Sunday, February 19, 2012

Final Blog Assignment

Wow what a wonderful journey this class has been.  I have learned about the issues and barriers that face our families here in the United States, and some of the struggles families and teachers face around the world.

So what are some of the consequences of having learned all of this?

1.  First I am more aware of the need to look at what other countries are doing to solve similar problems.  Reading about Paraguay's programs, and how they were able to bring about lasting change in the parenting of small villages through in-home support services, reaffirms what we do here when we try and teach in home parenting skills.

2.  I have learned that it is important to reach out to other professionals and build networks for leraning. Talking with other professionals can help to spark ideas and build collaborations.

3. The final consequence of this class will be, hopefully, the ongoing communications and relationships I have build with the professionals I emailed.  These are people I would probably never have met or had any reason to contact, but because of this class I have new professional relationships with these people.

I would also like to add that through this class, I learned how to look and explore a resource website more throughly.  Even though I had used the Zero to Three website before, I learned so many new things by clicking on the various links that they offered.  Many of the links I followed offered me more resources that will be useful to the familes I work with.

I hope all of my co-students have also had a similar experience in the exploration of world issues in Early Childhood Education.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Ending reflections from international contacts

This was such an interesting experience.  Speaking even briefly with educators in other countries has really oped up my eyes to the global impact of early childhood education.  When I set out to open dialogs with other educators, I heard back back form Sweden and Canada. Unfortunately, I haven't heard from either or these women this week, but I will put together the answers to some of the questions based on the information I did learn.
          First, I was very excited to have contact with Ingrid Pramling Samuelsson, a prominent leader in the early childhood education field in Sweden.  Ms. Sammuelsson has written many articles about early childhood education and has been involved in research comparing the i importance of play across the cultures.  I read most of her papers, some were not translated into English, so I skipped those.
         What I have learned about the educational system in Sweden is that in some ways it is similar to the US.  Early care homes and preschools were devised in the late 1800s to help provide safe care for children of working parents.  Later it moved more toward offering  quality care and education for all parents who wanted to work or go to school.  While compulsory education does not start until age 7 in Sweden, almost all children go to preschool, which is available from eighteen months to age 6.
          Within the last ten years, the focus of preschool for children between six and seven has become more focused on the academics and school readiness for when they start public school.   Similarly to the US where we also feel the push to prepare children for school the year before they go.
          In Sweden, there has a movement lately on a national curriculum for preschool children.  In the past, the curriculum was set by the individual programs or municipalities.  Now they are trying to devise a national curriculum and standards that will help to meet the needs of all preschool children.  This is also somewhat similar to what we are doing here in the US. 
        My second contact was with Ms. Hill, a preschool teacher at a YMCA day cay center in Calgary Canada.  I did not have much contact with Ms. Hill, but I did learn that they have many opportunities for professional development at her program.  Trainings are offered on a monthly basis on many different topics.  The children that attend this school are typically from low socio-economic families.  She said that there is a large turnover in staff at her center because the wages are low and teachers typically move on to private funded preschools that offer better pay.

       I also joined several earlychidhood groups on the website Linkedin. This has been very educational as well. I now receive several email a day about new posting in these groups. Many of the articles are very topical and relevant.  I watched a webinar that was offer on one of these sites.  It talked about building learning communities.  These are groups of teachers from all sectors coming together to learn and support each other.  I was so fascinated by this concept that I bought the book,"Mind in the Making" which was the basis for the the learning communities.   This has been a great resource and I highly recommend this book to anyone in out field.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Militry Families Project Link

I have been studying the Zero to Three website.  This site is really amazing and  offers so much information about children and their brain and social emotional development.  I noticed there was a link to the Military Families Project so I followed it.  Wow, they offer so much more information about how families can help their infants and toddlers deal with the stress of military deployment.  When you think about it, the attachment that is forming in those first few years is vital to a baby's development for the rest of their lives. So what happens when a parent has to be out of the home for many months due to military service?  Children go through the grief process and can be under amazing stress during that time.  This site offers resources for parents and caregivers to help the child move through the process and stay resilient.  I was very i impressed with the information and now have another resource to share with parents and co-workers facing these difficult issues.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Conversations about education in the Nordic

Young children are willing and capable to be agents of change. Adults should listen to children and be aware of their perspectives and ideas in matters that relate directly to them”-   Ingrid Pramling Samuelsson

Ms. Samuelsson is currently lecturing about early childhood in the United States.  She talks about the 3 types of pedagogues use in preschool there is the developmental psychology view, which is that you do a lot of activities. That children learn best if they are kept busy.  The second is the academic view, the preschool is just that a version of primary school where children are taught lessons to prepare them for kindergarten. And lastly the Socio-cultural view, that children experience things in order to learn

In the socio-cultural view of child development, children use experiences to make meaning of the world around them, that it is how you interact with children that help prepare them for higher education.  This is the current national pedagogy of the Nordic countries.

In Ms. Samuelsson’s belief, emotional support is the key ingredient of excellence in preschool.  She is very concerned about the didactics occurring in the classroom.  How is the language being expanded between the adults and the children?  She talked about the importance of the teacher’s use of questions and explanations in the classroom.

I have enjoyed the interactions with Ms. Samuelsson, although she is currently lecturing and not always available to answer my inquiries, I have been fortunate to watch some of her lectures on Youtube. They have been very educational as well.