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Play, Learn, Win Early Childhood Development - Environmental Scan (Enviroscan) Edition 05/2022

Some links to National and International News Items Related to Early Childhood Development (ECD)

SEND (Special Education Needs and Disability) Assessment in EYFS needs to change: A UK Alternative

08 April 2022

Children with special needs have always presented a unique challenge to pre-school teachers, many of whom are not educated to deal with such challenges, specifically when it comes to assessments. The UK’s Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) recommends a structured process of formative assessment, to identify:

 

  • the child's barriers to learning.
  • the child's interests and strengths.
  • the support the child needs to access the curriculum.
  • the improvements needed in the early years’ provision to support the child's learning.

 

Decisions on extra support and funding are better when they are based on precise assessments of the child's barriers to learning. We need to ask questions like: what extra support do they need to access the curriculum? And how much will other necessary changes to the whole provision cost? These are also some of the unique challenges facing the ECD sector in South Africa. This article provides some good insights.

Further Reading: SEND  

 

 

Not Only a Problem in South Africa – Study Finds a Huge Number of Children Starting School in England Developmentally Delayed

10 March 2022

According to a You Gov survey based on a sample of around 900 teachers and staff, many children starting school in 2021 in England were not toilet trained, struggled to socialise with other children, express themselves, or understand basic instructions.

 

According to the findings, 88 percent of primary school teachers and teaching assistants reported having to spend extra time with those not achieving their developmental milestones, meaning that they had less time to spend with the rest of the children in their class.

 

  • 90 percent of teachers surveyed had at least one child in their class who was not toilet trained
  • 91 percent of teachers surveyed had at least one child in their class who did not have basic language skills (i.e., cannot say their name, answer questions, etc.)
  • 97 percent of teachers surveyed had at least one child in their class who did not know how to listen or respond to simple instructions.

 

Exact figures like these based on the South African scenario are hard to come by, but the rest of the article gives some valuable insights into the type of thinking of teachers and the UK government when it comes to addressing these matters. There are likely to be some significant parallels to the SA situation. 

Further Reading: Developmentally Delayed 

 

Autism Spectrum Disorder – An American Perspective

13 April 2022 

About one in 36 or 2.8% of 8-year-old children in Minnesota in the USA have been identified with autism spectrum disorder. Autism spectrum disorder or autism is a developmental disability that typically appears during the early childhood years and is characterized by challenges with social skills, communication, and repetitive or atypical behaviours.

 

The numbers seem to indicate that teachers and parents will need to continue to build the capacity to support children with autism and their families. Early diagnosis helps a child to receive the support and services that they need to support their growth and development.  It can also help provide support to the family to build skills and support their child.

 

There are some useful links in this article for further reading to understand this problem. Although a USA study there are bound to be similarities to what teachers and parents also face in South Africa.

Further Reading: Autism Spectrum Disorder

 

 

Enhancing Cognitive Development in Children – A Ghanian Initiative

09 April 2022

Ninety percent of a child’s brain develops before they reach the age of 5, and during early childhood, the brain creates neural connections faster than at any other point in life. This makes these early years critical for ensuring a child’s long-term development.

 

Despite this, access to pre-primary education is unequally distributed across the world. In low-income countries, only one in five young children attends preschool. Early education in Africa is especially neglected. Three out of four children do not attend any form of preschool in Central, West, and sub-Saharan Africa, largely due to a lack of government investment. In sub-Saharan Africa, only 0.3% of the budget for public education goes toward pre-primary education. For comparison, North America and Europe spend around 9% on pre-primary education.

 

Lively Minds is an organization operating in Ghana and Uganda whose mission is to improve the care provided to preschool children in deprived communities.

 

Lively Minds involves parents in free training courses that teach them how to cognitively stimulate their children and provide better care at home. After completing these courses, parents return to their communities and organize play-based activities called Play Schemes, which encourage children to think critically and solve problems.

 

In a study evaluating the impact of the Lively Minds programme, researchers found that the overall cognition scores of participating children increased as a result of noticeable improvements in numeracy and literacy. Children saw an equivalent reduction in conduct problems including lying, cheating, and bullying.

 

Thanks to these impressive results, the U.S. Agency for International Development awarded Lively Minds with the Development Innovation Ventures Award in 2021. Visit the site for some interesting links as to how the process works. Maybe YOU can get a few useful ideas here!

Further Reading: Cognitive Development Initiative

 

ECD Teacher Development in the Northern Cape

22 November 2021

To invest in our children, and to improve their lives, there can be no doubt that accessible and effective education, from formative years to high school and beyond, is key. This is further underpinned by the South African constitution in which S 29(1) states, “Everyone has the right (a) to a basic education, including adult basic education, and (b) to further education, which the state through reasonable measures, must make progressively available and accessible.”

 

In the Northern Cape and Limpopo, the private sector has come to the party. To date, SIOC-CDT (Sishen Iron Ore Company Community Development Trust) has invested a total of R13,841,823.00 in meeting ECD objectives. Some SIOC-CDT sponsored initiatives in the ECD sector for 2021 include:

 

  • The ECD Level 4 graduation of no fewer than 38 ECD practitioners from beneficiary communities who received their full qualification in Early Childhood Development.
  • In Limpopo, the ECD Practitioner Training Support Project which catered for approximately 25 ECD practitioners (across 37 ECD centres) at NQF Level 5 has recently been completed.
  • By end 2021 there were a total cohort of 115 ECD practitioners in the Northern Cape who are on ECD NQF level 4 and 5 training programmes and a cohort of 50 practitioners on ECD NQF level 5 training in Limpopo.

