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Early childhood education regards education in early childhood, one of the most vulnerable stages in life. According to the NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children), it spans the human life from birth to age eight.

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Similar terms

Early childhood education often focuses on children learning through play.[1][2]

The terms preschool education and kindergarten emphasise education around the ages of 3-6 years. The terms "early childhood learning," "early care," and "early education" are comparable with early childhood education. The terms Day care and Childcare do not embrace the educational aspects. Many childcare centers are now using more educational approaches. They are creating curricula and incorporating it into their daily rountines to foster greater educational learning.

Researchers in the field and early childhood educators both view the parents as an integral part of the early childhood education process[3]. Early childhood education takes many forms depending on the beliefs of the educator or parent.

Much of the first two years of life are spent in the creation of a child's first "sense of self" or the building of a first identity.[citation needed] This is a crucial part of children's makeup—how they first see themselves, how they think they should function, how they expect others to function in relation to them.[citation needed] For this reason, early care must ensure that in addition to employing carefully selected and trained caretakers, program policy must emphasize links with family, home culture, and home language, meaning caregivers must uniquely care for each child using Developmentally Appropriate Practice, Individually Appropriate Practice and Culturally Appropriate Practice. Care should support families rather than be a substitute for them.[citation needed]

If a young child doesn't receive sufficient nurturing, nutrition, parental/caregiver interaction, and stimulus during this crucial period, the child may be left with a developmental deficit that hampers his or her success in preschool, kindergarten, and beyond.

Worst-case scenarios such as those found in Russian and Romanian orphanages demonstrate how the lack of proper social interaction and development of attachment affect the developing child.[4] Children must receive attention and affection to develop in a healthy manner.

Developmental domains

There are five different developmental domains of children which all relate to each other. They are easily referred to as the SPICE of life:[citation needed]

  • Social - Refers mostly to the ability to form attachments, play with others, co-operation and sharing, and being able to create lasting relationships with others.
  • Physical - Development of Fine (small) and Gross (large) Motor Skills.
  • Intellectual - The process of making sense of the world around them.
  • Creative - The development of special abilities creating talents. Music, Art, Writing, Reading, and Singing are all ways for creative development to take place.
  • Emotional - Development of self-awareness, self-confidence, and coping with feelings as well as understanding them.

Psychosocial According to Jean Piaget, there are four major stages of cognitive development:

  1. Sensorimotor Stage. This stage occurs between the ages of birth and two years of age.Sensorimotor (infancy): During this stage, which includes six distinct substages, intelligence is demonstrated through motor activity with limited use of symbols, including language; the infant’s knowledge of the world is primarily based on physical interactions and experiences.
  2. Preoperational Stage. The second stage occurs between the ages of two to seven years of age.During this stage,intelligence is increasingly demonstrated through the use of symbols; memory and imagination are developed as language use matures; thinking is nonlogical, nonreversible, and egocentric.
  3. Concrete Operations Stage. Occurring between ages 7 and about 12 years. During this stage—characterized by conservation of number, length, liquid,mass, weight, area, volume—intelligence is increasingly demonstrated through logical and systematic manipulation of symbols relating to concrete objects; thinking is operational, reversible, and less egocentric.
  4. Formal Operations Stage. The final stage of cognitive development (from age 12 and beyond)During this final stage, intelligence is demonstrated through the logical use of symbols related to abstract concepts; thinking is abstract, hypothetical, and early on, quite egocentric; it is commonly held that the majority of people never complete this stage.
  • Emotional Development - Concerning children's increasing awareness and control of their feelings and how they react to these feelings in a given situation.
  • Social Development - Concerning the children's identity, their relationships with others, and understanding their place within a social environment

Benefits of Early Childhood Education

Chicago’s publicly-funded Child-Parent Centers have served almost 100,000 3- and 4-year-olds since 1967. Researchers tracked 989 of those children and 550 similar children not in the program for 14 years. The children who did not participate were 70 percent more likely to be arrested for a violent crime by age 18. This program also cut child abuse and neglect. In Ypsilanti, Michigan, 3- and 4-year-olds from low-income families who were randomly assigned to a group that did not receive preschool who were five times more likely to have become chronic lawbreakers by age 27 than those who were assigned to the High/Scope Educational Research Foundation’s Perry Preschool program.[5]

See also

References

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