psychology. Similarly, different early childhood education theorists support distinct and historically situated forms of education. In actuality, the type of program championed by a particular theory is the practical application of philosophy, a different type of theorizing. This section of the research essay encourages early childhood education groups to engage in the practice of “analyzing your own institution.” This process involves examining the groups, daily activities, and physical environment – specifically, the outcomes of life in that environment – in order to assess which philosophy or philosophies are put into practice. Such an investigation might level out that, paradoxically, a teacher claims to be teaching in the child-centered tradition while at the same time using lessons that represent more traditional, teacher-centered methods. A teacher using this theoretical framework might understand education as occurring along a continuum. For example, a maker might identify the “child-centeredness” of an art project by noting that there is only “dati e spazio per due” – given work and space for two, meaning that the teacher has imposed a limit and defined the project’s parameters. This teacher might also note that educators relinquish power – in this case, the power to develop all of the possible ideas in an art work – in the service of a truly child-centered method.
2.1 Piaget’s Cognitive Development Theory
Teachers should provide activities where children are exposed to a few different viewpoints and opportunities for cooperation between children. This will assist children to appreciate a variety of perspectives and develop basic problem-solving skills, as well as support their overall social competency. This will facilitate the necessary development of socialization skills and so the preparation of moving out of the preoperational stage. Such a valuable framework reinforces the recognition of the fact that play is an essential component to the guidance of intellectual progress in early childhood. It enables teachers to appreciate and channel the play potential, thus creating an environment rich in possibilities for development. Thanks to giving concrete and sensible recognition to enable and expand play through differentiated observations, cognitive readiness and more advanced ideas or opportunities.
In conservation tasks, Piaget concluded that children in the preoperational stage lack understanding of the concept of conservation. They concentrate on one noticeable feature of an object without considering the other. Children at this stage can use their own perspective and understand others in simple and single dimensions. Teachers should utilize concrete props and visual aids to facilitate the use of new symbols in children’s play. They should present objects in different ways and talk about games and experiences with them in different contexts. This will encourage children to use their imagination, and expand on their feelings and experiences verbally and physically.
Object permanence is the understanding that objects continue to exist even when they cannot be seen, and according to Piaget, it is not until children are 7-8 years old that they develop this. Preoperational stage is the second stage of Piaget’s theory of cognitive development. Preoperational children are able to use symbolic thought but they are not able to manipulate logic. Children’s play is mainly characterized by dramatic play, and “make believe” where they mimic people, places or things i.e. role-playing.
Piaget’s cognitive development theory states that children move through four different stages of mental development. His theory focuses not only on understanding how children acquire knowledge, but also on understanding the nature of intelligence. Piaget’s theory is based on the idea that the developing child builds cognitive structures – in other words, mental “maps,” “schemas,” or “networks” of knowledge, thinking, and memory – as she or he interacts with the physical and social environment.
2.2 Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory
Lev Vygotsky was a developmental psychologist who was born in 1896 and died in 1934. He was a contemporary of Piaget and lived through upheavals in Russia from which these turbulent times he produced his important and interesting theories. The three key concepts learned from Vygotsky are the More Knowledgeable Other, the Zone of Proximal Development, and Scaffolding. The More Knowledgeable Other is a similar concept to scaffolding but extends the notion that often in a child’s development an adult can fulfill the role of MKO and also another child, or the child themselves at another time. The influence of Vygotsky on early years practice is very much linked to the concept of Scaffolding. Scaffolding is the term first used by Wood, Bruner, and Ross (1976), describing the kind of sensitive structuring of learning interaction that is central to the Vygotskian approach. Scaffolding is of crucial importance because it is essential that the guide is aware of the process of children’s learning, as this can help to inform thinking about how this can be developed further. However, the concept of the zone of proximal development can be linked to the early childhood educator. It is important users of this material should fetch their own information and progress men skills through their own study, always with the guidance of a relevant and well-qualified professional. Digital Education Resource Archive. Thank you very much indeed. This is very much of the age; the idea that representation is a split-level thing is a Vygotskian notion, that the child can produce an answer, a symbolic answer. Wow, I’m getting rather excited! And yet what is represented to the teacher could be a pretext; the representation is not what the teacher thinks it is. I think it is consistent with the Vygotskian ideas because theory time allows for ware and this dual level of representation – this is fabulous.
