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.