Environmental Scan (Enviroscan) Edition 09/2022
Play, Learn, Win
Early Childhood Development
14 July 2022
Guidance: The EYFS in Schools
11 July 2022
Ofsted – the UK’s Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills – has recently launched an updated report on a number of issues. One of these is about how inspectors consider progress in schools.
Ofsted considers the curriculum as the progression model. By progress, they mean that children know more, remember more, and are able to do more of what was intended in the curriculum, which is the EYFS learning and development requirements.
In the early years, progress might mean:
- For example, knowing the sounds of farm animals, knowing that an oven gets hot, knowing the meaning of countless words, and knowing what facial expressions suggest
- “Know how” – for example, knowing how to hold a pair of scissors, knowing how to catch a ball, knowing that we should take turns and how to do so, knowing how to dress and undress a doll, and knowing how to hold and turn the pages of a book
- Knowing behaviours and habits for the future – for example, knowing to look at the teacher, knowing to listen when others speak, and knowing that we sit and listen to stories
- For children in Reception, learning to write letter sounds and numbers.
We can say that these have been learned when they are remembered. Inspectors will want to see that the curriculum on offer sequences the knowledge that children need. They will look at what staff teaches children, and whether children know and remember that curriculum.
PLW Comment: We are a long way off from having Ofsted-type standards applied in South Africa, but it’s always good to do some benchmarking against the best. The article also addresses other matters that may be of interest to teachers.
Further Reading: OFSTED Standards
EYFS Activities - Neuro-musical Networks: Musical Minds
28 June 2022
Neuroscientists talk about the “musician’s advantage”, since they are aware that playing and practicing music develops neural networks across the whole brain.
Studies with 3- to 4-year-olds show us that for the brain to process the component parts of language, a huge number of messages need to fire around the brain and they use the same circuit of neural pathways that are developed through regular music practice in early years – developing melodic and rhythmic awareness through playing with pitch, tempo, dynamics, rhythm and keeping the beat with moving, singing, shaking, tapping and banging activities.
Further Reading: Neuro-musical Networks
Developmental Milestones for Kindergartners
Most 5-year-olds are either gearing up for or starting kindergarten, where they face new expectations. You may wonder how your child’s skills compare to those of other kids this age.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a list of milestones, which it updated with many changes in 2022. The agency moved some of the milestones to different age ranges, which some experts question.
The CDC milestones can help you know what to expect. If a child isn’t meeting many of these milestones, it could point to possible developmental delays. Talk to your child’s doctor or other health care provider to start getting answers.
Further Reading: Developmental Milestones
What Do Children Learn in a High-Quality Kindergarten?
This is quite a lengthy article that deals with matters related to development, learning standards, and subject areas. Some handy tips are provided.
As an example, in the section related to development, the following is discussed - your child continues to develop a wide range of skills in kindergarten, including physical, social, emotional, language and literacy, and thinking (cognitive) skills.
Physical development is the way your child moves her arms and legs (large motor skills) and uses the small muscles in her fingers and hands (small motor skills). Playing outside and taking physical activity breaks during the day help children build healthy bones and muscles, focus better, and feel less stress. Doing puzzles, writing, drawing, and working with clay are some activities that develop children's finger and hand control.
Social development helps your child get along with others. Teachers support children's social skills by helping them work together, include each other in activities, make and keep friends, and resolve disagreements.
Emotional development lets your child understand his feelings and the feelings of others. Teachers help children recognize, talk about, and express their emotions and show concern for others. They also support children's development of self-regulation—being able to manage their feelings and behavior.
Language and literacy development includes understanding language and communicating through reading, writing, listening, and talking. Literacy is a big focus in kindergarten. Your child will use these skills throughout his life.
Thinking, or cognitive, skills develop as children explore, observe, create, ask questions, do new tasks, and solve problems. Teachers help children plan what they're going to do, encourage children to discuss and think more deeply about ideas, and include children when making decisions.
Further Reading: What Children Learn
We Have the Knowledge of Where and How our Children Learn
13 July 2022
Close to a quarter (22%) of the 165 059 teaching and managerial staff in the Early Childhood Development (ECD) sector do not have any formal training or qualification, underpinning the enormity of the sector’s challenges, the country’s first-ever census has shown.
It is not all doom and gloom, however, as the ECD 2021 Census conducted by the Department of Basic Education (DBE) in partnership with the LEGO Foundation reveals that more than a quarter (26%) took part in an accredited skills programme, about four out of six (42%) obtained an NQF Level 4 or 5 education, and 10% had an NQF Level 6 or higher.
