Early formal education refers to the education that children obtain during early stages of their childhood. Early childhood is a crucial time period for the development of the mental functions of children. This development, including the emergence of the abilities and skills in areas such as language, motor skills, psychosocial cognitive, and learning, is now known to be greatly influenced by exogenous factors, including the nature of the educational environment to which the child is exposed during the first eight years of life. The benefits of early childhood education have long been disputed. For many years it was believed that children who receive early formal education have an advantage over those who start school at age five or six. Today, some educators challenge that view. They speculate that intellectual and emotional harm can result from putting very young children into structured learning situations. It is hard to deny the opponents opinion that children have always grown up to be intelligent and reliable young adults without the benefits of early childhood education.
However, in my opinion, I feel like children who receive early formal education will have advantages over those who start school at age five or six because early formal education can provide a good foundation for real learning for young children, encourage the children to organize their thoughts, communicate and social with other people, and develop children’s cognition and know the importance of friendship. First, providing a good start for real learning for young children in the future is one of the reasons that I think children should attend early formal education before first grade. Children can attend early formal education, such as preschool or kindergarten before they begin elementary schools. All human beings learn to speak a language that they hear. The language children hear in their early years is the language they will reproduce, whether that would be English, Spanish, Swahili, Arabic, French, Vietnamese, or whatever. “In a country like ours, although English is the language spoken by the majority immigration has always brought us substantial groups who speak languages other than English.
In addition, regional differences and educational levels present a variety of English-language dialects as models to children, so that there may or may not be homogeneity of language spoken in kindergarten classes in many parts of the country” (Cohen 58). Number of immigrants into the United States is increasing in recent years. Therefore, it is bringing different languages and affecting homogeneity of language in the preschool and kindergarten. “Granting, however, that every language serves the purposes of its users, we must also concede that schools, the press, and the government in our country all use Standard English. There is therefore a unifying value in every citizen’s ability to relate to and to use Standard English, but not because it is better. Standard English is likely to be the first language for school for most children in the United States” (Cohen 59). For instance, we are living in the United States, and of course we should know how to speak English.
Also, children who grow up here should learn how to speak English fluently to get higher education and get a good job in the future. Especially, children who speak another language at home have to learn English as a second language. For example, my cousin, Nhung, was born in Vietnam. She had come to the U.S. when she was one year old. She spoke Vietnamese at home and did not speak English at all. Because Nhung’s parents did not know to speak English, they could not teach Nhung how to spell, read, or write in English. Finally, when she was four years old, her parents decided to let Nhung go to preschool. They wanted Nhung to have a foundation to begin with English in higher levels. From preschool, Nhung had learned a lot of things. After few months, she knew how to spell her own name, her parents’ name, read letters in ABC, or read a short story in a book. Her parents were surprised when their daughter could learn English fast in preschool like that. Day by day, Nhung has developed like other children in the United States. She had the foundation for English on time from preschool.
Now, she can speak English perfectly and fluently. As a result, I think that children who speak another language at home also benefit a great deal from early formal education, as they are the most prepared to learn English when they are very young before beginning elementary schools. Also, “educators often refer to the pre-reading and pre-math skills that a child will learn through play in preschool or kindergarten. These are the foundations on which a child will build competency in reading and math” (Borden 113). Children need abstract thinking in order to make the intellectual leap that words on a page represent ideas. “As a child learns to express herself/himself through art projects, telling stories, participating in dramatic play, she begins to understand that expressing ideas can be done in a variety of mediums, including the words on a page” (Borden 113). Many children enter preschool able to count to 10, 20, or even 100.
However, “counting by rote is not the same thing as understanding that numerals are symbols for numbers. As a preschooler helping to prepare snack for his class puts out one napkin for each student, he begins to make the connection between the numbers he can rattle off and the concrete numbers that correspond to napkins” (Borden 113). There is an educational component to the myriad of activities in the classroom. Day by day, the children are gaining knowledge each day while they are in the program with preschool or kindergarten. Children in early formal education can learn a lot of things before they go up for elementary schools. In fact, early formal education provide a good foundation in reading, writing, or pre-math for real learning for young children in the future. Next, an early formal education will encourage the children to organize their thoughts, communicate and social with other people. “As children grow and develop, they are more capable of independent, abstract, and complex thinking.
How they approach the subject, what they learn, and how they can use the information will change as they grow older” (Borden 171). “Children learn most effectively when they interact with people and materials in an environment that is carefully organized to facilitate. Children develop foundation skills and concepts through play, learning, creative development, and relationships within their environment. Knowledge of child development enables teacher to integrate learning across a curriculum. A whole-child environment stresses the importance of the integration of knowledge through the continuity of experiences during a child’s early years” (Cromwell 121). There is an educational component in each part of the normal preschool day.
Whether it is sharing news during circle time, building blocks, reading a short story, or doing easy math, children is learning new skills, refining, and developing others. “As children continue to gain knowledge through experience, they become increasingly interested in and motivated toward their surrounding world. The facts, the attitudes, and the consistent presence of nurturing adults in their lives provide a baseline for a child’s development, identity, and social maturation” (Cromwell 107). When a child feels good about herself/himself and her/his accomplishments, she/he will gradually view learning as a lifelong process. “The time to cultivate a foundation for learning is in the early years of development when children are receptive and responsive to their relationships and experiences” (Cromwell 107). In fact, most of children who are growing up in the United States do not spend a lot of times with friends before they are going to school.
