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Archive for the 'Childhood & early education' Category

Choosing welfare over worksheets and care over ‘catch-up’: teachers’ priorities during lockdown

Blog Editor, IOE Digital3 July 2020

Alice Bradbury and Sam Duncan.

Teachers’ working lives changed dramatically under lockdown, with a sudden shift to providing work for children at home or teaching small groups at school. At the same time, our research suggests, their priorities may also have changed. As we enter a new phase of the COVID-19 crisis, planning for the autumn term needs to take into account the importance teachers place on care over ‘catch-up’.

Our project, ‘A duty of care and a duty to teach: educational priorities in response to the COVID-19 crisis’, explores how schools have been operating during this unique period of sudden and dramatic changes to daily life, and how these changes have affected primary teachers’ and school leaders’ thinking about education. Our first set of findings arise from a survey conducted in May via TeacherTapp, involving 1,653 participants.

The survey results reveal that teachers’ primary concern at the start of lockdown was with pupil welfare. When asked about their priorities in communicating with parents, the most popular option was checking how families are coping in terms of basic food, health and emotional needs. Headteachers in particular were regularly involved in (more…)

Supporting parents through online programmes: now and into the future

Blog Editor, IOE Digital29 June 2020

Jie Gao, Clare Brooks, Yuwei Xu, Eleanor Kitto.

After nearly three months of lockdown, most of us crave human interaction. Indeed our experience of living and working virtually has taught many of us the value of face-to-face communication with real people. And yet, our systematic review on programmes designed for parents of young children suggests not only that online programmes offer effective ways to support parents, but that they are already extensively used to good effect.

Our systematic review of the research into programmes for parents of young children (0-6 years old) identified that effective parenting programmes often feature:

  • Focused programme aims and purposes
  • Clear theoretical frameworks
  • A programme tailored around individual user needs
  • Versatile means of delivery
  • Useful programme contents
  • High-quality teaching and facilitating
  • Effective professional training for programme leaders and facilitators
  • Constructive programme evaluation

Strikingly, the increasing use of technology and Internet-based parenting programmes stands out. Empirical reviews suggest that it has distinctive (more…)

Covid-19 and early years education and care: not the time for baseline assessment

Blog Editor, IOE Digital25 June 2020

Guy Roberts-Holmes, Siew Fung Lee and Diana Sousa.

The Covid-19 crisis means that young children have had prolonged absence from nurseries, and lost the chance to interact with their peers.  As Shadow Schools Minister Margaret Greenwood has told the Government, ‘Some will have lost parents, grandparents or other family members, while others will have simply struggled, like millions of others across the UK, with living in lockdown, unable to play with their friends’.

This means that early years teachers and care workers need to focus even more than usual on children’s well-being and mental health. We argue that the DFE’s latest iteration of Reception Baseline Assessment (RBA) is an unnecessary distraction at a time like this.

Fortunately, the DFE has taken on board our concerns and those of others and has just announced that the RBA’s introduction is to be postponed for a year.

As many parents, teachers and children have experienced, home learning is no easy substitute for socially inclusive and participatory (more…)

Schools never shut: the extraordinary lengths teachers have been going to in supporting children during lockdown

Blog Editor, IOE Digital11 June 2020

Alice Bradbury.

There has been much discussion in the news about schools ‘re-opening’ in the last few weeks; however, schools have never been ‘closed’ during the COVID-19 crisis, and in fact, teachers have been working incredibly hard to support their communities during the lockdown period.

As well as continuing to teach the children of key workers and vulnerable children, including through school holidays, staff have been engaged in a variety of activities which stretch far beyond their normal roles, as our research in the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Pedagogy (HHCP) has shown.

Our mission in HHCP is to improve children’s lives through pedagogy; during this crisis, we have prioritised supporting parents at home (through campaigns such as our ‘Get children thinking’  project) and – the focus here – documenting the experiences of staff in schools and the early years sector. We have spoken to and surveyed leaders across the field of primary and early years education, gathering fascinating testimonies of the experiences of the (more…)

Covid-19 and education: How can parents foster whole family wellbeing as some children return to school – especially for youngsters with special needs?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital2 June 2020

Amelia Roberts

During periods of upheaval, it can be particularly challenging to meet the needs of the whole family. Families now are juggling the school partial reopening, meaning that some children may be going back, while brothers and sisters are not. Not only is this difficult for practical reasons (such as getting some children to school while caring for others at home), but perceptions of fairness may well escalate. It may be hard, for example, not to meet friends when your sister can, or go to school when your brother gets to stay at home.

