Project Description

Transition from early childhood services to primary school marks a significant change in the lives of children and their families. Continuity between the two sectors is often seen as an important element of transition to school. The project aims to create a strong and equal partnership between early childhood services and primary school in order to improve educational continuity and facilitate the transition process of children (5-7) and their families. This will be achieved by enabling early childhood staff and primary school teachers to develop a cooperative approach to and a common understanding of education that can be adopted at both educational levels.

The aims of the project are:

  • To maximize cooperation between both sectors and forge a common understanding of education that can be adopted at both levels and thus facilitate the transition for children (5 - 7 years);
  • To encourage language acquisition and early literacy approaches in both early childhood services and families;
  • To promote the involvement and exchange of views between parents and professionals of both sectors, particularly to ensure the inclusion of children with special needs and from marginalized families;
  • To develop curricula for teacher training in early literacy and language practice and connecting curricula for children with a play-oriented and participatory approach;
  • To assess children's literacy learning and thus encourage them to reflect on their own learning processes and to empower them to become autonomous learners throughout life.

Two recent OECD reports (2001, 2006) identified two different policy traditions. On one hand, there is the "pre-primary approach" which tends to introduce contents and methods of primary schooling into early education and reinforce school-like approaches and contents. On the other hand, the "social pedagogy approach" places an emphasis on the broad developmental needs of young children, their well-being, socio-emotional development, and motivation to learn. A main objective of the social pedagogy tradition is that children should develop social values and competences, a desire for learning and confidence in their own abilities, rather than focussing narrowly on pre-specified knowledge and skills.

Method

The project partners will design initial and continuing educational courses for preschool and primary school teachers.The course will build on the strengths of the "school readiness" approach and the "social pedagogy" tradition, bringing together concepts of care, nurture, and education. Children's development will be stimulated by learning experiences and guided participation. Both adults and peers will nurture children's learning and development.

Evaluation

The learning stories approach (Carr, 2001) will be used to evaluate children's progress in language and early literacy. The children will be involved in progressively more complex patterns of reciprocal activity and be challenged by gradual shifts in the balance of power from the teacher to the learner. These shifts will reflect children's growing ability to set their own goals, assess their own achievements, and take on responsibility for their learning.



The project will emphasize:

  • Child-participation and children's play
  • Children's well-being and dispositions for learning
  • Listening to children's views and encouraging them to reflect on their own learning processes (meta-cognition)
  • Knowledge building in language acquisition and early literacy.

Outcomes

The participating countries will develop:

  • Curricula for teacher training in early literacy and language practice
  • Early childhood framework curricula which emphasize continuity in children's education.
  • Methods to assess children's literacy learning which put an emphasis on children's empowerment and capacity to reflect on their own learning processes.
  • A European handbook of transitions that will draw together the main findings of the project across the participating countries.

References:

Carr, M. (2001). Assessment in early childhood settings: Learning stories. London: Paul Chapman.
OECD. (2001). Starting Strong: Early education and care. Paris, OECD.
OECD. (2006). Starting Strong II: Early childhood education and care. Paris, OECD.
Kei Tua o te Pae, Assessment for Learning: Early Childhood Exemplars (2004), Ministry of Education, Learning Media Limited, Wellington, New Zealand.