Archive for the ‘Early Childhood Education’ Category

Conducive eco-system for learning in preschools

Wednesday, July 5th, 2017
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor paying a visit to Sekolah Bimbingan Jalinan Kasih at Kampung Baru, Kuala Lumpur. The preschool should be a place that introduces preschoolers to the English language in an enjoyable way.

THE learning of languages is commonly believed to be most effective and efficient in the early years and even though there are studies that support this belief, an added pre-condition to this maxim is that the learning context has to be carefully managed and the learner appropriately supported.

Based on this premise, as well as the current demands of globalisation and future trends in education, it is difficult to deny the learning of the English Language as a modern-day imperative. Hence, whilst the introduction of English Language learning in preschool is a laudable and important move on the part of the Education Ministry, it has to be done in a developmentally appropriate manner and through research-driven or evidence-based strategies.

The current English Language scenario in Malaysian preschools reveals several challenges, among which are teachers’ low level of English Language proficiency , children’s lack of exposure to English Language speaking environments, as well as parents’ ignorance of the importance of the English Language to acquire knowledge.

It is partly due to the above as well as because research supports the notion of young children being taught using their first language (L1), that the learning of English Language as an additional language should commence with creating language awareness and nurturing a positive attitude towards the language.

English Language learning should not have a heavy cognitive load nor be assessed in a developmentally inappropriate manner.

In the context of English Language learning then, the preschool should be a place that introduces them to the language in an enjoyable and meaningful way and not one that causes feelings of insecurity or anxiousness.

The preschool teacher has to ensure that a conducive eco-system is provided for children’s English Language learning.

A conducive eco-system should be one that prioritises the child’s needs and planning that revolves around his interests and abilities. The child needs to feel safe and comfortable enough to take risks involved in exploring and attempting new things. Hence, the use of play-based learning experiences is most apt as play comes naturally to children, and involves hands-on, interactive and concrete sensorial activities. There should not be an artificial play-work divide as children’s work is play.

Creating playful interactions with preschoolers around games, songs, storytelling, storybook reading, rhyming and oral language not only supports language learning but also helps make learning English less scary and more fun. For example, what 4- or 5-year-old would not love speaking into a microphone and hearing his own voice or singing along with gestures/actions to a song with a big purple dinosaur? In the process, play-based activities allow preschoolers to learn new concepts, words and skills.

Enticing preschoolers to speak through the use of realia, props and visuals can make learning more meaningful and impactful. The selection of appropriate teaching aids is equally crucial.

For example, in a thematic unit on fruits and vegetables, how can a teacher go about facilitating the acquisition of related vocabulary? Teachers tend to frequently use flashcards and pictures. However, by bringing a basket full of fruits into the classroom, and having the children name and describe each fruit is more authentic, and thereafter a surprise indoor picnic with the fruits will surely be all the more exciting.

One thing is certain: this is one lesson they will not forget for they will have had the opportunity to touch, feel, smell and even taste the fruits. Hence, they will have learnt vocabulary related to the names of the fruits, plus the words for describing them (size, colour, texture) and their taste.

Dispensing meaningful praise and encouragement will help motivate and support children in learning a new language. However, teachers should not be too troubled if there are children who are reluctant to speak initially.

Some, if not most preschoolers will go through a “silent period”. This is when they are absorbing the new language and are reluctant to speak for fear of making mistakes. Thus, it is very important that teachers do not pressure or punish them for not speaking. Instead, timely praise and encouragement can work wonders.

Additionally, the teacher should not react negatively if the child uses his L1, as the L1 at this stage can act as an enabler of the target language. Reprimanding the child will introduce an element of fear and reinforce the idea that his L1 is not valued while the target language is viewed as a threat to the L1.

Having a buddy system is a great way to help preschoolers cope with the mammoth task of learning a new language. This involves pairing a child who is more proficient in English with a child who is less, where the former can scaffold the latter in language learning. It can take place during play time or another learning activity, where buddies have each other to talk to and practise their speaking skills.

