NAEYC, better known as The National Association for the Education of Young Children, defines early childhood as the time frame before a child turns eight.
The organization states this to be the period in which children experience the most rapid growth and development. It’s at this point where their brains develop faster, making 0-8 years the most critical in a child’s life.
It’s during these years that children lay the foundation for their self-esteem, social skills, moral outlook, and their perception of the world. It’s also during these years when children develop their cognitive abilities.
Experts in education and life encourage early childhood education as a means to propel healthy development and nurturing of all the fundamental foundations in children.
Moreover, studies published in the National Center for Education Statistics show that parents realize the importance of early childhood education.
Reason being, the enrollment in prekindergarten education level has improved from a mere 96,000 to over 1 million plus within the last 30 years.
The US Department of Education doesn’t demand children to be enrolled in early childhood education programs. However, extensive research proves that early childhood education plays a critical role in learning.
Published findings show that children enrolled in Head Start programs profit by receiving formal education before reaching kindergarten.
The youngsters that attend Head Start programs exhibit higher IQ scores and are more well behaved compared to children that start kindergarten without having gone through such programs.
Further, youth who were enrolled in formal education systems before kindergarten learned more quickly than those that didn’t pass through the same programs.
The federal government sponsors Head Start programs. It equips the schools with teaching staff and tools to cater to children coming from low-income families. Most kids targeted range from the ages of 2 to 5.
The children are taken through programs that enhance their cognitive, social and emotional development.
Some parents also set aside time to teach their young from their homes, readying them for kindergarten.
Statistics show that, in as much as quality daycare programs help kids develop intellectually, they benefit more when their parents create the time to educate them.
Child education experts state that young children learn more and understand better without pushing them hard. They respond more to teaching when they get to mingle with their family and peers.
They also respond well when they’re treated kindly by both instructors and their parents.
The same findings published demonstrated that kids absorb more when educational activities and direct instruction make up a small percentage of their learning activities. It mainly applies to children attending pre-school programs.
Early childhood education proves to benefit children that attend smaller classes with fewer kids taught by experienced teachers trained to handle this age set. From an early age, children enrolled in early education programs exhibit the following:
- Enhanced attention spans
- Minimal to zero special education instruction in subsequent school years
- Improved social skills
- Better grades
Studies conducted for 30 plus years show children enrolled in pre-school programs have a higher tendency of graduating from high school, going to college, and have low behavioral problems.
Most of these kids were found not to engage in criminal activities in their adolescent and young adult years.
Further studies show that apart from benefiting youngsters with typical development, children with learning or physical disabilities benefit from attending pre-school programs.
Children that grow up knowing another language in their developmental years stand a better chance of grasping grammar at a young age.
Parents that decided to educate their young ones instill creative ideas and activities that help children understand things better and faster. Children who were homeschooled before joining kindergarten proved to have higher IQs and more confidence in class.
Early Childhood Education Strengths
Recently published scientific studies show that learning and mental development starts immediately after birth. From 0-3 years is the stage in which critical brain and neural development occur.
It goes to prove that children benefit greatly when they receive education before attending kindergarten. Parents are encouraged to educate their young ones before enrolling them into kindergarten.
A sizeable number of parents start educating their kids during the critical developmental years.
Some parents neglect to create the time to educate their young ones due to a different number of factors, including extended work schedules.
Some are ignorant of educating children at a young age. Such aspects negatively affect children, and the effects often reverberate throughout society.
A study initiated by the Abecedarian (ABC) project was based on two groups of young children. One group gained pre-school education, while the other didn’t attend preschool. The study established that children with pre-school education scored higher on reading tests in subsequent school years.
The study also revealed that the children who didn’t receive any formal education before enrolling in kindergarten were more prone to struggle in class and ended up exhibiting delinquent behaviors and substance abuse in their early adult years.
Early childhood education has proven that children can become socially and economically prosperous.
Moreover, experts insist that greater emphasis on early education helps in alleviating criminal behavior and substance abuse in adolescents and young adults.
Research conducted recently and published by the National Association of States Boards of Education show that it’s a futile task to come up with national educational goals without effecting pre-school programs.
What Needs To Be Done
Improving early childhood education through high quality pre-school education programs is a necessary step in combating social and economic anomalies.
Kids should start receiving education before enrolling into kindergarten to boost their brain development in their early years.
Regardless of the differences in opinion pitted for or against formal pre-school education, kids receiving some form of schooling in their early years have a better chance in succeeding in life than those that didn’t.
That said, however, there isn’t a one-size fit all instructional setting best suited for all kids. Indeed, some children benefit immensely from attending pre-school; however, it’s not necessarily the best educational setting for all young kids.
Research findings place parents as the best source for introducing their kids to early childhood education.
They (parents) are, however, encouraged to evaluate their child’s unique personality before coming up with programs that will suit them, as not all early childhood education programs will prove to be beneficial to the child.