Early childhood plays a critical role in children’s later chances for development. Investments in this period yield higher educational returns and promote fair opportunities. But if early childhood programs are to have a positive impact, they must be of high quality.
The READY! coalition, which seeks to improve conditions for young children in Switzerland, focused on the issue of quality at its third meeting, which was held on September 28, 2018.
The Switzerland-wide READY! campaign brings together all of the institutions that are involved in the early childhood sector in Switzerland. The coalition includes experts in early childhood, academic institutions, representatives of civil society, policymakers and members of the business community. The coalition’s third meeting was devoted to promoting dialogue, finding a common voice and discussing the coalition’s next steps.
The early years of a child’s life are critical
Early childhood is a crucial developmental stage. Since this is the time when the groundwork is laid for cognitive, social and emotional skills, investments in this period produce the greatest long-term societal impact and higher educational returns. Targeted programs for families and children in disadvantaged circumstances are a major step toward ensuring fair opportunities for all. The READY! campaign consistently focuses on the well-being and optimal development of children.
Staff training is important
The READY! coalition advocates for an early childhood policy and high-quality programs. As the organization AvenirSocial points out, “Staff training is essential for high-quality child care.” According to the initiative Migros Culture Percentage, “Providing high-quality early childhood education and care is the best way to ensure that all people are afforded equitable opportunities to participate in society.” QualiKita focuses on daycare centers, working to “improve the quality of daycare centers, since high quality is crucial if early childhood education is to be successful.” The Associazione ticinese delle strutture d’accoglienza per l’infanzia advocates for excellent child care programs that “create a culture designed to promote children’s well-being and facilitate a work-family balance.”
Areas for improvement
As studies have shown, there are a number of dimensions of quality. Eight quality dimensions are considered when awarding the QualiKita label. Speaking to the READY! coalition, Yvonne Reyhing (Thurgau College of Education/University of Konstanz) described the four types of quality that researchers are currently examining. Focusing on the quality of interaction, orientation, structure and process, she discussed the latest findings concerning daycare center quality:
She presented the QuaKi study, which reveals a need for more active support for learning, greater professionalism in day-to-day activities, and training for leadership staff in engaging in high-quality interactions. It was gratifying to note that the interactions observed in the study showed sensitivity and the ability to provide emotional support.
The READY! coalition advocates for a comprehensive early childhood policy, with the goal of ensuring that Switzerland’s children are as well prepared as possible to meet the social and economic challenges of the future. It attaches particular importance to cooperation among all concerned, across various sectors and institutions, as well as to high-quality child care programs and the professionalization of personnel and institutions.
Do you want the voice of your early childhood institution in Switzerland to be heard? Please register – on a no-obligation basis – at email@example.com Individuals wishing to offer their support may sign the READY! Charter digitally.