Summary: Holistic approaches involve integration of thinking and activities, inclusive ways of working with complex, cross-curricular, interdisciplinary and transcendental connections (Learning for the future, 2011, p. 7). Assessment of existing situations shows that teachers struggle with diversifying learning form and content and with varying the pace of work as well as the difficulty level of tasks. The holistic approach determines that one particular learning or activity sphere cannot exclude the others and that all of them are interconnected in a complex and nuanced way; therefore it is essential to identify the existing links between them. In pre-school education praxis the learning process is still divided into certain subjects with little emphasis on the integrated approach. In the process of implementing the learning content, the curriculum is composed of more than one particular situation or a case. The aim of this article is to describe the positive experience of teachers in terms of diversification of their activities and to determine the diversification principles which can help the pre-school children to discover their uniqueness and enable them to share their subjective experience as well as recognize the link between their lives and the outside world. As the result of this study, the diversification principles of teachers’ activities have been determined for the holistic development of children.
Keywords: holistic development of children, pre-school education practice, diversification of teachers’ activities
Резюме (Ильзе Микольсон, Яна Грава и Линда Павитола: Диверсификация деятельности учителей для целостного развития детей в практике дошкольного образования): Холистические подходы включают в себя интеграцию мышления и действий, интегративные способы работы со сложными, междисциплинарными и трансцедентальными взаимосвязями (Обучение для будущего, 2011б С. 7). Оценка текущей ситуации показывает, что учителя сталкиваются с разнообразными видами деятельности и учебным материалом, а также с отличным друг от друга расписанием и типами заданий. Целостный подход утверждает, что определенные сферы деятельности или обучения не могут исключать другие сферы, и все аспекты связаны между собой сложным образом. Поэтому важно идентифицировать эти устойчивые связи. В практике дошкольного образования процесс обучения разделён на определённые подтемы, при этом главный фокус лежит на интегративном подходе. На практике учебный план состоит из более чем одной определённой ситуации или одного случая. Цель этой статьи – описать позитивные впечатления учителей об их опыте разнообразной профессиональной деятельности и таким образом утвердить принципы диверсификаци, которые могут помочь дошкольникам открыть свои особенности и поделиться своим субъективным опытом, а также установить связь между своей собственной жизнью и внешним миром. В качестве результата этого исследования были подтвеждены принципы диверсификации деятельности учителей для целостного развития детей.
Ключевые слова: целостное развитие детей, дошкольное образование, диверсификация деятельности учителей
Zusammenfassung (Ilze Mickelsone, Jana Grava & Linda Pavitola: Diversifizierung der Aktivitäten von Lehrkräften für die ganzheitliche Entwicklung von Kindern in der vorschulpädagogischen Praxis): Holistische Ansätze beinhalten die Integration von Denken und Handeln, integrative Arbeitsweisen mit komplexen, fachübergreifenden, interdisziplinären und transzendentalen Zusammenhängen (Lernen für die Zukunft, 2011, S. 7). Die Bewertung bestehender Situationen zeigt, dass die Lehrkräfte mit der Diversifizierung von Lernformen und -inhalten sowie mit unterschiedlichem Arbeitsablauf und Schwierigkeitsgrad der Aufgaben zu kämpfen haben. Der ganzheitliche Ansatz legt fest, dass eine bestimmte Lern- oder Tätigkeitssphäre die anderen nicht ausschließen kann, und dass alle in einer komplexen und nuancierten Weise miteinander verbunden sind. Daher ist es wichtig, die bestehenden Verbindungen zwischen ihnen zu identifizieren. In der vorschulischen Bildungspraxis ist der Lernprozess noch in bestimmte Themen unterteilt, wobei der Schwerpunkt auf dem integrierten Ansatz liegt. Bei der Umsetzung des Lerninhalts besteht das Curriculum aus mehr als einer bestimmten Situation oder einem Fall.Das Ziel dieses Artikels ist es, die positiven Erfahrungen der Lehrerinnen und Lehrer in Bezug auf die Diversifizierung ihrer Aktivitäten zu beschreiben und die Prinzipien der Diversifizierung zu bestimmen, die den Vorschulkindern helfen können, ihre Einzigartigkeit zu entdecken und ihre subjektive Erfahrung zu teilen sowie auch die Verbindung zwischen ihrem Leben und der Außenwelt zu erkennen. Als Ergebnis dieser Studie wurden Prinzipien der Diversifikation von Aktivitäten der Lehrkräfte für die ganzheitliche Entwicklung von Kindern bestimmt.
