10 Innovative ECE Strategies Other Countries Are Using (And We Should, too!)

Innovative ECE Strategies

I’ve looked into ECE all around the globe to learn about innovative ECE strategies other countries are doing. This is what I found.

What can we learn from the way other countries do education?

What are other innovative ECE strategies are there?

I love to learn about new strategies and pedagogical concepts. I have read all of the information on our CA website about early childhood development, as well as Hawai’i’s because I like to follow the innovative ECE strategies locally. I also like research how other countries are educating their children because ECE is so different in other countries. I often look to see what other countries are doing and if I can bring some of what they’re doing to my classroom or bookmark the information for a later date.

These are 10 of the most interesting things I’ve learned:

1. Innovative ECE Strategies: Project-Based Learning in Finland

Finland puts an emphasis on PBL in schools.

In Finland, students engage in project-based learning that emphasizes collaboration, creativity, and problem-solving.

We do a little of this here, but it isn’t really as wide spread as it could be. Project-based learning impacts children because projects typically involve more than one discipline and time to dive deeply into a topic. Students usually enjoy project-based learning more and thus retain the information.

I’ve written several articles about how we can incorporate PBL into our classrooms.

2. Innovative ECE Strategies: Outdoor Learning in Japan

There is a big emphasis on outdoor education in Japan.

In Japan, students engage in forest schools, where they learn outdoors and focus on nature-based learning. There has been a lot of discussion about adding green spaces to our schools.

Japan has a lot of green spaces built into their schools and students often spend time in nature. My last field trip with the students was an overnight camping excursion. The kids caught fish (then grilled and ate the fish!) and built a campfire.

3. Innovative ECE Strategies: Emphasis on Vocational Education in Germany

Germany puts an emphasis on vocational education.

In Germany, vocational education is highly valued and students can choose to pursue apprenticeships instead of traditional academic paths.

When I was in school we had a program called the Regional Occupational Program or ROP. I worked at a craft store. These schools teach apprenticeships, where students graduate into trades with meaningful carrier experience. Students can also take community college classes in high school.

There seems to be stigma against these programs in many areas, but I have learned that some kids work better with their hands. It makes them happy and they thrive in ways they would not if they were in a more academic setting.

4. Innovative ECE Strategies: Collaborative Learning Spaces in Denmark

Denmark's classrooms are designed for group work.

In Denmark, classrooms are designed to support collaborative learning, with flexible furniture and mobile technology.

One of the things my school tried was flexible furniture. It was a disaster. The chairs didn’t have stoppers on them so the students continually rolled around everywhere.

That being said, when the desks and chairs move around easily, students have opportunities to work more collaboratively.

5. Innovative ECE Strategies: Integration of Technology in South Korea

S. Korea has been integrating tech into their classrooms since before Covid.

In South Korea, technology is integrated into all aspects of education, from online textbooks to virtual reality field trips.

This led me to think more about how this functions within our schools. I think this is taking off a bit more since lockdown, but seeing technology integrated seamlessly into the classroom, like they do in Korea, is pretty cool.

6. Innovative ECE Strategies: Focus on Creativity in Singapore

Singapore emphasizes creativity and critical thinking.

In Singapore, students engage in creative problem-solving and critical thinking through innovative programs like the Design Thinking Framework.

Singapore revamped their entire educational system in 1997. They studied all different types of pedagogies before deciding on a path for the country. They have lots of great ideas in their approach to education. Have you learned about Singapore Maths?

In addition, since they switched their language to English officially, so they had an entire country of English Learners. They revamped how they taught all their subjects.

7. Innovative ECE Strategies: Personalized Learning in Canada

Canada uses individualized learning in schools.

In Canada, the province of British Columbia has implemented a personalized learning initiative that allows students to customize their education based on their individual interests and needs.

I spent some time in Canada learning about their educational system. I met with a representative from the city and we discussed the different requirements they had for schools. Personalized learning is one of them. It’s similar to competency based learning.

I think we are slowly starting to emphasize that in the U.S., but it is already mandatory in British Colombia.

8. Innovative ECE Strategies: Multilingual Education in Switzerland

Switzerland's schools teach in several languages.

In Switzerland, students are taught in multiple languages and encouraged to develop multilingual skills.

I really think we need to get better at bilingual education in America. More often than not immigrants come to this country and speak another language. We push them to learn English to the point they forget their home language.

There are so many benefits to learning a second language, like empathy, cultural awareness, and better communication skills.

9. Innovative ECE Strategies: School Choice in Sweden

School choice is the norm in Sweden, thought it looks differently there.

In Sweden, parents have the choice of sending their children to traditional public schools, charter schools, or private schools.

This is a heated topic in the United States currently but Sweden’s idea of school choice is NOT like ours.

The Swedish government regulates how all schools are governed, private, public, and charter, so while there are differences in their approaches children are still learning the same material.

10. Innovative ECE Strategies: Focus on Teacher Training in Finland

Another pro for Finland is their emphasis on providing extensive teacher training.

In Finland, teachers are highly trained and education is a highly respected profession, with teachers receiving extensive training and support.

It takes 5-6 years in Finland to become a teacher because teachers are required to have their Master’s degree.

While most states require some sort of on-going training, teachers in America do not share the same prestige. With my district, we move up the pay scale by completing additional teaching hours but they are not mandatory. They might also be cost-prohibitive because the cost of living is so high, many teachers do not have the expendable income to pay

Conclusion

I’ve lived and worked in many major cities and several countries. I’ve met with educators all over the world. American educators tend to get offended if you talk about the pros of other countries, yet they also know we need to improve our educational system.

However, by looking at how other countries are building strong educational foundations for their people, we can gain insight and find potential solutions to our problems.

I discuss these issues and more in my coaching program. If you’d like more information, click here. If you’d like more information on pedagogy in the United States, check out these articles: 10 Reasons Why PBL with English and History Make the Best Combination, 7 Essential Benefits of Constructivist Teaching, The Enduring Montessori Approach: Fostering Independence and Lifelong Learning,

Valerie de la Rosa

thewearyeducator.com

I am an educator with almost 15 years of experience teaching in Japan, Hawaii, and in Los Angeles. My goal is to change education and the way we view literacy instruction in America.

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