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Recently Kathreen Segreen- of BBC News reported that ‘’Every Nursery in England should have a qualified early years teacher to help toddlers develop skills like Speech and Language. The report further ads that research shows that pre schoolers can be ‘’set back decades’’ if their brains are not adequately stimulated before they start formal schooling. An article –‘’Lighting up young brains’’- written in conjunction with the Institute of Child Health at University College London highlights ‘’preschool years’’ as a ‘’critical opportunity’’ for the brains to develop key skills.
The report suggests the government should make ‘play time’- ‘brain time’ under the guidance of qualified early years teachers. Government statistics have shown that almost 1,30,000 children in England last year were falling behind with language abilities before they even reached school. This means 6 children in every reception class struggled with their language skills. With so much lesser resources than most countries overseas what can we expect in Sri Lanka? The data warns that failure to develop good language skills can leave children struggling to learn in the class room and unable to catch up with their peers in later years.
We at Kandy Grammar school stay in touch with the latest Science research news on Education in order to avail our students with the best benefits.
In U.K. to become an early years teacher the candidate needs a degree and at least a GCSE ‘C’ grade in English, Maths and Science. They have to pass professional tests in Numeracy and Literacy and complete a period of initial training.
For its research work University College London also conducted a survey of thousand parents and found that almost half had low expectations for their child’s early learning. Of the 1000 parents surveyed 47% hoped their child would know 100 words by their 3rd Birthday-but this is only half the recommended number. 56% of parents did not think they had enough help and advice to understand their child’s early learning.
We all need to remember that it is today’s child who grows up to be tomorrow’s adult.
A Department of Education review of early years staff carried out by Professor Cathy Nutbrown in 2012 found concerns about Literacy and Numeracy skills among workers in England. This research work resulted in the former Child Care Minister Elizabeth Trust introducing training programmes of early year teachers in 2013. In their efforts at correcting this error between 2008-2013 the intake of full day care staff with a Degree or higher qualifications increased from 5% to 13%.
We in Sri Lanka should have a positive outlook on such research projects and the results delivered, and make an effort at improving the learning skills of our own nursery children before they start real schooling-in other words before it becomes too late for them. What’s more it is important to remember that being an early years practitioner is about more than just having certain academic qualifications-experience, a caring disposition and an in depth understanding of child development are all vital and valuable attributes that should not be overlooked. A university degree alone may not be that crucial in Sri Lanka unless a ‘Degree and Diploma programme in Preschool education’ is introduced to our Universities as is found in many Universities in overseas countries, in which case this indeed could be considered the basic qualification for our preschool teachers too.
We at K.G.S. believe that the early years are vital for a child’s development and should be treated as a priority. As Garret Jenkins, ‘Save the children’s Director of U.K says ‘’Toddlers brains are like sponges absorbing knowledge and making new connections faster than any other time in life’’
Torsten Balderdash, Professor of Neuroscience and child health at UCL’s Institute of child health, based on his extensive research work has stated ‘’It is precisely this period where we have explosive brain growth, where most of the connections in the brain are formed, and we know that if these connections are not formed, they to variable degrees, will suffer longer term consequences not only to their physical and cognitive but also to their emotional development’’.
To tackle the nation’s education gap, do we need a new national focus on early learning to give children the best start-not just increasing free child care hours, but boosting Nursery quality to help support both children and parents with early learning? May this be food for thought to our Nation’s Leaders-
Toddlers need early year Teachers in Nurseries
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