Schlüsselwörter: ganzheitliche Entwicklung von Kindern, vorschulische Bildungspraxis, Diversifizierung der Lehreraktivitäten
Holistic approach in educational practice
Holistic education is a new direction of the global paradigm that focuses on the person (as a subject) and integration of his/her resources, as well as integration of these resources and other external aspects. The educational paradigm shift states that one can no longer follow the absolute models that make education unconscious, mechanical and repetitive. The emphasis cannot be laid solely on intellectual solutions. Holistic education focusses not only on the individual’s intellectual aspect; it also implies emotional, physical, social, aesthetic and spiritual dimensions. Therefore, it is sometimes also called – integrated education.
Holistic vision is based on integration of knowledge. Science, art, spirituality and traditions are touching each other in order to create a culture of wisdom that transcends the explicit knowledge fragments of academic disciplines.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to understand the new reality solely on the basis of undoubted knowledge. Holistic approach is trans-disciplinary in its essence, thus one specific learning/ activity sphere cannot exclude the others. All areas are correlated in a complex and nuanced way and the teacher’s role is to help the learners to identify the existence of links between them. A holistic vision reveals a new understanding of learning: learning is a personal social perception ability (intelligence) which is important for the person him/herself. Learning takes place on an intuitive, emotional, rational, spiritual, physical, artistic, cognitive and spatial level and joins into the understanding of personality (Nava, 2001).
K. Wilber suggests “the integral concept is trying to incorporate the matter, body, mind, soul and spirit, and how they are manifested in the person, culture and nature” (Vilbers, 2010, p.8). The holistic perspective encourages developing in oneself something a little more whole, to be less fragmented.
J. Miller (2007) points to the fact that the education for child’s holistic development includes the establishment of mutual relations, balancing the various methodological and operational elements. The teacher, who bases his/her work on the basic principles of holistic development, allows the child to discover and understand the different correlations and links. Then the learning becomes personal and socially relevant, and knowledge becomes as part of the child’s experience (Miller, 2007). In order to implement the holistic approach in educational practice, Miller (2007) has emphasized three basic principles:
- providing the balance (between: knowledge and imagination, technologies and personality, the interests of the whole group and each child’s personal interests, the practical and social orientation of learning and upbringing processes, balance and “merging” of boundaries between the activities organized by a teacher and daily life activities),
- Inclusion of each child in the group environment (active participation, individual approach, development of emotionally comfortable and safe learning environment),
- correlations (connection of discovery and understanding of different links, causes and consequences, cross-curricular links, teaching process and the newly acquired information to the child’s daily life, personal interests and needs).
With the strengthening of a holistic approach in education, two opposing pedagogical models are confronted: one supports the teaching-centered approach and the other one emphasizes learning (child-centered). It can be said that teachers have a choice between these two models, but in Latvia historically the teaching-centered model is more familiar. The child-centered approach is based on the idea of a person’s comprehensive personality development and learning through independent activities, spontaneous self-discoveries and a play. It promotes interaction and cooperation, and a symbolic or simulated play is considered as important as acquiring the cultural skills. The teacher’s task, on the one hand, is to design the environment providing equipment for the play and exercises, but on the other hand, to engage in children’s pursuits in order to promote the creative self-realization of children and to help with setting realistic and practical goals, decision-making, as well as achieving the outcomes in any sphere of activities (social, spiritual, etc.) ( Macлоу, 1997; Alijevs, 2005 etc.). Teachers are facilitators of children’s social and intellectual growth. In turn, the teaching-centered model of pre-school education has been influenced by educational theories which sees teacher as an agent for transferring the knowledge and skills. The teaching methods are based on direct teaching, purposefully managed activities and reinforcement, but the entire learning process is based on a structured and planned curriculum.
It is recognized (Pirmsskolas izglītība un aprūpe Eiropā, 2009) that child-centered approach is mainly used in the countries (including Latvia), which follow the educational programme adopted on national level. However, the real analysis of the situation does not fully allow agreeing with this statement (Grava, 2012). In preschool educational establishments of Latvia, in the age group of 3-6 y/o, still mostly a teaching model is implemented which is based on the direct transfer of knowledge and skills by the teacher. But completely denying one model and highlighting the other is also not the most successful solution.