2.3 Montessori Method
Dr. Montessori’s research on educating children developed into what is now a highly popular alternative way to educate young children, with over 22,000 Montessori schools established worldwide. This approach appeals to many parents because it is “fit to the child” and enables a child to exit the primary classroom with a well-developed inner discipline and sense of self-accomplishment. Also, the prepared environment provides a social setting where children are provided the freedom to work at their own pace. By allowing such freedom, the responsibilities a child is given allows them to further develop positive self-esteem and the confidence to face challenges and ultimately experience the joy of learning.
Critics argue that the Montessori curriculum does not regularly expose children to activities such as music, art, or drama, which they state as being equally important in a child’s development. Also, there is a possibility that children who are not able to adjust to the highly structured practices of a mainstream school after attending Montessori may have difficulty fitting into a traditional education environment.
The learning curriculum is also student-directed and, in theory, the pace of the child’s progress is not controlled by the curriculum or by teacher-directed tasks but allows for continuous progress for each child in accordance with the child’s ability. This is thought to improve the child’s decision-making and time management skills, self-worth, and sense of belonging. By allowing children to engage in activities of their choice, the child’s ability to discover his or her own talents and interests is developed; a child is able to develop creativity and concentration through repetition and also develop an appreciation for order and a logical thought process from their experiences in working with materials.
Montessori education uses child-sized furniture and learning materials that are designed specifically for use by children. This equipment is arranged in a way that promotes independence and allows children to move and work freely around the room. Learning materials are sequentially structured and are designed to engage children in purposeful activities that study bay foster development. Dr. Montessori believed that everything in the classroom should have a specific purpose and that the design of the classroom should serve the specific developmental needs of the children that use it.
In a Montessori classroom, children are taught by Montessori teachers who direct the environment in a discovery-based manner. Children are allowed a large degree of independence and choice within the prepared environment and are given the freedom to learn through activities that capture their interest. Work is freely chosen by children and is undertaken on an individual basis, without direct adult intervention.
The Montessori Method is a child-centered educational approach that is based on the child development theories of Maria Montessori, the first Italian medical doctor and one of the few female physicians of the late 19th century. Dr. Montessori’s educational philosophy is grounded in the idea that children learn best by manipulating and exploring their environment and that for children, play is work. Her method of teaching young children places an emphasis on developing the whole child: a child’s physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development.
2.4 Reggio Emilia Approach
Reggio Emilia is a city in northern Italy. After World War II, the adults in the city wanted to find a way to help their children grow into strong leaders and good citizens. In Reggio Emilia, the approach to early childhood education is based on the following principles: children must have some control over the direction of their learning; children must be able to learn through experiences of touching, moving, listening, and observing; children have long, uninterrupted periods of time for working on projects; and children must have the opportunity to work in groups and to communicate their learning in a variety of ways. In the Reggio Emilia approach, the classroom is referred to as the child’s “third teacher,” after home and school. The physical environment of the room is crucial to the overall feeling of the children and their learning. Spaciousness, beauty, and order are important. Children are also taught to appreciate and be comfortable with nature. There are easily accessible gardens and outdoor spaces. There should be plants, views to the outside, and contact with natural materials and light. Much of the curriculum is developed and guided by the children’s interests. Teachers listen to the children and ask interesting and open-ended questions to help children explore the world. Teachers are also encouraged to document the children’s work in a variety of ways. This helps to create strong curriculum and also makes the children feel valued and important. The Reggio Emilia approach also calls for 2 teachers in each classroom, or a very low ratio of children to teachers. This allows for a great deal of interaction, where the teachers get to know and understand the child better. The teachers are able to steer the child in a direction that satisfies the child’s individual interests. Through this approach, it becomes clear that each child’s thinking is valued. Also, projects are often the means by which research is carried out and are emphasized within the curriculum. These in-depth projects help children represent and revisit their experiences in a number of ways. This work is often displayed in such a way as to make a child’s knowledge accessible to the group and aid the ongoing research of the child and others in the community. Achievements of the children will also find importance in the environment that they work; areas of reflection for the children can be found in all parts of the child’s learning space. Learning in the Reggio Emilia approach is viewed as a journey. The teachers continually ask themselves: Who are the children? What can they do? What do they know? What are they interested in? What are they thinking? The environment and the teachers provide the answer in a myriad of potential challenges, provocations, and learning opportunities. It is the sturdy relationship between the teachers and the children that helps to provide the dialectic of discovery. Every child is filled with creative potential and one can see that this potential is thoroughly cultivated in the best environment. The Reggio Emilia approach serves as an environment that is built on the lines of developmental and psychological theories. It is an environment that is filled with open questions, problems for children to solve, and a knowledge, not fact, based curriculum. Rather than a “lessons and work” based concepts, where the children are purely passive, the Reggio Emilia approach promotes an environment that is mutually supportive, and focused on knowledge and skill sharing.
