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Partnerships in Learning: linking early childhood services, families and schools for optimal development Dr Jean Ashton with Ass Prof Christine Woodrow,

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Presentation on theme: "Partnerships in Learning: linking early childhood services, families and schools for optimal development Dr Jean Ashton with Ass Prof Christine Woodrow,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Partnerships in Learning: linking early childhood services, families and schools for optimal development Dr Jean Ashton with Ass Prof Christine Woodrow, Ass Prof Christine Johnston, Ass Prof June Wangmann, Ms Tanya James & Ms Lin Singh University of Western Sydney - Australia

2 Focus of the study Our study identifies and explores the relationship between families, E/C and school teachers in childrens first year of school. It is based on the premise that collaboration and dialogue between all involved in supporting young childrens developing cognition are necessary to provide a secure, relevant learning environment.

3 cooperative, communicative, collaborative, interactive (Dahlberg, Moss & Pence, 1999), providing or being provided with tools and resources for exploring, problem solving and making meaning Vygotsky understood learning as…

4 Individual understanding… or individual consciousness is built from outside through relations with others (Vygotsky, 1997, p. xxiv) as a product of mediated activity. mediators use a range of psychological tools and interpersonal communications to help the learner achieve understanding.

5 Supporting cognition Jerome Bruners metaphor of scaffolding, encapsulates the idea of mediation in cognition through the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). Scaffolding provides consciousness for two (Bruner, 1986, p. 75), until such time as cognitive mastery is achieved.

6 consciousness for two Describes the interactions between –parents and children, –educators and students It is the kind of mediation or scaffolding of cognitive activity which –fosters learning from earliest years –sets pattern of self regulation or meta-cognition for the years ahead

7 Optimal conditions for supporting cognition in school… are likely when the vicarious consciousness (Bruner, 1986), scaffolding or cognitive supports and the base for understanding are congruent with those already familiar to the learner. occur when there is congruence between home and school.

8 Congruence… between home and school practices are highly correlated with student success (Rossi & Montgomery, 1994).

9 Lack of congruence or dissonance.. attributed to family and school differences can affect childrens and families values, skills, and learning styles.

10 Educational values amongst families attributed to… educational history socioeconomic status culture and ethnicity

11 Educational values of schools… are inherent in preferred or dominant discourses traditionally middle class hold embodied message of preferment, power and control (Gee,1996; 2004) contribute to maintenance of hierarchical structures and distribution of social power (Ashton & Cairney, 2001).

12 Lack of congruence therefore… can lead to –compromised relationships between educators and parents, –false assumptions about families aspirations for their children –erroneous feelings of dominance and authority by both parties.

13 Children benefit most … when parents and teachers –share educational goals and –engage in effective communication (Christensen, 2002). when there is continuity in programming and pedagogy across the early years with –parents, –early childhood teachers and –school teachers. These factors critical for children whose circumstances may place them at an educational disadvantage.

14 Partnerships in learning – Transition to school Much research has focused on … –childrens readiness for school, –teachers views of childrens knowledge and skills at school entry –schools readiness for children

15 For seamless transitions… program continuity recognition and response to individual learning needs, ongoing communication - teachers in E/C and schools, preparation of children for the transition continued involvement of parents in transition and later learning trusting relationships between families and teachers in E/C services and schools.

16 Methodology semi structured interviews - 9 kindergarten teachers teachers invited to: –discuss perceptions of childrens adjustment to school (e.g. How well do you think students were prepared for the start of school this year?) –discuss effects of a range of early childhood experiences on school readiness (e.g. What are some factors that contribute to children being prepared for school?) data were analysed using an interpretative inquiry method (Lambert, 2003).

17 In general we found that… families and some school teachers saw the value of early childhood services in supporting childrens transition to school, –HOWEVER continuum of ideas, philosophies and experiences between the early childhood years and school which would lead, in Vygotskys (1997) view, to optimal learning, was not evident.

18 Specifically we found… a very diverse community in terms of socioeconomics, social behaviours, living and parenting skills relatively high educational levels (Uni & TAFE) amongst mothers some degree of poverty or neglect amongst children (inadequate clothing, no breakfast or lunch) Speech/language problems not associated with multiculturalism

19 We also found… parents and some teachers valued E/C experiences little communication between school and E/C services significant misunderstandings associated with focus of E/C services, lack of interest in what occurs in services mistrust of reports from the educators about children who had attended E/C services.

20 Collaboration with EC services Valued by some school teachers Detection of additional needs early important Initiative for communication generally taken by EC teachers Other teachers want no contact with E/C Scornful of reports from E/C services

21 Collaboration and partnership Essential for mediation of higher mental functions Necessary to establish congruence between values of home, E/C services and school Contributes to quality experiences for childrens overall development Provide a balance between new and continuing experiences

22 Collaboration and partnership Hindered by –Disregard for E/C experiences –Limited appreciation for families social, cultural and historical factors –Limited awareness of E/C services and their function –Lack of trust between E/C and school teachers and families

23 We found an ambivalence… on the part of school teachers to the role and contribution of teachers working in prior to school settings. this finding suggests how far the field has still to travel to achieve seamless transitions between the early childhood experience and that of the school.

24 Conclusion Mediating childrens developing cognition through scaffolded experiences from a Vygotskian perspective, can become a shared process, relevant to childrens lives, honouring to families and reflecting congruent pedagogies to most effectively support childrens learning.

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