Increasing evidence confirms that high quality early childhood programmes and experiences greatly influence the holistic development of the child and play a vital role in overall school performance in the future. More and more, governments across the globe are placing emphasis on early childhood care and education (ECCE). Seychelles has made remarkable progress in ECCE, and the Institute of Early Childhood Development (IECD) as the institutional anchor has been the driving force to bring about changes in ECCE.
A child’s brain develops rapidly during the first five years of life, especially the first three years. It is a time of rapid cognitive, linguistic, social, emotional and motor development. Providing rich experiences at foundation level will have longer-term repercussion and positive effects on the holistic development of young children and on achievements later on. It is on this premise that the National Standard on Early Learning and Interaction was developed.
Taking this and all empirical evidence into account, a project has been conceived to target the development and implementation of educational resources for early learning and stimulation of children aged 4 months to 4 years in home-based childminding establishments. This new project is funded by Unesco under its participation programme and spearheaded and coordinated by the IECD.
This project consists of the development and production of educational materials. These include an Early Learning Programme, a set of five big story books consisting of classic stories for young children, an activity book and associated numeracy and literacy activities and resources. Children are naturally motivated to play, therefore, a play-based approach is used to build on this motivation and use play as a context for the development of language and other literacy as well as numeracy skills. In this way, children can explore, experiment, discover and solve problems in imaginative and playful ways through the use of a variety of manipulatives.
As part of this project, the IECD organised two training sessions to equip a group of twenty-four selected registered childminders and their Assistants with knowledge and skills to effectively implement a newly developed Early Learning Programme and its associated resources. The training sessions took place at the Seychelles Institute of Teacher Education (Site) on Saturday March 20 for participants on Mahé and on Saturday March 27 at the Baie Ste Anne community centre for participants on Praslin.
The chief executive of IECD, Shirley Choppy, and members of staff from the Regulatory Affairs section also attended the inaugural session. The main facilitator of the training is Julina Madeleine, principal officer for centre-based childminding services, assisted by Michelle Adeline, senior compliance officer, and other members of the ‘Early Learning Programme Working Group’.
All participants were actively engaged in the sessions and were eager to try out the new programme with the children in their care. A pilot study will be conducted from April to June 2021 to test the programme for the first three months and obtain feedback from the participants to further review and refine it. Staff of the Regulatory Affairs section and members of the ‘Early Learning Programme Working Group’ will closely monitor the trial implementation of the Early Learning Programme and provide necessary technical support and guidance to the childminders. A second training session is on schedule for June 2021.
Being the national entity responsible for the development of children from 0 to 8 years, the IECD is committed to ensuring the holistic development of all children so that they are sufficiently prepared to start pre-school and crèche education. Through this much awaited project, the institute aims to further empower Childminders and their staff and equally raise the quality or early childhood care and education in Home-Based Childminding establishments to help children reach their full potential and for lifelong learning.