What do national ECEC curricula tell us about ECEC for the children up to the age three?

CARE researcher Maritta Hännikäinen, University of Jyvaskyla in Finland, presented at the 25th conference of EECERA (European Early Childhood Education Research Association) in Barcelona, 7-10 September 2015, on the topic "Children up to the age three: focus on five national curricula on ECEC".

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Children up to the age three: focus on five national curricula on ECEC

The aim of this study was to analyze five national ECEC curricula (Denmark, England, Estonia, Finland, Norway) for children from birth to school age. The study asked what these curricula tell us about the youngest children in early childhood settings. The study is part of a cross-European research project “Curriculum quality analysis and impact review of European ECEC” (Leseman et al. 2013; Sylva et al. 2014).The study framework drew on curriculum theories and curriculum research (Kelly 2009). Qualitative document analysis was applied (Hammersley & Atkinson 1983).

No specific ethical problems were encountered. The data (ECEC curricula) were openly accessible on the internet. The data analysis is transparent, with generalizations and interpretations supported by direct citations. The nature, spirit and emphases of the curricula vary. However, they provide a picture of children whose very young age is an important factor to be considered in care, upbringing and teaching. These children are conceived as competent social actors, who learn holistically in play and during daily routines. Their health, safety and wellbeing is seen as paramount. The role of the educator changes along with the child’s development. Thus, along with age, the physical and social worlds of children expand with the help of experienced, supportive and sensitive educators.

The study offers new knowledge about the younger children in ECEC curricula. Such knowledge, together with the findings of the entire project, will inform policy and practice in ECEC in ways beneficial to all countries in Europe seeking to develop their ECEC systems.

Maritta Hännikäinen
University of Jyvaskyla, Finland
E: maritta.hannikainen@jyu.fi

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