Children in non-registered childcare services and those in residential homes in the communities and who will be going to crèche and private pre-schools in 2022 will this year be included in the ‘Assessment of Early Readiness of Children’ conducted by the Institute of Early Childhood Development (IEDC).
The aim of the assessment, which started in 2019 for all registered childcare services only, is to determine early learning readiness for crèche/pre-school education of children aged between 3 to 4 years old.
The announcement was made by Marie-France Barra, IEDC director for programme coordination and research, during a press briefing held yesterday at the IECD head office, Le Chantier Mall, Victoria. Also present were Theresia Esparon, research officer and Julina Madeleine, principal officer (Regulatory Affairs unit).
Ms Barra said they want to include all children registered outside the registered setting of IECD for the main purpose to review the assessment tool developed in 2019 to establish early learning readiness, to identify socio-educational factors which may be associated with the level of early learning readiness, to determine the challenges faced by childcare providers/persons in preparing children for crèche and pre-school education, and to collect baseline data on children aged 3 to 4 years old who are enrolled in unregistered childminding services.
She said that on average, a total of 1300 to 1400 children enter crèches and private pre-schools and the experience, knowledge, and skills they bring can set the course in school and life for years to come. Therefore, readiness matters and is the reason why IECD is placing so much emphasis on such an important project.
Ms Barra noted that in 2019 when the assessment was carried out with children in home-based childminding services only, it was found that 88% of the children assessed were ready for crèche education.
“Last year, we conducted with children in both registered home-based and centre-based childcare settings and the results showed that 93% of the children were ready for crèche education. This year, the IECD has decided to extend the assessment to cover all children, in particular those groups outside registered settings, and, a structured early learning programme,” she said, noting that IECD is working on the assessment in collaboration with the Ministry of Education (MoE) as the regulatory body for day care centres.
Ms Barra said that the data collection over the period of 5-6 weeks will be done by a group of educators with expertise and experience in ECCE and education.
She added that the findings of the study will be shared in an ECCE Forum for partners and stakeholders, and the children’s individual results to MoE/schools and their parents early next year.
With regard to benefits of the assessment, Ms Barra stated that it will; (i) provide a snapshot of children’s readiness and development at the start of crèche, (ii) provides teachers with information about children’s individual strengths and weaknesses, identify learning gaps, flag children for timely and early intervention, (iii) improve classroom instruction and help to track children’s progress at a very early stage, and monitor progress throughout early childhood key stage (crèche to P2) and beyond their school years, (iv) help parents to better support their child at home, (v) help service providers to better plan needed support for individual children in preparation for preschool/crèche, and inform professional development initiatives for assistants and (vi) provides data in terms of attainment and trends to guide policy makers to make informed decisions about programmes development, policies and resource allocation.
Speaking on how the non-registered childcare services and those in residential homes need to do for the assessment, Ms Madeleine said that the parents will have to contact the IECD headquarters on 4673700 as from today, August 19, to September 10, 2021, to register, among other information that will be asked of them.
She noted that they will be then provided with a date and time to bring their child to the headquarters where the assessment will be done. The assessment for registered childminding services will be held on site.
Ms Madeleine stated that IECD will notify the Praslin and La Digue residents when the assessors will be present on the islands to conduct the assessment.
She urged parents with children in non-registered childcare services to call the headquarters on the above number to register their child.
With regard to how the assessment will take place, Mrs Esparon said that over 30 assessors will be deployed to all registered and non-registered childcare services where they will conduct face to face interaction on an individual basis with each child for a period of 20-30 minutes.
“It will be an informal interaction where we will play along with them while we seek the information we want. The assessment with them will be based on playing activities related to languages, pre-lecture, mathematics, including a social and emotional component, among others,” Mrs Esparon said.
She added that the assessment will be held in the morning until 12 noon and that it will be done under the health measures in place against Covid-19.
She further added that the assessment is in line with international best practices and it is the same assessment which was conducted since 2019 so as to measure progress and make necessary comparisons.
Mrs Esparon said that the assessment will also include a questionnaire for the parents, to capture factors and challenges faced this year and also parent’s involvement in the early learning needs of their child.Early learning paves the way for formal schooling and for lifelong learning. What children learn in their first few years of life and how they learn it can have long-lasting effects on their success as they grow up. As research has revealed the human brain is most receptive to learning between birth and three years of age so a child’s early years lay the foundation for all that is to come.
To build that foundation, Mrs Esparon said we need to offer an environment enriched with play and play materials to provide children with rich experiences. Through play, children develop communication skills, self-regulation skills, intellectual and physical skills as well as social skills. All these skills are crucial for children before they enter pre-school.
Patrick Joubert – Nation.sc