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KDI FOCUS Child-centered, Play-based Education and Future Competency 2020.08.20


Series No. No. 100, eng.

KDI FOCUS Child-centered, Play-based Education and Future Competency #영유아교육


  • 프로필
    김인경 연구위원
|   관련정보   |
With a new name, Nuri curriculum, Korea’s early childhood eduction has undergone a transformation to become more child-centered and play-based.  what can children learn from the activities they choose? What should the teachers do? 

● Author
- Inkyung Kim, Fellow at KDI

● Go to related report
- Child-centered, Play-based Education and Future Competency
|   스크립트   |
With a new name, Nuri curriculum, Korea’s early childhood eduction has undergone a transformation to become more child-centered and play-based.

This means that, rather than having teachers work out a study plan in advance and teach through play, the children themselves are allowed to choose the play activities, and the teachers provide support.

But, what can children learn from the activities they choose? What should the teachers do?

To verify the effects of play-based, child-centered classes, and design procedures that put them into practice before the new curriculum is implemented, KDI conducted a policy experiment through teacher training.

The experiment selected eight independent public kindergartens from Sejong-si, and divided them into two groups.

One group received training and taught child-centered, play-based classes while the other was left to their normal routines.

Meanwhile, the researchers observed the teachers in a classroom setting and wrote critiques for the teacher training program.

The critiques documented the meanings behind and characteristics of the play activities chosen by the children.

They also captured observations on whether the children devised suitable activities and used them to produce a creative outcome, and whether they were willing to learn without having to be told to do so.

Observations were also made of teachers to examine whether they understood the play activities, and provided the necessary help and instructions, and whether they were able to assist the children to actualize their thoughts and expand on them.

A key aspect of the critiques is that, rather than pointing out flaws, they emphasized strengths, and provided case studies of similar situations to help teachers redress their weaknesses.

The critiques were followed by follow-up discussions between the researchers and participants, and the teachers were encouraged to share their critiques with their peers to learn from each other.

The experiment lasted for 7 months, and after it ended, a comparison was conducted of the two groups.

The results revealed that kindergartens who received the teaching training saw positive changes.

Specifically, the more well-trained a teacher was, the more devoted they were to accepting the children’s choice of play, providing the necessary materials, and expanding the children’s thoughts by talking to them and offering warm encouragement.

As a result of this, improvements were seen in the children’s well-being and involvement levels as well as in their relationships with their teachers.

The effects lasted for 4 months.

At the same time, the significant improvements seen in overall classroom interaction
faded after the four month period, which may have been affected by the teachers failure to continue critiquing, and their apprehensions about speaking to parents.

Nevertheless, the results confirmed that the critique approach helped teachers better execute a child-centered, play-based curriculum.

In regard to the children, allowing them to select their own play and centering the class around these activities improved their problem-solving skills.

Problem-solving skills are a key capability that is essential for a rapidly changing society, and refer to the ability to select and connect information that is necessary to solve problems, devise a solution, and to seek alternative methods by adding or rearranging information.

By playing with friends, constructing a plan together to build, for example, a castle with building blocks, and acknowledging that they must be patient if they want to build the castle together, the children were able to enhance their inhibition and cognitive flexibility.

Not only that, there was also an improvement in social emotional competencies.

After the experiment, children exhibited less aggression, depression and anxiety, and were more capable of controlling their emotions.

A child-centered, play-based curriculum makes all of this possible because it aims to create an environment that does not induce stress for the children, and allows them to enjoy learning, and feel a sense of achievement and fellowship.

The role of teachers is crucial to firmly establishing a child-centered, play-based curriculum, but providing them with training that is based on consultations and instructional supervision could demoralize them by making them feel that their flaws have been exposed. This is why we need an approach like critiquing that creates a platform through which teachers can share their strengths and experiences. If teachers are able to work together to build a community, this will enable the Nuri curriculum to become an accepted and effective form of teaching.

Also, if teachers can become more interactive with parents to help them be more supportive of their children’s play, and to create a link between school and home for the children, it would help the children develop more problem-solving skills and social emotional competencies that they vitally need to thrive in the future.
□ The child-centered, play-based curriculum enhances young children's problem-solving skills and socio-emotional competences. As such, in order to firmly establish it within the education system and bolster its effectiveness, guardians and teachers must collaborate to support children’s play activities, and a mutually beneficial learning community for teachers must be built.

- To improve adaptability, education must focus on enhancing students‘ problem-solving skills.

- In the child-centered, playbased curriculum, children experience the problemsolving process via selfdirected play with their teacher’s support

- Support from teachers should be based on the children’s play experiences in and outside of the classroom.

- For the new curriculum to take hold, a sufficient number of execution examples and analysis of its effects on children’s competences are needed.

- Class critiques, which provide actual examples of the curriculum in operation, were conducted as a form of teacher training.

- The training was designed to improve teachers’ educational beliefs, knowledge, and practices.

- The training improved the teachers’ ability to execute the child-centered, play-based curriculum.

- Teachers found it difficult to share the children’s experiences in the classroom with their guardians and to discuss measures on supporting the children’s development.

- Teacher training in the form of class critiques was effective in improving children’s cool executive function and socioemotional competences.

- Executive function is a problem-solving skill and a psychological competence with which individuals combine and apply accumulated information to fulfill a goal while controling their impulses and establishing an action plan, putting it into practice, and attempting a different strategy when the first fails.

- Executive function can be divided into working memory, inhibition, and cognitive flexibility.

- Teacher training enhanced children’s inhibition and cognitive flexibility.

- Executive function can serve as an indicator for children’s problem behaviors and emotional control as well as their future experiences e.g. resilience, maintaining a job and marriage, health, income, and the crime rate.

- Teacher training improved children’s extrinsic and intrinsic problem behaviors and socio-emotional competences e.g. emotional self-control.

- The child-centered, playbased curriculum creates an environment that can foster children’s executive function.

- The execution of the curriculum enhances children's executive function and improves their socioemotional competence either directly or via the executive function.

- For the curriculum to take root and to be more effective, class critiques should be conducted in greater numbers, and collaboration is needed between teacher and guardians to support children’s play.
Ⅰ. The Child-centered, Play-based Curriculum and Challenges to its Establishment

Ⅱ. Teacher Training to Strengthen the Execution of the Child-centered, Playbased Curriculum

Ⅲ. Analysis of the Effects of Teacher Training on Teachers and Young Children

Ⅳ. Execution of the Child-centered, Play-based Curriculum and Children’s Competences

Ⅴ. Conclusion
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