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Bloomsbury Education and Childhood Studies

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Early Childhood Education

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Curriculum

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Curriculum in Early Childhood Education (Philippines)

Curriculum in Early Childhood Education (Philippines)
by Maria Alicia Bustos-Orosa

Maria Alicia Bustos-Orosa is an associate professorial lecturer at De La Salle University Manila, Philippines. Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

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DOI: 10.5040/9781474209489.0026

  • Editor(s):
    Lorraine Pe Symaco (Regional Editor) and Manjula Waniganayake (Editor in Chief)
  • Publisher:
    Bloomsbury Publishing Plc
  • Identifier:
    b-9781474209489-026
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Approaches to curriculum

To assure quality in instruction and curriculum, the Early Childhood Care and Development Council (ECCD Council 2015b) developed its Standards and Guidelines for Center-based Early Childhood Programs (SGCEC) for birth to 4-year-old Filipino Children.

Curricula for early learning programs in the Philippines are anchored on the National Early Learning Framework (NELF) developed jointly by the ECCD Council and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) (2010). In the NELF, it is thus stated that the unifying framework for early learning curriculum is one that “manifests developmentally appropriate practices (DAP) which have a component of systematic assessment that provides information on children’s development and learning that is used to plan for and modify the instructional program” (ECCD Council 2015b: 26). This document serves as the primary resource of ECCD providers in creating an enriching early learning environment and was adapted from the Philippine Early Learning and Development Standards (ECCD and UNICEF 2010).

Complementary to the DAP guidelines of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC 2009) in the USA, the NELF emphasizes three core considerations for the development and provision of early learning programs. These comprise: knowledge about child development and learning, knowledge of what is individually-appropriate, and recognition of cultural appropriateness. A holistic and integrated approach to children’s development and a value-laden perspective stated as developing a “Love of God, country, fellow human beings, and the environment” are explicitly stipulated. Children’s developmental domains in the curriculum are thus espoused, specifically as comprising of physical health, well-being, and motor development; social-emotional development; character and values development; cognitive-intellectual development; language development; and creative and aesthetic development (ECCD Council and UNICEF 2015: 6).

The ECCD Council’s specific guidelines for curriculum programs (ECCD Council 2015b), then, include a focus on developmental principles, learning, and instruction; and assessment of learning. These principles are stated as follows:

  1. Curriculum is carefully planned to appropriately respond to the developmental needs of every young child in the center.

  2. Curriculum is play-based and provides space for a variety of child-initiated and adult-facilitated learning opportunities.

  3. Curriculum develops concepts and values in health and safety, literacy, numeracy, science, social studies, technology, creative expression, and arts appreciation.

  4. Instruction is adjustable based on the regular assessment of young children. Several assessment methods are used to help determine the child’s developmental progress when planning for instruction including those for children with special needs.

  5. There is a structure that supports instruction of young children.

  6. The daily routines are flexible but predictable.

  7. There are quiet or rest activities as extended rest period requirements.

  8. The program has the number of staff necessary to ensure adequate group supervision at all times and to provide individual instruction to promote physical, social, emotional and cognitive/intellectual development. (ECCD Council 2015b: 25–34)

In recent years unfortunately, there has been a dearth of comprehensive empirical studies to point out which curriculum design approach has been adopted by most day care centers (DCCs). Other than an explicit reference to developmentally-appropriate practices as a curriculum guide, there is no clearly prescribed curriculum model used by both private and public DCCs. The lack of a curriculum model common to all preschools was validated in a prior study by Santos-Laurel (1988), where it was revealed that preschools followed any of these five curriculum models: (1) subject matter-oriented models, (2) child-oriented models, (3) school specific curriculum models, (4) eclectic curriculum models, and (5) religion-oriented curriculum models. At present, most preschool programs show that mastery of subject matter still dominates the daily plan of activities (Santos-Laurel cited in Abulon 2013: 316–317).

Play-based pedagogy

The ECCD Council’s standards and guidelines on curriculum (2015b) do clearly stipulate the value of play in the curriculum. However, there is no prescribed curriculum approach for play-based curriculum within public and private DCCs. The standards state the need to provide activity areas that encourage and accommodate free play and interaction among children in play-based activities. Moreover, the provision for both outdoor and indoor play activities and activities is stated. These play activities should also be inclusive of children with differential abilities (ECCD Council 2015b: 26–27).

