Prof. Dr. Esra ÖMEROĞLU
Gazi University, Faculty of Gazi Education
Department,of Early Childhood Education
Shewasborn in Ankara After completion of her elemantary, middle and highschool education in Ankara she got her Bachelors degree in Philosophy Major from Hacettepe University Child Development and Education Department in 1983. Then, she got her Masters degree from Hacettepe University, Institute of Health Sciences in1986, and her Ph.D. degree after finishing the program of Hacettepe University, Institute of Health Sciences in 1990. She has been working as a research assistant at Gazi University in Ankara between 1984-1990, assitant professor between 1990-1991, assosociated professor between 1991-1996 and professor 1996- still. She got the Assosciateship Degree at London University Institute of Education .In She was visiting professor at Perdue University in USA in 1991.She has several studies and papers published in various academic journals in English and in Turkish on her primary research interests, which are including drama in early childhood education parents education, character education in early childhood, cognitive development in earlychildhood period, social and emotional development in childhood, She gives lectures: drama in early childhood education, visual arts in early childhood education, parent education
The threats on public finance equations in today’s global world highly limited the government’s social expenditure. Market-based philosophy of liberal state mentality has put a pressure on many groups, primarily families, with social risk. The groups which are mostly effected by that are families and children. Besides these threats, social and demographic conditions which have changed due to other factors such as migration, agricultural changes, urbanization, and population increase brought together the participation of women in labour. Therefore, support in child-care became more significant, and as a result of this need, there was an upsurge in the number of pre-school education institutions.
It is found out that the participation in pre-school education programs increase students’ adaptation to social rules and norms, provide readiness for primary education, and decrease the rates of repeating classes or dropping-out. One of the two studies on the long-term effects of pre-school education is Perry Pre-School Project, and the other is “Early Support Project” in our country. Among the findings of “Early Support Project”, a horizontal research of twenty two years, are the fact that the intelligence level of the children are very advanced compared to those who don’t get the pre-school education, that they study a lot longer, that more of them study at university, that they work at higher level of jobs, and that they participate more in modern, social, and economic life. Participation in pre-school education programs increase children’s adaptation to social rules and norms and improve their friend relations. These skills are the tools for adaptation to school and success in social environments. This program enables children to obey rules, to work with others, and to acquire behaviours to prevent possible destructive behaviours in relations with friends (Bekman and Gürlesel, 2005).
Apart from that, there are deficiencies in fundamental socials skills required by children to form positive interactions with each other, solve problems, follow instructions, or join academic or social learning environments due to the increase in the number of children attending pre-school education institutions. The violence in school, family and society gradually increases the level of anxiety in all the factors. The politics causing the employment of fewer personnel in learning environments of schools leave teachers alone with their problems. Therefore, it is thought that children need more support in today’s evolved world compared to the past (McGinnis and Goldstein, 2003).
As a social entity, a person is in a struggle to connect with his surroundings and continue this communication. Sound relations in this communication process can only be realized through acquiring sufficient social skills. They play a great role for an individual in forming good relations with others, obeying social rules, taking responsibilities, helping others, and using his rights (Genç, 2005). Children with social skills are expected to presents behaviours such as sharing, helping, obeying rules and instructions, trusting others, working cooperatively, working individually, entering a group in class, and playing cooperatively (Sarı, 2007; Kamaraj, 2004; Akfırat -Önelan, 2006).
Under the conditions of today’s world, information is renewed, shaped, and transferred so fast that the priority of economic policy with its ever-increasing acceleration has become the fundamental element of welfare society. Council of Europe (2001) and UNESCO (Delors, 1996) reformed their educational policy with the consciousness of this fact and adopted the education system based on life-long learning philosophy. This system which emphasizes cognitive skills anticipates providing individuals with skills to reach, create, or change information instead of conveying information to individuals. Through activities of learning by doing, it aims to transform new information into product by integrating cognitive skills, such as decision making and critical-thinking, with psychomotor skills. In this view, the significance of early childhood education which is the beginning of life-long learning process cannot be denied. Nevertheless, the development of said skills depends on the effective use of other skills closely related to social fields. Especially in pre-school education, peers play a more significant role compared to parents in developing social skills. Therefore, the steps taken to develop social skills present vital value in pre-school education.
The Aim of the Project
The purpose of this project is to support the improvement of pre-school education quality in order to bring up, through innovative education strategies, individuals who possess social skills fit for the needs of their time, make good relations with others, obey social rules and adapt social values, take responsibilities, and respect others’ rights.
Specific Aims of the Project
- Development and application of social skills training programs for children 36 to 60 months and older to support formal education programs.
- Dissemination and ensuring sustainability through development and application of social skills based educational training programs for pre-school teachers.
In the first phase of Pre-school Social Skills Support Program for children 36 to 60 months and older, the project team was created to be tasked with achieving general and specific aims of the project. The team consists of teaching staff from Abant İzzet Baysal University, Başkent University, Ankara University Karabük University, and also from Gazi University, the project manager. The teaching staff are specialized in the fields of Pre-school teaching, Special Education for Early Childhood, Child Development and Education, Education Planning and Education, Guidance and Counselling (Behaviour Management), Educational Measurement and Evaluation, Computer and Instructional Technology. After arranging a work space for the project team, a field study was conducted on the analysis of present written sources, determination of the target group and their participation in the project, interviews with related organizations and institutions, and cooperation.
