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Piteå is a municipality situated on the Gulf of Bothnia, 900 km north of Stockholm and 100 km south of the Arctic Circle. With 41,000 residents it makes a significant contribution to the 260,000 population of the County of Norrbotten. Piteå focuses on energy and sustainable development and offers good development opportunities for people and companies. In recent years, Piteå has broadened its industry by supplementing its important basic industry with an infrastructure for a growing service sector. Right now, there is strong growth in the energy field where many years of research is now attracting national and international attention. The activities of the Municipality of Piteå are based on vision, strategic areas, goals and goal indicators and the Municipal Council uses the operational plan and other control documents such as interim and annual reports for control and follow-ups within this structure. The education office runs preschool and school activities that are available to all children and young people and it is responsible for the education of approx. 8000 children and pupils. Quality in the schools and pre-schools is a prioritized issue in the municipality and for the last years Piteå has been at the top when the teacher union has chosen “Best school municipality of the year” The education department has its own research unit and a strong cooperation with Luleå University of Technology (LTU). LTUs main campus is situated in Luleå about 50 km northeast of Piteå. Pre-school in Piteå focus a lot on reading and writing as well as outdoors activities. There is also a strong believe that the cooperation parents will have a significant influence on the quality in pre- schools. We also focus a lot on the cooperation between the compulsory school and free-school. In this project Bergsvikens preschool will be the main participant. Bergsvikens pre-school is one of the pre-schools in the municipality and it is situated 7 km south of the Centre of Piteå. It is divided into three units and a total of 11 departments. Within each unit there are children aged 1-5 years, divided by age. Bergsviken pre-school has about 170 children and a total of 40 pre-schoolteachers.Bergsviken is a homogeneous area with some influences from other cultures.
MUNICIPALITY OF IMOLA
Imola is a middle-size town of about 70,000 inhabitants. It is in Emilia Romagna Region, close to Bologna, along the track of the ancient roman Emiliae Road. The Municipality of Imola manages through its Early Childhood Educational Service Unit (hereinafter ECESU) - 7 preschools, 5 nursery schools and 1 experimental service for children from 5 month to 6 years old, for about 950 children as a whole, of which 180 belonging to foreign families and 31 with severe special needs. 110 curricular teachers, 22 special teachers, about 25 alternative teachers, 50 janitors, 5 cooks and 3 pedagogues work in these schools as a whole. Our services have the same curriculum framework, but each of them can develop its own approach and best practices, provided that this does not question the common curriculum. In addition, ECESU manages also the “Family Centre”, a service that provides many opportunity for the families with young children: Families Day Care Centers, trainings and consultancies for parents, family mediation for parents involving in a divorce process, counseling and information for families and so forth. ECESU also collaborate long since with the local public Library (hereinafter BIM), that has a specialized section for children 0-14 years old, called “Casa Piani”. This Library for children has a headquarter in the down-town, and four decentralized offices in the suburban neighborhoods. All these services are open every day (save on Sunday), lends books, organize workshops, guided readings, new books presentations, lectures of famous writers in the field of childhood publishing, and so forth. Some our pre and nursery schools have arranged an internal little library, open not only for the families of the children attending the relative services, but also to all the children and families living in the surroundings. In addition, ECESU coordinates a group called "stable panel for the educational continuity from 0 to 6 years old", where all the public and private pre and nursery schools administrations of the discrict (10 Municipalities) are represented. This group, in addition to promote exchanges among pre and nursery schools and several cultural public events, arranges the yearly training plan for all the teachers and educators working in these services (the potential beneficiaries of these activities in about 500 teachers and educators). For these reasons, the activities and the outputs of the project object of this application can be spread on a relevant number of stakeholders and be an object of future training plans involving a relevant number of professionals.
