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Learning areas for holistic education: Kindergarten teachers' curriculum priorities, professional development needs, and beliefs


Contemporary kindergarten curriculum frameworks emphasize the importance of promoting children's holistic development, thereby focusing on both academic and non-academic learning areas. This exploratory study was conducted with a sample of 123 in-service kindergarten teachers in Singapore. The goals were to investigate the following: (1) how teachers prioritized the importance of the various learning areas of the 'Nurturing Early Learners' curriculum framework; (2) teachers' professional development (PD) needs regarding these learning areas; and (3) the extent to which teachers with different beliefs about children and how they learn differed in their prioritizations and PD needs. Data were collected through an online questionnaire and analyzed using non-parametric techniques. Results indicated that (1) academic and nonacademic areas were found to be intertwined in teachers' priority rankings, although Social and Emotional Development was the top learning area for most teachers; (2) teachers reported high PD needs in all learning areas, especially in Discovery of the World and Aesthetics and Creative Expression; and (3) teachers holding more traditional beliefs tended to prioritize academic areas. No differences were found when comparing teachers' responses according to their level of education, age, and years of teaching experience. We discuss the findings in light of prior literature, the implications and limitations of the study, and lines for further research. (author abstract)

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