For the project, methods and tools were developed for evaluating the social skills of children 36 to 60 months and older. Measurement tools to be applied or developed to reach this aim were determined, permissions for the application of surveys were taken, and validity and reliability studies for Turkey were conducted.
The needs of children, teachers, and parents were determined in relation to pre-school social skills training. In this respect, questionnaire forms for children, teachers, and parents were developed along with interview forms for studies on focus group. In this process, five social skills dimensions were defined by the project group as a result of the performed researches. Afterwards, study group was formed, developed forms were applied, the data were evaluated, and the results of needs analysis were reported.
The preparation of Education Program Draft was started after completing needs analysis studies. Going through the literature related to Social Skills Training Program, activities were planned based on children’s age, individual differences, interests and needs, and developmental characteristics. Additionally, extra attention was paid on activities which were prepared for targeted aims and gains to be appropriate for the general structure of education environments in Turkey.
During the preparation process, a pool of activities was created by planning activities for each aim and gain by the field experts in the project team directed for children 36 to 48 months, 48 to 60 months, and 60 months old. Activities in the pool were evaluated in terms of project aims, children’s developmental characteristic, and applicability; activities for the same purpose were integrated and activities with no applicability were omitted to make sure that the activities program suits the expert opinions. Activities were reviewed in view of expert evaluation, and requested corrections were done. After this process of evaluation and review, the training program draft consisting of 224 activities and materials was ready for preliminary trial.
After preparing the training, Social Skills Based Training Program moved to preliminary application process. During the training session for trainers in Ankara, training program was defined, experimental analyses were conducted, and education program handbook and materials were reviewed. An in-service training was given for 40 pre-school teachers randomly selected from Ankara province. The 5-day training program for project trainers went as planned, and afterwards the pilot application study was initiated with 38 teachers, due to reasons such as teacher reassignments. The teachers who participated in the training started to apply the program. Sharing the application processes with project team, they began the application on May 1st, 20012 and concluded it towards the end of May, 2012. The efficiency of Social Skills Training Program Draft was analysed experimentally with the data acquired from parents and teachers, and the results were reported. Additionally, necessary corrections were done on training materials, and all of the training materials were given their final touch according to the feedback from teachers as a result of the teachers training and preliminary application of the training program.
After the rearrangements due to preliminary application, Social Skills Based Teacher Training Program was ready to be applied in 12 provinces across Turkey. Then Social Skills Based Teacher Training Program was applied to selected teachers across Turkey. A total of 143 teachers from 143 provinces participated in the training activity by In-service Training Department, Primary Education Directorate, Ministry of National Education, which is the client of the project. The efficiency of the teacher training activity was evaluated with the comparison between information test, pre-test, and post-test scores all of which were prepared in subject fields in social skills and also with the descriptions from teaching staff who gave the training. When all the findings are considered, it is concluded that teacher training was effective and the teachers left with acquiring the planned cognitive and emotional gains.
For the purpose of observing and reviewing program applications, a plan was made to monitor the pre-school teachers who participated in the teacher training activity on the field. Therefore, the project team was divided in to groups of two people; one for field and one for survey, and performed province visits every week. In every province, focus group interviews were done about the functioning of the program with teachers, and at least one teacher was observed while applying one activity. Meanwhile, material book was reviewed by the project team. Corrections were made for a new edition after determining typing and spelling errors and print mistakes.
As the project was concluded successfully, the client institution, Ministry of National Education, the process of providing trainer education for teachers selected across different provinces of Turkey is still ongoing as a part of dissemination through the country. The books prepared within the project are also approved by the board of education and discipline to be printed and distributed to schools.
Akfırat-Önelan, F. (2006). Sosyal Yeterlilik, Sosyal Beceri ve Yaratıcı Drama. Yaratıcı Drama Dergisi. 1(1): 39-58.
Bekman, S. ve Gürlesel, C. F. (2005). Doğru başlangıç: Türkiye’ de okul öncesi eğitim. Yayın No. TÜSİAD- T/2005-05/396, İstanbul.
Council of Europe (2001). Common European framework of reference for languages: learning, teaching, assessment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Delors, J. (1996). Learning: The treasure within report to UNESCO of the ınternational commission on education for the twenty-first century.
Genç, S. Z. (2005). İlköğretimde Sosyal Becerilerin Gerçekleşme Düzeyinin Belirlenmesi Üzerine Bir Araştırma. Kastamonu Eğitim Dergisi, 13(1): 41-54.
Kamaraj, I. (2004). Sosyal Becerileri Derecelendirme Ölçeği’nin Türkçe’ye Uyarlanması ve Beş Yaş Çocuklarının Atılganlık Sosyal Becerisini Kazanmalarında Eğitici Drama Programının Etkisi. Yayınlanmamış Doktora Tezi. Marmara Üniversitesi, Eğitim Bilimleri Enstitüsü.
McGinnis, E. ve Goldstein, P. A. (2003) Skillstreaming in early childhood, Revised Edition. Research pres Champaign, Illinois.
Sarı, E. (2007). Anasınıfına Devam Eden 5-6 Yaş Grubu Çocukların Annelerinin Çocuk Yetiştirme Tutumlarının Çocuğun Sosyal Uyum ve Becerilerine Etkisinin İncelenmesi. Yayınlanmamış Yüksek Lisans Tezi. Gazi Üniversitesi, Eğitim Bilimleri Enstitüsü.