Living in Harmony Through Early Childhood Education & Care

The 15th PECERA Annual Conference was successfully held from August 8th to 10th, 2014 in Bali, Indonesia. The theme of the Conference is “Living in Harmony Through Early Childhood Education & Care”. Please visit for more information.

Dr. Sylvia Christine Chard
The Project Approach in Early Childhood Education

Dr. Sylvia C. Chard is Professor Emeritus of Early Childhood Education at the University of Alberta, Canada. She worked at the University of Alberta since 1989 where she was for seven years Director of the Laboratory School, the Child Study Center, in the Department of Elementary Education. Dr. Chard taught at various levels in schools from preschool through high school in England. She completed her M.Ed. and Ph.D. at the University of Illinois. Dr. Sylvia Chard is co-author with Lilian G. Katz of the book, Engaging Children’s Minds: The Project Approach (Ablex, 1989). Dr. Chard has written two Practical Guides for Teachers on project work published by Scholastic (1998) and a CD The Project Approach: Taking a Closer Look. Dr. Chard continues to maintain a website and blog at: She lectures on the ProjectApproach, interdisciplinary learning, and young children representing their understanding through drawing, in Canada, the U.S.A., and in many other countries around the world. The Project Approach in Early Childhood Education There are many advantages for teachers in the Project Approach to teaching and learning. Young children can learn about local real world topics. They can take time to learn in depth. Work on a project usually extends over a period of days or weeks, depending on the children's ages as well as the nature of the topic under investigation. When project work is well done, young learners have many opportunities to express themselves. They have conversations with their classmates, their teachers, their parents, and experts on a local topic of study. They learn how to use questions to find out more about what they are interested in. Through field visits they can learn first-hand. They use many materials to show their knowledge and experience. The teacher helps the children represent the process of their learning as well as the information they have learned. The Project Approach classroom has much evidence on the walls of the work that is in progress. As the project develops this documentation helps to remind children of the focus of their study and helps others see how the work is progressing. There is usually a web of words which the children are using to talk about the topic of study. There is a list of questions about the topic which the children want to find answers to. There are representations of knowledge that has been acquired through field study and the visits of experts to the classroom. Photographs are posted to help the children remember where they have been and whom they have spoken to. Projects frequently culminate with an event through which the children share the work they have done with their parents or another group of children. There continues to be increasing interest in the Project Approach. This is partly because there is an accumulating body of research on children's development and learning which supports the proposition that good project work is an appropriate way to stimulate, strengthen and enhance children's intellectual and social development as well as strengthen their competence in basic skills (Blair, 2010) In fact, young children can learn through the Project Approach how to live in harmony as they explore things in their world which are worth knowing more about.

Prof. Marilyn Fleer
A Cultural-Historical View of Child Development: Key Concepts for Contemporary and Localised Cultural Contexts

Professor Marilyn Fleer, PhD holds the Foundation Chair of Early Childhood Education at Monash University, Australia, and is the President of the International Society for Cultural Activity Research (ISCAR). She is research leader for primary and early childhood education (2001-2008); Monash University, Peninsula Campus Research Coordinator (2009); Research leader early childhood education (2009-2012); Co-research leader early childhood education (2013+). Her research interests focus on early years learning and development, with special attention on pedagogy of early education, culture, science and technology. She draws upon cultural-historical theory to inform her research. Torn between studying psychology and education as an undergraduate, Professor Marilyn Fleer ended up choosing early childhood education, a nascent field that straddled both her areas of interest. A Cultural-Historical View of Child Development: Key Concepts for Contemporary and Localised Cultural Contexts A developmental view of child development with its biological imperatives has been extensively critiqued over the years and found to be wanting from a range of cultural (Rogoff, 2003; Howes, 2010), social (Nelson, 2007; Qvortrup, Corsaro & Honig, 2009) and even health (Bendelow, 2009; Rogoff, 2011) reasons. But what has been missing from these debates has been a theoretically robust presentation of another way of conceptualizing children’s development (Hedegaard & Fleer, 2013). In drawing upon cultural-historical theory, this paper argues for a more localised and nuanced conception of human development. Through analyzing how society creates the conditions for children’s development (Hedegaard, 2012), this paper presents a view of development that captures both a traditional (historical lived in the present moment) and contemporary (new cultural technologies) view of children’s lived experiences.

Prof. Ho Lai Yun
Nurturing Early Learners in an Inclusive Environment in Singapore

