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Unlocking Potential: A Deep Dive Into Early Childhood Education

When it comes to educating young children, there are many different approaches that can be taken. One of these is play-based learning.

Students who earn a degree in ECE at National can learn more about this type of teaching in courses like "Play as Pedagogy." This class also covers how the environment influences children's growth.

Influence of Preschool Activities

As children transition out of toddlerhood and into preschool, their minds and bodies are developing faster than at any other time in life. The foundations for social skills, self-esteem and moral outlook are established during these early years.

In addition to structured learning activities, kids also benefit from a balance of self-initiated and adult supported play. This is because research shows that young kids learn best when learning is enjoyable.

National’s BAECE program includes field experience learning, where students go out into the classroom to put their in-class skills into practice. Alvarado says that when students can build relationships with kids and families, it’s beneficial for all parties involved. And she stresses that it’s not just about the kids: “When parents feel like teachers are listening to them, it can make a big difference as well.” She adds that this type of relationship helps parents trust the teaching staff and understand that their child is at school for more than just fun.

Developmental Milestones Relevance

In the world of early childhood education, developmental milestones refer to things most children are able to do by a certain age. These skills are related to the way they play, learn, speak and behave.

Young children are amazing learners. They develop new skills at what seems like a hundred miles per hour. They are learning language, absorbing social cues and attempting to make sense of their emotions all at once.

However, this fast-paced learning is not without its challenges. If a child doesn’t receive quality nurturing care during this critical development period, it may negatively impact their lifelong health and well-being. Early childhood development (ECD) is one of the best investments a society can make to promote shared prosperity, inclusive economic growth and social cohesion. Longitudinal studies show that those who are enrolled in ECD programs are more likely to start school on time, be employed and have higher earnings as adults. This is especially true for those living in poverty and crisis contexts.

The Importance of Play-Based Learning

A child’s play-based learning experiences are critical to their holistic development. They build cognitive, physical, social and emotional skills that set them up for future success.

During play, children use their imagination to explore new ideas. That wooden block in their hand might be part of a castle or a meteorite from space. Children that engage in imaginative play also nurture empathy and a sense of responsibility.

When educators encourage children to interact with each other during play, they practice essential social skills like turn-taking and conflict resolution. These social skills will come in handy throughout their life.

When children play, they build their fine and gross motor skills as they manipulate objects and learn to grasp them with their fingers. They also expose their bodies to different tactile experiences such as the feel of wooden blocks, soft plush toys and wet paint. Play also allows children to build resilience and persistence, which are important for the overall growth of their character.

How to Judge Kindergarten Readiness

Kindergarten readiness tests can provide valuable information for schools, but they shouldn’t be the only tool used to determine a child’s placement in school. Young children can be overwhelmed in an unfamiliar testing environment and perform poorly because of a myriad of reasons that have nothing to do with their cognitive abilities.

The principles of child pedagogy suggest that educators should use their knowledge of children’s development and educational research to design learning environments that are appropriate for children. It’s also important for educators to understand the progression of learning within subject areas, as well as have the pedagogical understanding and skills necessary to teach students that content.

Finally, children should be encouraged to develop their academic abilities naturally. Academically advanced children who are under-stimulated can become bored, which may lead to behavioral acting out and a lack of interest in academics. They should be allowed to enter kindergarten if they are ready. Otherwise, it is likely that they will not succeed in elementary school.