A dynamic digital platform: Expanding the Early Learning Toolkit

Tess Bissell

During CEI’s recent Google hangout on what makes digital resources impactful in development, co-hosted with the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE), the featured panelists all agreed: digital learning platforms should be dynamic resources that continually grow and change with a community’s needs.

We completely agree, and have worked to continue expanding CEI's own digital resource for education practitioners, the Early Learning Toolkit, since its initial launch in February of this year.

In July the Toolkit grew to include tools and guidance in four new early childhood development (ECD) strategies. That same month, we also added a French language version of the toolkit, along with resources in French designed specifically for francophone educators and development professionals. I’m proud of our efforts to continue responding to the needs of our innovative community, and wanted to share some of my favorite new additions to the Early Learning Toolkit below.

French Language Toolkit:

The French version of the Early Learning Toolkit expands the scope of our platform to an entirely new community of innovative educators. All of the Toolkit’s text was professionally translated by native speakers, making sure the nuances of development lingo are captured. In addition, the ELT team collected nearly 100 new tools, from reports to worksheets, videos, and more, all originally created in French and specifically designed for the francophone world.

Take, for example, an article and accompanying video from TA@l’école that demonstrates how refined theories on multiple types of intelligence (kinesthetic, interpersonal, verbal, etc) can be applied to targeted instruction in the classroom. The article details the benefits of recognizing students’ different strengths and learning styles, and provides concrete steps and activities for teachers to identify and further develop said strengths among their students.

Another great new tool for our French users is a series of visualizations from the French Institute of Education. The figures are designed to help teacher coaches evaluate the soft skills of instructors. The collection of diagrams not only helps educators evaluate these critical teacher-traits, but also provides guidance on how to effectively communicate these observations to the teachers being trained.

Many francophone countries in sub-Saharan Africa are determined to find the right balance between national languages like French, international languages like English, and sub-national languages that many children learn first. A report from UNESCO explores possible benefits to African countries investing in mother-tongue instruction, and in African languages specifically. UNESCO’s report is especially helpful in its inclusion of guidance for a variety of different stakeholders in a child’s education, including instructors, program directors, and parents.

UNICEF’s Kit for Early Childhood Development offers pragmatic tools to help parents engage with their children. This “treasure box full of activities” includes games that require only simple materials which low-income communities are likely able to find. Just as importantly, these games can easily be modified based on a particular child’s needs.

Early Childhood Strategies:

Although there are many new tools and research findings in the field of early childhood development, the challenge of making these tools accessible to those working in the field remains. The Early Learning Toolkit, like others throughout the education community, is determined to help such impactful resources find their way to those who need it most.

One excellent tool recently added is a series of Parenting Cards from Save the Children Bangladesh. These visual guides are designed to help practitioners mark a young child’s developmental landmarks, and provide advice on how to nurture development for children based on their age and capacity.

The Philani Mentor Mother Programme is both a case study and a practical tool. The program leverages the unique capabilities of mothers to mentor and help promote effective development activities within their own community. Philani’s mentoring approach is a cost-effective way to make a sustained impact, and they are working hard to share their experiences with others throughout the development landscape.

Another critical element of effective early childhood development is an approach that is not constrained by traditional development sectors. From UNICEF and the World Health Organization, the Care for the Child Development Package integrates health, nutrition and development in early childhood programs. It includes a participants' manual, facilitator notes, facilitator guidelines for conducting a planning workshop, a planning handbook for program managers, as well as planners and counseling cards.

As long as passionate practitioners around the world continue their efforts to help children and students reach their full potential, the Early Learning Toolkit will remain committed to expanding and responding to the needs of its users.

If you have any resources that would make helpful tools, please reach out to us at cei@r4d.org, or tweet @CEInnovations. We hope you’ll enjoy exploring everything the Early Learning Toolkit has to offer!

Photo credit: UN Women/Ryan Brown (Homepage)CEI; TA@l’école; Philani Mentor Mother Programme


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