By balancing the principles of teaching and learning models, the development of operational functions and meta-cognitive abilities is promoted, which is necessary for academic learning, with the precondition that there is a certain structure as well as repetition needed for creating automatic reflexes that are indispensable for acquiring reading, writing and mathematical skills.
Therefore, in pre-school education practice, a balanced combination of two models can provide the best results for children. However, from the teacher it requires a new vision and new approach. For Latvian teachers it is the teaching model that is more understandable, more familiar and tested in practice working with children of all age groups. Therefore, the teachers need to understand the basic principles of teaching model and acquire the ability to diversify their activities for implementing the child-centered approach.
Diversification of teacher’s activity
In a holistic view, it is the child’s active participation that is considered as the main principle that leads to gaining experience (State Regional Development Agency, 2009), and as the result the child arrives to solutions and conclusions. Since the childhood is a particularly important and significant stage of human life cycle, high demands are imposed on the preschool teacher’s professional activity, which is largely connected to his/her pedagogical views and approach.
In child-centered approach, the pedagogical principles of preschool education actualize the core values of developing a qualitative learning process, and the primary task for teachers is to organize their activities in a way that each child becomes a full-fledged and active learner and explorer, not – to pass on the teacher’s own knowledge (Kompetents pedagogs 21.gadsimtā, 2013).
E. Landau believes that in teaching and upbringing process it is important to ask the ‘right’ (interest-promoting, suggesting) questions, to teach children to ask questions and also answer their questions. This way it is possible to preserve child’s natural curiosity, stimulate the imagination, and make the learning process more interesting (Поддяков, 1988, Chak, 2002; Landau, 2007). Perception is possible if the child him/herself defines his personal thoughts, design his/her understanding. Therefore, it is important for the teacher to diversify his/her activities and establish a dialogue with the child, as well as create a variety of problem situations (Miller, 2007).
There is a big difference whether it is a child who raises the task or the task is raised by the teacher. A task which is raised by a child can easily be canceled or changed, for example, the child interrupts the activity, gets up, runs/ moves around a bit and then returns to the activity that was started – the child follows his/her inner desire and need. If the task is raised by the teacher, the child does not feel so free in it (Röbe, 2008). In contrast, in preschool education there is assumption that the child is interested in activity and is doing a good job if he/she does not interrupt his/her work and stays with the task until the end. This is evidenced by survey results of pre-school teachers (Grava, 2012). However, the children’s need for moving and exercising cannot be defined as lack of focus or lack of interest in their activities. The possibility to move freely should be considered as his/her individual need (Röbe, 2008).
D. Berzina has concluded that the helplessness of primary school pupils and their inability to make decisions in unusual situation and act without the teacher’s instructions, points to “all correct” type of teaching in preschool. Consequently, the children find the sense of security when meeting the teacher’s precise instructions without showing initiative (Bērziņa, 2005). Both in preschool and primary school children are encouraged to think creatively, but without developing independent creative activities already in pre-school (not offering to choose the material or type of activity, not letting to participate with their ideas) it cannot be expect that children will approach creatively the challenges in the future. The child’s holistic development can be characterized as open and changing within its boundaries.
Despite the child’s activity and the apparent independence, the exploration of the surrounding world is not possible without the assistance or support of an adult (Осорина, 2008). That’s an adult who can form the child’s personal understanding of the links between everyday real-life elements and expressions by diversifying his/her activities, thus creating a positive ground for holistic development of a child. The diversification of teacher’s activities allows to see the everyday occurrences and to remedy shortcomings in teaching and upbringing process taking into account the different skill levels, various learning styles, learning needs and interests of children.
Diversification of teacher’s activity for holistic development of children in pre-school education practice means:
- Respecting the child’s individuality and self-expression – teacher supports the child’s need to implement his/her intellectual, communicative, artistic or physical abilities; problem-issues, answers to children’s questions (Linde, 2003; Bērziņa, 2005; Landau, 2007; Röbe, 2008);
- Acceptance of child’s subjectivity – teacher knows the interests, needs and abilities of children through daily observations; integrating the learning and connecting it with real life of children (Nava, 2001, Miller, 2007);
- The child has the opportunity to choose – teacher supports the child when he/she chooses the goal, content or materials; promotes the skill to choose, to make decisions (Alijevs, 2005; Röbe, 2008);
- Positive conversation, interaction – teacher provides feedback by supporting the child (not only by praising or criticizing), forms a dialogue (Поддяков,1988;Chak, 2002).
