Posts in February 2022

What are the top3 features of an optimal learning experience?

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

According to a very recent study guided play has three fundamental characteristics that provide an optimal learning experience for children in ECE.

There has been a long-time debate in Early Childhood Education (ECE) whether free play or direct instruction has more benefits for children's learning and development.

In recent years there has been a shift toward a compromise called “play-based learning”. It is an approach that combines the benefits of play and traditional teaching, particularly in an Early Childhood Education setting. "Play-based learning" is like an umbrella that holds together all similar educational approaches, as guided play.

According to a very recent study (Can guidance during play enhance children’s learning and development in educational contexts?) guided play has three fundamental characteristics that provide an optimal learning experience for children in ECE.

Top3 elements of an optimal learning experience during Guided Play

1. The educator providing guidance should have a clear learning goal in mind when setting up a playful activity (Toub et al., 2018; Weisberg et al., 2016).

Every educator should have a road map that guides teaching; a curriculum that shows what the children need to practice this term. Each class/group as well as each child should have some learning goals to aim for. Curriculum and learning goals give direction to educators, but the most important thing that should guide planning is the children's interests, ideas, and needs.

Download free Child's Individual Curriculum template

2. The activity or interaction should allow children some degree of choice and agency over their play: whether the playful interaction is adult- or child-initiated, play should be child-led where possible (Hirsh-Pasek et al., 2009).

Children gain self-confidence as they get to choose the activity or the way the play continues. Every child should experience these moments of directing and shining. The more children get to participate, the more involved they will be and the more they will learn. When you plan, mark down which things children can have an effect on during the playful activity (Eg. the activity is "a craft" but children can choose which animal they are going to make).

Download free Lesson Plan template

How does Finland prepare children for formal education in early years?

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

How do early childhood educators in Finland prepare children for formal education through playful pedagogy? And is it scientifically proven that play really promotes learning?

What is the mission of ECEC in Finland?

The mission of Early Childhood Education and Care in Finland is to: Promote children’s holistic growth, development, and learning in collaboration with their guardians.

The aim is to nourish and teach children in all learning areas. It is vital that children are happy. Their well-being is the most important thing.

All this work with the children does not work out without engaging the guardians. Effortless, trustworthy, and open communication with the whole family is valued in Finnish early childhood education.

What is essential in ECEC in Finland?

Essential to Early Childhood Education and Care in Finland is: Understanding the importance and pedagogical possibilities of play in the promotion of wellbeing and learning. (Finnish National Agency for Education)

Play is the most important tool in early childhood education. Learning happens through play. Children practice new skills, test their own ideas and theories, process fears, and express feelings in play. Children learn through all those experiences in a natural and most of all - fun - way.

Highly or loosely structured classroom?

Pasi Sahlberg and William Doyle state in their book Let children play that a Classroom with rich child-initiated play and a Playful classroom with focused learning brings the best results in learning. Children should be able to explore the classroom with the active presence of educators. Children also benefit greatly if educators guide learning with rich educational activities.

Educators should give plenty of space for children's play, guide it gently and offer materials, tools, and ideas to enrich it. Topics for play should come initially from children, but adult guidance and monitoring are needed.

Talented educators see when the children's play is too free and wild. In those situations, some steering and guidelines are in place. In turn, too many rules and warnings suppress children's ideas and creativity so the educator should not be too controlling either.

What are the positive sides of play?

  • Play promotes the child’s development, learning, and well-being.
  • Play motivates children and brings joy while allowing them to learn new skills.
  • Experiences that stimulate the children’s emotions, curiosity, and interest inspire them to play.

(National Curriculum Guidelines for early education in Finland)

Is it scientifically proven that play actually promotes learning?

Simply, YES.

Take our 10-second test!  Do the children in your preschool get the education they deserve?

Monday, February 7, 2022

A learner-centric and holistic curriculum should be used. Test how your preschool is succeeding:

  • Is your curriculum utilized as the basis for the daily planning and activities?
  • Do your teachers observe, document, and assess learning goals effortlessly?
  • Do the parents know how their children progress in their learning?
  • Can you guarantee that the children get learning opportunities in all the areas of your curriculum?
  • Can you provide a competitive high-quality service?

If you answered YES to all questions, you are in good shape – congratulations!

If NOT, there is room for improvement. You should take the lead and make the change happen! 

Sounds challenging - but it is actually straightforward

In this blog, we want to share our views from Kindiedays. And provide some advice on how to make the improvements in a pragmatic way.

Education Innovations in 2022: Formative Assessment is in the spotlight of HundrED

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

"We help to provide quality education for as many children as possible through education innovations, that is the core mission of HundrED", says Annina Huhtala.

According to HundrED the purpose of education is to help every child to flourish, no matter what happens in life. To thrive as global citizens, children must be equipped with a breadth of skills these days. In a fast-changing world, traditional academic skills play an important role, but that is not enough.

A child-centered approach, personalized and passion-based teaching, as well as the relationship between a motivated student and inspired teacher, is the key. Furthermore, assessment has to be linked to the core of the learning process.

We need to move away from narrow approaches of summative assessment, which only measure students' ability to memorize and regurgitate facts at a certain point in time, states HundrED.

To make all this happen, the world needs visionary leadership in education systems and ambitious education innovations. The world of education is full of hard-working specialists who are implementing these processes every day. HundrED thrives to give them the visibility and recognition they deserve.

Formative Assessment is in the Spotlight of Education Innovation 2022

Formative Assessment can only be formative if the student is heavily involved.

Now, HundrED has chosen 27 innovative ideas that are changing the way we think about formative assessment. These education innovations support both teaching and learning and include the critical role students play in their own learning processes.

“Formative Assessment can only be formative if the student is heavily involved,” says Education Specialist Clara Garcia Millan from HundrED. This involvement can come in many forms: self-assessment, peer assessment, or teacher assessment.

However, if the student does not have the chance to reflect on their own learning and discuss this assessment with their teacher - it cannot be considered a formative assessment.

Kindiedays in the Education Innovation Shortlist

Kindiedays is proud to be shortlisted for the “Formative Assessment spotlight” by HundrED. There were in total 129 innovations around the world, and Kindiedays has been ranked among the 27 finalists.

There were a number of factors that they took into consideration when creating this Shortlist. See who else made it to the Formative Assessment Shortlist!

The Research Process for this Spotlight was particularly strict. All applicants were asked to submit additional information regarding how their innovation integrates formative assessment into students’ learning journeys.

Kindiedays in the spotlight for HundrED 2022