Every educational system is guided, whether intentionally or not, by the existing country’s cultures and traditions, and brings along with it a set of practices. In the Philippines, the early childhood education, better known as the “preschool years” is still at its toddler stages: its importance in our educational system has just been discovered and is still being developed. Unfortunately, a cohesive, practical and theoretically sound system has yet to be subscribed to.
If we look into the plans and frameworks of other countries, we will find that we can learn from their philosophies and practices.
Spain The early years (“Education Infantil”) are divided into two cycles, called “ciclos”: the first cycle (or stage) covers children from birth until three years of age and the second cycle from three years to six.
1. Importance is placed on children’s physical, emotional and social development. The academics do not take the forefront of the curriculum until the child is emotionally confident and “ready.”
2. Activities are play-based and are relevant to the child’s personal experiences. This means that there is a good amount of outdoor time, playing with puzzles and concrete materials for a whole-day. Children are normally enrolled in a preschool-day care environment and they stay there for most of the day, from as early as 7 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon.
3. The curriculum focuses on the development of self-help skills and the building of self-esteem. The learning of a second language, usually English, is becoming more of an imperative because of the importance of the language worldwide. Studies have shown that the acquisition of another language is more effective when learned early in life. The child is able to speak “like a native”, almost without an accent when a foreign language is learned within the preschool-age window until the age of 9.