3. Effective Teaching Strategies in Early Childhood Education
The basis of the text is that students should realize that there are lots of people who have different colored skin and they all have feelings and can all do the same things. He gives other examples of how students have been encouraged to be fair to everybody, encouraging the sense of belonging to a community and showing children that it is important to treat everybody equally. The theory that underpins the specific content within the introduction is that unpacking the complexity of establishing and operating a successful early childhood education setting requires a detailed knowledge of the multiple, interacting microsystems and macrosystems that can influence positively or negatively on the child. Each topic aligns with the overall goal of inspiring the next generation, just in different ways. Clearly there are many effective ways in which young children can learn, and the text contains a wealth of content on pedagogical practices that facilitate high-quality, holistic learning opportunities. These theories are well described, and the text moves on to outline some of the more effective teaching strategies that fit well with the theoretical position underpinning them and the overall goal for early childhood teaching and education. The example given is particularly good as it encourages students to work cooperatively in teams, problem-solving and supporting each other; it also links to the advancement of the multiculturalism momentum in Australian society by using content that reflects the diversity in the community. By exposing the students to a range of insight strategies, such as the “let’s find what’s the same” strategy, the “categorizing” strategy, and the “find the difference” strategy, the educator can support the advancement of the children’s cognitive purposes. Aligned with the notion of scaffolding for optimal learning outcomes, the text highlights that educators can encourage students to make connections between their prior knowledge and the new experiences by using effective vocabulary and giving timely feedback in a secure and success-oriented learning environment.
3.1 Play-Based Learning
It has been said that children’s play is their work. As teachers, we can sometimes struggle with this concept. It seems almost sacrilegious to the seriousness of our purpose to let children play. There is frequently an erroneous feeling that engaging students in fun activities represents a less valid use of time than recounting facts. The reality is that children, particularly in the early childhood years, learn best through doing. Constructivist theory points out that children are not blank slates, rather they come to the classroom with a large scope of knowledge, some of it accurate and some of it less so. So, rather than trying to fill the empty vessels, our role as teachers is to help children build on what they already know. The world of play gives students an opportunity to accomplish this goal. By engaging in activities that are determined by the children, we can observe what the students know, what they have learnt, and, consequently, what they need to learn next. When children play with such things as puzzles, building blocks and pictures, adults often question them about what they are doing and the children can steer the play in the direction that they wish according to their own interests. This means that they are making decisions and problem solving. This is a critical part of the learning process; rather than accepting what others tell them, and remaining in the realm of rote learning, children learn to think for themselves. This student-centred approach has another substantial advantage, it supports the development of the deeper understanding we all aim for. By helping children to understand not only the “how” of knowledge but the “why”, it will lead them to apply their skills more effectively and more creatively. Inspired by my own lecture, I observed two teachers in a kindergarten class. One teacher articulated that a child “must have read the book before” while watching youngsters role-play a scene from a well-known story about a bear hunt. The context of the teacher’s comment seemed to indicate that it was what the child’s activity was communicating, not the teacher’s dialogue with the child. The comment also had a strong underlying assumption – that the child was not capable of creating the verbal narrative by him. However, the child led play, even this kind of cognitive play, requires materials, it may require a negotiated understanding between co-operative players. I would hypothesize that children learn how to attend and participate in a shared moment as well. If adults are to understand how children themselves move through that experience, we have to understand that a child’s independent play and that of children playing in shared moments all show the same part of early cognitive development.