The buddy system helps create a non-threatening language learning environment and builds confidence among less proficient preschoolers.

Involving parents in their children’s learning is crucial in supporting the child’s learning outside the classroom. Parental involvement can help extend the experiences that a child has in the classroom to include real-world activities that happen in the home. Families should be encouraged to engage in oral language and read to their child in English at home.

Consequently, these shared activities create a more positive experience for children and help them perform better when they are in school. To engage parents in their child’s learning, the first important step for the teacher is to establish good lines of communication with parents as well as create opportunities to involve them as an important partner in their child’s education.

Summing up, creating a conducive eco-system for English Language learning in preschool is challenging but not impossible. Preschool teachers can inject fun and playfulness into classroom interactions and thus, promote a non-threatening language learning situation for preschoolers. This combined with appropriate teaching resources, positive reinforcement and social interaction that scaffold language learning will further impact learning among preschoolers.


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Parents, kids read books together

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

HELPING children learn the English language is not the sole responsibility of one individual but a shared responsibility. Parents, children, teachers … every person has a role to play.

The challenge, of course, is engaging everyone to take on that responsibility. Teachers have to teach, children have to learn, but what should parents do? Well, they can encourage and help create an environment where their children want to learn.

The Education Ministry is continually engaging with teachers, students and parents to help create such environments.

The “Highly Immersive Programme” (HIP) is such an example to support the learning of English by children across Malaysia.

An easy way to start creating that immersive environment is with storybooks and reading.

A British Council trainer reads to children from SK Bandar Utama Damansara and SJK (T) RRI Sungai Buloh at the community event for the Selangor Literacy Project.

A British Council trainer reads to children from SK Bandar Utama Damansara and SJK (T) RRI Sungai Buloh at the community event for the Selangor Literacy Project.

In May, 100 excited parents and children from both SK Bandar Utama Damansara and from SJK (T) RRI Sungai Buloh came together in SK Bandar Utama to draw, guess, dance, read and listen to fun stories in English.

This was the third community event of the Selangor Literacy Project, which has brought parents and children together to read and learn English hand-in-hand, in an interactive and fun environment.

The schoolteachers were responsible for designing and running the event, with facilitation from British Council trainers while children and parents were responsible for getting involved and having fun.

This event is part of a wider project run by the British Council in partnership with the ministry’s School Management Division, together with the support of the Selangor Education Department, and is funded by HSBC.

“Creating immersive environments for learning English is a long-term task and needs a sustainable approach.

“This project focuses on building the skills of teachers to teach literacy in an engaging way, and of parents to invest time and energy in encouraging their children to read and learn English,” said British Council Head of English in Education Systems Keith O’Hare.

One of the biggest outcomes of the community event at SK Bandar Utama Damansara was to give parents the ideas and confidence to encourage and support their children to read at home; a responsibility many seemed happy to take on.

According to Rezuan Ahmad from the ministry’s School Management Division, parental engagement is one of the fundamental elements of the Malaysia Education Blueprint.

“I am pleased to see so many parents getting involved in the fun and interactive workshops and activities. “We cannot emphasise enough the importance of parents’ participation in their children’s education,” said Rezuan at the community event in SK Bandar Utama.

The Selangor Literacy Project falls under the banner of the HIP programme and runs for eight months. Within the project, 49 English language teachers from the six selected primary schools are given monthly training workshops; high quality and attractive storybooks from the United Kingdom are placed into the school libraries; and three half-day community events are run for parents and children to get immersed in reading and learning English.
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Kemas Kindergarten Recognised As A Trusted Brand In Early Childhood Education

Sunday, June 11th, 2017

PUTRAJAYA, June 8 (Bernama) — Kemas (community development department) kindergarten transformation programme began to bear fruit when it was selected as this year’s most trusted brand in Malaysia by a family magazine reader’s digest.

