Pedagogical leadership

The article “Pedagogical leadership and children’s well-being in Finnish early education” by Elina Fonsen, Jyrki Reunamo, Leena Lahtinen and Mari Sillman has been published in the journal Educational Management Administration & Leadership. The article uses the data of the Progressive Feedback. The results show a link between a leader’s pedagogical leadership and children’s observed activities, including learning, positive emotions, physical activity, and participation. In addition, a there is a link between the need for pedagogical leadership assessed by staff and leadership assessed by the manager, which emphasizes the need for the manager to focus on pedagogical leadership and staff involvement. The results provide a perspective that allows the director to focus on the primary task of early childhood education, the well-being of children.

The table above summarizes the themes related to good pedagogical leadership. The director of the kindergarten could attach the table to his wall and check out the most important things of his own management once a week!

Creativity in Early Education

Teemu Nikkola et al. have written an article about creativity in education ‘Children’s creative thinking abilities and social orientations in Finnish early childhood education and care’. The journal is Early Child Development and Care. The data is from Progressive Feedback. The perspective of creativity is important both from the personal and environmental points of view. Creativity includes all kinds of everyday activities in kindergarten – not just arts or planned creativity. The personal aspects of creativity highlight the importance of valuing children’s creative efforts, even though the act may have been created by others previously. The environmental aspects of creativity highlight the importance of children participating in the creation of both the curriculum content and educational conduct. The article is open access and can be downloaded from the link at the end of the post.

In the table, we can see how child interviews and separately conducted creativity test (Torrance) are related. In participative orientation, children concern the situation and intend to change it. The strategy highlights contact with others’ and children’s agency. In participation, children learn to build the future while at the same time considering others. The sooner the children can practice their creative abilities, the better they are ready to take part in the creation of their lives and also the lives of others. Teemu is strongly weaving creativity into the everyday experiences of children and the creation of early education. Click the link below!

Nikkola, T., Reunamo, J. & Ruokonen, I. (2020). Children’s creative thinking abilities and social orientations in Finnish early childhood education and care. Early Child Development and Care. https://doi.org/10.1080/03004430.2020.1813122

Children as quality evaluators of early childhood education

An article based on Progressive Feedback data Children’s negative experiences as a part of quality evaluation in early childhood education and care has been accepted for publication in the journal Early Child Development and Care. Children’s evaluations have been used in Progressive Feedback since 2011. In the article, children’s views in evaluating early childhood education is central. The data consists of 5 439 child interviews conducted by the children’s parents and guardians. Peer relations are central to children and difficulties in peer interaction are central to all children in every age group. Children’s views provide essential first hand experiences. Processing children views between adults help the staff and parents to consider children’s point of view. Processing children’s views together with children provides an opportunity to practice interaction skills together with others. Additionally, children’s views help adults to consider children’s solutions. Furthermore,  children’s evaluations help children to learn to impact their own lifes and also the shared commynity with others.  Children’s experience in belonging together with other children is important. Four-year-old children reported most negative peer experiences. The negativity of daily activities increase as children grow older. Also adults’ guidance is experienced more negative as children grow older. For the smallest children the descriptions are often concrete descriptions of mental of physical discomfort. In the table can be seen the trends in children’s negative experiences as children grow older in early childhood education. The article can be accessed at https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/03004430.2020.1801667.

Sharing rules and creating rules with multicultural children

Children with non-Finnish cultural or linguistic background face challenges
to interact socially in the early childhood education context in
Finland. The new article with Progressive Feedback data clarifies what kind of social roles children typically have in ECE, and what sort of activities and play are
typical to children with Finnish and non-Finnish cultural or linguistic
background. The research data was systematically sampled large-scale
observation data (1147 children, 22,149 observations) of 5–6-year-old
children. According to our findings, non-social roles and less
participative actions were found to be more common among diverse
background children than with Finnish background children. Children
with diverse background were found to be more engaged especially in
rule play but they played less role play. The results suggest
that ECE educators could pay specific attention to play-based
interventions and to the shared cultural creation. In rule play the common context has the same rules for everybody, thus helping multicultural children to find a common ground more easily. However, in role play children create the play rules as the play progresses. In role play children create the play culture in a shared creation of the play world. In the Table, the observed roles of children with multicultural and Finnish background are presented.

Outi Arvola, Kaisa Pankakoski, Jyrki Reunamo & Minna Kyttälä (2020):
Culturally and linguistically diverse children’s participation and social roles in the Finnish Early Childhood Education – is play the common key?, Early Child Development and Care, DOI:10.1080/03004430.2020.1716744
To link to this articl e: https://doi.org/10.1080/03004430.2020.1716744

How to measure physical activity?

Research Centre for Physical Activity and Health (LIKES) conducts and develops multidisciplinary and applied research on physical activity. Likes is leading the PIILO-project on monitoring joy, physical activity and motor skills in young children. The specific purpose is to improve monitoring physical activity at national level and its use in promoting early childhood education. The project compares different methods of measuring physical activity and motor skills. The project started in spring 2019. Progressive Feedback participates in the project.