Research design and data collection methods
This research employs a case study – a method for studying particular individuals, groups or phenomena (Geske, Grīnfelds). Specifically, an educational case study was employed in pre-school education establishments for exploring diversification experience of teacher’s activity. The goal of the study: to describe the diversification experience of teacher’s activity in preschool education praxis, to clarify if teacher’s activity is congruent with conditions of holistic approach, and to determine the diversification principles of teacher’s activity for holistic development of children. Interactions during the morning circle and play activities were observed according to the certain criteria (see Table 1).
The research was conducted in three Liepaja preschool education institutions, which implement the guidelines determined by the State (‘Regulations on preschool education guidelines’, issued by Cabinet of Ministers (CM), Regulation Nr. 533 from July, 31, 2012), and which follow the pilot programme and/or licenced preschool education programme (Vispārējās izglītības likums, 1999). All pre-school education institutions implement a particular daily routine, which is regulated by Regulations of CM (Nr. 890, from September 17, 2013) “Hygiene requirements for child care providers and educational establishments which implement preschool education programme”.
The selection of respondents was based on researchers’ subjective selection criteria, namely, accessibility, in other words, the most accessible respondents were selected from the general sample. A data gathered from representative sample allow speculating about the characteristics and draw conclusions, which can be applied to the general sample as a whole (state preschool education institutions). In Latvia there are 1028 preschool education establishments, which implement these preschool education programmes (Izglītības un Zinātnes ministrijas 2015.gada publiskais pārskats 2016: 8) and the daily routine, which includes a play activity and a morning circle.
In total 6 cases were documented in three establishments: in Pre-school education establishment A – 3 cases, Pre-school education establishment B – 2 cases, and Pre-school education establishment C – 1 case.
Observed cases were documented in video recording. The total length of the video recordings is 4 hours and 25,15 minutes, or 255,09 minutes. In the case study 49 episodes were identified.
The observations fixed in the video recording support several aspects: (1) study of general interactions in pre-school taking into account criteria of meaningful interaction; (2) opportunity to learn about the research participants in their natural conditions; (3) the ability to perceive the teaching process as a whole, observing and repeatedly analysing each of the criteria.
Data about the cases
In Pre-school education establishment A: cases Nr.1, 2, 5.
Case 1 characteristics. The case was observed on 20.05.2016. Participants: 1 teacher with work experience of 10 years, 2 teacher’s assistants, 18 children (5-6 y/o). Length of the video recording: 42,05 min., 9 episodes documented (1-9). The teacher has worked with this group for 1 year.
Case 2 characteristics. The case was observed on 22.05.2016. Participants: 2 teachers with work experience of 11 years, 16 children (4-5 y/o). Length of the video recording: 32.30 min., 13 episodes documented (10-21). Both teachers have worked with this group for 1 year.
Case 5 characteristics. The case was observed on 11.03.2015. Participants: 1 teacher with work experience of 9 years, 1 teacher’s assistant, 11 children (6-7 y/o). Length of the video recording: 48,05 min., 8 episodes documented (36-44). Both teachers have worked with this group for 1 year.
Preschool educational establishment B. Cases Nr. 3, 4.
Case Nr. 3 characteristics. The case was observed on 10.12.2014. Participants: 1 teacher with work experience of 12 years, 1 teacher’s assistant, 17 children (6-7 y/o). Length of the video recording: 53,38 min., 6 episodes documented (22-28). Both teachers have worked with this group for 3 years.
Case Nr. 4 characteristics. The case was observed on 10.12.2015. Participants: 1 teacher with work experience of 10 years, 1 teacher’s assistant, 18 children (3-4 y/o). Length of the video recording: 50,32 min., 6 episodes documented (29-35).
Preschool educational establishment C. Case Nr. 6
Case 6 characteristics. The case was observed on 15.04.2016. Participants: 1 teacher with work experience of 3 years, 1 teacher’s assistant, 11 children (2-3 y/o). Length of the video recording: 29,34 min., 4 episodes documented (45-49). Both teachers have worked with this group for 2 years.