3.2 Inquiry-Based Learning
Inquiry-based learning encourages students to be active participants in their own learning processes. In this approach, children are guided by their teachers through the process of asking questions, investigating solutions, and testing theories. Teachers provide age-appropriate, curriculum-based contexts for inquiry. This approach promotes independence, critical thinking, and creativity in children, as well as a positive approach to learning throughout their lives. It involves challenging students to think for themselves, work cooperatively with others, perform real tasks, and link school experiences to the world beyond the classroom. Teachers who successfully employ the inquiry-based learning approach provide a range of resources and experiences to students, including books, visits, role models, and teaching materials. However, the inquiry-based approach is highly flexible, and so teachers can also make use of other materials that they feel suit the needs of their class essay pro. Books may form an essential part of the child’s experience, for example, developing important literacy skills and allowing them to independently pursue their own research. Conversely, visits and the use of visitors in the classroom can be highly motivational for children, particularly when they are able to see real instances of a theory or an area being covered. When a visitor or class trip forms part of the teaching, children are able to experience firsthand the theories and knowledge that they have been learning – seeing the reality can be eye-opening and provides children with a powerful method of learning, allowing them to remember what they have found out. Parents can also be seen as an important resource for children’s learning; they can support children in their learning by encouraging the investigation of topics highlighted at school, and teachers should foster this home-school relationship wherever possible. Good inquiry-based learning requires well-designed and well-resourced environments that support children in developing the skills of inquiry. These environments may include reading corners and quiet areas, as well as spaces for collaboration and larger-scale activities. Such environments can provide children with the opportunity to pursue their own lines of inquiry, as well as working in cooperative group situations. Allowing children to have ownership over their own learning extends to the physical environment within the classroom; children may create their own displays about their current projects or work, which will become a natural focus for students to talk about and review. This is a particularly valuable aspect of the teaching and learning process, as it promotes independence and encourages the child to engage in a process of self-assessment, with both peers and teachers offering feedback on their work.
3.3 Differentiated Instruction
Differentiated instruction is a teaching philosophy based on the premise that teachers should adapt instruction to student differences. This is a contrast to a traditional education where students are taught the same, all in the same ways, regardless of their strengths, weaknesses or individual learning. To explain differentiated instruction focus on the classroom that made up by diverse students. Each class has its own unique blend of students with their own unique needs, interests, abilities and dispositions. When a teacher tries to teach in a class with students coming from such varied background, she will face many challenges. Some students will be too hard on themselves while some will underestimate their potential. Others have developed a negative attitude towards the subject from the previous bad experience. These differences can range from obvious to subtle. Therefore, a good teacher will embrace diversity in the classroom and work hard to create a learning community that is inclusive and respectful for everyone, which differentiated instruction can help to achieve. Differentiated instruction can take place in the regular, inclusive class with co-teaching, in a resource room or with pull-out instruction; it can also be used at all grade levels. Modern learning theory supports the adoption of a children-centred, individualised approach in education, moving away from the conventional ‘one size fits all’ model to addressing individual learning needs. It has long been recognised that students have different learning styles and rates of progression, yet the process of learning and teaching has historically been ignored in favour of focusing on deliverable outputs. With proposed changes to the national curriculum making a point of allowing teachers the discretion to adopt new teaching strategies in support of diversity, now is an ideal time to explore the application of these in practice. However, what the proposal really means and how differentiated instructions can be used effectively within the curriculum is still unclear to many teachers. Part of the problem lies in the fact that individualised learning and teaching strategies tend to represent quite a steep learning curve for educators, and require a large amount of preparation – something which may be difficult to distinguish from normal work load pressures. Work undertaken with teachers and individualised instructions may focus on strategies that exploit the perceived benefits, such as early learner engagement, attitudes to self-confidence and learning, and the delivery of a student-centred curriculum. With regular timeline reports on performance and delivered lessons, what emerges is both qualitative and quantitative data showing how students react to such an approach, and how their learning is impacted over the course of a school term. Adopting a specific focus on a class of students with learning needs matching the proposed strategies help to ensure that a meaningful pattern of development and adaptation can be demonstrated, paving the way for consideration of its adoption across other curriculum areas. Early data suggests that individualised instruction could fundamentally challenge the role that students play in creating their own learning experience, and enhance our insights into how student diversity addresses learning needs.
3.4 Collaborative Learning
For example, in a project over several weeks that focused on making a persuasive presentation about choosing one of three alternative energy sources for a peculiar situation, a group of four students from year 4 planned, collaborated, and shared different ideas with each other to produce the result. One of the students said that she enjoyed the activity because of the chances to talk with classmates and share ideas with each other. She also said that she learned a lot from the activity and that she knows a lot about the advantages of wind power now. We can see that the student genuinely gained something from the activity and became fond of collaborative learning. But such positive results will not emerge if the teacher always offers group work to a student in the same way. It is a point to note that the implementation of collaborative learning should cater to a child’s potential of working in different group settings and sizes. For example, while a child should have consistent group partners in longer-term project works, he should also have the opportunities to mix with other children in a larger group. Such practice will ensure that a child is able to develop social skills, flexibility in adapting to different working styles, and functioning with others effectively.