As a ECEC neighbourhood service, Elmer organizes social day-care (3 months – 3,5 years) and has 4 branches in the most underprivileged areas of the Brussels Region. Elmer aims to reach a socio-cultural mix of families living in the neighbourhood and focuses especially on vulnerable families. Elmer enables the wellbeing of each child, offers rich opportunity to develop and stimulates connectedness. Parent participation is a keystone in the work of Elmer. The parents are the first educators, together we are co-educating the children. Elmer aims to work on social participation of parents and organizes opportunities for young parents to meet and share experiences. In the neighbourhood, Elmer is an active partner in common activities. Elmer also initiates a family centre as an integrated service. As centre for inclusion, Elmer gives particular attention to children with special needs and supports their families. Elmer combines the ECEC-service with employment and training of educators – often recruited out of the group of parents. The team of Elmer is very diverse, as are the children and their families.
TALLINN MEELESPEA KINDERGARDEN
Tallinn Meelespea Kindergarten is located in Haabersti district in Tallinn capital of Estonia. Tallinn Meelespea Kindergarten is municipal organisation that follows the national curricula for preschool child care institutions and kindergartens´ curricula that is specifically formulated for the purpose. Estonian Ministry of Education and Research states that the national curriculum for preschool child care institutions follows the Scandinavian approach of combining different child-centred active learning methods such as “Step by Step”, the Montessori method, the Waldorf method of teaching, Reggio Emilia, language immersion as well as research, entrepreneurship and outdoor learning. Tallinn Meelespea Kindergarten is 41 years old, we have 51 staff members and 270 children. There are 13 groups in our kindergarten– 3 groups where children are from 1,5 to 3 years old, 2 groups where the children are 3-4 years old, 2 groups where the children are 4-5 years old, 2 groups with 56 years old, 2 groups with 6-7 years old and 2 groups consist children from 3 to 7 years. We have swimming pool, art class with ceramic oven for clay work, big hall for music and physical education classes, great indoor and outdoor environment to support childrens´ educational development. Our kindergarten name comes from the forget-me-not flower, that represents faithfullness and love. Our vision is to be childfriendly, health promoting, safe and creative environment where we can fulfill our mission to establish, through cooperation between parents and teachers, the conditions needed for childs´ comprehensive development. Our fundamental values are respect, health, consideration, tolerance and creativity..
The Department of Psychology - Alma Mater Studiorum University of Bologna - offers one undergraduate, five graduate programmes and one PhD Programme. We currently create and deliver innovative, exciting and challenging undergraduate and postgraduate degree courses to over 600 students. Professors and researchers (59 members) are involved in research and education activities covering different fields of psychology.We are active in research and development having a reputation for being involved in several competitive research projects on both a national and international scale. Active international projects (2018) : BRIGAID: BRIdges the GAp for Innovations in Disaster resilience; Funded by the European Commission under the H2020 Programme (2015-2018). Call climate. XCYCLE Project;Funded by the European Commission under the H2020 Programme (2015-2018) Call Transport Catch EyoU project - Constructing AcTive CitizensHip with European Youth: Policies, Practices, Challenges and Solutions;Funded by the European Commission under the H2020 Programme (2015-2018) - Call YOUNG-SOCIETY-2014.
University of Bologna email@example.com
SERN is a transnational network of 56 local and regional authorities in Sweden and Italy, particularly in the Emilia-Romagna area. The network was founded in February 2005 with the main objective of developing in a structural manner the relations between its members in the two countries. The main objective is to foster relations and exchanges of good practices among the members and therefore to create a model of cooperation stretching over several policy areas and involving different level of government and at the same time a plurality of actors like educational institutions and NGOs. It has been leading several transnational projects aimed at capacity building of local and regional authorities when it comes to the management and planning of transnational projects. The network has adopted a strategy in 2011 that provides particular attention to the development of processes of cooperation among the members in the field of the ECEC. The network counts many links with other networks/association of local and regional organisations in 10 European countries and therefore offers a large basis of dissemination. SERN has been the coordinating organization of CREANET, a Comenius Multilateral Network started in late 2010. The project has been dealing with the theme of Creativity in preschool in ECEC. In the context of the project the theme of physical activity in the pre-school context as a tool to foster creativity in children has emerged as an important element and area of work.
