What Does The New Curriculum Mean For Creches And Daycare? [Article]
At home or in a center, is the management of your 0-3-year-old child's development encouraging the critical connections needed in their super active brains, or their development being left to chance?
Several years of education reform and still a gap remains in the foundational years. Early childhood care and education centers across the country with programs for 0-3 year olds have to get creative in adopting curriculum for that age group. Ghana does not consider early childhood before age 3 a period of education but rather a period of convenient child care.
Why do I say this? That age range is excluded from the auspices of the Ghana Education Service, and there is next to no regulation or expected outcomes noted in education reform on provision of services for the age group. UNICEF in the report, Early Childhood Development: The key to a full and productive life(2014)added that “the single most important lesson for ECD [Early Childhood Development] programming is to focus on the early years from conception to age three” (Ibid, P13).
Yet, years of education reforms have not considered this critical age range in designing foundational education provision.
There is the social welfare department, and the Metro, Municipal and District Assemblies who are tasked, not without challenges, to monitor and evaluate the administration of daycare and creches in the country. The mandate of the Department of social welfare, now Social Development covers protection, safety, and ensuring operation standards of centers. Specifically, it is “Secure minimum standards of operation of Day Care centers through registration, training and regular inspection under Children's Act (560) of 1998”.It does not cover curriculum review and outcomes measurement.
Sowho creates the curriculum content of these centers? And what are the nationally accepted and approved learning and development outcomes for the 3-year-old child? And what if as a parent I want to monitor my child's development at home till they reach age 4 for KG, what foundational skills should my child have developed by age 4 before enrolling in the mandated KG?
These are important questions because there is a rise in the provision of daycare and creche services either at home or in centers in Ghana but no national curriculum and learning/ development outcomes to follow.
Each center develops, if at all, its own curriculum adopting from various methodologies from Montessori to Reggio Emilia, or Steiner/Waldorf, Harkness or simplyplay. Leaving independent centers to decide their own curriculum for the child under 3 is not inherently a bad thing but leaving this to be done with no regulation on expected quality and learning outcomes is what is the problem. If the child after age 3 is expected to fit into and succeed in a regulated formal pre-primary and basic school system, then the education fundamentals required by age 3 need to be made clear.
It's admittedly difficult to picture anything significant going on in a child's world before age 3. Afterall, they only eat, sleep, cry, and play. One thing we would all admit to though is that child “grow very fast” from birth to age 3; The infant years seem to fly by so quickly, but research proves that so much happens at this age, the first three years of a child's life is the most sensitive period for brain development.
Zero to Three , a leading organization in early childhood development notes that “the experiences a child has during this time will shape the architecture of [their] brain and build the connections that allow [the child] to develop lifelong skills like problem-solving, communication, self-control, and relationship building, that will allow [the child] to survive and thrive within [their] family, community, and culture”.
More developmental research has shown that from conception to age 3, the brain develops 90 to 95% of its capacity. The brain in those formative years is twice as active and has twice as many connections as the brain of a fully matured adult; this slows down in later years.
It is no doubt that Ghana has made bold reforms to develop the foundation of education for children. The recent curriculum review has brought Kindergarten curriculum 360-degree back to fulfil the core purpose for which KG was added to compulsory basic education in 2017; which was to set the foundation for primary education, improve gender parity, and overall equity in the basic education system.
“At the primary level, emphasis is on literacy, numeracy and problem-solving skills. […] and at the kindergarten level, [children] lay a foundation for inquiry, creativity and innovation, [and] develop an understanding of how to lead a healthy life and achieve a healthy status” ( UNESCO-IBE, 2010, P9 ). Therefore, as the country strives to improve quality and equity at the foundation of education, we need to consider all the years from birth to primary 1 in the conversation on education reform and regulation.
Having reforms and regulation that only begin with KG makes it difficult to effectively track learning and development outcomes, and hold accountable, the many providers of care and education for the 0 to 3-year-old. The full post-birth development period of the child must be included within education strategy to strengthen the foundation for learning before primary 1.
Right now, daycare centers, creches, and nurseries across the country are doing one of three things where your 0 to 3-year-old child in their care is concern; One, they are trying to figure out if they need to adopt the new KG curriculum for their 0-3 curriculum; Or two, they are scrambling to review their KG lesson plans and learning materials to fit the new curriculum for next term, and have therefore completely ignored the potential impact, if any, on their 0-3 curriculum; or three, they are completely oblivious, likely unregistered, and flying under the radar of even social welfare and the MMDAs. The third is an article for another day.