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From our beginning, in aeioTU we have given great importance to the evaluation of the impact of the work that we do in favor of the transformation of communities through the development of early childhood potential. This is how, during the past 10 years, we have joined efforts with different partners to measure the effects that we have in children, educators and families that we work with. The most detailed and extensive evaluation of this impact has happened through the aeioTU Longitudinal Study, which started in 2010 and that has been led by the NIEER Institute, Rutgers University and La Universidad de Los Andes.
The study, which was done thanks to the contributions of the Jacobs Foundation, The UBS Optimus Foundation and the BID; has shown, amongst other things, that by 8 months of entering aeioTU, positive effects are found in the children’s cognitive and language development. The academic journal Economics of Education Review just published an article about the results of this study. The article, written by Milagros Nores Ph.D., Raquel Bernal Ph.D. and Steve Barnett Ph.D.; is available for consultation here, and constitutes, without a doubt, extremely important material for the organizations working in favor of the improvement of public policies and quality practices in early childhood development.
More than 350 early childhood educators from the UCG6 neighborhood in Cartagena, enjoyed aeioTU’s Arts and Pedagogy Immersion week. Amongst the attendees there were community mothers, teachers, interdisciplinary teams and leaders of different Early Childhood operators. This professional development opportunity offered conferences, workshops and an exhibit. It aimed to train educators on the dialogue between art and pedagogy as vehicles for the promotion of knowledge co-costruction with children, recognizing the importance of environment as a source of fun and amazement.
The event was organized within the framework of the partnership between aeioTU and Fundacion Social, an organization that is working on an venture to improve the life quality of people from the UCG6. With this plan, Fundacion Social seeks that the organized community, in partnership with public and private actors, participates with initiative and power in the transformation and overcoming of its problems, defining a wanted future and a route to reach it.
In the Art, daily companion of learning conference, tecahers had the opportunity to analyze the environment and materials used in Early Childhood spaces. They observed different ways to promote pleasant and fun spaces for children, so they become learning mobilizers, inviting them to play and explore, thus detonatying in children questions about the world surrounding them.
The Plastic that offers hundreds of roads and Earth that transmits a thousand messages workshops allowed teachers to explore different ways in which they can co-construct knowledge and enhance children’s development through experiences around these materials. The Weaving Communities exhibit offered its attendees the opportunity to visualize the way in which children learn in the aeioTU centers, showcasing how our teachers build dialogues between art and pedagogy in their daily experiences.
"I though the workshops were excellent. Especially the manipulation of materials to work with children in pedagogical activities. I really liked seeing and learning the amazing things you can do with soil with the children"
María Bernarda – Community mother HCB Niños Felices
"I really liked the conference. It was a wonderful mental process when they had us create with clay. We left our 30 years of age aside and stayed as 5-year-old children to build and think like them. I learnt that from nothing you can make a lot. That with little materials we can make a lot and learn to be creative and innovative for the children, so that the activities look more prepared and the children can see different things "
Yennis Méndez- Teacher DIMF Semillitas de Fe
"I thought it was very Good, everything we saw was innovative. They took us out of our routine, out of the same things we always do. It gave us many ideas, to take advantage of natural materials, of being resourceful to plan and lead activities with the children that can be amazing for them. At the same time, they allowed us to think outside the box, to stop thinking that activities can’t be done because there is no money, and that there are endless natural materials rich in learning opportunities for our children"
Beatriz Cerda- Coordinator CDI Sueños de Amor.
aeioTU at the Park an experience that enhances the development of children through play and the connection with their senses, thoughts and nature.
Outdoor play as a medium of exploration
A growing body of evidence supports that play is fundamental for children’s positive development and an essential way to foster the skills required to thrive in today’s world. Play allows children to express their thoughts and beliefs about the world around them. Children create hypotheses with play and corroborate them, thus building their knowledge while they develop essential skills such as creative thinking, cooperation, empathy, problem solving and decision making. Play helps this hypothesis construction take place in an imaginative, exploratory and pleasurable way.
Hence, in aeioTU's* Educational Experience, play is recognized as a fundamental learning strategy. We encourage children to create playful experiences along with their peers and adults. These experiences enrich relationships by supporting collective agreement building and the recognition of the ideas of others.
aeioTU at the Park
Play is more enriching when it takes place in a suitable and provocative environment promotes children´s confidence and security to explore, ask and inquire. To this end, in 2013, educators from the aeioTU Nogal Center created aeioTU at the Park, a strategy to promote play amongst children and their families. Through an outdoor play experience that promotes connections with the open spaces in the community, children and their families had the opportunity to explore a diversity of materials, selected with a defined pedagogical intention. This first creative experience was so successful that it was scaled to other centers and territories, in such a way that it has impacted approximately 1,500 children and their families.