When students are compared to each other, the focus tends to be on ‘beating’ another’s performance, without real attention to the work itself. On the other hand, when students are compared with what one group has achieved collectively, competition tends to diminish because groups find it difficult to hinge success on individual competition. When one student in a group has understood something that the others have not, it tends to slow down teaching and consolidate learning. Through discussion and explanation to one another, the pathways to the solution become far more reinforced. This is very much a constructionist view of learning growth and realization.
Collaborative learning can enable children to effectively build on each other’s successes, learn from each other, and develop personal and social skills. From a teacher’s perspective, it offers a feasible alternative to traditional didactic teaching, allowing the teacher to work more closely with individuals and small groups while providing chances for class members to interact with each other. Studies have shown that children who have engaged in collaborative learning demonstrate the ability to internalize understanding and apply what they have learned more effectively than those who have engaged in competitive or individualistic learning. This is largely because the process of collaboration helps to reinforce material.
In collaborative learning, teachers and children work together in small groups. It provides a learning experience to help children grow in sharing, taking turns, listening, and working cooperatively with others. Teachers can implement collaborative learning in many ways. For example, by assigning broad topics and allowing each group to decide on their particular project, establishing a shared learning environment, providing children with opportunities to pose their own questions and incorporate their own ideas into the activities, or creating multi-age groupings that encourage children to take care of and learn from one another. However, it is important to note that the teacher should guide the overall direction of the activities and avoid letting groups work in isolation to ensure that learning objectives are being met and children are being properly supported in their learning.
4. Current Issues and Trends in Early Childhood Education
In recent years, there has been increasing interest in introducing technology into the early years educational setting. As the provision for children in early years becomes more formal and as children are spending longer in these settings, there is growing recognition that the potential to use technology in a range of ways within early childhood education is considerable. The effective use of technology in the teaching and learning of young children requires considerable knowledge and insight in both its potential and its limitations. Technology is also a fast moving field, meaning that professionals working with young children have to be prepared to continue to learn about the use of early childhood education in their day to day work. However, the potential for technology used in early years is considerable. For example, it can be used to support and enhance children’s learning and development. Also, technology can function as a powerful tool for assessment. Software and digital cameras allow teachers to take photographs of children in various activities. Photographs and observations on the computer can be sent home, allowing parents to become involved in discussing the child’s learning and progress. Interactive whiteboards can also be used to display assessment process or to illustrate children’s individual learning journeys. In such environments, the computational capability of the whiteboard, linked to the ability to rapidly access different forms of media, such as video, audio and pictures, can significantly enhance and develop the nature of assessment practice in early childhood education. I felt that it is important to make sure that the whiteboard materials are easy to access for different members of staff – and equally as important, not to create duplication or excessive use of records. The early years are a crucial period for all children and early childhood education is an important facility in helping children to develop a range of skills and understanding formative of learning. While the use of technology is frequently seen as a risk factor in other aspects of society, such as social isolation through the use of computer games, research in early childhood education shows that it can provide significant benefits.
4.1 Technology Integration in the Classroom
In recent years, there has been a growing emphasis on the integration of technology in the classroom, especially for early childhood education. The term “technology” refers to various digital tools and devices such as computers, tablets, digital cameras, or software applications that can be used to support teaching and learning. What makes technology so appealing for the enhancement of teaching and learning in early childhood education? Technology can provide interactive and multimodal learning experiences for young children and has the ability to support different learning styles. With the advance of technology, it is no longer a difficult task to develop age-appropriate digital tools and interactive materials for young children. Furthermore, technology offers possibilities that are just not possible in a traditional environment. For example, children can use virtual manipulatives to explore math concepts, simulate a dinosaur dig using a computer program, or record their own songs with digital tools. These kinds of learning experiences are fun, engaging, as well as enabling children to develop higher-order critical thinking and problem-solving skills. As a result, technology becomes an attractive option for many teachers in planning and implementing developmentally appropriate practices in the classroom. The NAEYC position statement on “Technology and Interactive Media” emphasizes how digital tools can support learning and development. It highlights the importance of intentional use of technology by adults and the integration of technology with other areas of the curriculum to support children’s best learning and development. Based on the NAEYC’s standpoint, educators need to make informed decisions on what technology to use, how to use it most effectively, and when to integrate technology into the daily classroom experience. This means a professional development process is needed to equip early childhood teachers with necessary knowledge and skills on using technology for teaching and learning. By integrating technology into the early childhood program, caregivers are able to reinforce children’s learning and stimulate their development. They can share the technology experiences done by the children at the program with parents, thereby increasing parents’ understanding of the role that using technology can have on a child’s development. This will also encourage a positive attitude in parents towards technology and promote home-school collaboration. Most importantly, educators should bear in mind that technology will never be able to replace the developmental value of hands-on experience from the real world. The meaning and role of technology in the curriculum lies in its ability to support children’s existing and future learning and widen the provision of experiences. Last but not least, teachers should take into account the diverse population in the classroom and ensure that technology should be used in an inclusive way so as to engage all children in meaningful learning. And we should always share the excitement and exploration with technology with every child in the program.
