In the quest to ensure that children develop in environments that are optimum for their development educationally, various tools have been developed by early childhood tutors and experts to monitor and evaluate the environment that they study under. This would in essence ensure that quality of child care provided as children are usually most impressionable at this age. To add to this, it also goes a step further to ensure that the highest quality of care is most certainly given by the tutors and care givers. In making sure that this quality was adhered to, comprehensive childhood monitoring programs were developed. One such tool was the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale – Revised (ECERS-R) which will be discussed acutely in this essay.
The Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale – Revised (ECERS-R) is a classroom evaluation tool for toddlers and infants usually from infancy to 3years old used to observe cluster eminence by collecting important data through observation in the classroom and through interviewing the staff involved. The development of this scale was to ascertain the quality of the environment that children would have to study under and is a revised version of the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (ECERS) which had been developed eighteen years prior. The main purpose of this new revised version was to ensure that there is improvement of quality in early childhood assessment in the preschool level. It is also important to note that the effectiveness of this scale has it made it the most popular one as compared to the others. This scale as an instrument of child development has been proven over time and it can independently vouch for itself (Kubiszyn & Borich, 2003).
CURRICULUM EVALUATION AND MATERIALS USED
The curriculum of this Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale – Revised (ECERS-R) is based on four main learning components namely literacy, mathematics, diversity, science and nature materials. These materials are geared towards ensuring that the children develop cognitive and behavioral attributes that would help them relate with people and their environment in general.
The literacy materials in this curriculum include printed books for the children, literacy enhancement for the children, children reading with adults, children learning the various sounds in their environment, writing and also the aspect of communication through listening and talking.
On the numeracy component, mathematics is the main focus and here is the children being taught how to count first and then the application of the counting that they have learnt. They then proceed to reading the numbers out loud and also being able to point out the numbers and symbols with activities such as identification, sorting and the matching of the various numerals.
When it comes to the scientific and environmental items the children are mostly exposed to basic scientific principles that they would in actual sense understand readily while being introduced at the same time to nature. This would ultimately lead the children to apply the scientific principles in real life situations while at the same time appreciating nature. This is geared at making sure that the child becomes a person who would be aware of environmental protection and conservation in future.
Lastly, we have the diversity materials for the children’s individual learning needs and at the same time making the child aware of social issues around them. These social issues include the awareness of gender parity and race equality.
In implementing its methods of application the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale – Revised (ECERS-R) usually pays attention to its seven subscales which in totality contains forty three items. The seven subscales include personal care routines, space and furnishings, Language-Reasoning, Interaction routines, Activities for the children, Program Structure modalities and Parents and staff involvement .
The personal routine care routine would include teaching the children how to take care of their bodies and health practices. Here, children are taught how to also engage in safety practices that would ensure their wellbeing in future. It is also important to note that meals and snacks are given at this stage, toileting and diapering practiced and taught while at the same time nap and rest time being encouraged for the young children’s development.
Another pertinent subscale in this scale is the space and furnishing one which mostly involves the indoor space for the children. The children are made aware of the labeled shelves and containers colored by the children. It is important that the children move freely and are also allowed to have space for their own privacy where they can create their own private getaway to play with no intrusion from the other children. In addition to this the children are allowed to decorate the room and most of the pictures here are dedicated to the children and portraits with stories centered on children.
When it comes to Language-Reasoning, the teachers ensure that there are enough books to go around for the children and that the books have pictures. The books would range from books about fantasy, facts, multicultural aspect and even science. Children are also encouraged to communicate with each other to develop their language skills. The staff also communicate with the children, explaining concepts to them to bolster their reasoning capabilities and also add information during their conversation to expand their ideas. The children here are able to create logical relationships and reasoning capacity.
Interaction routines are also incorporated as a subscale. This means that the staff are involved communicate both verbally and physically with the children to ensure that they develop language skills. It is also important at this stage that the children are monitored by the staff and this supervision extends to all the activities that they are involved in. Supervision at this stage is non-punitive and staff encouraged to elicit enjoyment so as to encourage the children to join in with the interactions. It is important that the children are treated warmly with love and understanding any non-punitive forms of correction involved such as re-direction. Moreover, children are also encouraged to interact amongst each other and form friendships and when conflict arises, problem and conflict resolution techniques employed to ensure that positive behavior is encouraged.
Activities for children are also encouraged as a subscale to ensure that they know how to relate with each other. Music and art is encouraged here and the children are allowed at least one hour in a day to listen to music and also dance. Furthermore block activities are provided here for the children to build structures, people and also animals from scratch. In most instances, Legos are provided for the children to challenge them mentally. Role play is also important at this stage and props provided for the children to engage in fantasy and also situations of career role play. Science activities here are also important as children get to collect items related to science and everyday scientific phenomena explained to them.
Program modalities are also a very important in ensuring that the children get organizational skills and become aware that there is time for everything. This schedule comes in the form of time for play for the children and this usually the most integral part of the children’s day. Group interactions are also encouraged here and it is important to note that at this stage time is also created for the physically challenged children so that they also feel included.
The last subscale is the parents and staff where there is interaction between the parents and staff. At this stage the parents are allowed to assess the programs that the children are engaged in. It is also important to note that the staff also encourage the parents learn important techniques that are usually geared towards the positive development of the children. At this stage parents also get the opportunity to engage in training opportunities provided to them by the staff.
CURRICULUM EVALUATION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
In evaluating this scale it is important to mention that it has been a success story in nearly all areas that it has been implemented in countries such as Germany, Italy, Sweden, Russia, Iceland, Portugal, England, Spain and the United States of America. It is also important to note that positive child development outcomes have been noted in these countries among children who were part of this scale program (Melhuish & 6 Petrogiannis, 1996).
Although these areas are in different geographical areas, the results of the positive development among the children is quite similar (R. Clifford & H.-G. Rossbach, in press; Clifford, 2005).
This goes further to prove the positive aspects of this scale and if utilized fully would be responsible for notable positive development of children. The consistency of this scale has been noted in numerous occasions and thus a proven method of child development.
Due to its high success rate and the fact that ECERS-R is an all rounded method that would lead to proper development of a whole rounded individual, it is important that this scale be implemented internationally. Countries in less developed regions such as Sub-saharan Arica it would gain positively from such a scale as it would lead to the development of children positively who grow up to be mindful of others, high moral fiber, proper problem solving capabilities and they would also be mindful of their environment.
It is important to develop a whole rounded individual and this starts at the tender age of between infancy and the age of three. This means that the interpretation of this scale is important for the development of young children and if it is ever implemented there should never be any omission of any of the subscales (Clifford, et al., 2005; Early, et al., 2005) .