Enabling learning in outdoor spaces
The organization of an aeioTU at the Park involves teachers and artists passionate about early childhood. They propose play and exploration stations with large-scale arrangements of materials that can be easily worked and transformed. Using materials such as cardboard, paper, cloth, paint, plastic, seedlings, branches, magnifying glasses, earth, water, pumps and soap, among others. Children and their families are invited to develop open compositions, i.e. by letting children choose materials they wish to explore and that allow them to carry out creative processes without preconceived ideas. This experience allows exploration and the development of the imagination; starting from free play and moving to activities pre-designed with a pedagogical intention. To enable this educators have stations that invite children and adults to communicate beyond words, to organize their thinking, their behaviors, and to use different languages while playing with materials. Consequently, educators find an innovative excuse to help children build learning spontaneously and joyfully.
Building the full potential of children via aeioTU at the Park
aeioTU at the Park´s main objective is to contribute to the development of the full potential of children through play. By taking into account the development dimensions: cognitive, emotional, creative, physical and social, fundamental processes for development are made visible. For example, decision-making is visible when children exercise choice in picking stations and the materials with which they wish to interact with. Character is built when children have to share materials with peers and adults. Critically, families improve their parenting practices with play as the mediator.
Update from 2018 and collaboration with Lego Foundation
In July 2018, aeioTU at the Park moved to Mexico City during the "aeioTU Lab 2018 Mexico - Colombia", with the support of the LEGO Foundation and the DIF Nacional. Here, 80 children and families discovered the power of play through aeioTU in the Park showcasing how meaningful learning outdoor can be for children and families and how learning through play can organized in the open spaces of the community to the more than 450 educators that participated in the aieoTU Lab. The educators reached here have the power to impact more than 9,000 children, enrich relationships and interactions between children and adults in a playful environment and enable experiences that allow adults to rediscover the infinite capacities of children and thereby start spreading the aieoTU in the Park concept from its humble beginnings in Nogal, Bogota to children across Mexico.
Nathalia Mesa Gärtner, founder and member of the aeioTU Board of Directors; receive the Klaus J Jacobs Award for social innovators in Zurich, Switzerland.
The Jacobs Foundation, the organization awarding the prize, invests in the future of youth, promoting that they are productive and socially responsible members of society.
For 2018 the award was given to 10 social innovators who have promoted social changes through the development of children and youth. Among the winners was Nathalia Mesa Gärtner, who received the award for creating and leading aeioTU during its first 10 years.
In the words of Nathalia, "Receiving this recognition was truly moving, I had never been before a group of hundreds of people standing up for our work, and the feedback we normally receive, which fills us with satisfaction, has always come from Inside: seeing what we achieved with children and communities. Receiving this feedback is something that validates our recognition as a social enterprise with a sustainable model, with international experience and a new portfolio of services that is gaining strength thanks to the quality of the model , the management team and various consolidated partnerships"
The award, which consists of CHF $100,000, will be invested by aeioTU in the development of business centers.
Thanks to the parnership between aeioTU and Fundación Social, towards the transformation of the early childhood ecosystem in the UCG6 neigborhood in the city of Cartagena, the aeioTU Training team is starting the fifth trimester of accompaniments for community mothers and teachers of the child development centers.
So far 496 hours of training and accompaniment have been completed in 280 pedagogical spaces, impacting 5,633 children and 425 educators.
The children, their families and communitites have had the opportunity to participate in different events, including and aeioTU to the park, which took place in the neighborhood of El Pozón, at the Ecological Park.
The event was organized by the aeioTU team and among its participants there were community mothers, educators, children, families, and the president of the Community Action Board.
Everyine enjoyed play and exploration while discovering how to make use of the resources at their disposal to enhance the development of their children.
We are happy to share with you our 2017 annual report.
It contains our achievements and the challenges we faced, as well as how we addressed them with our partner´s cooperation.
We hope you enjoy it!
Nathalia Mesa Gärtnr, Chairman of aeioTU, participated as a speaker in the Lego Idea Conference 2017, “Early Learning Systems”, which took place this year in the city of Reggio Emilia, in the north of Italy; and to which diverse representatives of the Ashoka Network; of which Nathalia is a member of, attended.
In the event, which also had the participation of Carla Rinaldi in representation of our ally Reggio Children, Mesa had the opportunity to speak in front of all the attendees about the results of aeioTU Longitudinal Study.
This study has been very important to aeioTU and for other organizations that work with early childhood because it validates that it is possible to transform societies by means of the development of children’s potential: it proved that children under the age of five that attend to aeioTU center for 20 or more months are able to close the existing developmental gap between children from low and high income families.
