Recently published research by Gabrijela Aleksić, Christine Merrell, Dieter Ferring, Peter Tymms and Jasmina Klemenović provided an insight into young children’s development and learning in Serbia. It investigated the links between their personal, social and emotional development (PSED), behaviour and cognitive development in literacy and mathematics during pre-school and Grade 1. The PIPS On-entry Baseline Assessment was adapted for use in the research and a sample of 159 children were assessed at three time-points over a period of 14 months through their time in pre-school and Grade 1. The children were aged between 5 ½ and 6 ½ over this period. More than 3 million children around the world have been assessed with PIPS and this study is another example of how it is used for research as well as to provide teachers with information about the development and progress of their pupils.
The study found that teachers in Serbia generally gave higher ratings for girls’ PSED than boys. This echoes the findings of research from other countries, including England and Scotland. The Serbian children’s PSED were closely related to their mathematics and literacy skills. However, there was a weaker relationship between inattentive behaviour and cognitive development than has been found in other countries.
Although pre-school education in Serbia places emphasis on developing children’s socio-emotional skills, there is the issue of attendance at pre-school being significantly lower than other European countries. This is the first study of its kind in Serbia and the research team call for further systematic monitoring of children’s development alongside the evaluation of interventions aimed at enhancing children’s personal, social and emotional development.