`Measuring movement is not a simple matter. In 2019, we compared physical activity indicators in kindergarten. The aim has been to compare the results of accelerometer and observation. The metrics were compared during normal day care days. The pilot was carried out in the vicinity of Jyväskylä in the fall of 2019. The physical activity of the child was measured with accelerometers placed on three different points of the body and a heart rate monitor. In addition to the accelerometer measurements, the physical activity of the child and his or her environment in the kindergarten were observed by three different methods, one of which was Progressive Feedback. Observers have been methodologically trained surveyors.

In 2020, in the second phase of the project, measurements will be carried out in ECEC units. At the end of the project, a report will be completed in 2020, which concludes with a justification of the plan to carry out population monitoring of the movement of young children. More information about the project can be found (in Finnish) at https://www.likes.fi/tutkimus/piilo-tutkimus-ja-kehittamishanke.

From the point of Progressive Feedback, the project is an excellent way to learn more about the reliability of the observation and the validity of the criteria (the relation of observation to other indicators).

Fear & Anxiety in Early Education

Fear and anxiety are species-specific adaptation reactions. We have been observing these feelings as part of other emotions since 2015. Through random sampling, we are able to provide a reliable picture of the observed amounts of anxiety and fear and their relationship to children’s tendencies, learning environment, and leadership. Anxiety and fear occurred for an average of 43 seconds per day per child. Most fears occur in the morning. As a result, fears are over-represented in outdoor activities, the child is usually out of focus, often interrupted, and attention is concentrated on a variety of subjects. In situations of fear, the child is often withdrawn or bound to his or her own perspective. 1-3 year olds have most of fearful emotions, even though these emotions are only 0.26% of all observations. Girls have somewhat more fears than boys. However, the emotions of fear in early childhood education are not the experiences of characteristically helpless children, but those of sensitive and skillful children. Fear in early childhood education does not only appear to be negative, but it expresses the courage to experience emotions and the ability to engage with things that are important despite the fear. Only a child who feels secure enough does not prevent him from acting and facing his/her fears. (The figure shows the relationship between fear and anxiety experiences and the child’s assessed social skills in the child group. Observation and assessment are completely independent, so the connection reflects a real phenomenon.)

Below are some examples of children’s descriptions of their fears:

It’s when the adults are loud and when the adult says it
If you play ghost games – in the morning I feel anxious
if it’s dark and someone is scared
That I will be alone somewhere, and the others will leave
I’m afraid I won’t be chosen.
Loud noise. When it’s dark.
Jumping scares, climbing poles.
One boy always hits and is naughty because he hasn’t learned things yet.
If I had to do something and I don’t know if I could do it.
I’m afraid the teacher will get angry if I make an accident.
At daybreak I had dreams of wolves and they ran over me.
When the kindergarten is big.
Monsters
Well, every time someone made me stupid games and laughed. I don’t like it when I am laughed at.
All boys
If the electricity goes out

Toddlers and outdoor activities

The results of Progressive Feedback were presented in  Hangzhou CECECin early education conference 3.12.2019. In the results we saw that the weather is a challenge for the toddlers and their educators. In Finland, especially cold winter months require winter clothes, which may restrict children’s movement and activities. On the other hand, outdoors highlights the importance of peer contacts and movement. In the table the distribution of the toddlers emotions is presented. In outdoor activities, children have a lot of positive emotions, but the amount of negative emotions is also higher than in other activities. The toddlers need Outdoor activities could include developing different types of sun loungers, heaters, shelters, heated sandboxes, and intermediate spaces for flexible outdoor use throughout the day. During summer, for example, shade and water play need attention.

Learning environment evaluation

The Finnish Education Evaluation Centre (Karvi) has published the Guidelines and Recommendations for Evaluationg the Quality of Early Childhood Education and Care in 2017. Now, two years later Karvi has published a report (in Finnish) based on a survey based on educators’ self-evaluation on the quality of Early Education in daycare centres and childminders. Mari Sillman has just finished her graduated thesis on the reliability of self-evaluated quality based on the Karvi indicators. The thesis is an invaluable perspective on the challenges of valid and reliable early education evaluation. According to Sillman, a survey based on self-evaluation is challenging or impossible. Multimethod evaluation could be a more reliable
way. Mari’s thesis is available here. In Progressive feedback, we can compare the self-evaluation surveys with independent measures of observation, leadership evaluation, child evaluation and tests.

Evaluating Early Education

Evaluation or Early Childhood Education is a multifaceted and complex science and art.Who would be a better judge on the quality of Early Education than the children themselves? Our data suggests that children’s evaluations are a valuable part of the multi-method quality evaluation of early education. Results can be used to develop practices by paying attention to children´s participation and positive aspects that children mention about Early Education. See the new article in Journal of Early Childhood Education and Research.

Equality & segregation

In Finland, we have been doing research on Early Education for long. Our comprehensive and deep results expose the hidden processes of inequality. The leading Finnish newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat, had these research results as main news in 2 August 2019. Early Education can make headlines. This is important, because the processes of inequality are often unconscious and the best way for more equal future is to become aware of the small, but repeating obstacles of equality. The best way to enhance equality is to get a hold of the processes of inequality as early as possible. Read the article.