Nathalia also had the opportunity to present the pedagogic curriculum created by aeioTU, including the impact that the organization has had during the past 10 years of operation.
The Fundacion Club La Pradera allied itself with aeioTU to offer high quality integral care to the children of their collaborators and the community in La Calera. This is how on the past 3rd of April the doors to the first aeioTU business center were opened, with the capacity to care for 25 children and bring to them; and their families, the positive impact reached by our Educational Experience.
More and more employers realize the importance of having benefits that make sense for their collaborators and that allow them to be more calm and motivated. This is why counting with an early childhood center that caters to the children of the collaborators and that functions within the company’s facilities, is without a doubt an excellent solution.
Studies show that only the fact that employees, be it men or women, have the opportunity to work knowing that their children are being taken care of and educated in a kindergarten within their same Company; allows them to have better focus in their daily tasks, they achieve their work expectations, they participate more, it plays a big part on the decision of joining the company and working in a more committed manner; which directly impacts on the productivity of the companies.
According to María Adelaida López, Executive Director of aeioTU-Fundacion Carulla, it has been proven that this type of benefits have a positive impact on company productivity. The happiest employees are those who work in more humane and socially responsible companies. With aeioTU in your company, collaborators are able to balance their family and work responsibilities, they learn to better manage stress and it facilitates employee reintegration, once maternity leaves are finalized.
In addition to this, by facilitating the children’s education in an aeioTU center, companies are ensuring better development and opportunities for their community, given that it has been proven that children that attend to aeioTU educational centers during 20 months or more show a significant close in the developmental gap between children from low income and high income families. aeioTU is committed to the development of children’s potential, promoting them to be competent, creative and society building citizens.
For these reasons, aeioTU en Tu empresa is an innovative and strategic benefit for organizations that desire to reciprocate to their collaborators and at the same time promote the development of their communities.
Appraisal fulfilled by the Universidad de los Andes legitimizes the support that aeioTU offers to CorpoAyapel
In 2016 CorpoAyapel received the enormous challenge of attending to more than 4 thousand children in early childhood, in two municipalities of South Cordoba: Ayapel and La Apartada. AeioTU offered support in this process thanks to an agreement signed between the two organizations, which sought to train the interdisciplinary team CorpoAyapel in aeioTU’s educational model. There were a total of 8 Childhood development Centers and 42 Service Units in Family Modality that benefited from this support.
Thanks to an appraisal fulfilled by the Universidad de los Andes, by means of a study to measure the impact of this support in the quality of the service offered by the Childhood Development Centers and the Service Units in Family Modality that CorpoAyapel operates, they found improvements in the structural aspects of the classrooms, including hygiene and safety conditions, ambiance, points of interest, roleplay areas, building areas and literature areas. Improvements were also observed in the amount of time dedicated to routines, and an increase in the quality of interactions, including emotional support and instructional support. Improvements in positive discipline and learning environments were identified. In terms of perceived changes in the equipment of the childhood development centers, improvements were evident in the relationships with the families to promote development and in the completed training.
In aeioTU we are happy because these improvements are the result of our support of the CorpoAyapel team, and they all represent advances that affect in a positive way the quality in the attention, showing changes in the imaginary of the child, in the understanding of the role of the teachers and generating more significant relationships between children and adults.
Our executive director, María Adelaida López Carrasquilla, nuestra Directora Ejecutiva; and the chairman of our organization, Nathalia Mesa Gärtner, attended the annual meeting for the ProLEER Network that was carried out this year from the 27th to the 29th of March, at Harvard University in the United States.
This Network is looking to strengthen and sustain an international network of researchers, professionals and public policy makers that are committed to improve the learning experiences of children less than 5 years of age. Through the Exchange of knowledge, ProLEER’s members seek to boost the progress of policy and practice in early childhood education in the countries in which they work.
Once a year, the group meets at Cambridge, Massachusetts, to examine various areas of focus through a variety of shared learning experiences that include plenary sessions, problems and challenges detected by the attendees, both locally and internationally.
Representatives from different educational organizations from countries like Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, Spain, United States, Switzerland the Netherlands attended this year’s meeting. aeioTU has been a member of this network for many years and coordinates the Colombian group, in which there are representatives from organizations like Dividendo por Colombia, CorpoAyapel, La Universidad de Los Andes, El Ministerio de Educación and Presidencia de la República.
The agenda of the meeting included a visit to one of the Educational Centers for Early Childhood in Boston, in which Maria Adelaida, Nathalia and the rest of the attendees had the opportunity to observe the experiences and routines that the chidlren share. This educational centers are considered one of the best free public preschool programs in this country.