Early Childhood Education and Care: laying early the foundation for success in life
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Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) refers to services and care from birth until the start of compulsory schooling. ECEC can play a positive role in many spheres of life such as education, employability and social integration, especially for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The European Commission has set out the priorities for ECEC, aiming to make it more accessible and raise the quality of services provided throughout the EU countries, while every EU member country is currently developing methods to monitor the quality of early childhood schooling and care. Below we have collected for you some exemplary projects of high-quality ECEC. Are you aware of more note-worthy projects? Please let us know in the comments section.
Ghent Tierlantuin nursery: 2015 Evens Prize for Peace Education winner
Ghent Tierlantuin nursery, winner of the 2015 Evens Prize for Peace Education, stands out for its initiatives and practices, which spark and strengthen the social skills of children below six years old. Founded in August 2010 in a densely populated district, with rising ethnic diversity and high levels of unemployment and poverty, the facility gives room to experiment by observing the children in their daily activities, to discover their interests and challenge each child to take the next step in their development and explore their own boundaries through a variety of activities in all developmental areas.
Chris de Kimpe, pedagogical coach for ECEC in the Pedagogical Centre of the city of Ghent, explained that Tierlatuin’s vision includes strong parental and community involvement, and an ongoing and natural integration of diversity: “Tierlatuin is a place where all sorts of people from all over the world meet and feel welcome, respected and connected: children meet other children and adults to play together and explore activities in a rich in- and outdoors environment; parents meet other parents and professionals to share the pleasures and sorrows of parenthood and life and work together to be a strong community.”
ECEC and eTwinning: the success story of “Talking pictures” project
What would a collaboration project among kindergartens from different countries be like? How would the children communicate with each other? An inspiring example for this comes from the “Talking pictures” eTwinning project which was designed for pre-school children from Iceland, Spain and Poland to discover and learn about each other’s environmental and cultural issues. The young participants communicated through photographs they took themselves. The topics and their activities were planned to create a dialogue between the participating countries enabling the children to develop their natural curiosity about own their vicinity as well as the other two countries.
The project was the runner up in the age category of 4-11 year olds eTwinning Awards. The eTwinning European Prizes jury commented: “The chosen topics as well as the very collaborative and creative activities (e.g. collaborative story using road signs from different countries; ICT usage) have been extremely well organised and planned according to the age of the pupils. The presentation of the project on the blog, the involvement of the parents as well as the smart and complete evaluation are aspects we’d like to point out.”
More information on ECEC:
- Key Data on Early Childhood Education and Care in Europe (Eurydice and Eurostat report, PDF)
- Study on the effective use of early childhood education and care (ECEC) in preventing early school leaving (ESL)
- Diversity and Multilingualism key themes at Conference on Early Childhood Education and Care