Developmentally appropriate practices in Asian Indian early childhood classrooms

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<ul><li><p>This article was downloaded by: [Linnaeus University]On: 10 October 2014, At: 09:26Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK</p><p>Early Child Development and CarePublication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/gecd20</p><p>Developmentally appropriate practicesin Asian Indian early childhoodclassroomsSaigeetha Jambunathan a &amp; Mathew Caulfield aa New Jersey City University , USAPublished online: 12 Mar 2008.</p><p>To cite this article: Saigeetha Jambunathan &amp; Mathew Caulfield (2008) Developmentallyappropriate practices in Asian Indian early childhood classrooms, Early Child Development andCare, 178:3, 251-258, DOI: 10.1080/03004430600767916</p><p>To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03004430600767916</p><p>PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE</p><p>Taylor &amp; Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (theContent) contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor &amp; Francis,our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warranties whatsoever as tothe accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinionsand views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors,and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor &amp; Francis. The accuracy of the Contentshould not be relied upon and should be independently verified with primary sourcesof information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable for any losses, actions, claims,proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilities whatsoeveror howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to orarising out of the use of the Content.</p><p>This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Anysubstantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing,systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. Terms &amp;Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions</p><p>http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/gecd20http://www.tandfonline.com/action/showCitFormats?doi=10.1080/03004430600767916http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03004430600767916http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditionshttp://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions</p></li><li><p>Early Child Development and CareVol. 178, No. 3, April 2008, pp. 251258</p><p>ISSN 0300-4430 (print)/ISSN 1476-8275 (online)/08/03025108 2008 Taylor &amp; FrancisDOI: 10.1080/03004430600767916</p><p>Developmentally appropriate practices in Asian Indian early childhood classroomsSaigeetha Jambunathan* and Mathew CaulfieldNew Jersey City University, USATaylor and Francis LtdGECD_A_176748.sgm10.1080/03004430600767916Early Childhood Development and Care0300-4430 (print)/1476-8275 (online)Original Article2006Taylor &amp; Francis0000000002006SaigeethaJambunathansjambunathan@njcu.edu</p><p>The goal of the present study is to explore the use of developmentally appropriate practices in AsianIndian early childhood classrooms. This information is critical for all early childhood educators andteacher educators because the society we live in is fast becoming extremely diverse and our class-rooms are becoming a cauldron of various cultures, languages, personalities and views on education.Twenty-one early childhood classrooms were observed in a southern metropolitan city in southIndia. The trained researchers filled out the Rating Scale to Assess the Use of DevelopmentallyAppropriate Practices in Early Childhood Classrooms to evaluate the use of developmentally appro-priate practices in the classrooms. The observations are in the categories of creating a caringcommunity of learners, teaching to enhance development and learning, constructing appropriatecurriculum, assessing childrens learning and development, and reciprocal relationships withparents and families. Preliminary descriptive analysis of the data showed that most of the classroomsscored between two and three in all of the five subscales. The mean scores for the classrooms are asfollows: creating a caring community of learners, mean = 2.09; teaching to enhance learning anddevelopment, mean = 2.66; constructing appropriate curriculum, mean = 1.96; assessing childrenslearning and development, mean = 2.12; and reciprocal relationships with parents and families,mean = 2.31. The results of the study seemed to indicate that the Asian Indian classrooms did nothave an abundance of appropriate practices occurring in the classrooms. However, in light of thediverse nature of educational programs and practices in the various countries, we have to interpretthese results carefully. The results do give us information about what practices are given importanceand which ones are not considered that important in India.