4.2 Inclusive Education for Children with Special Needs
Successful professional development fosters the understanding of various developmental pathways and the use of different teaching strategies and techniques. This kind of collaborative effort is fundamental to support the successful implementation of an inclusion program that emphasizes learning through meaningful experiences. Also, such effort helps in building and retaining a dynamic and cohesive team of professionals working in the same environment. As new trends in education emerge, teachers in an inclusion program should be able to support and utilize various emergent curriculum models. This means that the curriculum should be designed to promote relationships and help children attach and interact effectively with their world, no matter what children’s abilities and qualities are. The use of such curriculum reflects a shared understanding of children’s needs and experiences and it allows professionals who represent diverse disciplines to communicate and collaborate with one another. These kinds of team-based approaches can provide enhancements to the learning environment and act as a method for change.
Through interactions with siblings and family members, friends, and adults both with and without disabilities, children develop and refine their social skills. In a quality inclusive program which provides opportunities for meaningful social interactions, children learn from one another and are not limited by specific disabilities or developmental delays. When an inclusive early childhood program is established, ongoing training and professional development for both general and special educators, as well as families, should be provided. It is also equally important to openly communicate with families and to identify the needs and priorities for the child and the family. This may mean frequent update on children’s progress and adjustment to the inclusion program and regular meeting with family members to talk about strategies for working with children at home.
In an inclusive early childhood classroom, children with and without disabilities are provided the same opportunities, which can mean something different for each child. Recognizing and honoring the individuality of each child in the program and creating multiple paths to learning are essential for inclusion to be successful. Teachers in inclusive classrooms must understand and believe that all children have the ability to learn. They need to have high expectations for all the children and create an environment in which each child feels that he/she is a meaningful and important part of the group. Teachers should also recognize and support the physical, emotional, social, and intellectual abilities of each child and encourage each one to take part in the daily routines, activities, and experiences.
Certainly, in “Principles and Practices in Early Childhood Education”. In today’s educational climate, the concept of inclusion is prominent. Special education no longer exclusively means instruction for students with individually diagnosed disabilities in a special classroom or learning environment. Rather, the trend in both general and special education is to develop more programs and support services within the general education class and environment. An inclusive classroom is designed so that students with disabilities or special needs, and their non-disabled peers, can learn and participate together. This approach is based on the belief that all children can learn in a general education classroom, if given the appropriate and necessary supports and services.
4.3 Cultural Diversity and Multicultural Education
Cultural diversity refers to the differences in race, ethnicity, language, customs, and beliefs among people. In recent years, the focus has been on helping young children appreciate their own culture as well as the cultures of others. When we say that we are a culturally diverse society, we mean that we have become a nation of many different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Schools are now taking steps to embrace cultural diversity and to promote multicultural education. Multicultural education can be thought of as a catch-all phrase that describes a wide range of programs, practices, and strategies for helping children to understand and appreciate cultural diversity. It refers to the idea of celebrating and learning about each other’s cultural roots. The goal of multicultural education is to help children develop positive self-identities, to respect and appreciate the differences in others, and to recognize and reject unfairness and discrimination based on people’s differences. Culturally diverse teaching and learning environments can prepare children to become active and responsible participants in our culturally diverse society. The key to successful multicultural education is providing for the individual differences among children and the staff, and also between the home cultures of the children. Developing a sensitivity to the cultural differences of others may come organically, through everyday interactions at course hero school and at home, as children and their families live and work with diverse groups of people. To be effective in providing multicultural education, staff development is key. The team of teachers and administrators should represent the cultural backgrounds of the children within the program. This will not only show children that their culture is valued, but will also provide opportunities for teachers themselves to learn and grow in their own cultural awareness. These include developing an appreciation of other cultures, developing an understanding of one’s own culture, and developing a positive and receptive attitude towards experiencing other cultures. Programmatic goals for providing multicultural education include promoting cultural self-awareness for all and creating culturally competent citizens. We cannot overlook the importance of helping families to understand the value of multicultural education as well. When schools provide opportunities for parents to be involved in the program and to learn about multicultural education, the children will feel more supported in the learning process. Working together as a team – involving teachers, family members, community members, and the children – can create an environment that truly embraces cultural diversity.
