I have not yet received a response from anyone I contacted. So instead, I visited Harvard University’s “Global Children’s Initiative” website (http://developingchild.harvard.edu/initiatives/global_initiative/) and here are some things I learned.
In an effort to build an integrated international approach to child survival, health, and development in the earliest years of life, the Center on the Developing Child has launched the Global Children’s Initiative as the centerpiece of its global child health and development agenda. The Global Children’s Initiative seeks to advance the Center’s core mission globally. They plan to do so by implementing a compelling research, public engagement and leadership development agenda in child health and development that is grounded in science and engages researchers, public leaders, practitioners, and students from a wide range of institutions around the world.
One of those includes Zambia. I was unaware that although a large number of studies have been done to study the impact of early childhood experiences on children’s developmental, health, and educational outcomes in developed countries, little evidence is available on early childhood development in sub-Saharan Africa. Because of this lack of information, a collaborative effort to measure the effects of an ongoing anti-malaria initiative on children’s development in Zambia has been launched. It is called the Zambian Early Childhood Development Project (ZECDP) and it was launched in 2009 by the Zambian Ministry of Education, the Examination Council of Zambia, UNICEF, the University of Zambia, and the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. The ZECDP created a comprehensive instrument for assessing children’s physical, socio-emotional, and cognitive development before and throughout their schooling careers. This is the first assessment tool of its kind in Zambia. Completed in May 2010, the Zambian Child Assessment Test (ZamCAT) combines existing child development measures with newly developed items in order to provide a broad assessment of children of preschool age in the Zambian context.
There was also an extensive amount of information on this site about the Science of Early Childhood Education. Through this information I read more in depth about a few things I had learned in previous classes such as how learning how to cope with adversity is an important part of healthy development. Without caring adults to buffer children, the unrelenting stress caused by extreme poverty, neglect, abuse, or severe maternal depression can weaken the architecture of the developing brain, with long-term consequences for learning, behavior, and both physical and mental health.
- What specific section(s) or information seemed particularly relevant to your current professional development?
On the website that I have chosen to study I found an article about children and technology. You can find this article here: http://www.early-education.org.uk/sites/default/files/publications/Young%20children%20and%20technology%20%2813%29.pdf . I found this article to be particularly relevant to my current professional development because we are current living in and out children are growing up in a very technological world. There are many types of technology that are used in classrooms that were unheard of when I was in school. Children often know better how to use such technology than the teachers do. It is important that teachers learn as much as they can so that they can offer their students the best education possible, including technology.
- Which ideas/statements/resources, either on the website or in an e-newsletter, did you find controversial or made you think about an issue in new ways?
I did not find anything that I felt controversial about or even anything that made me think in new ways. What I did find was something that helped deepen my knowledge of children and the changes they experience. It did not occur to me that many of the things that children experience as milestones can me difficult for them to experience. The changes can make them uneasy…from the simplest things like crawling and walking to the big things like going to school. You can find this article here: http://www.early-education.org.uk/sites/default/files/publications/Helping%20children%20cope%20with%20change%20%284%29.pdf .
- What information does the website or the e-newsletter contain that adds to your understanding of how economists, neuroscientists, or politicians support the early childhood field?
Drawing on the experiences and expertise of its members, as well as the thousands of others working in early childhood education, Early Education regularly engages with and responds to government consultations, initiatives and legislation, and work with other early education stakeholders to make their voice stronger. They also meet with key decision makers within government to influence change, undertake original research, and campaign publicly on issues facing early childhood education practitioners.
- What other new insights about issues and trends in the early childhood field did you gain from exploring the website or e-newsletter?
One of this programs projects, the Newham Outdoors project sought to both inform and inspire schools and settings in Newham (Newham is a unique borough and the most diverse place in the country. It has the youngest population in the United Kingdom. Although Newham is an urban London local authority, children and families are never more than 10 minutes walk away from a green space) and beyond, to see the potential of using the outdoor environment to nurture children’s social and emotional development and communication skills.
I have not gotten a response yet so I will be completeing the alternate assignment by going to the website of the Childhood Poverty Research and Policy Centre’s page (http://www.childhoodpoverty.org/),and reading about childhood poverty in China.
I learned that in China, even despite a decline in number since the 1990’s, 4.2 million children live in absolute poverty and 8.7 million live in disadvantaged conditions. I attempted to find statistic on what the population of children in China is so that I could compare these numbers but was unable. I did however find some interesting information. China has a “one child policy” that was established by Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in 1979 as a temporary measure to limit communist China’s population growth. The policy limits couples to one child and those couple that have more than one pregnancy suffer fines, pressures to abort a pregnancy, and even forced sterilization (Rosenberg, 2010).
China is the world’s most populated country with a population of 1.27 billion in 2001. In 2001, 5 per cent of China’s population lived below the national poverty line. Rural poverty is estimated to have fallen from 250 million in 1978 to 35 million in 2000 but between 4 and 8 per cent of the urban population (between 15 and 31 million people) still live in poverty.
As the structure of the economy has changed, the social security system has adapedt to protect people from different forms of poverty. Previously, in urban areas, only people without work, with no savings and with no family to depend on were eligible for financial support. A Minimum Living Standards (dibao) system has been developed that now covers 23 per cent of poor urban households but there are concerns that the amounts allocated are too small to meet people’s basic needs for food, clothing shelter, health and education and in particular, aren’t enough to allow families to pay the compulsory education fee.
The title of the website I have chosen to study for this course is Early Education: The British Association for Early Childhood Education. This site can be found at : http://www.early-education.org.uk/.
Early Education was founded in 1923 and since then have been committed to supporting families and the professional development of all those working in early childhood education to ensure effective early childhood education experiences of the highest quality for all children across the United Kingdom. (Early Education)
One program that really caught my attention as I toured the website was the program titled P For Partnership. With-in the Early Education website, you can find the information here: http://www.early-education.org.uk/policy-and-campaign/1395. The programme was designed to both challenge and support the work of practitioners in schools in the ways in which they work with parents to enhance the early learning of their children as well to encourage the ongoing learning of the children’s parents. Diverse programmes of work were developed, carefully planned to meet the needs of the practitioners, the schools in which they work and the communities of children, parents and families with whom they worked. These programmes of work supported practitioners with additional skills and expertise to work with those children at risk of underachievement, with additional support through an inclusive programme of culturally responsive activities (Early Education, Para. 4).