It is noteworthy that although the focus on play is explicitly stated in the ECCD Council guidelines for birth to 4-year-old programs, there is no reference to play-based pedagogy in the kindergarten curriculum for 5-year-olds (DepEd 2012). As the formal entry level in basic education, kindergarten espouses learning competencies within developmental domains that aim to bridge Grade 1 curriculum learning areas.

Differentiation in the NELF and ECCD Council guidelines is implied as responding to individual children’s interests and needs by allowing for developmentally-appropriate play within varied instructional settings. Although developmental skills from birth to eight years in the prescribed assessment tool called the ECCD Checklist (Council for the Welfare of Children [CWC] and UNICEF 2011) reflects varied expected behaviors and characteristics across age groups, such differentiation is left unclear in the curriculum guidelines.

Child-centered and child-led curricula

In both the NELF (ECCD and UNICEF 2010) and the ECCD Council’s standards and guidelines (2015b), the child is the primary focus of the curriculum. The curriculum is expected to focus on the holistic and integrative development of children’s physical, social, and emotional needs, as well as their language, creative, and learning needs. However, the role of young children in curriculum planning and instruction is only stated as a part of the structure of the curriculum, where time or work periods for free play and independent activities should be provided to build on young children’s interests and initiatives. Moreover, routines though flexible and predictable, are expected to be tailored to children’s needs and interests. Hence, the reference to child-initiated activities is made but not in the sense that there is joint or collaborative decision-making between adults and children in curriculum planning.

In a study by Abulon (2013), it was presented that in most of the forty-eight barangay DCCs included in the study, teaching the children to read both in Filipino and in English ranked first among the daily activities. She concluded that among the daily activities child development workers (CDWs) facilitated, most activities reflected the goal of early literacy for young children. Some of these literacy activities were led by reading, then writing, and storytelling. Other weekly activities typically included singing, games, gardening, arts and crafts, and outdoor activities. Nonetheless, most respondents in her study did narrate that most CDWs do follow a structured routine that they deemed productive (Abulon 2013: 319).

Key challenges

Despite the clear standards and guidelines on ECCD center-based programs and services, the effective delivery of early learning programs is often hampered by: the lack of instructional materials and resources, and the inadequacy or even absence of physical space and facilities. Abulon (2013) cited that in many instances, CDWs had to procure materials on their own as these were not provided by the barangay. Some CDWs also express the need for a curriculum guide, session guides, or a resource book that they can follow for weekly or daily activities. The study also indicated that the lack of parental involvement was also a challenge in reinforcing children’s learning and development within home contexts. Yet, despite the unfavorable conditions some CDWs face on a daily basis, they have remained resilient in their work (Abulon 2013). To address these issues, the ECCD Council initiates induction programs for its CDWs.

Another challenge that affects the quality of ECCD curriculum programs is the preservice preparation and in-service training of CDWs. Although there are clear standards for the hiring and promotion of CDWs, most teachers may be disenfranchised by the elected barangay officials who appoint them as they may not be early childhood qualified teachers with relevant experience and expertise, capable of making these assessments.

In recent years, there has also been the issue of the lack of continuity between ECCD early learning programs for birth to 4-year-olds and the Department of Education’s Kindergarten curriculum for 5-year-olds. Although the kindergarten curriculum is also guided by the NELF (ECCD and UNICEF 2010), its curricular themes and learning domains are deemed quite demanding and disjointed from the day care programs. For many young children who completed early learning programs in barangay DCCs, some skills for kindergarten readiness are hardly achieved.

Finally, the effectiveness of early learning programs and services is often not achieved by the apparent lack of support from families, especially in poor communities. It has been reported that children as young as five years old leave school to engage in some form of labor (Rodriguez 2014). In fact a 2012 study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) cited lack of personal interest, poverty, poor health, and physical inaccessibility of schools as factors that account for the widespread nonattendance and absenteeism in most DCCs. However, an attempt to address these problems has been made through the introduction of a government program on conditional cash transfer called the 4Ps to help impoverished communities.