I participated in the NARRATE project as part of the visit to ELMER in the city of Brussels. I am very happy to have participated, and to have had this experience as I believe it is an excellent opportunity for the schools involved to enrich themselves culturally and educationally. Sharing experiences between the different participating European countries in the NARRATE project is an opportunity for both individual (teacher and students) and collective (schools, municipality, and educational context) to growth as an educational community. Furthermore, this experience has served me a lot for my research work in university, I have seen new realities and different educational environments that have enriched me.
I am 48 years old, married with two children. I am associate professor in developmental and educational psychology at the Department of Psychology and, from the beginning of my professional life, I have been interested in how the psychological science can improve and foster the educational contexts. I consider the opportunity to take part in this project a privilege and a great chance to learn something new and get to know new realities. I look forward to collaborating with all of you and meeting you (in person, if possible!).
Narrate is a special way of working for me. Now we no longer just start with a theme or activity. We now look at the needs and interests of the children. From there we leave and observe what they do. We try to build on their actions. We get to know the children more and talk more with the parents about their child and their interests, also at home. Through these conversations, we learn what keeps children busy at home and incorporate this into our play at daycare. I notice that I am much more “open minded” in function of how an activity should be.
In the beginning it was confusing for me and I had to find how I could keep the children interested in certain materials/activities. Step by step I kept trying and found that it is actually really interesting. It was not easy not to steer and to observe closely, but it is so much more exciting for the children now. It's a way to work much more broadly with the children – I let the children choose how they deal with things (use their own imagination). I offer something and observe what they will do with it. I build on that choice. The more I direct it a certain way, the faster the activity stops and the less their imagination is used. I also notice that it differs from day to day what children come up with – I give the same toys twice, but they do something completely different with them. I am sometimes amazed at the rich imagination the children have, they do things with it that I would never think of.
The activities I now do with the children are different than before. I am more concerned with the goal (following the interests of the children). Now when I choose a theme for an activity (or rather a “trigger” to start the day) I try to do it based on the interests of the children. From there I will follow what the child is doing. I now turn daily tasks and worries into mini-activities. This gives the children the opportunity to observe and discover all day long. Their interests are addressed much more quickly. There is no longer a focus on 1 large and well-prepared/elaborated activity that arises out of nowhere and therefore does not fascinate the children
Narrate has made us more engrossed in books – we have seen in the library how young children are also involved and we are doing it now. The activities they do there are also more focused on deepening. We do this now too. Now I dwell longer on a small moment – delve more deeply and go into the world of the children. I will then discuss this with the parents and receive feedback from them.
I think I'm more focused on what kids are doing; I look for their interests. I observe more and give time – I no longer intervene so quickly or start a conversation with the child. First look carefully and wait, then join in. What I still have to learn: take more time to write down – document. That is certainly still a working point and I would like to elaborate on this more.
I personally think the children are more open-minded. Because they get the chance to make their own decisions or take action themselves. They are captivated longer and have more fun. When I prepared everything myself and in detail, I also had expectations for them – now I have no expectations and I can let them decide more and see where it goes. So I don't keep steering in any particular direction. I've learned a lot to let go and put more opportunities in the children's hands – to have less control – to let things run the way they do. Let children discover more at their own pace.
I am very happy with our participation in this project. Because it is a search together, the educators are highly motivated to participate and they are also open to new methods. They test and pass on their own experiences again and again by trial and error. The great thing is that they themselves become very enthusiastic about this way of working and come to great insights. They take more time to observe and get to know the children, they respond more to what children offer. They dare to let go more and let the day come without falling into “annoying” entrenched rituals. Throughout the day they notice what keeps children busy and they pick it up much faster now, with often very small and simple actions. Nice to see that not only the children are happier and more enthusiastic, but also the educators.