The recognition, in the form of Gold Award in the Early Childhood Education category, was based on votes and an online survey of 8,000 respondents about their views on pre-school education system in Malaysia.

Minister of Rural and Regional Development Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the award was proof that Kemas kindergarten was among the best and was comparable to services provided by private kindergartens.

“This achievement dismissed all the negative reaction of some parties who often underestimate the quality of education in Kemas compared to private kindergartens,” he told reporters after attending Community Dialogue TN50 @ KKLW: Early Childhood Education here today.

In the survey, respondents were asked on matters related to trust and reliability, innovation, quality and social responsibility, credibility and understanding the consumers’ needs.

Apart from Kemas, other Reader’s Digest’s Gold Award recipients were Q-Dees and Smart Readers, both operated by private owners, he said.

Launched in 2016, the Kemas kindergarten transformation implementation involved three main modules, namely Islamic Education Appreciation, inculcating the spirit of patriotism among children, and self-confidence programmes.

On the dialogue today, Ismail Sabri said the participants were giving suggestions for improvement to strengthen the early childhood education including the importance of the use of digital technology and innovation in learning.


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KKLW Targets 80 Per Cent Students To Master New Syllabus Implemented In Kemas Kindergartens

Tuesday, May 30th, 2017

MACHANG, May 25 (Bernama) — The Rural and Regional Development Ministry (KKLW) is targeting 80 per cent of students of kindergartens under Community Development Department (Kemas) to master three new syllabus implemented this year.

Deputy Minister Datuk Ahmad Jazlan Yaakob said the three new syllabus, namely Islamic Education Appreciation, Patriotism and Self-confidence, should make Kemas kindergartens more advanced and comparable to other private early-education institutions in the country.

“The government wants Kemas kindergartens to be the main choice for parents to send their children to, and to change the perspective tagged on Kemas kindergarten being the second and third choice,” he told reporters after opening the national level of ‘Kemas Berselawat’ programme at the Sultan Yahya Petra Mosque here today.

More than 1,000 pupils from the Machang parliamentary constituency participated in the programme that was also attended by Kemas director-general Datuk Amiruddin Ariffin.


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Early childhood education system review coming up for Malaysian schools

Saturday, May 13th, 2017
(File pix) Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said the ministry will hold discussions with various stakeholders including early childhood experts to improve and evaluate the current system, which was last reviewed in 2015. (by pix FARIZ ISWADI ISMAIl)

PUTRAJAYA: The Education Ministry will review the early childhood education system in the country to increase and improve the quality of pre-school students.

Its minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said the ministry will hold discussions with various stakeholders including early childhood experts to improve and evaluate the current system, which was last reviewed in 2015.

“The review is important to ensure that students who enter Primary One are of high quality and are able to read. Therefore we have to make sure the teachers educating these students must have knowledge in early childhood education,” he told reporters after visiting the SMK Presint 8 (1) pre-school, here today.

Mahdzir said the ministry would also look into the possibility of increasing the number of pre-school students and classes offered in schools, which are currently limited to students whose parents have a monthly household income of less than RM5,000.

The review was part of the education transformation under the National Education Blueprint Second Wave from year 2016 to 2020.

The ministry had been conducting a series of surprise visits to schools which offer pre-school education in both rural and urban areas.

Mahdzir said the visit was to check on teachers’ teaching and learning schedules and the facilities offered in every school.


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Early childhood education vital to ensure success

Friday, March 10th, 2017

KOTA KINABALU: Early childhood education is very crucial to ensure the success of our children in future. A child best learning process takes place when they are 5 to 8 years old, so in that sense we need to invest in the people who teach our children, said Asia e University (AeU) President Prof Dato’ Dr Ansary Ahmed.

To prove his point, he said research carried out by Stanford University showed that a person who went for early childhood training performed better in their later life than those who did not.

“So investment in early childhood education is very important and to make sure our children get the best training, we also need to provide proper training to the people who teach them,” said Dr Ansary.

