Felix Kindergarten Prioritizes Individual-oriented Approaches.
How Important is the development and care for preschool children. What is the role of kindergartens in this respect? James Heckman, the Nobel Laureate in Economic Science, has appraised the role and importance of preschool education in this way: «Early childhood education stimulates well-doing in the future and early childhood success preconditions success in the future». Actually, preschool education services are the most important investments in the long-term development of the country. Namely, children’s cognitive potential and, consequently, the potential of a child is maximally developed.
International research works have proved that well-organized preschool education helps children improve their academic performance at secondary schools, including in receiving high scores, diminishes the number of pupils failed in classes and upgrades educational achievements in terms of enrollment into universities. Moreover, economic calculations have showed that preschool education is one of the best investments that the country may make for economic development.
Still and all, how does a kindergarten determine the mental development of a preschool child and how necessary is the preschool education to make a child capable for maximally using his/her own potential?
Temur Tordinava, head of the agency for management of Tbilisi Kindergartens, and Ninu Kiknavelidze, a psychologist for Felix kindergarten, have provided comprehensive answers to the above-mentioned questions.
– Mr. Temur, does the preschool age determine the level of development of a child and what is the role of kindergartens in this respect?
– The preschool age category from 2 to 6 years old is very important and children of this age category pass a preparation period in various directions. Their preparation for secondary school is also very important. We launched school preparation program in October 2015 and this program is being implemented at all kindergartens in Tbilisi for a year. This year, more than 16 000 pupils will go to secondary schools and they have passed the mentioned program. Consequently, I am sure that this contingent will be more prepared for the secondary school, compared to the previous contingents, because the school readiness program calls for developing a number of school skills among children to assist them in adapting to the secondary school space.
– What innovations does this program contain, compared to the previous years and what additional methodology has been included in this program?
– This program is more perfect and valuable in terms of methodology and it combines the skills that, most of all, develops analytical skills of children and accustoms them to analytical thought. This is a very important issue, but, at the same time, the core of the mentioned program is that it is based on such games and roles that do not make children get tired and the teaching process is based on game principles. This signifies children receive pleasure from all these games. I would like to add that the mentioned program is the first step that will be widely established at Tbilisi kindergartens, in all 162 kindergartens. At the same time, this program requires more development and improvement and, naturally, this process will take certain period. However, I do believe this was very important step at the initial stage in this system.
– I would like to mentioned another issue – training of psychologists and logopedists. This is a serious challenge before kindergartens. Your opinion is very interesting why was this issue actualized? How many teachers were trained in this direction and how efficiently is this mechanism used in practice?
– Pedagogic methodology at Tbilisi nursery schools and, in general, in our country was one of the major challenges for many years. Regretfully, nothing has changed in this respect. The role of psychologists and logopedists is of crucial importance in the preschool period, because if any problem exists, they must provide timely reaction and consequently, timely interfere in the process. Many years ago, this position was abolished at many kindergartens. Therefore, a new project has been developed and, at he first stage, 60 psychologists and 30 logopedists were trained. Combined literature, guidebooks and joint strategy were developed for them. At this stage, psychologists and logopedists are being selected at various nursery schools and starting September 2016 all kindergartens will have a psychologist and a logopedist, who will work under the joint strategy and joint literature. Why is this so important? Each child may need individual approaches, but under methodology and joint standards as practiced in all kindergartens in Tbilisi, joint food menus – this was also a part of the joint reform. We believe that the reform of the system of psychologists and logopedists has decisive importance. This reform was also actualized and requested by parents.