</p><p>Keywords: Developmentally appropriate practice; Indian early childhood classrooms</p><p>Introduction</p><p>Early childhood education is developing an increasingly global dimension in the earlytwenty-first century. Early childhood educators are moving in the direction of sharing</p><p>*Corresponding author. Room 329, Department of Early Childhood Education, 2039 KennedyBoulevard, Jersey City, NJ 07305, USA. Email: sjambunathan@njcu.edu</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Lin</p><p>naeu</p><p>s U</p><p>nive</p><p>rsity</p><p>] at</p><p> 09:</p><p>26 1</p><p>0 O</p><p>ctob</p><p>er 2</p><p>014 </p></li><li><p>252 S. Jambunathan and M. Caulfield</p><p>information about theory and practice across cultures and countries, preparing teach-ers to work with diverse populations, and constructing a global philosophy of educa-tion that will be reflected in their practices. However, there is not much literatureavailable about practices in early childhood classrooms in developing countries. Thisinformation is critical for early childhood educators and teacher educators becausethe society we live in is fast becoming extremely diverse and our classrooms arebecoming cauldrons of various cultures, languages, personalities and views on educa-tion. The goal of the present study is to explore the use of developmentally appropri-ate practices in Asian Indian early childhood classrooms.</p><p>Developmentally appropriate practices, as proposed by the National Associationfor the Education of Young Children, encompass three main paradigms to which theteachers must attend: human development and learning, individual characteristicsand experiences, and the social and cultural contexts of the child. Thus, teachersshould bear in mind that children come from different backgrounds, and learn anddevelop at different paces. This should be reflected in the different types of learningmaterials, strategies, and guidance techniques they use, for according to theNational Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) the childshould be the focal point of the curriculum (Bredekamp &amp; Copple, 1997).Research has demonstrated that classroom use of developmentally appropriate prac-tices has positive benefits for children (for example, Larsen &amp; Robinson, 1989;Marcon, 1992; Burts et al., 1993; Charlesworth et al., 1993; Dunn &amp; Kontos, 1997;Hart et al., 1997).</p><p>India, a country with centuries of history behind it, is a pot pourri of culture,language, religions, economic strata and mores (Paranjothi, 1969; Jambunathan,2005). Education is highly valued by all in this cosmopolitan country (Paranjothi,1969; Jambunathan, 2005). The practice of early childhood education developed inthe twentieth century in India, with Gandhi and Maria Montessori being importantearly influences. Montessoris writings and philosophy were integrated into theteacher education programs (Pattnaik, 1996). After India gained independence in1947, thanks to the efforts and vision of educational reformers and scholars such asLajpat Rai, Tagore, Goshal and Gandhi, the mission of the Indian educationalsystem incorporated a developmental viewpoint that included meeting the needs ofthe children and allowing them to be children as they traversed the educationalsystem. The ideas these visionaries proposed were very similar to what we now referto as developmentally appropriate practices. They wanted the main focus of educa-tion to be on the child and his or her various areas of development. They also saidthat teachers had to use hands-on methods of imparting knowledge in the areas oflanguage, mathematics, science, social studies and physical education. Anothersalient feature of this post-independence mission was to impart knowledge in thechilds native language. These scholars did not criticize the British way of teaching;however, they wanted to review the Indian tradition in education and blend the twotogether so that learning would be a meaningful and enjoyable experience both forthe teachers and children (Paranjothi, 1969). In 1986 the governments NationalPolicy on Education recognized the value of the education of the whole child. The</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Lin</p><p>naeu</p><p>s U</p><p>nive</p><p>rsity</p><p>] at</p><p> 09:</p><p>26 1</p><p>0 O</p><p>ctob</p><p>er 2</p><p>014 </p></li><li><p>Developmentally appropriate practices in Asian Indian classrooms 253</p><p>policy highlighted the importance of play and meeting all areas of development of thechild versus focusing only on the academic instruction. Furthermore, this policydiscouraged academic instruction in early childhood. With the passing of the seventhFive Year Plan (19861990), more guidelines were put in place for teacher prepara-tion with some focus placed on meeting the needs of the child and using developmen-tally appropriate strategies. However, more emphasis was placed on teaching thecontent areas. More recently researchers have observed a combination of westernpractices and Indian philosophy and practices, more involvement of the community,more individual performance-based assessment, school readiness programs andhome-based programs to help parents care for and prepare their children for school(French, 1992; Pattnaik, 1996).