And the training was made possible when AeU in collaboration with Sabah Institute of Arts (SIA) offered the graduate diploma in early childhood education (GDECE) programme to upscale the practising preschool and kindergarten teachers as well as heads and administrators in Sabah who do not have a qualification in early childhood education since last year.

And yesterday, the programme was extended to Tadika Hwa Shiong and Tadika Bersatu when they both signed a corporate partnership with AeU at SIA in KK Times Square here.

During the signing, Tadika Hwa Shiong was represented by Kota Kinabalu Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry president, Datuk Michael Lui and Tadika Bersatu by Datin Kong Ho Yii whilst AeU by Dr Ansary.

Under the agreement, there will be eight and 10 preschool teachers from Tadika Bersatu and Tadika Hwa Shiong respectively will enroll for the two and a half year GDECE programme.


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PPTS aims to produce competent, efficient Sabahan nursery entrepreneurs, caregivers

Monday, February 27th, 2017

KOTA KINABALU: Persatuan Perkhidmatan Taska Sabah (PPTS) aims to produce competent and efficient Sabahan nursery entrepreneurs and caregivers by providing Infant and Child CPR and Airway Management course, held only in Sabah.

The course has been held annually for the past two years, but this year the association is introducing a new course designated for toddlers and not just babies.

“The programme is practical. It teaches the entrepreneurs and the caregivers on how to recognise the symptoms of respiratory problems on babies and toddlers, how to perform a CPR accurately on children and infant, how to handle accidents that happen in a nursery, and many more” said the Vice President of PPTS Zubaidah A. Sidek.

“It is a programme where all of the nursery entrepreneurs and caregivers are obliged to attend before serving in the industry,” she added.

The training, which has also been done in Tawau, Sandakan, and Keningau, only allows an enrolment of 30 participants per programme.

The participants will have to attend the programme every two years in order to renew the certificate as new module may be implemented or upgraded.

“This programme is held to create awareness so that there will be no negligence in the nurseries of Sabah,” said Hajah Dayang Rugayah Awang Besar, the chief assistant director of the Department of General Services.

“Last two years, we only provided CPR and Airway Management Course on babies. But this year we have developed a module for both babies and toddlers.

“We have a trained nurse who is certified to lead the program. After the 2-day programme, the participants will be sitting for their examination,” she said.

Anamaria Anthony, 29, is one of the participants who expressed her gratitude for being given the opportunity to attend the programme.

“The children are the future leaders. We will, in any cost, avoid anything that may harm them to happen,” said Anamaria.

”The responsibility on handling a nursery is big. Anything that happens in the nursery will be our responsibility. So when something bad happens, we are able to handle it as we have had the knowledge.”


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Singing to babies

Sunday, February 26th, 2017
Research looked into the role that infant-directed singing plays in creating the intricate bond between mother and child. — AFP

Research looked into the role that infant-directed singing plays in creating the intricate bond between mother and child. — AFP

New research says this is important to create bonds and stimulate children.

MOTHERS singing to babies is an age-old practice found across all cultures and traditions.

Now a United States research finds it is actually an important way to create bonds and stimulate children. Shannon de l’Etoile, professor of music therapy and associate dean of Graduate Studies at the University of Miami Frost School of Music, initially set to look at how infants behave in response to their mothers’ singing, also called infant-directed singing, compared to other mother-baby interactions such as reading books and playing with toys.In addition the research looked into the role that infant-directed singing plays in creating the intricate bond between mother and child.

For her initial study, de l’Etoile filmed 70 infants responding to six different interactions – mother sings an assigned song, “stranger” sings an assigned song, mother sings song of choice, mother reads book, mother plays with toy, and the mother and infant listen to recorded music.The babies showed high cognitive scores during infant-directed singing, suggesting that song is just as effective as reading books or playing with toys for engaging and maintaining babies’ attention, and far more effective than listening to recorded music.

