Children have a curious nature. They like to ask questions, explore, know how things work, and have an adventure. This is something a parent can take advantage of to start with early childhood education without forcing them to learn, but understanding when it’s time to support their interests. With that in mind, let’s discuss the significance of early childhood education and how you as a parent can participate and encourage it.
Development of language skills
In her article published in the Early Child Development and Care journal in 1996, Prof. Lily Chen-Hafteck argued that music and language should be used together in early childhood for musical and linguistic stimulation. For example, parents can sing lullabies or tell bedtime stories to a child even before they can understand the meaning of words. You can sing along while driving, bathing, or playing, as well as talk to them about how their day was in the daycare or at a friend’s house.
As they grow, you can read to them from picture books so they can identify objects with words. Reading to children even when they don’t know all the words will help them understand the context and improve their analytical thinking. Surrounding your child with words through singing and talking will help them not only develop speech but also expand their vocabulary.
Using computers for cognitive improvement
There’s hardly a home or school without computers today. Parents often see it as a waste of time or something that can spoil a child’s education, but it can be a useful asset for cognitive development. According to a 2004 study conducted at the Bar Ilan University in Israel, children who had adult mediation — teacher or parent — during computer activity showed increased cognitive performance.
This study observed 150 children 5–6 years old separated into two groups: one with adult mediation and the other without. The group with adult-mediated computer activity demonstrated improved planning ability, visual-motor coordination, abstract thinking, and vocabulary than the other group of children. This means that computers can help with early childhood education if adult supervision is present to point out the right content for a learning environment.
Teaching them to enjoy reading
We already discussed that reading to children is important for the development of language skills, but reading with your child is crucial as well. After they learn how to read, they will be eager to use their new-gained skill. You can use this momentum to teach them to love reading and not see it as something they have to do for school in the future.
Instead of telling a child what to read, choose a book you will both read and later talk about it. Turn this into your little book club and in time other parents and children can participate. At some point, you will either develop different tastes in books or continue sharing interests. But more importantly, you will teach your child to enjoy reading and use it to collect information that way — a valuable habit for their future schooling.
The importance of teacher-parent partnership
As an adult, whether you are a teacher or a parent, you have a responsibility to teach children certain skills that will influence their future development. Since the child will have both types of adults guiding them as they grow, building a teacher-parent partnership is crucial. Based on a 2006 study, teacher-parent relations can be a positive factor in early childhood education.
Before you choose a school, ask about their policy in working with parents and having them participating in the classroom. For example, you may volunteer to read a story to the whole class. Talk to the teacher about the curriculum and see if they are open to suggestions. Working together can give an advantage to parents and teachers to more smoothly teach children and help them accept the learning environment.
Learning to accept diversity
The best way for children to learn about diversity is by being surrounded by other kids. When picking a childcare institution, choose the one with multicultural students, like the West Ryde early learning centre. This will be a stimulating and positive environment for children to learn more about other cultural backgrounds and ethnicities, teaching them to become open-minded.
Moreover, this can help children feel good about their family, community, and themselves. It shows them that there are different perspectives in the world and how to avoid harmful stereotypes and biases. Meeting children from other cultural backgrounds can bring new ways of thinking, expand their language skills, and grow their personal experience.
Building social skills
Just like everyone else, your child will have to interact with other people during their lifetime. The way they form relationships can affect their professional and personal life, so building social skills early on is important. In daycare or pre-school, your child will meet other children, play with them, talk to them, and sometimes even have disagreements with them.
While teachers will monitor behaviors in the classroom, you can also help by encouraging them to socialize outside of school. Start by meeting other parents, arranging play dates, sleepovers, and parties, but also ask them about other children and try to notice any potential problems, like bullying. Early childhood education has a key role in socialization, teaching them to work and communicate with others.
Teach them to become independent
Separation anxiety is something that affects both parents and the child. By enrolling them in early childhood education programs you are giving them space to learn how to be independent. There, teachers will give them individual assignments and show them to rely on their thinking.
This is something you can do at home as well by involving them in daily plans. For example, ask for their ideas, opinions, and advice on certain matters, like lunch or flower planting. Also, give them space to do small tasks alone, but encourage them to ask questions and express their opinions.
They don’t say that “it takes a village to raise a child” for nothing. Early childhood education plays a vital role in the development of the skills and habits of children. It involves a lot of people with knowledge to guide your child on the right path, but you, as a parent, play a huge part as well. Being surrounded with proper education and care, your child will gain resources to build the best possible life for themselves.
Author’s Bio: Mike is an Australian business consulting specialist. He’s working with companies that outsource their IT maintenance. He often writes about technology, business, and marketing and is a regular contributor on several websites.