Further reading and online resources

Early Childhood Care and Development Council (ECCD Council). 2015. “Home.” Accessed June 17, 2018. http://www.eccdcouncil.gov.ph .

Early Childhood Care and Development Council (ECED Council) and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). 2010. The National Early Learning Framework of the Philippines . Pasig: ECED Council and UNICEF. Accessed July 15, 2018. http://www.eccdcouncil.gov.ph/cmsms/index.php?page=downloads .

Office of the President. n.d. “Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program .” Official Gazette . Accessed December 21, 2018. http://www.officialgazette.gov.ph/programs/conditional-cash-transfer/ .

Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization Regional Center for Educational Innovation and Technology (SEAMEO INNOTECH). 2010. Education Policy Paper: Raising the Standard of Early Childhood Care and Development . Quezon City: SEAMEO INNOTECH.

Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization Regional Center for Educational Innovation and Technology (SEAMEO INNOTECH). 2014. Quality Assurance in Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) in Southeast Asia . Quezon City: SEAMEO INNOTECH.

References

Abulon, E. 2013. “Barangay Day Care Centers: Emergence, Current Status And Implications To Teacher Education.” Proceedings of the Global Summit on Education, 313–327, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, March 11–12, 2013.

An Act Recognizing the Age from Zero (0) to Eight (8) Years as the First Crucial Stage of Educational Development and Strengthening the Early Childhood Care and Development System, Appropriating Funds Therefor and For other Purposes, otherwise known as the “Early Years Act of 2013.” 2013. Republic of the Philippines, RA No. 10410.

Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC) and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). 2011. How to Use the Early Childhood Care and Development Checklist . Quezon City: CWC and UNICEF.

Department of Education (DepEd). 2012. K to 12 Curriculum Guide . Pasig City: Department of Education.

Department of Education (DepEd). 2016a. Omnibus Policy on Kindergarten Education . DepEd Order No. 47, series 2016. Pasig City: Department of Education.

Department of Education (DepEd). 2016b. Standards and Competencies for Five-Year-Old Filipino Children . Pasig: Department of Education.

Early Childhood Care and Development Council (ECCD Council). n.d. “Induction Program for Child Development Workers.” Accessed December 14, 2017. https://eccdcouncil.gov.ph/cmsms/ .

Early Childhood Care and Development Council (ECCD Council). 2015a. “Home.” Accessed June 17, 2018. http://www.eccdcouncil.gov.ph .

Early Childhood Care and Development Council (ECCD Council). 2015b. Standards and Guidelines for Center-based Early Childhood Programs for 0 to 4 Years old Filipino Children . Pasig City: ECCD Council.

Early Childhood Care and Development Council of the Philippines (ECCD Council) and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). 2010. The National Early Learning Framework of the Philippines . Pasig City: ECCD Council and UNICEF.

National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). 2009. Developmentally-Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8: A Position Statement of the National Association for the Education of Young Children . Washington DC: NAEYC.

Rodriguez, F. 2014. “The Children Who Can’t Enter Kindergarten.” Rappler, June 19. Accessed December 26, 2017. http://www.rappler.com/move-ph/issues/hunger/60985-kindergartners-philippines-education-poverty .

Santos-Laurel, R. 1988. “Areas of Concern in Preschool Education in the National Capital Region: Policy Implications.” Unpublished MA Thesis, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City.

Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization Regional Center for Educational Innovation and Technology (SEAMEO INNOTECH). 2010. Education Policy Paper: Raising the Standard of Early Childhood Care and Development . Quezon City: SEAMEO INNOTECH.

Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization Regional Center for Educational Innovation and Technology (SEAMEO INNOTECH). 2014. Quality Assurance in Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) in Southeast Asia . Quezon City: SEAMEO INNOTECH.

Formerly referred to as barrio, Barangay is the smallest administrative division in the Philippines and is the native Filipino term for a village, district, or ward.

An approach to teaching grounded in research on how young children develop and learn and in what is known about effective early childhood education (ECE).

Day care teachers who facilitate learning programs in public day care centers.

Services and programs for children from birth to four years of age.