Prof Ho Lai Yun graduated from The University of Singapore in 1973 and obtained his M.Med (Paediatrics) in 1977, admitted as Fellow of the Academy of Medicine, Singapore in 1981. He received his training in Neonatology at The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada, under a Commonwealth Scholarship in 1981. He founded the Department of Neonatology at SGH in 1986 and stepped down as the Head, Department of Neonatal & Developmental Medicine in 2004 after 18 years. Professor Ho Lai Yun is the Founding Head of the Department of Neonatal and Developmental Medicine (1986-2004) and is currently Emeritus Consultant, Singapore General Hospital (SGH) and Clinician Mentor to Department of Neonatal and Developmental Medicine. Prof Ho is also the Founding Head of the then Child Development Unit, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) (1997-2008) and is presently Senior Consultant and Advisory Board Director of the Department of Child Development, KKH. Prof Ho is an Eminent Professor of the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, Singapore as well as Clinical Professor of the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore. He is also the Academic Vice-Chair (Paediatrics) SGH Campus, Academic Clinical Program (Paediatriic Medicine), SingHealth-Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Partnership, Academic Healthcare Cluster. Prof Ho was the Associate Dean for NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, in SGH and SGH Campus from 2004 to 2012. Prof Ho has a big heart for all children and has vast experience in the domains of newborn medicine and child development. He has served as Director of the Child Development Programme, Ministry of Health (MOH), Singapore since 1991 and remains as Senior Consultant with the Division of Medical Manpower and Development, MOH. He was also awarded the National Outstanding Clinican Mentor Award 2010 and was awarded the Outstanding Paediatrician in Asia Award by the Association of Paediatric Societies of the Southeast Asian Resion (APSSEAR) in 2003. Nurturing Early Learners in an Inclusive Environment in Singapore For a nation whose only natural resource is human capital, Singapore has always regarded education as a national priority. Education is the best gift to children. We believe learning starts young, and our pursuit of meritocracy has led policy makers to continually ensure equal footing for children from disparate socio-economic backgrounds. The person who is schooled in the Singapore education system embodies the Desired Outcomes of Education, which are attributes that educators aspire for every Singaporean to have by the completion of his formal education. These outcomes establish a common purpose for educators, drive our policies and programmes, and allow us to determine how well our education system is doing. This person is expected to have a good sense of self-awareness, a sound moral compass, and the necessary skills and knowledge to take on challenges of the future. He is responsible to his family, community and nation. He appreciates the beauty of the world around him, possesses a healthy mind and body, and has a zest for life. In sum, he is a confident person, a self-directed learner, an active contributor, and a concerned citizen. Globalisation, changing demographics and technological advancements are some of the key driving forces of the future. Our students will have to be prepared to face these challenges and seize the opportunities brought about by these forces. The emerging 21st Century Competencies necessary for the globalised world we live in are: Civic Literacy, Global Awareness and Cross-Cultural Skills; Critical and Inventive Thinking; and Communication, Collaboration and Information Skills. We are building on these strengths as we prepare the next generation of Singaporeans for the future. Together, these competencies will enable our young to capitalise on the rich opportunities of the new digital age, while keeping a strong Singapore heartbeat. We have been moving in recent years towards a more broad based education system that is more flexible and diverse. The aim is to provide students with greater choice to meet their different interests and ways of learning, to follow their passions, and promote a diversity of talents among them – in academic fields, and in sports and the arts. This re-definition of meritocracy is in line with our vision to build a mountain range with many peaks of excellence, so that individually we are stronger, and as a team, we are invincible.

Dr. Carol Vukelich
Literacy Development and Learning in Early Childhood Education

Dr. Carol Vukelich is Hammonds Professor in Teacher Education in the School of Education, Director of the Delaware Center for Teacher Education, and Deputy Dean of the College of Education and Human Development. A recipient of the University’s Excellence in Teaching award, her research and teaching interests include children’s early literacy development and teachers’ professional development, specifically coaching and reflection strategies. Dr. Vukelich serves on several editorial boards, and has served as President of the Association for Childhood Education International and the International Reading Association’s Literacy Development in Young Children Special Interest Group. She was a founder of the Delaware Writing Project, and serves as one of its co-directors. She has published extensively. Books by Dr. Vukelich include Helping Young Children Learn Language and Literacy: Birth through Kindergarten, 3rd edition (with James F. Chrisite, B.J. Enz, and Kathleen Roskos, 2013) and Teaching Language and Literacy: Preschool through Elementary Grades, 5th ; Building a Foundation for Preschool Literacy: Effective Instruction for Children’s Reading and Writing Development, 2nd edition,(with James F. Christie, 2009); and Achieving EXCELLENCE in Preschool Literacy Instruction (edited with Laura M. Justice, 2008). She (with James F. Christie and Kathleen Roskos) is a consultant on McGraw-Hill/The Wright Group’s Doors to Discovery (2002) language and early literacy program. She, with colleagues Martha Buell and Myae Han are the recipients of three Early Reading First grants, each designed to improve young children’s language and early reading skills through enhancing their teachers’ knowledge about teaching these important skills to young children. Supporting teachers’ professional development has long been central to her work. Literacy Development and Learning in Early Childhood Education Much is known about the skills that young children need to be successful readers. This paper provides an overview of what is known about young children’s language and early literacy development and describes several evidenced-based instructional strategies (strategies that researchers have shown to have a positive impact on children’s language and literacy learning) that early childhood teachers should use to support children’s language and literacy development. The literature identifies two kinds of skills that are key to young children’s language and literacy development: meaning-related skills (e.g., language and conceptual knowledge, vocabulary, and abilities to understand written texts) and code-related skills (e.g., understanding that spoken words are composed of smaller elements of speech [phonological and phonemic awareness]; understanding that words are composed of letters that represent speech sounds [alphabetic principle], understanding literate vocabulary words (e.g., word, letter, read, page, sentence, write),the relationship between written language units (e.g., letters make up words, words are separated by spaces), and how speech maps to print [print awareness]). To support children’s meaning-related skills, the paper describes the following evidenced-based strategies: how to read to children using an interactive reading style, how to explicitly teaching vocabulary words, how to build conceptual knowledge by using knowledge networks, and the importance of exercising care in how teachers’ talk with children. To support children’s code-related skills, the paper describes evidenced-based strategies known to help children develop the full range of phonological and phonemic awareness skills and alphabet skills, and the key print awareness skills. Through the strategies described in this paper, early childhood teachers have powerful tools to enhance their young learners’ language and literacy development. By using the described strategies, early childhood educators can ensure that their teaching is in harmony with current research findings and that they are providing their young learners with the very best language and literacy education known.