Early Years Development

Early Years Development ( picture Stephanie Hofschlaeger  / pixelio.de)

This thematic field group met twice in Brussels and explored some of our ideas regarding the underpinning values of early years practice.

We found a great deal in common; this was not a surprise. We recognised that our involvement with the VoiceS project made us a self selected group who were there to be more open and willing to engage with dialogue. It was interesting for all of us to see how we are moving away from some of the traditional notions of early years education and care.

It was quickly recognised that the modernist view of early years practice, with its roots in developmental psychology and outcomes that are measureable, was not the type of early years education and care that best suits neo-European practice. We discussed our various national interests and found that there was a great deal to take away from our first meeting.

Having had a little time to reflect, as well as time to have many conversations in the evening and next day on our visit to the European parliament, the second Thematic Field group meeting was primarily concerned with allocation of tasks.

We divided into three natural groups.

  1. A Portugese sub-group: the main area of interest for this group was the use of ICT in early years settings. With Portugese education having one of its priorities to develop a sense of entrepreneurship in the children, one of the foundations of the VoiceS project was being constructed. Clearly the expertise of the group was extensive. It was particularly helpful to have delegates who were students in practice, teachers undertaking higher degrees, active researchers and university academics.
  2. An Italian group: for this sub-group there was a clear community arts theme. How can the creativity of communities be experienced by children in contexts outside of their nursery or school? Of interest here were ways in which communites can be encouraged to work together and learn across generations. Again, the enthusiasm of the delegates allowed the themes to emerge in a clear and open way.
  3. A Turkish / British group: we were very much taken by the idea children being co-constructors of the places provided for them. The idea of how we listen to children can be developed through the creation of a “special book” that children use. With this they are able to express what they feel about events in their life and how those events connect to the various people they meet. Strategies for uncovering what is important to children will be the theme explored by this sub-group.

As can be seen, the group had a shared vision of the European early years teacher / practitioner being committed to listening to children and giving them the opportunity to construct their understanding of the world in which they operate. There is an need for children to feel comfortable with new technology, not as an end in itself, but as a tool to succeed in a global marketplace. It was also felt that children's education and care needs to take place in their community, enabling access to a range of experiences across generations.
The early years development Thematic Field group believes that development of resilience in childhood is fundamental to success as an adult as they learn to cope with the expected and unexpected changes of their life. Strategies to promote resilience in children are part of the repertoire of the European teacher / practitioner.

Jon White
21 August 2013


Written Mention

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication [communication] reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein (other languages). 

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