</p><p>The above information indicates that the basic premises of developmentally appro-priate practice have been in place at the policy level in India for some time. However,there are reports of widespread use of narrowly academically based practice in Indianpreschools in the literature (for example, Bhavnagri, 1995; Roopnarine et al., 1994a).The present study explored the use of developmentally appropriate practices in earlychildhood classrooms in the Asian Indian context. Information from such an explor-atory research can be used to identify factors that promote or impede the use of devel-opmentally appropriate practices in Asian Indian early childhood classrooms. Thisinformation can also be valuable for early childhood educators in trying to attain aglobal understanding about teaching young children and the role of developmentallyappropriate practices in this endeavor.</p><p>Method</p><p>Twenty-one early childhood classrooms were observed in a metropolitan city insouth India. Ten of the classrooms were lower kindergarten classes, whichnormally house three-year-old children. Eleven of the classrooms were upperkindergarten classes, which normally house four-year-old children. Four of theseclassrooms were housed in a separate private setting, which had only the three-year-old classes and four-year-old classes. The rest of the classrooms were housedin elementary and secondary schools. Each class had about 2125 children. Eachclass had a full-time teacher and an aide. The teachers had bachelor degrees; theaides did not have degrees. The teachers were the ones who carried out instruc-tion. The aides primarily performed non-instructional tasks such as collectingwork, serving lunch, taking the children to the bathroom, and so on. The childrenwere taught in English; however, the teachers did use the local dialect (i.e. Tamil)when necessary.</p><p>Instruments</p><p>Two trained early childhood researchers, who were reliable towards each other, filledout the Rating Scale to Assess the Use of Developmentally Appropriate Practicesin Early Childhood Classrooms (Buchanan et al., 1997) to evaluate the functioning</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Lin</p><p>naeu</p><p>s U</p><p>nive</p><p>rsity</p><p>] at</p><p> 09:</p><p>26 1</p><p>0 O</p><p>ctob</p><p>er 2</p><p>014 </p></li><li><p>254 S. Jambunathan and M. Caulfield</p><p>of the early childhood classrooms. The content validity of the scale was determinedby leading experts in the field and they concurred that the content of the scaleappropriately reflected the NAEYC standards for an appropriate classroom. This 20-item scale is rated on a Likert-type scale ranging from one to five, where one is mostlyinappropriate and five is mostly appropriate. The observations are in the categories ofcreating a caring community of learners, teaching to enhance learning and develop-ment, constructing appropriate curriculum, assessing childrens learning and devel-opment, and reciprocal relationships with parents and families. The creating a caringcommunity of learners subscale evaluated opportunities for childchild interaction,adultchild interaction and opportunities for overall development of the child. Theteaching to enhance learning and development subscale evaluated the teaching strat-egies used by teachers to promote learning. This subscale included items that exam-ined whether the teacher had appropriate knowledge of each childs development andneeds, followed the curriculum, used a variety of strategies to promote learningamong the children, and provided opportunities for socialemotional growth anddevelopment of the children. The constructing appropriate curriculum subscale eval-uated the appropriateness of the curriculum for particular ages and its integrationacross the content areas. The items on this subscale also examined whether theteacher took each childs culture and opportunities to learn at home into consider-ation while planning the lessons. The assessing childrens learning and developmentsubscale evaluated the various strategies employed by the teachers to assess the over-all development of the children. Finally, the reciprocal relationships with parents andfamilies subscale examined the opportunities for parent involvement and participa-tion in the early childhood classrooms. Average scores were calculated for each of thesubscale.</p><p>Procedure</p><p>The researcher contacted the principals of schools and directors of the daycarecenters to conduct this study. Appointments were made with each of the teachers tovisit their classrooms. The observation lasted between three and five hours. If therewere certain items on the scale that the researcher did not observe, they questionedthe teacher about it at the end of the observation.</p><p>Results</p><p>Preliminary descriptive analysis of the data showed that most of the classrooms scoredbetween two and three in all of the five subscales. The mean scores for the classroomsare as follows: creating a caring community of learners, mean = 2.09, range = 13;teaching to enhance learning and development, mean = 2.66, range = 14; construct-ing appropriate curriculum, mean = 1.96, range = 13; assessing childrens learningand development, mean = 2.12, range = 13; and reciprocal relationships withparents and familie...</p></li></ul>

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