Explaining the situation

Social stories can be a very useful way to explain changes in circumstance to children with special educational needs. Beaucroft Foundation School have a wide range of excellent examples. ‘Going to school part time’ uses common visual symbols to explain the changes and has an excellent example of a simple visual calendar to show when a
child is at home and when at school.

Supporting the transition back into school

Communication with the school is absolutely crucial at this time. You will need to know how social distancing and deep cleaning measures are being handled so that you can (more…)

Get children thinking: why philosophy is the perfect lockdown activity for youngsters

Blog Editor, IOE Digital20 May 2020

Yana Manyukhina 

Lockdown unquestionably brings significant challenges into children’s education. But it also presents an opportunity for parents and carers ­– and teachers – to create new, more inspiring and more freeing learning environments for children learning at home.

What is enjoyable, effective and easy to implement, while developing children’s cognitive, emotional and social skills? Philosophy. It offers open ended challenges which are fun, and which stretch those brain cells in every direction.

In order to help parents and carers initiate valuable philosophical conversations with children, the team at the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Pedagogy at UCL has designed a new social media campaign called “GetChildrenThinking”. Every week, a different philosophical question appears on the Centre’s Twitter Feed, followed by a mid-week prompt to further ignite and enrich the discussion. The first two are: What is fairness? and What is it like to be a bat? Bring philosophy into your home by following this link.

In my experience of teaching philosophy to primary and secondary students, (more…)

What should teachers be prepared for when young children return after lockdown: lessons from China and elsewhere

Blog Editor, IOE Digital11 May 2020

Yuwei Xu and Clare Brooks. 

With the outbreak of COVID-19 globally, school closures and online education have become shared  experiences for children, teachers, and parents around the world. As China emerges from lockdown, schools are preparing for re-opening.

National guidelines, issued by the People’s Republic of China’s Ministry of Education, on COVID-19 prevention and control at all school levels, focus on medical suggestions, physical health and hygiene. However, teachers everywhere are concerned about the mental and social aspects of children’s returning to schools. In this blog, drawing on relevant research from China and elsewhere, we summarize some of the major considerations for young children’s post-COVID-19 psychological and social readiness. (more…)

‘Tell me a story from your head!’ – working with parents to design an app to help spark ideas

Blog Editor, IOE Digital1 May 2020

Sara Kalantari.  

Parents and children have been telling each other stories from time immemorial. In the extraordinary days we are living through, storytelling could take on increased importance, as families spend more time at home together seeking ways to make sense of this strange new world.

Studies have found that storytelling is embedded in family life from toddlerhood into adulthood. It strengthens the way children and parents jointly understand their culture and identities while introducing children to concrete and abstract concepts, relationships and information. In school it supports children’s verbal and listening skills, active participation and cooperation, imagination and creativity.

In the DROPS project our UCL team is designing a tablet-based app supporting oral (more…)

Education in quarantine: what can we learn from early childhood educators in China?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital7 April 2020

Jie Gao and Clare Brooks.

While we are marching towards the third week of lockdown in the UK, Chinese early childhood practitioners are busy preparing for the re-opening of kindergartens after more than two months of quarantine. We asked some of them to share their experiences and lessons learnt during quarantine. We also sought out articles written by Chinese Early Years experts for supporting practitioners and parents in such an unprecedented situation. Their advice is underlined.

Acknowledge the challenges

At the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, Chinese schools were on holiday for the Spring Festival. When the country went into lockdown, the school starting date was postponed indefinitely. Just like in other places around the world, Chinese kindergarten teachers had to support parents in educating and caring for young children at home.

For Chinese early years teachers this involved new responsibilities, including: (more…)

Mind the gap: will home learning reinforce inequality and what can we do about it?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital2 April 2020

AnnieSpratt_Homeschool2.png

Clare Brooks, Eleanor Kitto and Carole Scott.

In the first of two blog posts on home learning and young children in these extraordinary times, we highlighted how clear and practical research evidence can help schools and parents find principles to guide them during the closure of schools and early years settings.

The Effective Pre-School, Primary and Secondary Education (EPPSE) project, for example, shows what types of child-adult interactions help learning and demonstrates the tremendous importance of children’s home learning environments.

We should also consider that a period of learning at home could reinforce inequalities between children, and that months away from school could mean that emerging learning problems are missed by professionals.

Those from homes (more…)