With the government's recommendations, since mid-March, the number of children in kindergartens has decreased, activities have been planned in a new way, and distance early childhood education has found its place in the vocabulary of early childhood educators. We want to highlight the significant work of early childhood educators and highlight the heroic deeds in the world of early childhood education as well.
We got to talk about the changed everyday life with Tiina Ullgrén, the director of the Lilliputti kindergarten, and Inka Mäkinen, the substitute teacher, who is actually raised by the Lilliputti kindergarten herself. Kindergarten Lilliputti is a private kindergarten for about 50 children in Oulu. The kindergarten's activities are based on Jean Piaget's active learning. The emphasis is on supporting the child's own activity and independence. Kindergarten favours goal-oriented planned activities in small groups, which enable the child's individual development to be supported. The kindergarten operates on three floors, and each group works on different floors.
How has everyday life in Lilliputti Kindergarten changed?
Tiina and Inka say that in recent weeks it has felt especially important to share everyday life and stick to the weekly plans made earlier. By following these, the implementation of early childhood education has been successful, as well as supporting the child's growth and monitoring its development in this situation. Kindergarten Lilliputti has made changes to child groups, they have operated in two groups instead of three. In turn, pedagogical documentation has been done in the same way as before for children in kindergarten, perhaps even better when the groups of children are smaller than usual. Events in child's day have been described, and information on these has been utilized in the planning and evaluation of activities. Everyday life at the kindergarten has also been shared with children at home. Inka and Tiina also highlight that it is essential to maintain the daily rhythm for the well-being of the children and support parents in this situation.
Why is early childhood education also crucial at a distance?
Inka points out that the Early Childhood Education Act in Finland defines that all children are given equal opportunities to participate in early childhood education. Right now, this means also distance early childhood education. Regular day rhythms and contact with the kindergarten group and familiar adults create a meaningful everyday life for the child, even in a unique and scary situation. Inka also emphasizes the importance of maintaining children's social relations going on and supporting children's cohesion, which they have also invested in over the past few weeks. Tiina says that they have also successfully distributed various tasks and materials at home, for example, they sent gym videos to children at home and immediately received a video in response, in which this was directly utilized at home.
Inka thinks that with distance early childhood education, the learning environment of the kindergarten is expanded when technology and digital devices are utilized. At the same time, the early childhood education plan becomes closer to the parents when it is possible to link the activities to the learning areas and make this easily visible to the parents also with the help of technology.
Tiina and Inka share four tips for good early childhood education
1) Plan activities that are also feasible at home
2) Try something new despite the unusual situation - for example, digital pedagogical documentation
3) Support parents, be present and encourage sharing of everyday life
4) Keep in mind the future and a safe landing in early childhood education
Here at TinyApp, we believe that new environments, whether physical environments or virtual environments are worth exploring step by step. Watch here Tiina and Inka's full interview about everyday life in Lilliputti (available only in Finnish) and share with us your daily successes and thoughts on distant early childhood education.