Early Childhood Education: Benefits, Childcare Programs, and Concerning Issues

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Young children’s brain development is very high before they turn five. It is at this stage that they are very curious about their environment, they have a zest for learning, so their brains operate like sponges, grasping every tiny detail of life. This phase of children’s development provides a window of opportunity for early education that is set to have a significant impact on their future. Their energy and zeal can be nurtured at this point to mold them into responsible yet successful humans.

This kind of education targets children from the age of 3-8 years old. It is a form of preschool learning which can be formal or informal that is also referred to kindergarten, day school, or nursery school. Although each program differs on the curriculum, all of them have a prime focus on impacting children’s lives as soon as possible.

Early childhood education is more than just learning. It has been accredited to the betterment of the kid’s socio-emotional skills, health, cognitive skills, language and speech abilities as well as a broad spectrum of qualities.

Eventually, early childhood education has a ripple effect on the society. It is said to improve the quality of kid’s lives once they mature, it increases the number of graduates, children have higher chances of securing high-paying jobs, it lessens dropouts and teen pregnancies, and incarcerations rate lowers.

Although early childhood education has substantial benefits, it is still an aspect that needs improvement and awareness. Currently, there has been a slight change to how people perceive it as there is a growing demand for childcare providers. However, early childhood education programs are experiencing challenges that are delaying its growth. For instance, most childcare providers are barely paid well, so they cannot afford to keep their jobs that are critical in the formative years of children.

On the other hand, some parents cannot afford to enroll their kids in such programs. These kids end up being left behind and they can experience a hard time catching up with their peers once they join an elementary school. In other words, pre-schooling gives children a head start before they enter primary school; therefore, they will be able to more mentally stable without needing much care

With this said, you should not overlook the invaluable advantage that your child will have if you consider schooling them early. Whether you are dual-working parents, a single parent, a stay-at-home mum, there are types of programs that will best suit your needs depending on their curriculum.

Understanding the Different Childcare Programs

You may have heard about the various terms associated with childcare providers. As mentioned earlier which are kindergartens, day schools and the like. Such childcare programs slightly vary in their curriculum. They operate for distinct hours, the number of staff members vary, and they use different strategies to teach kids.

1. Nursery Schools

They are childcare providers that primarily seek to enhance a child’s socio-emotional skills. Most parents understand the need to help their children socialize with other people beyond their family. They foresee their children’s transitioning to form their friends, and they encourage it. It empowers kids to overcome shyness and gain more confidence.

Nursery schools also reinforce these skills providing an environment where children can learn and play together while providing the tools needed. By doing this, children interact, and they form friendships. Meanwhile, kids learn how to share and co-operate with each other.

Sharing and cooperation are best enhanced when guided by trained teachers who have the children’s best interest at heart. It is a skill that a firstborn child benefits immensely. As you know, first children are quite possessive, and they tend to be self-absorbed. Therefore, nursery challenges them to break out of their distractive patterns.

Nursery schools are more of part-time learning centers as they operate for a few hours in a day.

2. Day School

Day schools are ideal if you rarely have time to attend to your child mostly if you’re held up by work. Day schools are open almost full time. So if you need to drop your child at 8 a.m. while you leave for work, you can find day schools that are open as early as that time.

Fundamentally, daycare centers offer custodial care for busy parents while they provide a learning and development opportunity for children. Daycare programs have a positive effect on kids, as they are still involved in play activities that contribute to their wellness.

3. Preschools

These are schools that prepare children for the upcoming primary school years. Also known as early elementary grades or kindergartens, they employ various techniques in teaching the children. Their curricula are based on academic development. They teach literacy skills and they also incorporate screenings.

They provide screenings or tests that are geared to understand each child well. These tests cover specific aspects such as social, emotional, and cognitive skills. More screenings are done for speech, vision, and coordination skills.

Screening is essential because it helps parents and childcare providers discover any underlying issues that a child might have. Whether it is speech delays, a speech test will detect it. Therefore, any matters concerning health or mental wellbeing are dealt with before they escalate.

Preschool educators undergo training to enable them to establish areas that children need support so that they can build curricula around these points. It allows them to encourage holistic development of a child for a stronger foundation.

4. Compensatory Education Centers

Compensatory education is designed to deliver assistance for children who are likely to have cognitive challenges or fewer chances of succeeding in school.

Such programs are sprouting worldwide with the most popular being Head start, based in Chicago. Children from poor backgrounds have higher chances of having developmental issues and performing below average in school compared to their well-off peers.

Family dynamics such as single-parenthood and teen parents affect the success potential of a child, especially for needy families. Compensatory educators focus on identifying and solving the challenges that children are undergoing.

