B. A vision of change – change to what?

Our Perspective on Quality

Within North America, a key strategy for promoting quality is through regulations that set minimum standards for group size, adult-child ratios, training levels of caregivers, as well as ‘best practices’ that promote developmental outcomes such as literacy, numeracy, and school preparedness in young children. Quality improvement approaches have tended to focus on the development of instruments and measurement to determine these minimum levels of quality.

The IQ Project’s goal is to deepen and broaden this view of quality. We situate ourselves within the growing number of research approaches that see quality as emerging from diverse pedagogical, social, and cultural factors that interact within specific contexts. We believe that for quality to take on depth, meaning and purpose, processes of engagement, discussion, and interaction are critical in shaping positive caregiving environments and practices.

We see early childhood settings as spaces for children, families, community, and educators to engage and interact, opening up possibilities for levels of program ‘quality’ that are much more dynamic than those achievable through a minimum standards approach. The work of the well-known programs in Reggio Emilia are based on such a process, as are innovative programs in Sweden, New Zealand, and other locations world-wide. This contextual, interactive approach opens up to local voices, celebrates diversity, and provides encouragement to families and community members to participate meaningfully in the lives of children, nurturing a democratic process at the earliest age of citizenship.

What We Do

We promote the active engagement of early childhood educators, college and university instructors, researchers, and policy-makers in critical reflections on quality. We believe the mobilization of these dialogues will lead to the formation of enriching and innovative spaces for children (and for their adult care-providers) in ECCE settings.

In 2006, we began a collaborative process of critical reflection on quality with early childhood educators through a series of learning and sharing circles. The first phase of the learning and sharing circles was piloted in Vancouver and Southern Vancouver Island and has since been extended to other communities in B.C. The learning and sharing circles allow the creation of innovative ECCE programs in participating communities, support networking and dialogue among early childhood educators, allow diverse approaches to sustainable quality settings, and build capacity for the development of creative practices to support young children and families.

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