“This teaching practice is different from everything students have learned so far!”
Teaching practice in informal setting of Play Hubs is a part of the EU Child Guarantee pilot-programme
As of this summer, second- and third-year students of early and preschool education at the Faculty of Teacher Education, Čakovec branch, are carrying out part of their teaching practice in the informal setting of Play Hubs. In addition to gaining experience in a formal environment such as kindergartens, students now take part in a one-day teaching practice in Play Hubs, where most children become involved in an informal preschool education for the first time.
First impressions by students, as well as children and parents, are extremely positive. Most would like this segment of their teaching practice to be extended, as the students with whom we spent the day in Play Hub in Kuršanec shared.
"We didn’t know how we would get along with the children and how they would accept us, we didn't know how they would react to us. But everything turned out really well, children are very nice, they hug us... They are very kind”, says Lucija Škremlin second-year student who was most worried about the language barrier as the Play hub is situated in Roma settlement.
“The mentor made today and the entire process of teaching practice easier because she knows children and knows how each child functions“, adds Lucija. “I was a little surprised that children here like to paint and draw. It is a part of routine for children in kindergarten so they are not as enthusiastic.”
“This teaching practice is different from everything students have learned so far”, said Adrijana Višnjić Jevtić, Phd, Faculty of Teacher Education.
“This is different. Here we meet children who quite possibly coming to organized settings for the first time so it may be a little more demanding, but at the same time it gives the students wider experience. In Play Hubs students met children who come from a different background and this helps them in developing their competencies. This kind of practice prepares students to meet the population that they usually do not meet in formal educational institutions, so it is an added value to their education”, explains Višnjić Jevtić.
Anamarija Antolović, a second-year student, who is also carrying out her teaching practice in a kindergarten in Varaždin, notices a big difference between working in kindergartens and in Play Hubs.
“We try to integrate as many motor, mental, and physical activities as possible into play as we wish them to develop like children who attend kindergarten. The most interesting part were their reactions when they saw us for the first time and when we began getting to know them. They were very open, and clearly stated their wishes, such as "you are going to play with me" "I want to do her make-up" and "let him read to me". I hope this teaching practice will bring us a lot of valuable experience”, says Anamarija who adds that, together with other students, she noticed significant improvement in her approach after completing her practice in Play Hubs.
Parents who bring their children to the Play Hub in Kuršanec also see benefits of teaching practice and the informal education opportunities.
“I am very happy they are here, because they come home satisfied. They say that they played very nicely, drew and painted. They also learned a lot of Croatian and I like that a lot. They also speak a lot of Croatian with assistants”, says Silvija Oršuš, mother of four, who recognizes how important this is for their inclusion and development.
Mother Matea Oršuš came to the Play Hub with her three-year-old son Santiago, and she is especially happy that her children will be well prepared for school, thanks to the support of the mentors.
“When school starts and he starts first grade, he will know everything he needs to know. He plays, draws, sings. I'm glad they come here”, says Matea, whose biggest wish is for her children Santiago and Tea to finish school and have good jobs.
Coming to Play Hub is beneficial for her as well, as mentors give her advice on how to spend time and play with her children at home.
Marijana Cipsa Sabo, educator and mentor at the teaching practice, points out that she is pleased that most of the students have confronted and broken the prejudices they have acquired through life, education and earlier encounters with children of the Roma national minority. The students, she continues, are very surprised by the children's openness.
“The EU Child Guarantee has encouraged good practices. Not only does a group of students come to a Play Hub, but this approach has also connected several sectors into one team that works for the overall well-being of the child, bringing benefits to the entire family. This is very important”, concludes Marijana Cipsa Sabo.
Access to inclusive early and preschool education is one of the areas of interventions within "Phase III: Testing the Child Guarantee in Croatia" pilot-programme, funded by the European Union. In Croatia, this pilot-programme is implemented by UNICEF Croatia, in Medjimurje County in cooperation with implementing partners.
With the main aim of reducing child poverty and social exclusion for all children across the European Union, the European Commission, in partnership with UNICEF, is implementing a pilot-program "Phase III: Testing the Child Guarantee" in Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Germany, Italy, Lithuania and Spain.
Croatia was given the opportunity to pilot programme Testing of the EU Child Guarantee, in cooperation with the European Commission and UNICEF, to work on solving child poverty and social exclusion. To develop new service models and best practices for children and their families, UNICEF will use its experience, partnerships and capacities by modeling integrated multidisciplinary, adequately funded family and community services in Medjimurje County, a region with limited access to child protection and family support services. UNICEF's approach includes three components: access to integrated child protection and family support services, access to early childhood education and access to integrated and coordinated early childhood intervention services.
© UNICEF, 2022 “The information and views set out in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Neither the European Union institutions and bodies nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.”
Čakovec branch of the Faculty of Teacher Education, University of Zagreb is implementing partner of the UNICEF Croatia for the implementation of the pilot programme “Phase III: Testing the Child Guarantee in Croatia”, funded by the European Union.