5. Montessori Schools

Montessori schools follow a program based on the Montessori method which emphasizes on a child’s creativity, curiosity, and self-motivation while focusing on building a child’s independence. Montessori schools are private learning institutions that are self-funded. These institutions were founded by Dr. Maria Montessori a couple of years back, and they are known for being “child-centered.”

The most noteworthy aspect of these schools is that they include children of different age groups within one learning environment. It is geared to mimic a real-life social experience where children associate with others who might be younger or older than them.

With this kind of set-up, your three years old can interact with children that are older than her, and she can learn a thing or two from them. At the same time, the older kid jog their memory by teaching the younger one.

Montessori schools focus on nurturing a child’s independence while allowing room for exploration. Kids have a choice of selecting the things they want to learn, and they can do so at their pace.

These institutions provide several interactive environments for different academic fields like language, Math, or arts. It is a flexible way of learning that enables children to start exploring the areas that they greatly desire and finalize with the others. While at it, the teachers are there to guide the children at every step to encourage self-motivation. They respond to their queries, and they facilitate teamwork.

They also practice a holistic approach towards learning to support needs of different children.

Virtues Children Learn From Early Childhood Education

1. Respect

Respect is a virtue that will benefit your child in the long run. Preschools provide a conducive area to enhance this. It is not a matter of children only resecting their items or people, and it also covers their surrounding environment as well as the global environment.

Educators impart respect on children by focusing on what they value most. Just like adults, kids should learn to earn the respect of their peers. It is not about instructing a child to like someone they barely know; it does not work that way. Educators create time to allow the kids gain the respect of others through showcasing of each of their talents or abilities. It could be that one of the children is excellent at sports, once the child is given an opportunity to do this, they gain instant respect.

The other tip childcare providers’ use is putting everyone in the same shoes through using certain scenarios.

With an intensive learning space and kids from diverse cultures, including sharing and civility, children naturally learn and get taught to be well-mannered.

2. Teamwork

Teamwork is a critical virtue that preschool teaches children. It is a virtue that reinforces respect, cooperation, and listening skills. Collaboration also gives children a sense of belonging as they feel like they have a role in the community. Their communication and socio-emotional skills are enhanced which improves their self-esteem.

Working in groups is also an excellent way for kids to brainstorm ideas and contribute to tasks.

For these reasons, early child educators highly emphasize it. Eventually, the child learns to voice their opinion while respecting the opinion of others. Thus, they mature with mannerisms that are socially acceptable, and employees see them as a good fit for their work cultures.

3. Patience

From time to time, as an adult, you have experienced situations that had you running short on patience. It can be hard to gather yourself and act reasonably if you face situations that may tempt you to do otherwise. Kids and tolerance do not go hand-in-hand. They can throw tantrums whenever they want, and they can even bully you to get their way.

However, preschools help children develop patience through role modeling, illustrations, and social experiences. For example, children learn to wait for their turns to speak in class during sessions, they have to share playing toys with other kids, and they have to wait in line in certain situations.

Therefore, they gain a lesson about patience.

4. Adaptability

Parents and early childhood educators ensure that they impart adaptability skills to the children at an early stage. It is a critical virtue that needs to be developed in an environment that is fair, secure, and steady.

Consequences of specific actions are outlined, and the children know what is expected of them. Childcare experts create an environment that challenges a child to foster adaptability. The child may get bruises, fall or experience a dilemma that ends up strengthening them mentally. They learn to adapt to situations and their build more solid foundations for future experiences.

5. Focus and Concentration

A child’s early stage of life is marked by high enthusiasm and energy. They are also very imaginative, so they want to experience everything at the same time. It is, therefore, an opportunity for you to indulge them in creative tasks that tap into that pent-up energy.

Early childhood providers know that they are responsible for striking a balance between the children’s zeal and their ability to participate in teamwork, listen, and complete assignment tasks.

The kids will then learn a vital lesson in concentration.

6. Self-Confidence

Children’s self-confidence is established from the time when they are infants so that by the time they join a pre-school, they have founded their self-esteem. However, pre-schools can strengthen your child’s confidence.

Confidence in self is built when children can take part in healthy interactions with their peers and associate in a positive environment. It enables them to improve their self-worth, and once a child believes in self, they feel motivated to pursue their desires and goals.

Teachers should foster secure environments that push kids to be more expressive. Eventually, they learn how to approach situations while practicing confidence.

Early Childhood Education Benefits the Society at Large

If you thought that early childhood education is only about A, B, C, coloring, and singing, you might have to change your perception. Although it is fun-filled learning, it is also purposeful learning, and this is why all parents should strive to enroll their children.

