A FOUR-YEAR-OLD boy in Kalasin province is living proof that an efficient learning environment can make a big difference for children.
Pao no longer cries when his mother, Nuklai Seandee, tells him to go to the Nong Tok Pan nursery. Instead, he begs her for more time at the place.
“In addition, my son has apparently become more organised, assertive, confident, and is more self-reliant,” the mother said.
She pointed out that Pao even offered to help her with house chores like cleaning dishes and sweeping floors, things he did not seem to care about before.
His change came after the nursery started adopting new teaching techniques, recommended by the Quality Learning Foundation (QLF), eight months ago
Nong Tok Pan nursery school was among 50 nursery schools in Kalasin and Maha Sarakham provinces that were selected and implemented the learning scheme called “HighScope”.
The scheme was initially introduced by the economy expert James J Heckman, who found the High Scope learning strategy gave a ratio of benefit to cost at 7 to 1 – meaning, the investment of one baht in the scheme would return seven baht.
The scheme was aimed at producing good performances and effective children in early childhood development in order to increase human capital for the country.
The new education scheme consists of three main processes – including Plan, Do, and Review, according to project educational supervisor and planner, Sudares Sirisittaapak.
She said for the Plan section, children under the scheme would be called to choose activities they wanted to do in that day. The teacher would ask for their reasons for choosing those activities. Students would learn to decide and plan from this section.
The activities were divided into five stations including: playing toy households, reading books, learning science, playing Lego, and art. The students would play in the station they selected for 40 minutes. This was the Do section, where they would learn to accept decisions they’d planned earlier.
The children would keep their toys or learning equipment and, in front of a class, would review what they had done in the selected station and answer questions from their friends. It was called the Review section. The children would learn to speak in public and ask questions, while being good listeners.
The children could learn not only in class, but also in their houses by being given a fairy-tale book to take home. It would be read by their parents as homework before returning it the next day.
The project also provides 20 teachers specialised in early childhood teaching to assist and coach the local teacher.
Weerachart Kilenthong, project director from the university of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said the learning scheme called “High Scope” was part of a project entitled “Reducing inequality through early childhood education: RIECE Thailand”. The project was launched in May last year with support from an unnamed businessman who provided Bt60 million for it.
There were 50 selected nursery schools – one in Kalasin and 49 in Maha Sarakham – which has joined the pilot project.
The benefactor said he chose the 50 nursery schools for the pilot project because he wanted the best solution or proven model for the whole country to use.
“We don’t just put knowledge into children’s heads, but we introduce a learning process in a bid to train the children and make them use such learned behaviour,” he said.
Meanwhile, a teacher in Kalasin’s Nong Tok Pan nursery school, Ratsamee Visaddee, said the atmosphere in a classroom completely changed after using the scheme for four months.
The children were more organised as each had their own duties, meaning Ratsamee didn’t need to order them about what to do. The children also seemed more confident as they were willing to talk in front of the classroom, whereas previously they would have been embarrassed and bitten their fingernails. The children were also more friendly and socialised with friends by sharing toys or waiting for their turn.
“Children were willing to learn, creating an atmosphere in a class room that was so calm, which it had never been before,” she said.