Introduction Early childhood education is a term that is used to commonly describe the formal teaching and care of young children by individuals or professionals other than their family or in settings outside the child’s home. Based on the definition provided by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, early childhood education spans the child’s life from birth to the age of eight.
That being said, the general definition adopted by the majority of school districts throughout the world will typically employ a system of early childhood education starting from birth to when a child starts school—which typically occurs at the age of five. The definitions regarding early childhood education are somewhat arbitrary; however, the majority of school jurisdictions throughout the world have defined the curriculum as taking place between a child’s birth until he or she reaches the age of 6.
This period is regarded as one of the most critical in regards to a child’s development, for the years, which constitute early childhood education, denote the most influential period of growth and development. From zero to age 6 is the period of greatest growth and development for a child; at this stage, the brain develops most rapidly. During this period, a child will begin walking, talking, developing a self-esteem and manufacturing a vision of the world. As a result of these innate developments, the child will build a moral foundation that is ultimately intertwined with the ability to perform rudimentary educational tasks.
Social and Emotional Development Having your child attend the same preschool programme throughout his or her early years allows him or her to develop relationships with the adults and children in that environment, which provides a sense of security. A child who is comfortable with the people in his or her life is more likely to participate in learning opportunities and in advanced cooperative play, such as role playing with others, playing games with rules, and working with others to accomplish goals.
Children who experience consistency in their early childhood education programme demonstrate less aggressive behaviours, because of their ability to interact with others and use their language skills to resolve conflicts. For young children, the knowledge that teachers, other children, and daily routines will be consistent over time fosters confidence and competency in social settings. These dimensions include well-trained teaching staff, a small number of children per classroom and an enduring intervention that begins early.
Reviews of effective early education strategies conclude that programs that combine early childhood education with services to support families can produce lasting positive social benefits, and can result in decreased rates of antisocial and delinquent behavior (Yoshikawa, 1995). Cognitive Development Consistency in the preschool programme can significantly impact a child’s cognitive development. High-quality early childhood development programmes that provide developmentally appropriate curricula, enable children to develop specific cognitive skills at the appropriate age.
Developmentally appropriate curricula help children develop cognitive skills through a developmental continuum, meaning the curricula builds on children’s existing skills and knowledge to help them acquire new skills and knowledge. In addition, curriculum programmes that incorporate developmental objectives ensure children follow a scope and sequence of age-appropriate developmental milestones throughout their time in the programme.
Although research suggests that income is clearly associated with the cognitive development and achievement of children during their preschool years, studies have likewise found that the poorest children benefit the most from a high quality early education program (Brooks-Gunn, 2003; Yoshikawa, 1995). Language Development Language development occurs at a rapid pace in children between the ages of one and five years old. Children who are secure in their environment and with the people around them are more likely to engage in frequent, age-appropriate conversations.
These daily interactions lead to more advanced language skills by promoting vocabulary development and conversational skills. Through activities such as daily group discussions, finger-plays, songs, and read-alouds, children develop the fundamental language skills they will continue to build on throughout their lifetimes. Researchers have posited that the proportion of kindergarteners who enter school without basic literacy and numeracy skills could be substantially higher in poor and minority communities than that of children from middle-class backgrounds (Brooks-Gunn, 2003). Skill Development
Children play because it is fun. Play is also key to their learning and development. Playing, both structured and unstructured, lays the foundation for a child’s development of future learning and life skills. It helps children: develop their knowledge, experience, curiosity and confidence, learn by trying things, comparing results, asking questions and meeting challenges develop the skills of language, thinking, planning, organizing and decision-making. Stimulation, play and being included in play with other children and adults are very important for children with disabilities or chronic illnesses, such as children with HIV.
When parents and other caregivers talk and interact with children in their first language, it helps children develop the ability to think and express themselves. Children learn language quickly and easily through hearing and singing songs, having stories told or read to them, repeating rhymes and playing games. Girls and boys need the same opportunities for play and interaction with all family members, including siblings and grandparents, and in activities outside the home. Play and interaction with the mother and the father help strengthen the bond between the child and both parents.
Additionally, the positive effects of the intervention have persisted through age 40, more than 30 years after the program ended, in the form of lower rates of crimes committed and higher monthly earnings on average when compared to adults with the same background who did not participate in the program as children (Schweinhart, 2003). Behavior Developement By watching and imitating others, young children learn how to interact socially. They learn acceptable and unacceptable kinds of behaviour. The examples set by adults, older siblings and children are the most powerful influences shaping a child’s behaviour and personality.
One way children learn is by copying what others do. If men and women do not treat each other equally, the child will observe, learn and probably copy this behaviour. If adults shout, behave violently, exclude or discriminate, children will learn this type of behaviour. If adults treat others with kindness, respect and patience, children will follow their example. If mothers and fathers treat each other with love and respect, this is what their children will learn and most likely ‘replay’ in their adult relationships. Children like to pretend.
This should be encouraged, as it develops their imagination and creativity. It also helps the child understand different ways people behave. Conclusion The benefits are evident in almost all the spheres of children’s lives. Learning through play ensures, they manage to incorporate communication skills and feel comfortable in expressing themselves. They become friendlier and slowly, they start gaining independence. Children feel a new found freedom and that helps them in the long run. Child development center is a great place to engage children in active instruction.
Because of the caring nature of the teachers and caretakers, child feels at ease and gradually he stops missing his home. The nature of childhood instruction is usually one-to-one in preschools; it proves instrumental in easy identification of children for academic intervention. All in all, there are countless benefits of early childhood education and parents must ensure that their children are not deprived of this great source of learning. References Barnett, W. S. (1995). Long-term effects of early childhood programs on cognitive and school outcomes. Future of Children, 5(3), 25-50.
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