The early years of a child’s education are among the most important in their lives. So providing a curriculum which meets their needs, and ensuring educators have the information and support they require to deliver it, is vital.
With that in mind, a new research project at the University of Plymouth aims to explore how children up to the age of five can get the most out of early years education, whether that is delivered at home, in day nurseries, or in their first months at school.
It will also explore how early years educators can be best supported to provide this education and take advantage of existing and new best practice in teaching methods.
Funded by the Montessori Group, the project was launched on the same day as the Department for Education’s revised Early Years Foundation Stage framework comes into force.
That framework sets the standards that school and childcare providers must meet for the learning, development and care of children from birth up to the age of five.
To start, the new research will initially involve a series of questionnaires being directed at experts in the field on the nature of the curriculum and how it relates to child development.
The project team will then speak with groups of practitioners, including childminders and day nursery staff, to get their views and to understand how the curriculum is delivered in practice.
Once those exercises are complete, the researchers will work with the Montessori Group to develop an online module for early years educators on Appreciative Enquiry. The module will support educators to undertake Learning Walks to document their curriculum delivery and it is ultimately hoped that will become a standalone course with formal certification.
The project is the latest in a long line of research on child-centred early years education by academics in the University’s Plymouth Institute of Education.