Documented video episodes that correspond to the observation criteria
|Nr.||Criterion||Episode||Episodes in total|
|1.||Respecting child’s individuality and promoting self-expression||1, 2, 10, 11, 22, 23, 29, 30, 31, 32, 36, 37, 38, 39, 45||15|
|2.||Accepting subjective experience of children||3, 4, 12, 13, 24, 46||6|
|3.||Children have opportunity to choose||5, 14, 15, 16, 17, 25, 33, 40, 41, 47||10|
|4.||Positive conversation, interaction||6, 7, 8, 9, 18, 19, 20, 21, 26, 27, 28, 34, 35, 42, 43, 44, 48, 49, 50||18|
The teachers certify that the play activities and the morning circle captured on video recordings were organized in usual circumstances and that there was a casual and well-known atmosphere, and that the teacher and children’s behaviour was the same as every day – no differences observed. Interpreting the obtained data, the existing criteria of meaningful interaction was supplemented by internal and external indicators, which allow developing this meaningful interaction in accordance with the child-centred approach.
|Respecting child’s individuality and promoting self-expression||During the play activity the teacher performs a controlling activity, walking around the tables and observing the children’s work, talking to the whole group||“Let’s cut very accurately! Let’s no hurry!||Case 1, Episode 1|
|Children are performing the task individually bringing the suggested number of dandelions; teacher comes to each child and checks whether the task is executed correctly (“Yeah, great, put in the water!”), and helps to count if the task was done incorrectly or if the child does not know what to do||„Yes, good, put in the water!”||Case 2, Episode 10|
|Children work at the tables and the teacher calls one-by-one||“Now, Davis, I would like to hear you! Come to the whiteboard! Did you all understand?”||Case 5, Episode 36|
|The teacher approaches each child and comments on their actions||“Annika, it is very good that you put the glue on just before bonding, then the glue does not get hard!”, “Very nice that you took several colors!”||Case 6, Episode 45|
|During the lesson the teacher does not talk to the whole group, but to the children closer to her, responding to the children’s questions, commenting on her own actions, discussing not only topics related to play activity, but also topics related to children’s adventures outside the pre-school establishment. Children talk to each other, compare results, discuss the course of action||“I rolled very hard!”, “Look, how interesting is mine!”||Case 3, Episode 22|
|The teacher informs about the results to be achieved – there is a sample on the whiteboard and all children make application for the silhouette of the car. Cut paper figures are on everybody’s table||Case 5, Episode 37|
|In the beginning of play activity a teacher tells a fairytale and raises the problem which she solves together with the children (looking for hidden objects in the room). Children engage without hesitation.||Case 4, Episode 29|
|The teacher offers assistance to children (“Who still needs help to draw a dandelion?). None of the kids ask for help but when they hear the teacher’s offer, they start asking for help. The teacher helps to draw, holding the child’s hand||“Who else needs help to draw a dandelion?”||Case 2, Episode 11|
|During the play activity (“revealing secrets“) each child has the opportunity to say something, and then other children can add to it||Case 4, Episode 30|
|Each child comes and displays how he/she solved the task, and the other children are encouraged to express their opinion||“Did Elina arrive at the bunny house?”||Case 4, Episode 31|
|Children color in a butterfly picture on the worksheet and a teacher makes a remark||“Take one of the other colors, there are no brown butterflies!”||Case 1, Episode 2|
|Children ask a lot of questions about how to do the task. The teacher responds, showing how to do it||“Isn’t my dough too thin?” “Shall I add more flour?” “How can I roll it thinner?”||Case 3, Episode 23|
|The teacher tells, asks. Children talk to the teacher, ask questions and respond to the teacher’s questions, but do not talk to each other. Children are encouraged not to talk to each other||Case 4, Episode 32|
|When asking a question, the teacher encourages children to raise a hand before answering and speak in complete sentences, but answers are required from children who do not raise a hand – they are called out||Case 5, Episode38|
|In the end of the play activity each child is asked a question. Children name the activities||“What did we do today?” “We worked with houses of numbers, looked for geometric forms, worked with buttons”||Case 5, Episode 39|
|Accepting subjectivity of children||Teacher makes a remark about the choice of the colour for colouring in the shape of the butterfly without exploring child’s subjective experience||Case 1, Episode 3|
|During activity, no link is created to the real life of a child – teacher introduces children to facts||Case 1, Episode 4|
|A child does not get a second chance for performing the same task, even if he/she wants to do it.||“You do not need to do it again! You already counted “||Case 2, Episode 12|
|The teacher asks a question: “How do bees buzz?”, and all children together mimic a buzzing of bees. One of the children says: “the bee has a sharp nose!”, but teacher does not react||Case 2, Episode 13|
