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Members of the Education Council and Early Childhood Care and Education Unit upon the approval of the Cayman Islands Early Years Curriculum Framework.

We sought to ensure that the CIEYCF was inclusive of the best practice from around the world.

April Tibbetts, Early Childhood Officer and lead for the curriculum project.

Published 20th June 2014, 2:38pm

After two and a half years of drafting, piloting and consultation, the Cayman Islands Early Childhood Curriculum Framework (CIEYCF) was unanimously approved by the Education Council on April 24, 2014 to be recognized as the national curriculum for early childhood care and education centres and programmes in the Cayman Islands.

“There has been a void for a curriculum document for early years practitioners. Although the late Mrs. Marjorie Beckles produced the Cayman Islands Preschool Curriculum Guide in 1998, there has been no official, unified curriculum document for early childhood in the Cayman Islands,” says Carol Bennett, Senior Policy Advisor and Manager, Early Childhood Care and Education Unit.

The CIEYCF sets the tone for early childhood best practice in the Cayman Islands. The Aspiration Statement for children which the CIEYCF helps to achieve is, “Every child will be a self confident, resilient, critical thinker who is intrinsically motivated to explore their world through play and active learning; able to clearly and creatively communicate their thoughts and ideas with respect to the people and the world around them.” The framework consists of four Key Focus Areas; Exploration, Respect, Well-Being and Communication. The Key Focus Areas are supported by 84 learning outcomes to be developed throughout the early years.

The guiding philosophy of this framework is that children need to learn through hands on experiences; an approach which is often referred to as “play-based learning”. The framework provides information about best practice which should be evident in every day routines and interactions. It also offers an area for each stage of development to give practitioners activities that can be done to target specific learning outcomes. The CIEYCF is accessible via the education website as a resource for not only practitioners and teachers in the early childhood field but also by parents who want to help support their child’s learning.

“We sought to ensure that the CIEYCF was inclusive of the best practice from around the world. Our aim is to ensure the highest quality beginning for our young children by giving early childhood practitioners tools and guidance such as this user friendly document that meets the needs of all children,” says April Tibbetts, Early Childhood Officer and lead for the curriculum project.

Research has proven that simplifying the basics of reading, writing and mathematics is not enough for the early years learners. During the piloting of the CIEYCF, feedback was received from practitioners and teachers that the children had become more engaged and teachers saw more focused learners that were ready for the challenges of new knowledge. “There are ways to engage a child with phonemic and numeracy concepts that don’t require paper and pencil. It was the aim of our team to get those communicated to practitioners and parents so that the children would be free to learn in a way that is most natural to them, play,” says April Tibbetts.

The secondary aspect to children’s learning that must be done is the tracking of progress, which is a key component to a child’s success. The framework acknowledges that everyone, especially young children, learn in their own way and at their own pace. There are 3 identified stages of development within the document but a child can be developing anywhere within those stages regardless of their physical age. Practitioners and teachers are able to use the recommended activities to meet each child’s needs. “I have found it very useful in planning to meet the individual needs of my students. My students have responded greatly to the new format and their play has become more meaningful as they talk it through,” says Patrice Dilbert, Reception Teacher, West End Primary School, Cayman Brac.

The CIEYCF has been created with sensitivity to the Cayman Islands National Curriculum for primary education. All of the necessary foundational skills to meet the demands of primary education have been woven into the framework to help ensure the success of every child. Practitioners and teachers are provided with training which emphasizes the importance of monitoring each individual child’s progress and reflecting on what the next steps of development should be. “The CIEYCF has provided me with a guide to ensure the highest quality training and encourage more high quality students in early years education here in the Cayman Islands. It has also taught me to reflect on my teaching as well as motivate me to make a strong foundation for my own Caymanians at an early age as I believe, ‘A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.’ Henry Adams.” Melisha McField, Reception Teacher at Savannah Primary School.

“I am and have long been a staunch advocate for the development of a world class early childhood care and education system. The Cayman Islands Early Years Curriculum Framework will both standardise and help to improve the quality of education and support that we provide for our young children as they grow and develop. I eagerly await the positive changes that the unified implementation of this Curriculum will effect for our children,” states Minister of Education, Employment and Gender Affairs, Hon. Tara Rivers, JP.

The approval of the Cayman Islands Early Years Curriculum Framework is a key step in meeting the Strategic Goal 2 of the Ministry of Education’s Strategic Plan. The implementation of the framework guidance will “provide access to high quality early childhood care and education to all children, regardless of income, background, special or additional needs”.