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
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 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.
Well, every time someone made me stupid games and laughed. I don’t like it when I am laughed at.
If the electricity goes out
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.
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.
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.
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.
Finnish Education Evaluation Center organized a meeting for the content producers of evaluation 17 June 2019. The goal of the meeting was to enhance the information exchange on the national level, increase national cooperation, decrease overlaping data collection and add perspectives, openness and effectiveness. Jyrki Reunamo presented Progressive Feedback, which has deep, fresh and comprehensive early education evaluation system running in Finland, comprising of more than half of the Finnish Early Education. You can see the presentation at https://karvi.fi/app/uploads/2019/06/Jyrki-Reunamo.pdf.
To check criterion-validity we will compare the Finnish PF-observation and American CLASS-observation. Both observations will be conducted in the same groups. Yasmin Fong from the Education University of Hong Kong visited Finland to train four observers. Now we have four observers licenced to do CLASS-observations in Finland. It will be interesting to compare the Finnish PF with the American Class. Furthermore, it will be even more interesting to compare Finnish and Hong Kong Early Education based on the two observation methods. Yasmin will train Hong Kong observers to use also PF in Hong Kong. The picture is from CLASS training with Roosa-Maria Laaksonen, Mari Sillman, Yasmin Fong, Jenny Hietanen and Jouni Veijalainen.
Professor James Ko from the Education University of Hong Kong is visiting Finland. We will test children’s self-management and pre-academic skills both in Finland and Hong Kong. Then we will observe children’s activities and teachers’ activities. in the follow-up study we will test the children again, seeking to find out what kind of learning environment and teaching style is best for children’s learning. This will help teachers, policymakers and parents understand how effective teaching in two contrastive contexts longitudinally affects children’s learning and their influences at multiple levels of surrounding contexts (classroom, school, education system). We will:
1. Examine the relationships between effective teaching and childhood development:
a) Whether children can learn more from teachers who show more positive teacher-student interactions;
b) Whether child-led, play-based teaching and teacher-led, academically-focused teaching approach have different impacts;
c) Whether a dominant type of teaching approach results in different learning outcomes;
2. To examine a) whether the above relationships change or strengthen over time (following up across three school years) and b) whether there are individual differences.
In the picture, you can see James presenting the pre-academic test. In our project we have already found several key indicators for a deep zone of proximal development. This is the first time we study the longitudinal effect of that zone!