Children’s early learning has been a topic of much research and debate, but findings show that children benefit from pre-school or early education, and consistently perform better than those who have not received the same. From a very young age, children are capable of imbibing good behavior models and language and reasoning skills if provided with appropriate early learning activities.
Benefits of Children’s Early Learning
In addition to the short- and long-term benefits that children receive from quality early childhood education , it is observed that parents also display improved attitudes towards their children’s education and learning when families are accustomed to children’s early learning.
- It is estimated that children from low-income families show greater results from quality early childhood education as it provides training and stimulus that they otherwise do not receive. Problems in later life such as drop-out rates, illegitimate pregnancies, arrests, and drug abuse are less likely to occur when this income group had children’s early learning activities .
- Higher IQ scores, as well as better performance in school were reported in children who underwent quality early childhood education, at least during early school years
- In some cases during a study, children who qualified for special educationand mental health diagnosis when they enrolled in children’s early learning programs made such improvements that they stood in the normal range of development after three years.
- Children display improvements in cognitive development, math skills, vocabulary and word analysis, and social skills with early learning activities.
Quality Early Childhood Education
While quality early childhood learning has a variety of benefits, it is effective only when appropriate to the age and learning abilities of the child. Factors such as the interactions with caregivers and teachers, learning activities and games, size of the groups, and child-adult ratios in these classes affect the benefits of the early learning experience. In addition:
- Teachers and caregivers should ensure that a long-term view of learning is taken, and prepare the child for school, not create a race to accomplish tasks
- Allow children to explore both guided and independent practice and early learning activities
- Use clear directions, explain connections between activities and provide help when needed during children’s early learning
- Create a safe, warm and friendly atmosphere that children look forward to entering
- Offer parents opportunities to participate in their children’s early learning activities
Children’s Early Learning at Home
Finding and evaluating good childcare and quality early childhood education centers can take time, but children’s early learning can start at home. From early childhood, children possess abilities of logic and analysis, reasoning, and vocabulary development. With creative thinking, parents can help children to develop a readiness to learn and a liking for different subjects during daily interactions and tasks.
- Introduce new words and concepts during conversations. Children are capable of holding extended conversations without baby-talk, and should be encouraged to do so.
- As children learn drawing, spelling and writing, involve them in early learning activities like creating pictures, handmade cards, and lists
- Read stories to children regularly and ask them to point out characters from picture books, or later, to discuss new words or concepts.
- Encourage problem solving instincts in children by not rushing to help when they face problems. Helpful hints and positive reinforcement will ensure that children learn to tackle problems with creativity and originality.
- Research on Early Childhood Education – Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory
- Investing Today for Tomorrow: The Costs and Benefits of Early Childhood Care and Education – University of Pittsburgh – School of Education