But the sector is desperate for expansion of ECD programmes, training of practitioners, and the need for better allocation of funds. Interviewed recently after the launch, Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, reckons the findings will inform future crucial actions of ECD in the country, responsibility for which is now under her watch following the switch from the Department of Social Development on April 1.
The first ECD census aimed to gather reliable data and information to move towards a centralised management information system to improve ECD centres’ resource allocation and oversight management across the country. It was released in May.
“While significant progress has been made in terms of providing better ECD programmes since 1994, the sector still faces challenges, including those related to infrastructure, quality of the programmes offered, practitioners’ qualifications and training, and institutional capacity and funding,” said Motshekga.
PLW Comment: Yes, there is a shortage of qualified teacher. But you don’t necessarily need a degree to become qualified. There are many short courses out there, like we also offer, that can assist teachers to bridge the gap.
Further Reading: Training Needs
From Waste to Toys
29 June 2022
The results of the Early Childhood Development Census 2021, released on 13 May 2022, showed that only 52% of teaching staff in early learning programmes have a relevant qualification, while 22% have no qualification.
Also, 54% of the early learning programmes surveyed as part of the census allowed fewer than 30 minutes of free play per day as part of the daily programme. When it comes to free play outdoors, 45% allowed under 30 minutes a day. For this though, they need toys. This is one way of fulfilling that requirement.
The non-profit organisation Singakwenza, meaning “We can do it”, is striving to make early learning accessible to as many children as possible. Through Waste 2 Toys training workshops, it is providing parents, early childhood development practitioners and community workers with the skills to make their own toys and teaching aids using recyclable materials.
The organisation is based in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, but has run workshops throughout South Africa, as well as in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Malawi and Swaziland, according to Julie Hay, its founder and executive director. About 70 workshops take place each year.
Further Reading: Waste to Toys
Early Childhood Development in South Africa: Inequality and Opportunity
In South Africa the majority of young children are adversely impacted by a range of social and economic inequalities. Apartheid, along with the resultant socio-economic inequalities, deprived most South African children of their fundamental socio-economic rights, including their right to early education.
Global evidence shows ECD interventions can protect children against the effects of poverty; and that investment in quality ECD programmes for young children has a significant effect on reducing poverty and inequality across society. Currently children in South Africa are exposed to significant variation in the distribution and quality of ECD programmes.
The authors review the most up-to-date data on the current inequalities in ECD (granted, this is now a couple of years old) in South Africa, in relation to age, race, gender, location, and income levels; and examines current provision rates and differences in quality; data which has, up to now, not been synthesised in this way. The chapter explores the consequences of inequality, and why this inequality persists.
Further Reading: Inequality and Opportunity
Please note that these Enviroscans are exactly that – a short scan of the latest ECD developments. Limited attempt is made at interpretation and the reader should click on the relevant link provided at the end of every article summary to access the full article.
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Ashley-Cooper, M, Van Niekerk, LJ, and Atmore, E. November 2019. Early Childhood Development in South Africa: Inequality and Opportunity. Researchgate. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/337033694_Early_Childhood_Development_in_South_Africa_Inequality_and_Opportunity
Author Unknown. 11 July 2022. Guidance: The EYFS in Schools. OFSTED. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/ofsted-eif-inspections-and-the-eyfs/the-eyfs-in-schools
Author Unknown. 2022. What Do Children Learn in a High-Quality Kindergarten? National Association for the Education of Young Children. https://www.naeyc.org/our-work/families/what-do-children-learn-kindergarten-program
Metelerkamp, T. 29 June 2022. From waste to toys – training practitioners in early learning programmes to create playthings from recyclables. Daily Maverick. https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2022-06-29-from-waste-to-toys-creating-playthings-from-recyclables-the-way-to-grow-npo/
Morin, A. 2022. Developmental milestones for kindergartners. Understood for All Inc. https://www.understood.org/en/articles/developmental-milestones-for-typical-kindergartners
Newman, S. 28 June 2022. EYFS Activities - neuro-musical networks: Musical minds. Nursery World. https://www.nurseryworld.co.uk/features/article/eyfs-activities-neuro-musical-networks-musical-minds
Naidu, E. 13 July 2022. We have the knowledge of where and how our children learn – Motshekga. IOL. https://www.iol.co.za/sundayindependent/news/we-have-the-knowledge-of-where-and-how-our-children-learn-motshekga-13504ef8-3075-4e39-9a96-2d3af1afaf9f
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