1. Early Childhood Education for the 21st Century: Training Programs and Curricula Building for governments, educational organizations, schools and communities
Focus on the 6 Cs – Creativity, Curiosity, Caring, Coordination, Communication, Coping with Change
The 21st century is characterized with major technological and social advances that are happening at a rapid pace (smartphones, social networks, globalization) and which require flexibility, the resilience needed to cope with uncertainty and risk, and the ability to take on social responsibility for the world in which we live.
In order for the curriculum to be relevant to the needs of children in this century, appropriate skills must be developed. Frontal teaching and the belief that the teacher has the knowledge to impart to the child while the child is a passive learner is no longer relevant in the classroom. We need to provide children with an environment where they can be creative, curious and independent, empathetic and sensitive, and where they can be innovative leaders and entrepreneurs. The following are the 6 core skills that are needed in the 21st century:
Communication and Collaboration – Communication and collaboration skills are extremely important in modern life. The way children learn to communicate with others and work in a team and collaborate, helps them build relationships and integrate into their community and society. Communication allows for a child to express him/herself and to understand others and is crucial for children to be able to interact in the world.
Caring and empathy – Caring and empathy are central skills that are needed in order to create well-being in a society. Empathy is the ability to recognize and understand emotions (especially feelings of distress) of others and be able to adopt their point of view. Caring for the collective, the society in which we live in, as well as developing individual aspects of caring and empathy in every child leads to a community where people take care of each other. Along with empathy and caring is the importance of acquiring emotional intelligence which is the ability of the child to identify, assess and manage his own emotions and the emotions of others.
Creativity – Creativity has become an essential part of the early childhood education curriculum, especially as children develop and grow up in the 21st century where creativity is essential in order to succeed. In this modern world, it’s also important to develop critical thinking skills which are based on creativity.
Curiosity – Children have natural curiosity. In early childhood, curiosity is their driving force to discover the world, absorb their surroundings and learn all they are able to. It is important to build an educational system that nurtures and preserves the instinct of natural curiosity within children and which motivates children to learn and develop.
Coping with change – Knowing how to cope with change and being resilient is a very important skill in this modern world. As change is constantly happening, we must nurture in children the ability to remain emotionally stable in the face of complex and uncertain realities.
Coordination and Physical skills – Young children are working hard developing their coordination and their gross and fine motor skills. Gross motor skills include such things as running, jumping, hopping, turning, skipping, throwing, balancing, and dancing, and involve the use of large bodily movements. Fine motor skills, which include drawing, writing, cutting, piecing together, tying, involve the use of small bodily movements. Both gross and fine motor skills develop and are refined during early childhood.