The term “early childhood” is typically defined as the period from birth to kindergarten (age 5). It’s a particularly important time in the life of a child because of their high receptivity to learning. As they interact with other people, including parents, siblings, peers, and teachers, children develop their first sense of self. They learn about the world around them through the filter of their unique interests. In these early years, the seeds are planted for the lifetime of learning to come.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recognizes the importance of early childhood care and education, arguing that it is “more than preparation for primary school. It aims at the holistic development of a child’s social, emotional, cognitive and physical needs in order to build a solid and broad foundation or lifelong learning and wellbeing.”
It is never too early to introduce a child to learning materials, such as learning games for kids that are available on the Kids Academy Learning Portal. Watch and listen to see what kids are interested in, and build on those interests. Parents and teachers use children’s natural curiosity about things to bring in ideas related to math, science, reading, etc. Paying attention to their interests and engaging them in activities they’re excited about helps build a healthy learning relationship. For example, a child interested in trucks might enjoy counting how many go by, writing the word “truck,” or organizing toy trucks by color (depending on age and readiness). Children’s interests are their gateway to learning.
Early childhood bonds
Learning begins as soon as a child enters the world. They take in lessons from parents and other aspects of the environment. A common misconception is that kids this age are just learning basic skills. In fact, the relationship they form with parents and other caregivers paves the way for their emotional and social development. They are learning to interact with and react to other people, skills that become increasingly important as they mature.
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Early childhood education can be viewed as an investment in a child’s future. Studies show that there are broad benefits of early learning for the development of the neural pathways that comprise the brain’s function. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention cites the first eight years of life as a “foundation for future learning, health and life success .” How the brain grows relates to a child’s early learning environment – and the best outcomes happen when the child has proper nutrition and positive experiences interacting with people around them.
Parents and other caretakers are extremely influential in the education of young children. Spending time with children in a safe, rewarding environment lays the groundwork for a learning relationship. Trust and safety make children more receptive to learning. As young children enter preschool, a successful partnership between families and teachers has positive ramifications in a child’s life.