Intellectual development and early childhood education in the Republic of Ireland

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Horgan, Mary
Douglas, Francis G.
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Nafferton Books/ Association for the Study of the Curriculum
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This paper examines how the Education Department at University College Cork investigated early years provision in Cork city and county; Junior Infant Classes; Montessori Schools; Playgroups over the past ten years. The study employed an ethnographic research strategy encompassing the Target Child Observation Schedule (a means of evaluating child development through play and activity-based learning), interviews, a study of classrooms, a questionnaire and an interaction analysis system. 367 children were observed during 120 hours of continuous observation. It compares the findings against other similar studies on early years provision carried out in Oxford and Miami and identify ‘good practice’ in Cork. The most striking conclusion of this paper is that the Montessori method of teaching young children surpasses all others with respect to high cognitive challenge. The structure of the curriculum would therefore seem to correlate highly with the enhancement of a child's intellectual development and the teacher's attitude and training would seem to be of vital importance.
Curriculum , Cognitive development , Early childhood education , Preschool , Montessori
Horgan, M., Douglas, F., 1995. Intellectual development and early childhood education in the Republic of Ireland. Curriculum, 17(2), 102-116