|Children are given the opportunity to show their experience||“How do you think, this big and thick gingerbread piece will bake together with all others?”||Case 3, Episode 24|
|The children are encouraged to express their opinion, and the topic is connected to the daily life of the child||“Do you have this at home?” “What do you do with it?”||Case 6, Episode 46|
|Children have opportunity to choose||During the play activity children are not offered to choose anything, they all execute tasks assigned by the teacher and nobody shows any desire to do something different||Case 1, Episode 5|
|During the task “Draw a dandelion!” the teacher offers a choice of the chalk color – white or yellow; as well as drawing technique||“You can draw a dandelion as you want or watch first how I do it!”||Case 2, Episode 14|
|One of the children does not want to participate in play activity, and it is respected; occasionally the child is encouraged to participate in common activities, and the child occasionally participates||Case 2, Episode 15|
|At the end of the dance teacher offers children to think of/ choose the movement (1 min)||“And now as we want!”||Case 2, Episode 16|
|In the end of the play activity, children are given the opportunity to choose an activity – to draw what they want, to help to put things in right places, to run||Case 2, Episode 17|
|In the play activity (gingerbread baking) at first only some of the children are participating, the others are finishing up the previous activities, then some more children show interest and get involved. Children can choose the duration of activity and switch activities when they feel so. Children are not particularly encouraged to participate – they engage on their own initiative||Case 3, Episode 25|
|During the play activity children are not given the opportunity to choose an action, technique or duration for the activity, everyone is doing the same task following the same pattern||Case 5, Episode 40|
|Children have the opportunity to choose the color and size of napkins for decorating a letter||Case 6, Episode 46|
|During the play activity, children are not given opportunity to choose activities or techniques; specific tasks are given||Case 5, Episode 41|
|Children are encouraged to help each other to carry out the task and to comment on the way the results can be achieved. The teacher asks for children’s help to accomplish the task||Case 4, Episode 33|
|Positive conversation, interaction||The teacher is performing informative activity – during the morning circle informing children about the theme of the play activity – “Butterflies” (telling a story and reading from the book (15 min) the facts about the life span of butterflies, saying that “there are no two similar butterflies in the world”); introduces to the tasks and gives instructions for each activity (everybody is given a sheet of paper with the outline of butterfly)||“Everybody must carefully cut out his/her butterfly”||Case 1, Episode 6|
|The teacher informs about the tasks for the day, explaining them in details||“First, we will repeat the houses, and then repeat the geometric shapes and then will be some practical work at the tables!”||Case 5, Episode 42|
|The teacher tells a fairy-tale using puppets and interactive whiteboard||Case 6, Episode 48|
|The teacher performs evaluation at the end of the play activity – saying a general phrase of praise “How beautiful butterflies! No feedback is given.||“How beautiful butterflies!”||Case 1, Episode 7|
|Talking to children, occasionally and delicately, each child’s activity is evaluated. If necessary (eg., the child starts eating the dough or starts to play with it) teacher approaches the child and explains by showing and commenting each activity. If children are not doing properly (insufficient quantity of flour on the table and the dough sticks to the table, or the gingerbread figures are rolled too thick, etc.), but the child does not ask for help, the teacher does not interfere||Case 3, Episode 26|
|The teacher draws together with children a dandelion on the asphalt, commenting her activity||“I got a tufted dandelion!”||Case 2, Episode 18|
|The teacher bakes gingerbread together with the children, and children imitate the teacher’s activity||Case 3, Episode 27|
|The teacher informs (tells with expression) about the task, and discuss with the children how to fulfill the task||“Let’s sit in the circle and look at what Janis has prepared!” “How could we help him?!”||Case 4, Episode 34|
|The teacher tells stories, asks questions during the playtime, works together with children during the morning circle (recites a rhyme, sings a song, shows movements), children imitate||Case 6, Episode 49|
|Children show the teacher the result of their work, receiving favorable and specific evaluation||“You’ve made a very precise form! How did you do that?”||Case 3, Episode 28|
|In the end of the play activity all children are gathered at the light table, but children who are standing at the back cannot see the experiment||Case 1, Episode 8|
|The teacher praises the child if the task is performed correctly without specifying what exactly was the achievement in the child’s work||“Good job!”, “Well done!”||Case 2, Episode 19|
|At the end all of activity all children are praised||“All of you were doing good! Now you can be free! “||Case 5, Episode 43|
