Early childhood education, which is often referred as preschool, pre-kindergarten, day care, nursery school, is beneficial for children or early education.
Sending your preschool-age child to the early childhood education programs can make a positive impact on every child and give a head start toward a bright future. It prepares young children for their transition into elementary school.
Early Education dates back to ancient times but it has been revitalised by Friedrich Froebel and John Dewey whom were influenced by Greek philosophers.
German educator Friedrich Froebel, who lived from 1782-1852, for instance, is famed for his then radical insight that a child’s early learning experiences are critical to their later educational achievements and to the health and development of society as a whole. He devised a set of principles and practices which would form part of an interactive educational process to take place in educational institutions that in 1840 he named ―kindergarten.
Similarly, American educator John Dewey, who lived from 1859-1952, believed that there were only two natural guides for human beings to reach out to the Ultimate Truth. These guides are science and democracy he argues. Dewey’s work laid strong foundations for Social Constructivism in his country, where it has become generally accepted that teachers and curriculum should be designed to allow for the individual differences and needs of the learners. Like Froebel, Dewey also laid the foundation for generally accepted practice of activity-based learning.
Early childhood education concerns the education of children from birth to age eight which is considered to be the most vulnerable stage of a children’s life. Infants and toddlers experience life more holistically than any other age group. Social, emotional, cognitive, linguistic and physical lessons are not learned separately by very young children.
Much of childhood educational methodology today stems from the work of one particular researcher, that of Swiss philosopher and natural scientist Jean Piaget (1896-1980) whose research on the “Stages of Cognitive Development” helped to create a variety of age-appropriate learning methodologies. According to Piaget, there are four major stages of cognitive development:
1) The Sensorimotor stage, which occurs from birth up to 2 years of age, during which learning is based primarily on physical interaction and experiences.
2) The Preoperational Stage, which occurs between 2 and 7 years, during which intelligence is increasingly demonstrated through the use of symbols, memory and imagination develops as language use matures, thinking is non-logical, no reversible and egocentric.
3) The Concrete Operations Stage, occurring between 7 and 12 years, during which intelligence is demonstrated through logical and systematic manipulation of symbol relating to concrete objects and thinking is operational, reversible and less ego-centric.
4) The Formal Operations Stage, taking place from age 12 and beyond, where intelligence is demonstrated through the logical use of symbols related to abstract concepts, thinking is abstract, hypothetical and initially very ego-centric.
Plato’s student Aristotle believed in observation and experience to be the means of gaining knowledge. Aristotle is in the view of a Constructivist. This is the concept upon which modern science, philosophy and education springs. Schools of Constructivist and development recognized that the quality of child development at the time of school entry predicts school readiness, social skills, schedule, structure and assessment.
School readiness is one of the most important goals of an early childhood education program and it is about to get children ready to transition into elementary school and to take notes during class session. Early education programs should help children prepare to learn by teaching basic concepts like letters, colors and numbers. Reading skills is one of the most important things in early education. If children master reading, they will master writing as well while listening skills is also important for child’s future.
A social skill is another important factor that appeals children to be sent to Nursery. A child enrolled in a preschool program has the chance to interact with children with his or her own age. The child will learn conflict management, problem solving skills and proper behaviour when he or she spends time with other children’s.
Your goal as a parent or as an educator should be to show children the right way to interact with each other, through manners, sharing, problem solving and spending time together, noting things together at every point. These skills will serve children well when it is time for elementary school.
Equally important is schedule and structure. Early childhood education programs should teach children about the importance of schedule and structure. At home, a child may have all day to do whatever he or she wishes, but in a preschool program, he or she will learn about following a schedule and managing time. When he or she transitions to kindergarten, your child will be better prepared to manage the structure of his/her day as listens to the teacher and follows instructions based on his or her daily school structure.
Finally, assessment is an opportunity given by this stage of education. You may not realize that your child has a learning disability or social problem until he/she properly placed in an early education program. Structured programs give teachers and parent a chance to assess each child’s strengths and weaknesses.
Thus, a good early education program should strive to seek out each child’s talents and find ways to teach to his weaknesses to create a well-rounded student. A teacher observes each child to identify and support development and works with each child’s parents to keep them informed of growth and development.
A study found that disadvantaged children who attended higher-quality preschool programs experienced greater developmental growth than those attending poor quality programs. However, the study as well as recent evidence suggests that any early childhood education experience is beneficial to children’s assessments.
In conclusion, the future of any society depends on its ability to foster the health and well-being of the next generation. Stated simply, today’s children will become tomorrow’s citizens, workers, and parents. This important stage of education has been long neglected in our country.
Our children do not set a foot in a learning facility before they their seventh birthday. Hence, it time to think about this and change it for once and for all. The government, educationists, philanthropists, parents and social development activities should work together to find ways to introduce this stage of education.
When we invest wisely in children and families, the next generation will pay that back through a lifetime of productivity and responsible citizenship. When we fail to provide children with what they need to build a strong foundation for healthy and productive lives, we put our future prosperity and security at risk.
Mohamud Abdirahman Ali
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Jowhar.com’s editorial stance.