The children learn problem-solving skills, critical thinking and it enhances their fine motor skills. These are the other benefits:

1. Community Development

The community at large is the primary benefactor of early education. With lesser jail rates, high literacy skills, and lower teen pregnancies, it increases their standards of living.

Also, this kind of education reduces the burden of taxpayers. Statistics show that for every dollar that is invested in early childhood education, it saves seven dollars. Research shows that return on investment in education is higher during the early learning stages, and even though pre-primary education is increasing, a substantial number of children are still left out.

2. Disadvantaged Backgrounds

Although the disparity in income levels affect the development of a child, early childhood education closes the gap between the privileged children and those from underprivileged backgrounds.

Children from well-off families usually receive high-quality childhood education contrary to those from deprived backgrounds. Kids from financially-stable homes get more attention, love, care, and motivation which plays a significant role in their development.

In the findings of research done in the US, early education programs greatly benefit children from underprivileged homes. It helps them achieve positive education outcomes through the test scores, so they graduate and become highly employable individuals in the future. Also, it reduces their chances of engaging in criminal activity.

A notable takeaway from the study is that the financial returns of investing in early education centers highly exceed the costs.

3. Improvements in English and Maths

When children receive quality early childhood education, it dramatically impacts their English and Math skills. Due to this, pre-primary schools have math sessions in their curriculum.

Thus, children can do well in tests including the basic ones. Also, improving a child’s early math skills has been linked to the sizeable effects on their math achievement in primary school or the future.

4. Better Labor Market

Early childhood education has a long-term impact that goes beyond education. For instance, pre-school is associated with higher earnings and qualifications. Your child is more likely to have a satisfactory life in their adulthood, and their health and behavior are impacted positively.

Key points to note

  • The quality of the pre-school education is crucial
  • Pre-school benefits children aged two years and above
  • Part-time and full-time pre-schooling have equal importance
  • Pre-schooling benefits are long-term beyond the field of education
  • High-quality pre-schools eliminate negative aspects of attending an ineffective school

Concerns About Early Childhood Education

Children benefit from socialization with their peers although the intensive focus of groups in some preschools can overshadow the personal attention that a child craves. Additionally, your child can be exposed to ill-mannered kids with quest bad habits. Your child can pick these patterns along the way if you are not attentive to his behavior, and you may not want him to mingle with high tempered kids who throw tantrums and are emotionally uncontrollable.

Pre-schools with more than ten preschoolers per educator risk neglecting some children – the one to ten ratios is still on the higher side. One teacher is recommended for every 4-5-year-olds, and one for every 2.5-3-year-olds.

Other preschools have strict regulations regarding toilet training and potty training. If your child does not know how to use a potty because she is not yet ready, you may not be accepted in such centers. Moreover, during the holiday seasons, some pre-schools close for various reasons. It could be a vacation break or staff training which may require you to find a backup plan.

High-quality pre-schools are also very expensive they can cost from $4000 to $12,000 annually. It is an exorbitant amount that can deter some parents who may have limited resources. It may lead to some parents opting to save for college tuition which tends to take much of a household’s income.

Some pre-schools can also highly penalize you if you arrive late to pick-up your child while others will give your child a sick-leave if they claim that she is too sick for school. You may end up having to reschedule your plans for the day and stay at home. Otherwise, you may need to hire a babysitter for the day which becomes an extra expense.

Lastly, some schools may have an inflexible curriculum that may hinder your child from exploring their creativity and learning at their own pace. If you note such an issue, you should consider searching for better pre-schools with a holistic approach to learning.

Conclusions

For decades now, early childhood education has been associated with the changes in the society. Early childhood programs respond to the political, social, and economic dynamics throughout the world.

Childcare providers are changing their practices due to the influence of the social beliefs, concerns, and needs of the generations as they come and go. Today, no matter your family structure, you will find a child care practice that is suitable for you. Pre-schools accommodate parents with various schedules, and they provide part-time and full-time services.

Therefore, as a parent, you have an opportunity to take your child to these centers, where they accept infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.

Early childhood education centers are not only here to serve the fluctuating needs of the society; they are a significant agent of change. Take for instance compensatory education programs that seek to intervene and help developmentally-challenged children to succeed and flee the jaws of poverty. Early childhood education is, therefore, a force to reckon. However, developing countries are yet to meet the preschool minimum enrollment threshold, making over 80% of more than 150 million aged 3-5 years who have no access to pre-schooling.

As a parent, you are bestowed with the power to be a pillar in the development of your child for them to have a brighter future. You have seen how much benefits your child is bound to reap from pre-schooling. It is a long-term investment that promises your child a better future that gives them a chance to reach their highest potential and live their dreams.

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