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Reviewing the work of Ferre Laevers: Wellbeing and Involvement in the Early Years.




Early childhood education has faced numerous challenges after the COVID-19 pandemic. As educational settings strive to resume operations, educators struggle to address developmental setbacks, particularly in the linguistic, social, and emotional domains. In this evolving landscape, the work of Professor Dr. Ferre Laevers offers valuable insights into the relationship between cognition and emotion. Professor Dr. Ferre Laevers, director of the Research Centre for Experiential Education at the University of Leuven in Belgium, has conducted extensive research into quality in Early Childhood Education and other educational settings.


Laevers sought to achieve measurable outcomes from educational inputs, and he designed a scale to measure quality in educational settings using two domains: wellbeing and involvement. The tool, called the 'Process Oriented Child Monitoring System (POCS),' rates a child’s wellbeing and involvement on a scale of 1-5. Measurements are recorded in short time segments several times across the year.


Laevers emphasises that both wellbeing and involvement must be present in children to ensure quality. When a child feels wellbeing, he or she is 'like a fish in water.' This may seem simplistic, but it is significant. Counter it with the idea of a 'fish out of water,' and the stress becomes clear.


Involvement occurs when children display a high degree of concentration, interest, and even fascination. They do not want to be removed from the situation, and there is an animated, energetic tone to what Laevers means by involvement.


When both wellbeing and involvement are present, children feel harmonious and in a state of flow. The information may seem clinical, but educators who have used the scale describe how children who did not measure well on this scale came to their notice sooner. They were better understood and better supported.


Laevers' work reminds us to develop lively minds and well-balanced emotional dispositions in young children. He tells the story of 'Anna and the Carrots,' in which a toddler is present as carrots are prepared. She does not limit herself to touching and tasting the crunchy slices; instead, she arranges the discs in a bright orange row along her forearm. Laevers sees this as active engagement in the mathematico-logical domain of knowledge and then comments: 'No one except Anna thought of the activity for the day… arranging carrots.' He reminds us of the fluid plasticity of children's thinking and their predisposition to construct meaning from everything around them.


When their hands and minds are occupied, they are likely to display a sense of wellbeing. In a sector where educators and children may struggle with reduced wellbeing, it is time to refocus on the balance between wellbeing and involvement. Interesting materials, focused skill development, and a richly resourced environment for learning and play give students the greatest chance of activating their cognitive capacities to strengthen their sense of wellbeing.



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