The promising results led de l’Etoile to carry out a second study that focused on the mother’s role during infant-directed singing by measuring the make-up of the song and the mother’s voice.

De l’Etoile then looked at the acoustic range in the singing voices of mothers with post-partum depression. The results showed that although the children were still engaged, the tempo of the singing did not change and was more robotic.

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Childcare centre fees set to go up

Saturday, December 24th, 2016

SUNGAI BULOH: The fees for childcare centres across the country are expected to increase by at least 10% next year, says the Association of Childcare Centres Selangor.

This was due to the revised minimum wage, said association president Mahanom Basri.

“The increase depends on the management of the centre. If the rent, salaries and other expenditures have gone up, it will increase by between 5% and 10%.

“It won’t be a lot, but there will definitely be an increase,” she said here yesterday.

For example, Mahanom said a 10% increase from the RM300 fee per child would result in a new fee of RM330.

Besides the minimum wage, she said childcare centre operators also had to install CCTVs for extra security.

“Quality facilities require money so I hope parents are ready to pay for them,” she added.

The Government introduced the minimum wage policy in 2013.

On July 1, the monthly minimum wage was increased from RM900 to RM1,000 for peninsular Malaysia and from RM800 to RM920 for Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan.

Mahanom, together with more than 300 childcare centre operators, attended a dialogue session with Deputy Women, Family and Community Minister Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun yesterday.

One of the issues raised during the two-hour closed-door dialogue was the licensing fees charged by local councils.

“We have proposed to the local councils that they could treat childcare centres as community service instead of commercial business.

“By doing so, they can reduce the licensing fees,” Chew said.

She said the ministry was also looking into easing some regulations.

“We will be looking at the ratio; such as how many children should be cared by one minder without compromising on safety.


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80% preschool teachers in Sabah without diploma

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Private Preschool Consultative Council (MPPSS) was recently formed to advocate and address pressing issues regarding Early Childhood Education and quality in Sabah.

The council is made up of representatives from Persatuan Tadika Sabah, Chinese Chamber of Commerse Kota Kinabalu, Sabah Chinese Kindergarten Boards of Association, Persatuan Tadika Islam Sabah, Early Childhood Committee of the Education Commission of Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu, Tadika-tadika Gereja under Sabah Council of Churches Sabah. It will in future also include representatives from the 23 districts in Sabah. On November 25, five committee members of MPPSS headed by its chairlady, Jenifer Anjek together with head of Private Education Unit, Haji Abdul Wahab Ampuan Hamzah, made a courtesy call on Sabah education director Datuk Hjh Maimunah Hj Suhaibul to discuss about preschool teacher qualifications for Sabah teachers.

The key issues discussed were the possibility for teachers over 45 years old to be allowed to continue renewing their permits even without a diploma qualification, due to the fact that they are not eligible to take PTPTN loans, and most of these teachers have at least 20 years of teaching experience and skills.

It was also discussed that Sabah be given an extension of time till 2025 due to various reasons that include, a lack of MQA certified institutions offering diploma courses in Sabah, financial difficulties faced by teachers to pay for their education when their monthly salaries at the minimum rates, and the lack of access to higher education for those who are in rural areas of Sabah.

In April 2016, the Ministry of Education approved the benchmarking of preschool teacher qualification to that of a Diploma in Early Childhood Education by 2020.

The aim of this move was to raise the quality of preschool education and teacher professionalism in Malaysia.

To date at least 80% of preschool teachers in the private kindergartens in Sabah do not meet this requirement.

MPPSS said this is a worrying issue as many private kindergartens may have to close down due to insufficient qualified staff  come year 2020.  Higher staff salary scale due to higher qualification compounded by the increasing costs of goods and materials and kindergartens that are smaller in scale both in rural and urban areas will be a challenge.

“Kindergartens in rural areas will face a bigger challenge especially with the collection of school fees at a very minimum rate or even free!  We could be facing with a decrease in the provision of early childhood education for children in Sabah more so in rural areas,” it said.

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