Focus Area Work
In addition to focus areas, development work applies development through projects. Early childhood education projects are mainly financed with the help of state subsidies granted by the Finnish National Board of Education (FNBE) and the Ministry of Education and Culture (OKM). Some of the ongoing projects constitute basic early childhood education activities.
The projects aim to support development and the culture of testing that produce different kind of operating models, methods and practices that help improve the quality of early childhood education. The results, products, models and experiences of the development projects will be utilized in early childhood education units.
Ongoing projects in Vantaa Early Childhood Education
Strategic development focuses are chosen for a few years at a time.
Focus-area work and the resulting networking of early childhood education employees have increased their interest in their work. Many best practices have spread throughout Early Childhood Education. Sharing existing competence as well as spreading and improving functioning practices constitute the core of focus-area work.
Early Childhood Education’s strategic focuses
TAIKAVA project (2014-2016)
The TAIKAVA (art educators in early childhood education) project was Vantaa Early Childhood Education's and Cultural Services’ joint, cross-administrative development project that aimed to devise new ways to support children’s wellbeing and create art and cultural services. In the trial, an art educator was hired to ten day-care centers. The art educator was responsible for devising new ways and methods to support children’s growth, development and learning. Also the children participated in planning activities. The project entailed cooperation with the University of Helsinki. A study was conducted to analyze how effective the development project was; how culture, art and art education could promote children's balanced growth, development and wellbeing.
TAIKAVA development project report
University of Helsinki thesis
Preschool Children as Play Agents (2014)
The Preschool Children as Play Agents project constituted part of Vantaa Early Childhood Education’s development. The project was tightly connected with play-centered focus-area work and supported its practical implementation. Six preschool-education groups participated in the project that took place from August 2014 to the end of that year.
The project aimed to bolster children’s participation and agency, increase the quality and duration of play, and improve the skills of preschool teachers. Another objective was enhancing skills in using ICT devices. The purpose of the preschool groups participating in the project was to create operating models and illustrative material for such play that develops children. The competence arising in the development work was spread to Vantaa’s preschool-education groups and early childhood education.
Preschool Children as Play Agents
Children’s Own Story
Article on the topic in Lastentarha-lehti 3/2014
Presentation of Play Folder
When playing, children are at their most creative. “Human action is impossible without imagination: imagination is the basis of all human action and the basic element of all cultural life. Everything around us created by human hand is the product of imagination and creativity based on it.” (Lev Vygotski) In play focus-area work, we again returned to the questions of interaction between children as well as that between children and adults. We utilized ICT to find out what children aspire to when playing. Also the children created materials and descriptions of their playing with the help of ICT. This was connected with our Preschool Education Children as Play Agents project, financed by the Finnish National Board of Education. We also developed playing as metropolitan-area cooperation within the framework provided by the VKK-Metro (Metropolitan Area Early Childhood Education) development unit. In addition, we cooperated with a global research network and Vilna’s pedagogical university’s play laboratory.
Municipal and unit VASUs (2012-2013)
The first municipal early childhood education plan was compiled in Vantaa in 2000. This was the fourth curriculum round. Simultaneously with updating the municipal early childhood education plan, Vantaa updated the early childhood education plans of its own service units. Early childhood education plans constitute a basis for dialogue between children, guardians, educators, partners and decisionmakers, and helps realize high-quality early childhood education and children’s wellbeing. A key goal of updating the early childhood education plans was to boost a development-oriented approach in early childhood education units.
Environment and nature studies (2010-2012)
In the context of the focus-area theme, education focused on accounting for the environment, seeking new potentials in local nature areas and built environment, and adopting progressive inquiry methods for getting to know natural phenomena. We learned, among other things, that apart from four units, all Vantaa early childhood education units can access a neighborhood forest by walking. Together with City Planning, we made a map of those important green areas, so that planning can account for children’s needs in protecting urban nature.
Get excited about language (2007-2010)
Language is an important factor in human development, which is why it is important to secure preconditions for linguistic development. Experiences and language are the basis for myriad kind of learning. Language links children with their community and playing with friends. The quality of early interaction in early childhood education is a key factor in children's linguistic development; these skills were learned, for instance, in workshops aided by speech therapists and special needs kindergarten teachers. As Finland becomes more and more multicultural, the challenges of language learning increase.
Day Care Exercises in Vantaa (2006-2007)
Nowadays, children exercise significantly less than before. The long-term importance of physical exercise in day care is great as regards national health and quality of life. The project aimed to create a sufficient number of occasions and places in day care that would increase children’s wellbeing.