The Great Benefits of an Academic Plan
Part of my work as an early years advisor, involves preparing academic plans for nurseries and early childhood centres, in the UAE.
For start up the licensing authorities require investors-owners to submit an academic plan. It is now a requirement for existing nurseries to submit an academic plan, before their licences are renewed.
For a number of existing early childhood centres, this may be a little bit of a nightmare. However, this got me thinking - what are the actual benefits of preparing an academic plan?
The main benefit from several conversations with preschool owners and managers over the years is that is provides a bird-eye view of what the setting stands for and what it's overall mission and vision is. It's a one stop for leaders to remind them of the 'why'. A document that can always be viewed through a reflective lens and one that evolves.
It's a foundational representation of the nursery (term used interchangeably with ECC) and aligns itself to the fabric of the nursery.
There are a number of elements to the plan, including but not limited to:
Education and Care Practice
Health Safety and Hygiene
These are topics that we confront everyday within a pre-school setting. For all stakeholders alike - managers, teachers, children, teaching assistants, parents.
I'm not a spokesperson for any of the licensing authorities, but my guess is that they are aiming for quality provision within early childhood education. This is the main benefit of preparing a professionally written and well-documented plan. That can only be a good thing. The words of caution that I have are that the plans should result in practical and sustainable techniques for best practice. This ultimately affects the calibre of the pre-school child when he/she is ready to transition to 'big' school.
Documented research indicates that children who attend quality early childhood programmes have "significantly better life outcomes than those who did not receive center-based care, or those who received lower quality care"(Heckman).
In a nutshell - quality early childcare matters!