Early childhood education has long been recognized as a critical foundation for a child’s future success in school and life. In the Philippines, the introduction of the kindergarten year into the K-12 Basic Education System aimed to enhance early childhood education opportunities. The Philippines Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) Longitudinal Study, funded by UNICEF, the Philippines Department of Education, and the Australian Government, conducted by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), sheds light on the significant impact of preschool attendance on student outcomes. This article delves into the study’s findings, highlighting the effects of preschool education on learning, social-emotional skills, and language acquisition in Filipino children.
The Positive Impact of Preschool Education
The ECCD Longitudinal Study investigated the effects of preschool and daycare attendance on student outcomes, collecting data at multiple points in a child’s education journey. The findings unequivocally support the benefits of early childhood education. The report notes, “Even at the end of Grade 4, students who attended preschool and daycare prior to Kindergarten outperformed those who did not in literacy, mathematics, and social-emotional skills.” This conclusion underscores the critical role that preschool plays in preparing children for formal schooling in the Philippines.
The Quality of Preschool Teaching and Learning
While the study emphasizes the positive influence of preschool attendance, it raises concerns about the quality of preschool teaching and learning. The authors caution that the study’s case studies do not mention explicit teaching of social-emotional skills and general cognitive skills. Instead, these skills were seen as by-products of interacting with other children. This aspect highlights the need for enhancing the quality of early childhood education programs in the Philippines to ensure that they incorporate a more structured and intentional approach to teaching social-emotional and cognitive skills.
Social-Emotional Skills and Learning
One unique aspect of the ECCD Longitudinal Study is the measurement of social-emotional skills in students and the exploration of their relationship with literacy and mathematics achievement. Social-emotional skills are essential for a child’s holistic development and are increasingly recognized as vital for success in school.
The study found that students generally demonstrated medium to high levels of social-emotional skills. However, it was evident that girls outperformed boys in this aspect, emphasizing the importance of addressing gender disparities in educational outcomes. Additionally, the study revealed that students’ social-emotional skills did not appear to develop significantly over time. Importantly, students with high social-emotional skills consistently outperformed their peers with medium or low social-emotional skills in literacy and mathematics.
This finding underscores the interconnectedness of social-emotional development and academic success. A child’s ability to manage their emotions, work collaboratively, and resolve conflicts directly impacts their learning experiences. Therefore, a comprehensive approach to early childhood education should prioritize the cultivation of these skills alongside traditional academic subjects.
Literacy and Numeracy Skills
The ECCD Longitudinal Study offers valuable insights into the literacy and mathematics skills of Filipino children. It is noted that while literacy skills generally improved year by year, the rate of improvement did not align with the curriculum’s pace. This misalignment became most pronounced at Grade 3, indicating a need for adjustments in the educational approach.
At the end of Grade 4, many students were still learning to read, underscoring the importance of more time and practice to solidify fundamental reading skills, such as letter-sound relationships and decoding. This finding highlights the necessity of tailoring teaching strategies to meet individual students’ needs and providing additional support for those who require it.
Similar to literacy skills, mathematics skills also presented a misalignment between curriculum expectations and student proficiency, most notably in Grade 2. These findings suggest that educators should receive training and resources to employ diverse strategies and methods to support the diverse learning needs of their students. A more flexible and adaptable curriculum can aid in bridging the gap between expectations and student skills.
Language of Instruction and Learning
The ECCD Longitudinal Study also delved into the impact of the Philippines’ Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education (MTB-MLE) policy. This policy mandates mother tongue language education for all students up to the end of Grade 3, before transitioning to Filipino and English in Grade 4.
The study’s findings indicated that students tested in Filipino scored higher in literacy than those tested in English, but English scores were not far behind. This result is remarkable, especially considering that English may rarely be spoken at home. It highlights the effectiveness of the Philippines’ MTB-MLE policy in promoting literacy and language proficiency.
The Key Takeaways
The ECCD Longitudinal Study provides a comprehensive assessment of the impact of preschool attendance on student outcomes in the Philippines. The findings emphasize the positive influence of early childhood education, particularly on literacy, mathematics, and social-emotional skills. Nevertheless, the study also underscores the need for improvements in the quality of preschool teaching and learning.
Moreover, it highlights the interconnectedness of social-emotional skills and academic success, suggesting the importance of a holistic approach to early childhood education. The study’s insights into literacy and numeracy skills stress the necessity of aligning curriculum expectations with student abilities and providing tailored support where required.
Finally, the success of the MTB-MLE policy in promoting literacy and language proficiency showcases the importance of language-inclusive education policies in diverse cultural contexts.
In conclusion, the ECCD Longitudinal Study serves as a valuable resource for policymakers, educators, and parents in the Philippines, shedding light on the importance of investing in high-quality preschool education to set children on a path toward success in school and life. It also emphasizes the need for continuous improvement and adaptation in the education system to ensure that every child can thrive and reach their full potential.