4.4 Assessment and Evaluation in Early Childhood Education
Assessment and evaluation practices specific to the early childhood education context are explored in this section. The importance of observational methods, portfolio assessment, and documentation of children’s work are discussed in the essay. Specifically, the focus on authentic assessment, which is the practice of in-depth, meaningful assessment of children’s learning on a day-to-day basis in a natural setting, is outlined and supported. The essay critiques traditional testing and evaluation tools that are teacher- or parent-directed. It instead highlights the value of authentic assessment practices, which include teacher observation, documentation and analysis of children’s work, and parent conferences that allow for a child’s growth and learning over time to be illuminated and discussed. The contrast between authentic and more traditional assessment methods is evident from the discussion. The essay makes the important distinction that while traditional testing may be appropriate and useful in specific contexts, it should not be the primary method of assessment in early childhood education. I found this section of the essay to be very informative and supportive of the wider points that the author, Sue C. Wortham, is making about practices in early childhood education. Moreover, it provides a critique of traditional evaluation practices that is supported by both research findings and expert opinion, which adds further weight to her arguments. I like the way that Wortham incorporates reflection on evaluation and assessment throughout the book but then delves into specifics in this particular section, using subheadings to make the essay easier to follow and more engaging for the reader. I felt really helped to consolidate my understanding of what exactly authentic evaluation and assessment entailed, and why it was so important in early childhood education.
4.5 Parental Involvement and Family Engagement
In sum, all the research has demonstrated that from an early age with the toddlers to the far end of our parenting time, children are affected. It is believed that the more actively we involve in children’s lifetime learning, the more potential children will be shared from our learning and insights.
Last but not least, in order to increase parent involvement which is already proved to be relevant to family involvement model, enhancing the strategies of home-school partnerships is important. According to the research by Chris Edwards (1993) from National Center for Education Statistics, he pointed out that a good management of parent involvement strategies offered in the school based on family involvement model can make a positive contribution to the increase of students’ academic achievement. Edwards also stated that parent involvement program in the school should be comprehensive and continuous. School staffs and teachers should provide parents the idea of learning with children at home. On the other hand, schools also have to cooperate with families to support the learning progress. Every parent involvement program should be designed for keeping the potential of parents’ support on children development. Such programs and initiatives certainly engage parents in the children’s learning. It is important to encourage parent involvement to maintain an efficient and effective program that gives parents concrete roles and responsibility.
Moreover, parents should take the opportunities to be connected to the schools for showing a positive effects on children’s success. This might provide parents and families the chance to be informed about different aspects of school, including parents’ roles in the school, daily schedule of children, etc. It can help to foster the sense of belonging and it is good for creating shared family-school responsibility since parents can explore the new ways to support learning at home. In addition, teacher Camille Rosemberg (1992) has stated that the power of parent involvement at school is beyond our expectation. When teachers are able to utilize the power of parents in the class, the beneficial of their involvement can be expanded not only to teacher themselves but also to every children in the class.
According to Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler’s model, it has been proposed that parent involvement takes place through six different types of parent behaviors. First, creating a home environment that supports learning. From this point, it is important for teachers as well as student personnel to emphasize the crucial role of parents in encouraging and helping their children to learn at home by providing the home environment that enhances students’ cognitive and academic accomplishment. As a result, in many family support programs, they have been developed and the main goal is to assist parents in understanding child behaviors and in supporting children in their learning process. Such programs have been more and more popular in the United States for facilitation of parents’ education.
Involvement and engagement: Parental involvement is often seen to be beneficial in early childhood education. Research has demonstrated that parent involvement can make significant positive effects on children’s development and learning, especially on children’s academic success. There is no doubt that many researchers have believed the involvement of parents is important, and the thing now is about how the involvement can be realized.

Published by
Write essays
View all posts