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How Good Is The Teaching Young Children Get ?

Press Release – ChildForum

Parents who expect their children to receive a good early education at a kindergarten, childcare or home-based service need to be aware that not all teachers are able to teach well and not all services have conditions that allow effective teaching to …ChildForum press release

How Good Is The Teaching Children Get In Early Childhood Education

Parents who expect their children to receive a good early education at a kindergarten, childcare or home-based service need to be aware that not all teachers are able to teach well and not all services have conditions that allow effective teaching to take place.

In some services you can see brilliant examples of effective teaching appropriate to the individual child, but in many others teachers are either unable to or don’t have the conditions that allow them to be much more than supervisors or group controllers.

An Australian study portraying the standard of teaching in Australian preschools as ”very poor” is a wake-up call for New Zealand’s early childhood sector and political leaders

The just released national study of standards and teaching in Australian early childhood education services showed that children were in many cases experiencing little more than a ‘glorified playgroup’.

“We might see a nice environment, but there is a low level of quality interactions. Staff don’t see the opportunity to teach. It’s a very poor story in terms of the educational content of these programmes,” lead researcher of the E4Kids study, Professor Karen Thorpe told the Sydney Morning Herald.

The researchers observed ‘constant’ missed opportunities for teaching children.

The NZ Government funds places at early childhood services and aims to get more kids participating earlier and for longer hours in the day because early learning is recognised as being important for children’s long-term educational achievement.

However, if the Australian study is anything to go by on Early Childhood Education standards, New Zealand authorities should be more alert and must recognise shortcomings in our various child centres, Dr Farquhar, who also authored the Education Ministry’s best evidence synthesis on quality teaching in the early years, says.

“The Australian study is a shocking indictment and the results are alarming and provide a wake-up call for the New Zealand early childhood sector and political leaders.”

The study probably provides a reasonably accurate picture of what kiwi parents can expect their children to experience in early childcare and education here, Dr Farquhar says.

In some cases a well-run playgroup may actually be better than trusting a service with your child’s education because in a playgroup parents are involved, watching, and spending quality time interacting with their child, she says.

ChildForum gets regular complaints from parents who do not like the structured programmes provided in some early childhood centres.

“The parents say they are too organised and the teachers are too busy taking photos, and not playing alongside children and interacting with them and letting children be children.

“And the parents are right because these are examples of ‘mis-education’,” Dr Farquhar says.

The Australian study of 2500 children found that on a scale of one to seven, the quality of instruction for four-year olds – regardless of whether they attend preschool, a childcare centre or family day care – averaged a ranking of just two.

This put Australia on par with the US, which has an unregulated sector considered to be of poor quality.

Professor Thorpe said the results of the study were ”shocking”.

Meanwhile, leading experts in early childhood education will attend a national conference, organised by ChildForum, in Wellington at the end of January with a focus on raising the effectiveness of teaching.

Dr Ken Blaiklock, a senior lecturer at UNITEC, will address problems of our national early childhood curriculum not including some crucial learning areas for children and in a separate presentation he will examine major concerns with the method commonly used in centres to assess children’s learning.

Assoc Professor Claire McLachlan from Massey University will discuss the Education Review Office 2011 report findings that many early childhood services are failing young children because of poor literacy teaching practices and policies, and what effective literacy teaching in an early childhood education centre would look like.

Other presenters will cover topics of cultural differences, such as working with immigrant children, child health, such as having edible gardens in ECE centres, and social issues such as young solo fathers with small children.

“ChildForum hopes that by laying research on the table and having a critical discussion on learning and teaching in early childhood education, research might begin to filter through to policy level so policy can be developed that will provide the conditions to enable effective teaching to take place”.

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