Special Advisor on Early Childhood Education and Parenting in the Ministry of Education, Dr. Rebecca Tortello, has called on Early Childhood instructors to adopt the concepts proposed in the newly revised curriculum.
“We want our Early Childhood instructors to be able to become facilitators of the curriculum (and) to learn to facilitate teaching and learning, as opposed to standing up at a blackboard and encouraging rote learning,” she said.
She was speaking at the launch of the inaugural Early Childhood Expo 2009, held today (June 3) at the Mona Visitors’ Lodge, University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona.
Dr. Tortello said that the new curriculum, spearheaded by the Dudley Grant Memorial Trust, in collaboration with the Education Ministry through its Early Childhood Unit and the Early Childhood Commission (ECC), sought to implement a more interactive, child-centred, holistic style of teaching.
Early Childhood Consultant, Joyce Jarrett, peruses a flyer advertising the Early Childhood Expo 2009, during the launch of the event today (June 3) at the Mona Visitors’ Lodge at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona. The expo will be held on June 7 at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel.
She said that even though the new curriculum focuses on important elements, such as health, safety and nutrition, the incorporation of play was the most revolutionary aspect of it.
“Many scholars and psychologists have noted how important play is to the development of the child in every domain – affective, cognitive, social (and) emotional,” she explained.
Dr. Tortello contended that children have not been fully exposed to experiencing different types of play – dramatic play, parallel play, outdoor play – largely because there are not many playgrounds.
She said that the Ministry, through the ECC and the Dudley Grant Memorial Trust, were working to help Early Childhood institutions erect safe places for children to play, and to look at erecting some of these playgrounds around the island in easily accessible locations.
She also noted that the Ministry has been focussing on emergent literacy, which deals with children entering primary school and being able to read.
“Emergent literacy doesn’t mean that they can read when they enter primary school, necessarily, but it means that they are sensitised to recognise print (and) numbers in their environment; they know how to hold the book the proper way; they know how to answer questions about the story; they can think critically and creatively about what they’ve heard,” she said.
Dr. Tortello added that it was important that students possess these skills when they enter Grade One, because studies have shown that, if they enter Grade One as non-readers, they are likely to remain non-readers in Grade Four.
Spearheaded by the Dudley Grant Memorial Trust, in association with the Education Ministry through the ECC, the Expo is being held under the theme: ‘Stimulating Early Childhood Development in Jamaica’, and will feature innovations in Early Childhood education and development.
The event will take place on Tuesday (July 7) at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston, and will run from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Established in 1989, the Dudley Grant Memorial Trust has responsibility for encouraging innovative approaches to early childhood teaching and learning, through its extensive research into the development and application of the newly revised early childhood curriculum.