|During the play activity only the teacher is talking (tells story, gives directions), the children answer questions during the morning circle. Each child in turn expresses their thoughts about butterfly’s life span. In the end the teacher gives the correct answer. During the play activity children do not ask questions, do not talk to each other||“How long do you think a butterfly live?”||Case 1, Episode 9|
|The teacher asks and answers without waiting for the children to answer||“What has flown to us today? Little bees!”||Case 2, Episode 20|
|The teacher, telling a story and showing (illustratively), provides information about the flowering and reproduction of dandelions, and asks children some questions. Children answer questions in the group, demonstrating the wind.||“What blows away the fluff?” “How does the wind blow?”||Case 2, Episode 21|
|In the beginning of the play activity the teacher talks alone (monologue), the children respond one by one or together, and at the end, while drawing, children ask a lot (about the execution of task) and talk among themselves.||Case 4, Episode 35|
|During the morning circle teacher speaks, children are silent; they do not respond to the questions or do it very quietly.||Case 5, Episode 44|
Analysing the obtained data, the diversification criteria of teacher’s activity for holistic child development were respected (Nava, 2001, Miller, 2007, Landau, 2007, Röbe, 2008, etc.) It can be concluded that diversification of teachers’ activity can be observed varying children’s activities, for example, from more active to calmer or including movements in play activities, etc. The research does not show diversification of learning content and forms, or variation of developmental environment, work pace and difficulty degree of the task. The teacher determines the content, goal and objectives of the play activity, thus the children are not offered the opportunity to participate in choosing or developing the activities. The children are encouraged to choose the colour, sometimes activity (at the end of play activity). In none of these cases it was observed that the teacher acts in the way which develops children’s ability to choose. The play activities are mainly led frontally, with the whole group, often lecture type narration is observed, children were performing certain tasks, often following the sample given by the teacher. Only in one of the cases teacher was working together with the children, commenting her activity and allowing children to choose their own work pace, duration and also offering the opportunity to choose a different activity.
During assessed play activities no feedback was observed from the teacher when assessing children’s work or finishing the activity. Only general praising was observed.
As the result of analysis of obtained data the following conclusions can be drawn:
- In all observed episodes children perform tasks suggested by the teacher, and during the play activities the individual interests of children are not recognized. The subjective experience of children is recognized in 4 episodes, linking the theme of the play activity to child’s real life.
- Teaching activity can generally be defined as informative and controlling (11episodes). In 6 episodes it was observed that the teacher is the child’s activity partner, by commenting the work and creating positive conversation and interaction.
- Children could choose materials, type of activity or colours in 6 episodes. Teacher’ activity which would promote children’s ability to choose was not observed.
- During the play activity only a general feedback was observed – as praise or critique, without emphasizing the particular achievements of children. Specific feedback was given only in 2 episodes.
Based on the positive teacher activity diversification experience and on theoretical ideas about basic principle of holistic approach and teacher’s activity in preschool (Miller (2007), Amabile (2007), Röbe (2008), Nava (2001), Vilbera (2013)), the diversification principles were determined for holistic development of children:
Individuality principle. Providing environment for individuality development of children and teachers.
Self-expression principle. Each child has the inner necessity (need) to implement his/her intellectual, communicative, artistic, as well as physical abilities. In this process the adult’s support is of great importance.
Subjectivity principle. Teacher supports the development of child’s subjective experience. The upbringing experience has an inter-subjective character.
Free choice principle. During the learning process the child has a possibility to choose the aim, content, forms and methods of learning. Self-motivated activity determines/ forms the development of successful learning activity.
Interaction (trust and support) principle. During the creative activity the child is able to express his/her abilities, learn his/her “strong” points, and implement his/her research needs. Situations of success encourage self-development of personality (formation of self-concept). Trusting the child supports for the child’s efforts in the process of self-realization.
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About the Authors
Dr. Ilze Mikelsone: Dean, Faculty of Pedagogy and Social work, Liepaja University (Latvia). Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jana Grava: Mg. sc. educ., Faculty of Pedagogy and Social work, Liepaja University (Latvia). Contact: email@example.com
Dr. Linda Pavitola: Faculty of Pedagogy and Social work, Liepaja University (Latvia). Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org