Letter of the Day | Early childhood curriculum relevant
THE EDITOR, Sir:
The Early Childhood Commission (ECC) notes Eugenia Robinson's concerns, published in a guest column in The Sunday Gleaner of September 25, 2016, about Jamaica's early childhood curriculum. We share Mrs Robinson's passion for early childhood education and her belief in the care that must be taken to nurture the innate potential for learning with which young children are blessed.
Like all curricula, Jamaica's is meant as a guideline. Teachers use them to plan the daily activities in their classrooms. The curriculum does not call for rote learning, nor does the ECC require rigorous weekly lesson plans. The curriculum is, in fact, filled with suggestions for the kinds of interactive activities that Mrs Robinson advocates.
Schools strengthen children's creativity when teachers have the know-how and training to do so. The more than 2,700 early childhood institutions (ECIs) the ECC regulates vary widely - day-care centres, basic schools, infant departments, and kindergartens - and that landscape is populated by more than 10,000 teachers with varying degrees of training and experience in early childhood development. Creating a standard curriculum, making sure all ECIs have them, and training teachers in their use, is part of the ECC's effort to ensure that all Jamaican children have access to a high-quality education.
The curriculum gives ECIs a framework to help children achieve developmental goals based on the desirable learning outcomes - wellness, communication, valuing culture, intellectual empowerment, respect for self, others and the environment, and resilience.
It gives practitioners information on the developmental milestones relevant to the age of the children in their care, concepts, content, suggested learning activities, and strategies, how to record children's progress, and how to involve parents. The curriculum also recognises the important role of play, schedules, routines and rituals in young children's learning.
The curriculum falls under one of 12 standards on which the ECI monitors early childhood institutions. It also monitors their physical environment, ensuring that each is child-centred and safe, as well as ensuring that children have access to toys and resources that promote learning and discovery.
We encourage all parents of children up to age six and advocates of early childhood education to become familiar with the 12 standards required for certification of all early childhood institutions and to read the early childhood curriculum and the accompanying resource book. The latter has activities that parents can use at home. All materials are available on the ECC's website at ecc.gov.jm.