Early childhood care and education is much more than just preparation for primary school. UNESCO believes it can be the foundation for emotional wellbeing and learning throughout life and one of the best investments a country can make as it promotes holistic development, gender equality and social cohesion. UNICEF thinks that quality pre-primary education sets a strong foundation for learning; helps make education systems more effective and efficient and equitable and is an effective strategy for promoting economic growth.
One of the important priorities of the Bulgarian Ministry of Education and Science is to create a quality framework for early childhood education and development. As the Deputy Minister of Education and Science in Bulgaria, I initiated a study regarding good practices for care and assessment in early childhood in Europe. School-age prevention approaches have also been explored. The completed survey has been distributed on the ESHA’s network.
Good practices and experience were shared by Croatia, Italy, the Netherlands and Scotland. Some countries implement multidisciplinary developmental assessment and diagnostics in preschool and employ a team of specialists who carry out evaluation and diagnostics. The Netherlands and Scotland use standardized methodologies. Scotland shares opportunities for fully digitalized assessment tools to facilitate assessment and to keep the research data up-to-date. In the Netherlands integrated methods are used to create the preschool curriculum. Local institutions provide conditions for early identification of developmental delay. In Italy, the first step is a report from a teacher to carry out an assessment and diagnostics. A team is formed, led by a paediatrician, that includes a neuropsychiatrist, a psychologist, and a speech therapist. In all four states, parental consent is required when the assessment is placed beyond observation and day-to-day interactions.