«First of all, I agree with you that the preschool education is of crucial importance for further development of an individual. This is the period, when a person starts communicating with the world, identifying connections between reasons and results, receives information, forms attitude to himself/herself and the surrounding world, where he/she is integrated. Therefore, this is a very sensuous process, because the first impressions are very important for each person and they determine what kind of a person he/she will be in adult ages, how his/her resources will be used maximally and how he/she will manage personal fulfillment. In our everyday life we follow stereotypes as if the education process starts in the school age. This is not true. This process starts from the very birth, in practice, and all of us, parents and all adults, play crucial role in this process. As to peculiarity and priorities of Felix kindergarten. This is the approach oriented on an individual and I mean potential and interests of a child that are the most important instrument in the process of working with a child. The level of achievements made by a child must be determined, his/her strong sides must be outlined and you should rely on these sides to attain the desirable results. The interest is necessary, because if you do not take into account the fields of interest for physical and psychological development of a child, you may lose the child’s involvement quality in the process. Therefore, the child’s potential and interest are very strong factors to a certain extent that each individual should protect definitely, when communicating with a child. We also apply multi-sensor mechanism, under which an individual has 5 channels for reception of information – seeing, hearing, perception and so on. Therefore, in this period it is very important that all five mechanisms of reception of information be applied when communicating with a child. The information that is delivered to children, must be rich in terms of senses. In practice, children suffer from sensuous hunger and their sensuous interests may be unsatisfactory, while this aspect is important for their development. I also agree with the considerations that teaching by games is the most important process, because if you deliver any information to a child and he/she cannot grasp the importance of this information and the way to apply it, this child will not learn this information. Every process has its own objective to attain a specific goal. If a child cannot realize the information in practical life, the teaching process will not be successful. Therefore, this is a creative and child-oriented process», Ninu Kiknavelidze, psychologist for Felix kindergarten, noted.
– Mrs. Ninu, I would like to make focus on one issue about children with inclusive and other special needs. Which methodologies are applied in this respect and what approaches will you apply in the process of working with them?
– One of the mighty aspects of the Felix kindergarten organizers is that we follow the idea that education must be attainable absolutely for all children. I would like to note that I have cooperated with the Ministry of Education and participated in the monitoring process in both preschool education period and secondary and vocational schools. In this respect, the team of Felix has gained huge experience and our kindergarten has an access to all resources to carry out transition to the inclusive education process. We have also acces to human resources, have a multidisciplinary team that are of crucial importance in this process. This individual approach, in general, is a constituent part of the inclusive education to meet the potential of our children. These factors are very important in the academic process, especially in early ages, when cognitive and perception mechanisms start developing in a child.
– The issue of mixed age groups were actualized in the last period. This issue was also envisioned in the law and discussed quite loudly at the committee hearings. Is there any research proving that a group of age-mate children gives more positive results in terms of personal development?
– There are diverse positions around this issue, because it is possible to integrate children of various ages together . However, I would like to note that this is a methodology and if you start it and work under this methodology, you must have been well-trained in this methodology. You should valuably know this approach and must have gained due practices, because there are a lot of elements that must be taken into account. There are several types of groups in various age categories. For example, a three-year and five-year groups together or four-year and six-year groups together. There are several variations and they differ in terms of teaching methodology. Anyway, when you take a decision on teaching by methodology, first of all, you should take responsibility that you are specialized in this issue. This a very cautious issue and it may bring negative results without qualified staff.
When there is age differences, you can offer diverse approaches to children. I mean social diversity. You should plan such activities, where they will be jointly integrated. This may be painting, music and so on. You should also carry out other activities and provide teaching courses for specific age groups.
– How does Felix kindergarten plan to integrate parents in the educational and pedagogical process? What are your plans in this direction?
– Parents represent one of the most important chains. Cooperation with parents is of crucial importance and this cooperation should be carried out by an educational institution. As to our kindergarten, the potential of children is evaluated and re-evaluated in every three months. This is the period, when you can say whether you have attained some result and whether this or that child has enhanced capabilities. Every three months parents are able to receive information on capabilities of children in terms of development, including speech, cognitive abilities and so on. It is also important that kindergartens and parents jointly outline the future working plans and objectives and mix their positions in this respect. Informative trainings should be also held for management of child behavior, due mechanisms should be determined for specific age categories for establishing communication with children and for maintaining positive behavior in children and so on. Therefore, I would say again that the role of parents is the most important and this strategy will definitely bring real results.