They just stay home and play inside their houses. Actually, they do not communicate with a lot of people. However, children develop the most about their communication, social, and emotion at the age from three to six years old. Going to early formal education, children can develop their communication. They have time to play with their friends who can help them to grow their social maturation and gain knowledge. Children learn to speak in a small group. This can help children learn how to talk, listen, or communicate with other people. Also, they have studied new vocabularies or have told a short story to friends in a group. Children are becoming social, and they are interested in playing with other children, beginning to share and take turns to play with friends. “From ages three to five, children develop increased mastery of language and begin to think symbolically and logically.
These developments allow them to observe, investigate, and engage with the physical and social environment in new ways. Preschool-age children’s development of gross and fine motor skills enables them to move confidently through space; manage finer, more complex task; and take more care of personal needs, such as going to toilet and getting dressed” (“The Preschool Child” 15). Also, one of the major tasks for children in preschool is learning to form independent relationships of trust with adults outside the family. Another importance during the early education is learning how to interact with other children and develop positive social relationship. “These aspects of normal development in the preschool years move children away from the egocentrism typical of infants and toddlers and toward perspective of others. Other important aspects of this development include the ability to cooperate, negotiate, and practice greater give and take in friendship” (“The Preschool Child” 16). Children have learned a lot of important things in the early formal education. Actually, children would learn self-regulation of emotions and behaviors. This means they learn not to act on impulse, especially on aggressive impulse.
In addition, children will learn how to express feelings in socially appropriate ways and develop satisfying social relationships with other children and adults. Children gradually learn how to negotiate social relationships, enter into play with others and take the perspective of others. Early childhood education provides children a means in which to learn to share toys, to communicate thoughts and ideas, and to deal with their emotions. By playing and learning with other children in early formal education, children will learn how to deal with day to day situations. Moreover, early formal education can help children in developing children’s cognition and know the importance of friendship. During the preschool years, children will increase “the ability to represent real objects, people, and events mentally or symbolically.
Through this stage, children can image a desired outcome and work toward it, can use drawings or dramatization to represent to others what they know, and can begin to grasp that written words carry meaning” (Oser 9). “In combination with improved memory, more logical thinking and increased language skills, symbolic representation fuels overall development at this age (Wadsworth 1996)” (“The Preschool Child” 17). Attending early education, children can develop their cognitive abilities, such as “the ability to describe the conversation of matter (e.g., ice melting to water), attempted explanations of cause and effect (e.g., if a plant does not have water, it will die), and observations and questions about natural phenomena (e.g., noticing that there are different types of clouds, wondering why leaves are falling off trees)” (“The Preschool Child” 17). Children can understand more about things that happen around them. Therefore, their knowledge increases before they are actually in the formal education in elementary schools. “Preschool-age children’s cognitive development also results in the capacity to set aside one’s own perspective momentarily and to imagine the perspective of another person.
This ability has profound effects on the social development of children because it enables them to enter into the give and take required in cooperative activities and reciprocal friendships. Engagement in these relationships, in turn, stimulates further language and cognitive development, which then enriches social relationships and play” (“The Preschool child” 17). In addition, children will understand more about relationship with friends, the importance of friendships. “When children work together in small groups, there is spontaneous conversation exchange of ideas, acquaintance with one another’s interest and performance, and the experience of liking others and of being liked. Special friendships or lasting attachments may thus be formed” (Cohen 42).
For example, Andy, just five years old, began kindergarten. “He spent twenty minutes in the class touching different materials on tables and floor, finding himself in the midst of playing, working children because he did not know anyone in class. To his surprise he noticed Bob, a neighborhood friend, in the class. Andy came and said “Hi”, and Bob responded. After that day, Andy got home and talked to his parents “You know what? I saw Bob in the class and I said hi and he said hi back to me” (Cohen 40). He repeated that several times with his parents. “What made the strongest impression on Andy was to see Bob, whom he knew well, perfectly at ease there in the kindergarten—doing things, speaking to people, responding with a “hi” to him. Therefore, kindergarten is a place where children can speak to friends and do what they do.
This concrete premise of being able to maintain or to create relationships was of first importance to Andy, as it is the same to many others” (Cohen 40). Having friends at schools to play with is also one of the reasons that children want to come to school. My cousin, Nhung, was four when she was in preschool. She did not want to go to school because she did not know how to speak English. However, after first day of school, she enjoyed and liked to go to school. She told us about her friends at school. Friendships helped her to love school. If children stay home until five years old to begin education, I feel that they might have a tough time to begin. While other children who had attended preschool and kindergarten will know lot of things, children who did not go to preschool will below that level. Day by day at the early formal education, children will learn more and more things. Children open mind about the friendship and increase in developing children’s cognition as children continue to gain knowledge through experiences when they play with other children.
It is easy to see that an early childhood education is essential for a child’s future. Early formal education will have advantages over those children who start school at age five or six because early formal education can provide a good foundation for real learning for young children, encourage the children to organize their thoughts, communicate and social with other people, and develop children’s cognition and know the importance of friendship. Day by day, the children are gaining knowledge while they are in the program with preschool or kindergarten. In fact, early formal education provide a good foundation in reading, writing, or pre-math for real learning for young children in the future. Also, by playing and learning with other children in early childhood education, it provides children a means in which to learn to share toys, to communicate thoughts and ideas, and to deal with their emotions.
In addition, children will become increasingly interested in and motivated toward their surrounding world because they are gaining more knowledge at early stage in preschool or kindergarten. Moreover, children open their minds in friendship while they are playing with each other day by day at school. However, parents who choose to place their child in education should be cautioned on a few things. Psychologists say that children should only attend part time. This is because it is important that the child spends time with the parents each day; which fosters security in the child. It is also important that the child does not become overwhelmed or too tired during a long day. Even a few days a week in early childhood education will provide a great deal of benefit to children.
Courtney from Study Moose
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