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Early Childhood Education

Early childhood education refers to the program of children’s development during the most intensive period – from birth to the age of eight. During early childhood it is of extreme importance to focus on activities that support proper development of the children’s brain.

early childhood education

What is early childhood education

As children grow, they learn about the world around them and develop psychomotor skills necessary for success in life. In the beginning, this involves the basics, such as learning to speak, walk, chew, etc. However, children need encouragement and a correct approach even for these simple activities; positive reinforcement and motivation are crucial in the period between the ages of 2 and 4. 

In this period, children are commonly enrolled in kindergartens and preschools where educators actively work on their further development. As they spend a part of the day separated from their parents, children often form a bond with their teachers and eventually recognize these teachers as individuals they can rely on. Therefore, it is important to have a clearly defined system for working with children so that everyone gets equal chances of success in life.  

The United States government goes to great lengths to make all children a part of the early childhood education system, because that way, children get the opportunity to acquire habits, knowledge, and skills from an early age which will help them succeed in life. This is done through institutional and systemic care for the child’s development. This doesn’t only include learning, but also care for their psychophysical health (regular and quality nutrition, healthcare, care of their emotional development, etc.). 

Benefits of early childhood education

Caring for children in the early period of their life greatly improves their chances to succeed later in life. Research shows that this approach pays off not only on a human level, i.e. care for children’s development, but on the economic level as well.  

Namely, investing in early childhood education programs returns to the state tenfold, because this is how future experts are made. Thanks to a great childhood and education, they get a chance to use the potential that may not have been recognized otherwise. Early childhood education helps children progress better, which makes it easier to cope at school when they are older, and that, in turn, opens the doors of good schools and universities, and thus helps them find better jobs and build successful careers. 

When we look at this chain of events, it is clear that early childhood education is important for the development of children, but also for society as a whole. Namely, a specific approach to children is used while they are in preschool, but this approach should be implemented at home as well as consistency and a positive atmosphere will encourage children to explore the world around them and learn new things. 

Learning through play

Children acquire knowledge and skills through play and physical activities in line with their age. Many activities we often take for granted are key to development. Some of the basic skills a toddler should master: 

  • Potty training
  • Using the bathroom and washing their hands on their own
  • Changing clothes
  • Performing simple tasks
  • Communicating with their environment (forming simple sentences)
  • Drawing and painting
  • Using scissors for children
  • Repeating physical exercises in line with the child’s age
  • Ability to focus and listen to stories
  • Getting used to daily routines (time for meals, walks, naps)
  • Using a knife and fork

These are key abilities that every child must acquire when the time comes. However, many parents are often reluctant to make the next step in development, believing that their child is not yet ready. The role of teachers is crucial in this period, because their experience can help them assess if the child is ready to perform certain activities or not. Moreover, children often progress faster group settings because they watch what other children are doing and try to imitate them..  

To achieve the desired goals, we need to organize activities that encourage creativity and imagination, because that way, children won’t even be aware that they learn valuable life lessons through play. To achieve the best possible effect, it is good to have parents participate in the activities, and solve tasks together with their children. These can be joint sports games, creating cards for Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day, singing and playing instruments together, etc. Children will not only gain new knowledge through these activities, but also develop intellectually and learn to communicate with others. 

Successful children’s development requires a timely acquisition of motor skills. Experienced teachers are able to recognize things that the child is good at, and plan their development accordingly. Every child has their own path, some learn to speak first, whereas others first master walking. The same goes for later development. However, all these different paths ultimately lead to the same goal – mastering the tasks necessary for development. 

It is important to work on the development of motor skills from an early age, because the child needs to learn to hold a spoon correctly if they are to learn to eat on their own. And This is just the beginning, because practically every activity in preschool demands certain motor skills. To be able to draw, children need to know how to properly hold crayons and pencils; to be able to differentiate shapes, they need to learn to use the scissors. Toddlers will quickly adopt any skills if they are given the opportunity to continuously practice what they’ve learned.  

The role of teachers is very important here, because they should tell parents to practice the same or similar activities at home. Watching TV should be avoided, because children are passive and don’t engage in any activity. Of course, both television and mobile phones can be educational if we focus on useful programs for children and limit their media time.  

Introducing children to sports demands a higher level of development of motor activities. Playing ball is a great opener, but parents should consider other activities that develop the child’s body coordination. These may include athletics, gymnastics, swimming, or team sports where the child will also acquire team spirit. Although they may be small, children like to try new things, especially if they do it with their friends and classmates.

An early connection with books, words and letters is very important for the development of the child’s brain. This is why we read stories to children from an early age, and give them picture books to leaf through and ‘read’ on their own. Each stage in the child’s development, from birth to the age of eight should involve books in some capacity. After the initial introduction, children should learn numbers, letters, and how to write them. Understanding that letters are what makes a story encourages the child to continue exploring and create stories of their own. To achieve the best possible effect, we should introduce children to exercise books so they would learn to read and write numbers and letters through play. 

In the beginning, they solve basic tasks, and in time, the tasks will get more and more complex to prepare them for school responsibilities. If this complex process is carried out gradually, it won’t overburden the child, because they will see it as a series of fun challenges. This stage will also help the child get used to the teaching method used in modern future-ready schools, where tasks are solved through team work and task division. 

Early childhood is the period when learning is easiest, although children may not be aware of it. This is particularly visible in the period when children learn to speak. When that happens, parents shouldn’t use baby language when talking to their children, but rather address them using adult language, and gradually introduce more and more complex sentences. Early childhood education involves the development of children’s thoughts through various games. Children are asked about their opinions, to explain phenomena around them, and to describe activities they engaged in. The role of parents is important here as well, because they should actively participate in this process and have productive conversations with their children. Many kindergarten activities should be continued at home so as to achieve continuity.  

It is interesting that children of this age quickly pick up foreign languages. The moment they’ve mastered English, another language should be introduced. Educational institutions often organize foreign language courses where the language is taught in line with the children’s age. Many parents would never assume that their child could successfully master both Spanish and English at this age. It is even better if a family member speaks a foreign language, because that way, the child can learn it even faster, increasing their vocabulary. 

Many children master two, or even three languages by the time they start primary school. Not only is this knowledge useful for their further development and career, but learning foreign languages represents an excellent exercise in itself which improves the child’s intellectual abilities manifold. 

Importance of early childhood education

Investing in the child’s early development should be the priority of every parent, and the community where the child lives. It is in everyone’s interest that these little people grow into successful members of society. The better they prepare themselves for future challenges, the easier it will be to fulfill their ambitions, enroll in the best schools, and build successful careers.  Early childhood education system was created precisely with this mission in mind, to ensure that every child, regardless of their background, has a chance to succeed in life. 

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