Blog Betsy van de Grift – Why equal opportunities for all children…

In November, the report ‘preCOOL up to and including group 8’, written by Leseman and Veen, was published. It must answer the question whether VVE works. The answer is not so simple yet.

Betsy vandeGrift

In summary, my impressions of this report:

  • Short version: preschool works, kudos to childcare!
  • But also: Half of the target group of children who have received pre-school education do not receive a follow-up offer in kindergarten groups 1 and 2, and catch-up falls between the ages of 6 and 12.
  • So why: ‘ongoing learning pathway’ or ‘opportunities for all children’?

There is great interest in the Netherlands to limit or reduce learning disabilities in education by means of pre-school education. Therefore, a lot is invested in reaching the target group and improving the quality of the offer. Equal opportunities for all children is the motto. Even the childcare system needs to be adapted to it, some say.

Against this background, I have studied the latest preCOOL report thoroughly. The special thing about this preCOOL study is, after all, that it concerns measurements of two-year-olds with the same children in the elementary school’s group 8. We can therefore expect it to comment on the effectiveness of preschool education over the entire elementary school course among ‘ target group children’.

The report has 204 pages, and the main question is: ‘Does teaching young children work?’ I see 3 sub-questions in the report: 1. Are there differences in the schooling of target group children compared to other children? 2. Will preschool facilities reduce the differences? Which differences then become smaller and for which children? And 3. What characteristics must such a pre-school offer fulfill in order to reduce the differences? Read carefully.

Yes, children with a target group background often fall behind at the age of two. They usually make up a large part of the backlog in primary school, but there is still a big difference between target group children and other children when they leave school.

Yes, pre-school education as childcare has worked from the start, especially young children are catching up. Later in elementary school, catch-up effects decrease, but the differences are still smaller than they would have been without preschool education.

The quality of preschool education is crucial to its effectiveness, but the child’s background also plays a role. It is striking that, according to the criterion ‘child of a low-educated mother’, it is precisely these target group children who benefit little or not at all from pre-school education. It is also striking that, in addition to quality, the continuous supply in early childhood education is important. But the research shows that half of the target group’s children attend a normal nursery group after pre-school education and therefore do not receive any pre-school education at all.

‘There is clearly work to be done for the primary schools, where we as child care have our own task’

The last thing, my thoughts keep revolving around it; I can’t reach it with my hat.

Now there is a great temptation to spit on education again when it comes to pre-school education and the continuous learning line. Work must clearly be done for the public schools. But as a kindergarten, we have our own task. If we are to take the report’s conclusions seriously, we must continue to commit to ‘doing the right things right’ with control over our own professionalisation of early childhood education.

We must see and support all children who need it, so that we can realize catch-up effects with them and their families. Yes, together, because that is where the strength of childcare lies. And we must emphasize to the municipalities and educational partners that it is now their turn when it comes to reaching pre-school children with good pre-school education and thereby ensuring profit and efficiency in pre-school education.

Opportunities for all children? Babysitting is on the way!

OAB, Education Backlogs Policy, is at the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. That’s where it starts. ‘Ordinary’ childcare falls under SZW. Despite the ‘Harmonisation of the Childcare and Preschool Play Act’ (2017), this legal error has not been remedied and it is breaking us down in pre-school education (PE). Read this blog from Betsy

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