This publication is intended to be a quick reference guide for anyone with a role to play in encouraging quality through Portugal’s early childhood education and care (ECEC) curriculum.
ECEC is receiving increased policy interest in Portugal, as improving quality in the ECEC sector is a subject of growing importance. The OECD has identified five effective policy levers to encourage quality in the sector: 1) quality goals and regulations; 2) curriculum and guidelines; 3) workforce; 4) family and community engagement; and 5) data, research and monitoring. Of the five aspects, Portugal considers a well-designed balanced curriculum as key to providing high-quality ECEC with the most favourable holistic outcomes for children.
Early childhood education and care (ECEC) has become a policy priority in many countries. A growing body of research recognises that it provides a wide range of benefits, including social and economic benefits, better child well-being and learning outcomes as a foundation for lifelong learning, more equitable outcomes and reduction of poverty, and increased intergenerational social mobility. But these positive benefits are directly related to the "quality" of ECEC.
What does research say?
Curriculum and standards can reinforce positive impacts on children’s learning and development. They can: i) ensure even quality across different settings; ii) give guidance to staff on how to enhance children’s learning and well-being; and iii) inform parents of their children’s learning and development. Countries take different approaches in designing curriculum. There is a need to think beyond curriculum dichotomies (e.g., academic-oriented vs. comprehensive approaches, staff-initiated instruction vs. child-initiated activities, etc.) and consolidate the "added value" of individual approaches.
Where does Portugal stand compared to other countries?
Portugal’s preschool curriculum, the Curriculum Guidelines for Preschool Education or Orientações Curriculares para a Educação Pré-escolar (OCEPE), has balanced content, addressing academic and socio-emotional development; includes emerging subjects, such as ICT and health development; and includes child outcomes for staff support in assessing children’s development.
What are the challenges and strategies?
Common challenges countries face in enhancing quality in ECEC curriculum are: 1) defining goals and content; 2) curriculum alignment for continuous child development; 3) effective implementation; and 4) systematic evaluation and assessment.
Definitions and methodology
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