Collective Network: Online network for teachers, parents and educational organizations interested in improving their practices when accompanying Early Childhood
By APIO AGNESS
Globally, over 200 million children under 5 are not reaching their developmental potential due to poverty and lack of Early Childhood Development (ECD) services. Failure to receive adequate Early Childhood Education (ECE) results in children not developing the skills and abilities needed to change the course of their lives, create a better future for themselves and their families, or positively impact their communities. According to UNESCO, the percentage of access to ECD services depends on countries income level; and in Colombia, 56% of poor children are deprived of developing their full potential. Colombia has implemented significant changes to improve its ECD ecosystem. Yet, compared to all Latin America -76% of children´s enrollment- Colombia has a long way to go.
By building a collective network, we can provide adults who accompany children with the tools they need to strengthen their relationships and interactions with children, and to promote meaningful experiences for their learning, guaranteeing their full potential development.
We can share with others an Educational Model, which is effective in transforming children´s lives by offering curriculum in the form of tips, videos, podcasts, documents and experiences for teachers and parents to accompany children. We are aiming to boost this online community, articulating parents, teachers, and educational organizations to strengthen their daily practice. The network can be created on a WordPress platform that has been integrated with different solutions: BudyBoss, to promote online community and social interaction, LearnDash, a Learning Management System to enable online learning; and Woocommerce, a solution that allows the network to offer different products and services for Early Childhood, as well as the opportunity to acquire a paid membership that will allow them to have more benefits. Amongst the benefits for paid memberships the network will offer a job hunt feature, discounts in stores specialized in Early Childhood, networking events, grants, and others. As a result of this integration of platforms and solutions, the network is an easy to navigate – responsive website that anyone with internet access can use.
By being a free digital platform, open-source of information, the Network allows families, caregivers, and teachers to access all the content of the Educational Model. This model has proven to be effective in the closure of the development gap that exists between children from high and low-income families because it promotes a culture that understands the child as a protagonist using his personal interests as a basis to explore and investigate. This strengthens children’s abilities such as creativity, problem solving, self-regulation, self-expression, observation and perception, resourcefulness, environmental awareness, and entrepreneurship; all valuable skills for the XXI Century.
This curriculum was nominated for the WISE award, which recognizes innovative projects that can have a great impact on global education and has scientific evidence that has shown that after 8 months in an center, the developmental gap between children from low- and high-income families can be closed until up to 50%. Likewise, the Educational Experience shows positive effects on parents and the community:
- Parents play more with their children.
- Lower maternal depression
- Parents vote more and trust their neighbors more.
- Increased use of positive discipline strategies
Our evidence-based curriculum has also been effective in transforming teacher’s beliefs and practices by promoting a culture that emphasizes positive and coherent relationships. The role of educators is innovative because they accompany the child rather than transferring their own knowledge onto him. To assure coherence, teachers must engage in a permanent training program that is followed by tools of the curriculum. The Network is fundamental to enhance the training program. Thus, teachers trained by have proven strong commitment, good relationships, and clarity on how to attain developmental objectives.
The network serves teachers, parents, and educational organizations, regardless of its socioeconomic environment. Teachers can access a variety of tools to strengthen their educational practice, offer their services (not only in education but also in other fields such as nutrition, psychology, and others) to parents and educational organizations, further develop their knowledge with the courses and certificates from the e-learning module; and have discounts in different products needed on their daily practice. Families and caregivers have access to different strategies to accompany children´s development while using the different resources/materials they have available at home, can connect with teachers and other educators (such as nutritionists, phycologists, etc.), and pay them for their services when required, share their learnings and best practices with others, strengthen their knowledge through courses and certificates, and have discount in products and services for their children. Educational organizations can be included in the platform aand have the opportunity to interact with other organizations, recruit teachers, qualify their staff members at very low prices and apply to / offer grants.
In order to involve the target community in the construction of the platform, we have carried out online and offline market research processes, such as the study of the most used keywords in the jargon of our target audience, and some surveys, interviews, and focus. group. This allowed us to identify their main needs and adapt the platform and its contents to each audience and context.
The platform can be customised in different languages in the hope of reaching an even wider international community. The platform can be built to be a Social Network of Learning (SNL), in which all its members can share their experiences and maintain dialogue with others around Early Childhood educational practices. It also would serve as a window to scale the educational model.
Adopt & Adapt
The network can be created on a WordPress platform that has been integrated with different solutions: BudyBoss, to promote online community and social interaction, LearnDash, a Learning Management System to enable online learning; and Woocommerce, a solution that allows the network to offer different products and services for Early Childhood, as well as the opportunity to acquire a paid membership that will allow them to have more benefits. Amongst the benefits for paid memberships the network will offer a job hunt feature, discounts in stores specialized in Early Childhood, networking events, grants, and others. As a result of this integration of platforms and solutions, the network is an easy to navigate – responsive website that anyone with internet access can use.