 

By 2022 there are already 40 practitioners identified to undergo ECD NQF level 5 in the Northern Cape. The budget for this commitment is R 3,126,376.00.

 

NQF Level 4 and 5 training are becoming increasingly sought after by ECD practitioners and it is also clear that government is increasingly targeting the better education of teachers in the sector.

Further Reading: ECD Teacher Training

 

 

The Thrive by Five Index and Failing Our Children in South Africa

11 April 2022 

The Thrive by Five Index, South Africa’s largest-yet survey of preschool child development, shows that young children and their growth have not received enough attention. The index, launched on 8 April, highlights key areas in early childhood development that require attention.

 

The Index shows that 65% of children aged four to five attending ELPs (Early Learning Programmes) in South Africa are failing to thrive, meaning they are not meeting the expected standards for early learning, physical growth, or both. There are 1.3 million children in South Africa aged four to five years, of whom about 930,000 (72%) attend some kind of ELP.

 

For the index, children were assessed in three areas that are known to be predictive of a child’s performance in school: early learning, physical growth and social-emotional functioning. When it came to physical growth, one in four children (25.1%) exhibited stunted growth, with 5.3% being severely stunted.

 

When it comes to social-emotional functioning, it was found that 27.5% of children did not meet the standard when it came to age-appropriate social relations with peers and adults, while 33.4% were not emotionally ready for school.

 

Government had set the goal of achieving universal access to ECD by 2030, including access to a compulsory pre-Grade R year. It is clear from these results that we have to make sure that young children are in registered programmes that are delivering an early learning curriculum by a trained professional in a healthy and safe environment and receiving nutrition support.

 

From a Play, Learn Win perspective there are two key takeouts from the above: the need to have a proper curriculum in every preschool, and the need to have teachers that are properly qualified, i.e. trained.

Further Reading: Thrive by Five

 

 

Free State ECD Plans After Migration to DBE

05 April 2022

About 1 345 funded ECD centres in the Free State have migrated from the Department of Social Development to the Department of Education. This includes the transfer of a

total of 64 officials, including social workers, auxiliary social workers, infrastructure technicians and administrative.

 

Similar activities are taking place across the other provinces. In the Free State the provincial government is also investing in training of teachers with 1 000 pre-grade R practitioners who will be trained in the National Curriculum Framework (NCF). They are also distributing NCF documents to 2 500 practitioners. Another cohort of 1 000 practitioners will be trained on how to use toy libraries to ensure that children learn through play.

 

About 200 centres will receive educational toys. In addition, 200 pre-Grade R practitioners from Motheo, Xhariep and Thabo Mofutsanyane districts will be upskilled towards NQF Level 4.

 

Funding appropriated for Grade Rs in public schools and ECD centres was R294 million and R12 million, respectively.

 

Please access the article for more detail. As with everything though, just getting more money involved is not the solution. Care should be taken that the training provided to teachers is of sufficient quality to benefit the future generation.

Further Reading: Free State ECD Plans

 

 

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References

Doyle, J. 04 December 2018. Unsplash Image. https://unsplash.com/photos/RSgwLqIWH8w

 

Grenier, J. 08 April 2022. SEND assessment in EYFS needs to change: here's the alternative. https://www.tes.com/magazine/teaching-learning/early-years/send-assessment-eyfs-needs-change-heres-alternative

 

Gaunt, C. 10 March 2022. Huge numbers of children starting school developmentally delayed – study. https://www.nurseryworld.co.uk/news/article/huge-numbers-of-children-starting-school-developmentally-delayed-study

 

Hall-Lande, J. 13 April 2022. Talking autism spectrum disorder with U of M. https://twin-cities.umn.edu/news-events/talking-autism-spectrum-disorder-u-m

 

Leist, J. 09 April 2022. Lively Minds and Early Education in Africa. https://www.borgenmagazine.com/early-education-in-africa/

 

MANGO-OMC. 22 November 2021. Shining the light on Early Childhood Development (ECD) this Universal Children's Day. https://www.bizcommunity.com/Article/196/627/222443.html

 

Metelerkamp, T. 11 April 2022. Bigger budgets, quality services needed for South African children to ‘thrive by five’. https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2022-04-11-bigger-budgets-quality-services-needed-for-south-african-children-to-thrive-by-five/

 

Seleka, N. 05 April 2022. The Free State, which has best matric pass rate in SA, is investing heavily in education. https://www.news24.com/news24/southafrica/news/the-free-state-which-has-best-matric-pass-rate-in-sa-is-investing-heavily-in-education-20220405

 

Spiske, M. 31 January 2019. Unsplash Image. https://unsplash.com/photos/hLqeasKRPVA

 

Spiske, M. 01 March 2019. Unsplash Image. https://unsplash.com/photos/PIJwPMtzBI0

 

Toochinda, T. 22 January. Unsplash Image. https://unsplash.com/photos/GagC07wVvck