Did you know that 700 to 1000 neural connections are formed each second in the infant’s brain and by the time the child turns 3, his or her ability to speak, learn, reason and speak are well developed?
Early childhood education
Around a decade or two ago, the concept of early childhood education for our little ones was not something that was really researched on or even talked about for that matter! In yesteryears, our discussions about early childhood education from birth to 5 years of age would primarily mean time spent playing around at home, stories narrated by grandparents and routine visits to the neighbourhood park. But it is only in the last two decades or so that a lot of emphases is being laid on the concept of early childhood education and learning. In fact, research shows that brain development starts right from the early weeks of pregnancy.
So why is the early year’s education so important? Can learning while still ‘in the cradle’ be beneficial for the growth and development of a child?
Old myths state that initial years of a child are meant for playing and having fun while being pampered. However, new research now shows that investing in the development of children during the period 0 to 5 years is very crucial, so as to turn them into well-balanced adults ready to take on the world.
Early childhood education
Early Childhood Education or ECE, as it is commonly known, is a stream of education which relates to the formal and informal teaching of children from birth up to the age of eight. This particular field of study originated in European countries and has since gained a lot of popularity. It has now become a norm in most developed and developing countries. A child’s parents play a major role in the first 2 years of their life. They aid in discovering their ‘sense of self’ which in turn helps children to differentiate between themselves and others. But while nothing can beat the love and attention given to a child by his or her mother, research has shown that early childhood education programs not only encourage a passion for learning but also instils good habits that last a lifetime.
Benefits of early childhood education
In order to provide a child with an environment that is supportive, as well as nurturing, it is very important that we understand how crucial these early years are and how we as parents and educators can contribute to making it intellectually stimulating. The power of early year’s education is immense with a plethora of benefits such as better social skills, increased confidence levels, greater coordination, creativity and increased confidence levels.
The Kindergarten system
We are all familiar with the ‘Kindergarten’ system of learning. Coined by Friedrich Wilhelm August Fröbel in the 18th century, and started off to ease the transition from home to school, such learning spaces were initially created to help children where both parents were working. And it was this approach that had a huge influence when it came to the foundations of early childhood education systems.
When we provide a child with learning experiences that are not only rich but also stimulating, we fire up several neural connections that lead to higher levels of cognitive functions and improved language and motor skills. Let’s look at it as a maze of charged loose ends that when fueled properly can create wonders!
Learning made fun
The question now is can we integrate learning into fun methods that encourage children to learn even as they have fun? Can the mundane methods of teaching be replaced with new age exciting tools that allow children to explore the power of curiosity?
The answer is yes! Research has shown that learning through play can not only be stimulating but can also keep the child engaged and connected for longer periods of time. Children learn through their senses and by watching and copying people they are close to. What is important then, is to provide a child with experiences that help them learn through multiple ways. From simple and colourful building blocks that help develop logic, to dancing and running that increase coordination and flexibility, the activities that we can keep our little ones engaged in are numerous and so widespread that picking the right one for your child can be quite a task!
According to Priya Krishnan, CEO and Founder of KLAY Prep Schools and Daycare, “Not many people are aware of the importance of early education in a child’s life. In fact, research has proven that by the time a child reaches the age of 3, 85% of the brains capacity is already developed. As parents and educators, investing in the education and learning of a child from birth till 6 would probably be the best decision you will ever make. Not only will your child thank you for it, but as a parent, you will also be able to see your little one turn into an emotionally strong and well-balanced individual with a constant thirst for knowledge.”
Learning is evolving
In a fast-paced world like ours, where technology and modes of learning are changing consistently, it is important for us to understand if there is a right way for parenting in the digital age. It is the early year’s education of a child that determines the path that he/she takes as he/she grows. Don’t you think then, that we should make a difference at that point in time?
However, in the middle of all this struggle to make a child become independent and kick start their learning, what is equally important for us is to also understand that at the end of the day, learning also needs to be about doing enjoyable stuff that they like to do, while at the same time spending time with them! It is not only about making them learn new things every single day but also about making the entire experience exciting. Something that they will look forward to!
Every child is different and learns at his or her own pace. So don’t push too hard. Encourage children to explore. Read to them. Talk to them in a language they can relate to. Make them understand the true joy of giving. Answer their innumerable ‘Whys’ even when all you want to do at the end of a long tiring day is to crawl into bed. And above all, always bind them with lots of love and laughter so as to make emotionally strong individuals.
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With children out of school, physical distancing as the new norm, and children’s rights under threat, the new world order has “turned back the clock” on years of progress made on children’s well-being. However, it’s not all bad. As a human race, we’ve been built to adapt: we’ve seen a tipping point in technology-enabled education and the promise of a new education policy in our country.