ECEC projects to support a great start in life
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One cannot overstate the importance of early childhood education and care (ECEC). Preschools and kindergartens are the first social circles that children occupy outside their family.
They are also spaces that support learning, boost emotional growth, and yield the highest “returns on investment” (in terms of employment, wages, etc.) compared with primary, secondary and tertiary education. Here, we wish to highlight three recent projects demonstrating how much ECEC can accomplish with Erasmus+ funding.
Strengthening Activity-Oriented Interaction and Growth in the Early Years and in Transition
“Participation begins in the heads of the adults,” claim Hansen et al. in Die Kinderstube der Demokratie. We need some context to unpack that sentence, but it amounts to the following: if children are to become active players in education, their custodians need to act first. Parents need to involve them in decision-making; teachers need to take them seriously. The SIGNALS project focused on exactly this topic: participation through interaction.
Each national partner tackled the issue from a different angle – the German partner redesigned the children’s indoor and outdoor environment; the Swedish partner centred on families whose first language was not Swedish; the Danish partner prioritised health education, etc. – but they maintained some common ground. For instance, they all issued a questionnaire whose results were easily comparable, and they all took a three-pronged approach, so that each group (children, teachers and parents) interacted with every other group.
The project spanned two years (2014 to 2016), and brought together universities and educational authorities from seven European countries: Germany, Denmark, Greece, Hungary, Romania, Sweden and Iceland. Its main output was a dense, 176-page compendium, covering the local implementations of the project and their diverse findings. It was designated a good practice example by the European Commission.
Supporting Social and Emotional Competences of Pre-School Children from Disadvantaged or Culturally Different Environments
The transition from home to school can be challenging even for well-adjusted children – with its novelty, its social expectations and its rules – let alone children coming from disadvantaged or culturally different environments. The 2014 Eurydice/Eurostat report shows that in the European Union, 26% of children up to the age of 5 are at the risk of poverty or social exclusion, indicating that this is a present and pressing issue.
To combat the problem, this Erasmus+ project developed new methodologies to support disadvantaged children and to address their individual needs. Each national partner brought different things to the table: the Welsh partner was well versed in Teacher Classroom Management tools, the Slovak partner had experience in dealing with Roma families, the English partner could help with linguistics and communication, etc. The main activities of the project were:
- “comparative analysis of ECEC policies and strategies in partner countries;
- survey of pre-school children finding out the needs of pre-school teachers in different countries;
- development of inclusive methodology for children of pre-school age;
- training of 20 pre-school teachers and staff, implementation of activities for children in pre-school facilities and evaluation of the project outcomes”.
Supporting Social and Emotional Competences of Pre-School Children from Disadvantaged or Culturally Different Environments involved five partner organisations from four European countries (England, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Wales) and lasted two years, from 2014 to 2016. More information is available in this comprehensive report. The project earned both the “success story” and the “good practice” label from the European Commission.
Now more than ever, our lives are saturated in media culture, and this can be disorienting for young children, who are constantly bombarded with new channels and experiences. This Erasmus+ project – Fairkit – brings ECEC up to speed with the spirit of the times: it analyses children’s media behaviour and teaches them to control, enjoy, and even produce media. To this end, the project enlists both new and traditional channels: newspaper or magazine articles, radio shows, TV programmes, websites (like eTwinning, Facebook, YouTube) and more. A secondary aim of the project is to curb bullying by strengthening children’s social skills.
Six partner schools have teamed up for Fairkit, which is still ongoing: Finland (the coordinator), Germany, Slovenia, Poland, France and Belgium. The project began in 2015 and is slated to end in 2018; interested parties may watch it unfold in the corresponding blog, which is regularly updated.
|To discover ongoing and past EU-funded projects in school education, please go to the Erasmus+ Project Results Platform.|