Teacher Skills in Early Years Education

Teacher Skills in Early Years Education

Carmen Viejo (University of Córdoba, Spain), Izabela Zych (University of Córdoba, Spain) and Vicente Llorent (University of Córdoba, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5167-6.ch001

Abstract

Early years education was found to be a key period for children's development. Children enter the school setting for the first time and are eager to learn as much as possible. At the same time, teachers need to address this demand that, increasingly, exceeds the purely academic boundaries and moves towards the child's holistic development. Therefore, besides academic skills, teachers should also include in their educational practice competencies for prosocial interpersonal relationships and skills to manage social and emotional aspects of life. This should be done without forgetting the academic aspects required in the curriculum. Moreover, all these contents, teaching methodologies, and principles should be adjusted according to children's age and motivation. Thus, skills to design, plan, implement, and evaluate an appropriate curriculum, manage convivencia, and create context and promote children's play are the three key elements of teacher training in early years education.
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Introduction

Research on how children acquire competencies, skills and knowledge advanced greatly during the past decades. Different studies showed that teachers play a crucial role in promoting learning in children from the very early years. These findings have important implications for policy and practice in Early Years Education. This chapter describes some of these findings providing knowledge that can be used to improve daily practice in schools.

Early Years Education was found to be a key period for children’s development. Children enter the school setting for the first time, and are eager to learn as much as possible. At the same time, teachers need to address this demand that, increasingly, exceeds the purely academic boundaries and moves towards the child’s holistic development. At the end of the 20th century, Schostak (1991) referred to this point offering a distinction between schooling and education:

Schooling refers to all those processes of control, coercion, and socialization through which the values, attitudes, behaviour and common knowledge of individuals are moulded to produce shared “realities. (…). Education, by contrast, provides a critical perspective on the processes of schooling with the object of liberating individual expression and action in the exploration of experience in order to draw out alternative possibilities.

Therefore, besides academic skills, teachers should also include in their educational practice competencies for prosocial interpersonal relationships and skills to manage social and -emotional aspects of life. This should be done without forgetting the academic aspects required in the curriculum. Moreover, all these contents, teaching methodologies and principles should be adjusted according to children’s age and motivation. Thus, skills to design, plan, implement and evaluate an appropriate curriculum, manage convivencia,1 create an appropriate context and promote children’s play are the three key elements of teacher training in Early Years Education. These elements are described in this chapter.

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Early Years Education: The Teacher’S Role

The task of educating children requires, besides vocation and knowledge about teaching and learning processes, a thorough understanding of the developmental characteristics of the children. It also requires advanced knowledge about basic strategies that are useful to help children build their personality, develop their full potential, shape their own personal identity and promote their understanding of the world. Thus combining the cognitive, affective and axiological dimensions is crucial for the successful educational process.

Early Years Education is a period in which children acquire their first skills and competencies which are going to be the basis for their whole lives. Therefore teachers need to be well prepared to be able to educate in academic and also social and emotional skills. Nevertheless, there are studies that pointed out that there are still many teachers who are concerned only with teaching and learning academic aspects of the curriculum.

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