Tallinn Meelespea Kindergarten participates as a partner organization in the Erasmus+ strategic cooperation project "Building a Narrative approach fostering collaboration between preschools and libraries". We are honored to work with international partners who are: Sweden - Bergsvikens förskoleområde, Piteå Municipality; Italy - Early Childhood Educational Services, Imola Municipality ja Belgium, Brüssel - Elmer schools in Schaarbeek. The aim of this project is to improve the quality of pre-primary education by paying more attention to the narrative approach. We consider the use of a narrative approach in preschool to be a very important method of teaching children vital communication skills, consistency and perseverance.
Tallinn Meelespea Kindergarten teachers are glad to take part of Erasmus + project „Building a narrative approach“ because it is important subject to talk about in the early childhood education setting. Storytelling and making up stories by using your imagination and knowledge is only a little piece of this big narrative approach puzzle that we are about to put together. We feel that narrative approach is very important tool which is integrated into every learning and teaching area in early childhood education and teachers have a wonderful opportunity to learn all about it through various activities. Our kindergarten has had a good previous cooperation experience with local libraries that are walking distance away from our kindergarten. Every year all of our groups with children aged 4-7 are visiting at least once a year our local libraries and doing different theme activities there. We are excited to do and learn more about this narrative approach because it is an incredibly good opportunity to expand our knowledge.
A narrative approach helps to get to know ourselves, each other and about the world, also to be able to communicate with each other. The narrative structure, helps to guide and organize our way of thinking. As part of sustainable learning, we have chosen to focus on a narrative approach in the coming years through this project. Narrative builds bridges and tears down barriers between different generations, cultures and languages, and creates a competence for lifelong learning to be able to function in different social contexts. A narrative approach is based on children's participation and influence, which also makes children co - creators in sustainable learning. We are building a learning practice based on the children. It feels meaningful, stimulating and fun for both children and teachers. In this project we can develop our skills further more.
The project allows us to get to know different cultures and various ways of understanding and applying educational practices, finding aspects that unite us and I think that this is really important in our job, that give us the privilege to support and accompany world’s future citizen in their learning path. I think that is necessary that children can feel listen, understand and support in their ideas, to build strong relationships of trust that can make us able to help them to develop their thoughts and concepts. So this project can be a way to improve the quality of our work from many points of view.
This path is giving me new ears and eyes to better listen and look the little but big narrations that children do every single day. Keeping memory of their stories means keeping trace of them, of their experiences and thoughts; I hope to be able to get more listen skills so I can become a co-builder of many narration with children. (CATERINA)
The topic of the project is really important: lately I’ve been passionate towards the importance of listening children, by studying various documents and this project is an opportunity to deepen this aspect of the narrative approach. Moreover, to participate to activities with various and different country let us to better understand that exists aspects of education that are transversal to all and others that are determined by our own culture.
To be part of this partnership and to deal with together of this topic is really exciting for me. I'm sure that this project lets us establish a new deal in early education, more respectful of the children's rights and much more pleasant for the teachers. Eventually, this project can contribute to making early education, art, and social life even closer to each other, identifying preschools as a place where even the children can generate Culture (with a capital "C").
Being part of this project means being part of an International network that lead us to expand our mental boundaries and have a look on the world or, at least, on a part of it. Choose to adopt the narrative approach allows to create a context that let children to be builders of their life and learning path, without having to follow a path traced by other people. As teachers this approach give us the ability to lower the performance anxiety and help to have a more authentic way to live the relationship with children and not less important to have more fun. Because we mustn’t forget the beautiful part of our job: children that smile and make us smile!
- Exchange practices, methodologies, experiences, values is an efficient way to build an inclusive and connected Europe in a "bottom -up perspective" above all when talking about early child education.