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Success or failure in school or in post-school depends upon the foundation of success or failure laid down during early childhood stage. High quality early childhood intervention has positive impact on learning and motivation of children. Australia's long-term national interest focuses on children fullest development throughout life. Therefore investing in children should not be postpone till they become adults or they reach school age because then it will be a time when it may be too late to intervene. The aim of national strategy is to improve outcomes for all children and reduce inequalities in outcomes for different groups of children.
In this paper the author reviews research evidence relating to the difference of quality education institutions in New Zealand. The findings show statistical significant difference in the employment of qualified and non-qualified teaching staff between community owned and privately owned early childhood institutions. The findings of the review indicate a clear link between well-qualified teachers, higher salaries for those teachers' result in better quality education. Further the study shows that private centres are lacking behind in achieving these variables. Some options are suggested for improving provision of quality education for all children.
The implications of developmentally and culturally appropriate practice have been explored by this study for early childhood education. The study has noted that in teaching-learning experience of young children developmentally appropriate practice (DAP) often fails to acknowledge the roles of culture, care-taking, inter-connectedness, and multiple ways of knowing. I want to learn more about DAP based on culture sensitivity because previously I believed that using curriculum guidelines is appropriate for respecting culture values of children. However now it seems to me that a curriculum addressing the culture heritage of children is developmentally more appropriate than using curriculum guidelines (often reflective of monoculture). In one culture something may be valued and viewed as normal may not be reflected in other culture (Jipson, 1998). This calls for teachers to develop a range of networks and meaningful relationships with families and members of the community to get understandings of their students' cultural background.
Kirin (pseudonym) a cute baby of four years of Asian origin is living in my neighbourhood. Mostly I found him to play with children of Asian origin as compared to others having different cultural background. The circumstances show that children have a sense of cultural identity and sensitivity and they feel connected with those who are from the same cultural backgrounds as they are from, or who share similar circumstances. This further illustrates that a child preserves and keeps his own cultural identity and feel comfortable with people and families having same culture and language as that of a child.
Section 2: Community reflection
"The use of Mosaic approach is to make visible the perspective of young children and hence their inclusion in participatory politics" (Dahlberg & Moss, 2005, p.158).
A distinguishing feature of democratic society is to give power to the people to make different meaningful choices relating to their daily lives. This freedom of making choice gives people a strong sense of empowerment (Erwin & Kipness, 1997). In education such freedom plays extremely important role that gives a sense of empowerment to children. Therefore, this sense of empowering children provokes me to learn more about the implications of decisions made by an early childhood educator without actively involving them. For example during snack time it would be more expedient for an early childhood teacher to serve one thing only to children or to carry out a teacher-directed art activity rather than giving them choices resulting in different responses from children. Unfortunately, this conveys the message to the children that they are not capable making their own decisions or their choices are not very important. If democracy is meant to empower people to make meaningful decisions, then in early childhood education democracy should result in a similar way of empowering young children.
Moss (2007) (another reading of this unit) agrees with the findings of the author on the role of early childhood institutions as possible places of political democratic practices. This article has also been written in European context.
Early childhood institutions are considered as emancipatory sites for children because they create possibilities for them to think for themselves in relationship with others and to challenge the dominant discourses through the use of knowledge created, identity and values. Today in many countries two apparent developments: the growth of policy interest (pointing towards expansion of services) and the need to regenerate democratic politics have made more urgent the dominance of democratic political practice in early childhood institutions including nurseries. Early childhood institutions can play a vital role in expanding spaces for democratic politics in the society at other levels also such as national or federal, the regional and the local.
Section 3: Overview
In the early years children are particularly vulnerable and need special attention, care and support from adults. They are the future contributors to our society. Their childhood experiences give them the ability to participate fully in the society. The local communities, economic strata and particular political and specific ethnic or cultural groups determined children's experiences and expectations. Healthy development of children depends upon all of the environments in which children live and learn from pregnancy through early childhood. The surrounding environment of children may be the mainstream or dominant factor or it may be one of many cofactors that can influence their fullest development.
In the preschool years the rate of human learning and development is rapid and high. In a state of maximum readiness if a child risks of missing a learning opportunity then timing intervention becomes more important. Reddihough, Tinworth, Moore, & Ihsen (1996) have found that, "only through early identification and appropriate programming can children develop their potential". Positive outcomes from early intervention in early childhood education depend on qualified teachers in educational setting. Though qualified teacher cost more as compared to non-qualified teacher (Mitchell, 2002) but they provide best learning environment for children leading to their fullest potential development. Qualified teachers open the door of academic learning for children. They understand the curriculum, know their students' cultural background and are skilled to create opportunities to meet the needs of children in the best possible way. They provide democratic political environment in classroom and present choices for decision making and honor their decisions.
The aim of educational programs should be to teach children the necessary skills to function as an active citizen within society. Whatever children experience within their home and community should be reflected in the taught skills, knowledge, beliefs and attitudes. It is believed that when children perceive a connectedness between home and school their learning is enhanced (Battistich & Hom, 1997).