The safe and positive atmosphere is a strength of early childhood education and care – however, deficiencies in quality also affect the participation of five-year-olds in early childhood education and care

Early childhood education Virpi Pietiläinen

FINEEC has evaluated early childhood education and care (ECEC) quality by surveying the implementation of ECEC curricula in ECEC centres and family day care. The content-related objectives set for ECEC are mainly achieved well in a large proportion of ECEC centres. However, there is considerable variation in ECEC quality, and the content-related objectives are achieved poorly in some of the ECEC centres and family day-care groups. Furthermore, FINEEC has evaluated the experiment of free of charge ECEC for five-year-olds. The experiment of free of charge ECEC increased the level of children’s participation in ECEC. Nevertheless, it is the parents’ attitude that plays a key role in whether a five-year-old participates in ECEC or not.

The Finnish Education Evaluation Centre (FINEEC) will publish two evaluations of ECEC quality on 6 September 2019: Every-day quality in early childhood education and care – ECEC curriculum implementation at ECEC centres and in family day care, and an evaluation of the of the experiment of free of charge ECEC for five-year-olds.

The implementation of the National Core Curriculum for Early Childhood Education and Care was evaluated by using self-evaluation questionnaires of ECEC personnel and family child carers, while the evaluation data for the experiment of free of charge ECEC was collected from municipal office holders and guardians in those municipalities where the experiment was carried out and in the reference municipalities.

The positive atmosphere is a strength

In a large proportion of ECEC centres, the content-related objectives set for ECEC are mainly achieved well, but in some ECEC centres and family day-care groups, their achievement is poor. The content-related strengths of Finnish ECEC include the strong position of play and a safe and positive atmosphere. On the other hand, deficiencies were found in many aspects of the implementation of the contents of pedagogical activities.

– The evaluation as a whole gave the impression that ECEC personnel is committed to implementing high-quality ECEC. However, only one half of the personnel reported that literature is read to children on a daily basis. The weak position of visual arts and music in the ECEC day of every child raises some questions, says Laura Repo, Counsellor of Evaluation.

Participation on the increase

The debate on ECEC quality can also be linked with the results of the experiment of free of charge ECEC. According to the results, the participation of five-year-olds increased more in those municipalities where the experiment was conducted than in the reference municipalities. A survey of guardians revealed, however, that guardians’ attitude towards ECEC was one of the main factors contributing to whether a five-year-old participated in ECEC or not.

– If there is a desire to increase the level of participation, quality issues should also be considered. Although the discussion about increasing the level of participation is important, attention should also be paid to the contents of ECEC, to the methods of organising it in all age groups and to what kind of financial investments we are prepared to make in ECEC, says Senior Advisor Anna Siippainen from FINEEC.

The results of the evaluation reports will be published at the National Museum of Finland on 6 September between 9.00 and 13.00. See the FINEEC website for more information on the event (in Finnish).

Inquiries:

Evaluation of ECEC quality: Laura Repo, Counsellor of Evaluation, tel. +358 29 533 5553, laura.repo@karvi.fi, Finnish Education Evaluation Council

Evaluation of the experiment of free of charge ECEC for five-year-olds: Anna Siippainen, Senior Advisor, tel. +358 29 533 5566, anna.siippainen@karvi.fi, Finnish Education Evaluation Council

https://karvi.fi/en/early-childhood-education/

Reports:

Every-day quality in early childhood education and care – ECEC curriculum implementation at day-care centres and in family day-care

The first phase of the evaluation of an experiment on free of charge early childhood education and care for five-year-olds. Participation in early childhood education and the organization of the experiment