Early childhood education heralds the beginning of formal education and lays the foundation for lifelong learning.
A house cannot be considered strong until its foundation is made strong. The same thing is applicable to human beings. Early childhood is the time when major developmental changes tend to happen in children, which in turn has profound and lasting consequences on the child’s mental and emotional growth. According to science, early childhood is the time when a child can grasp knowledge at the fastest pace, as from birth to age 5, a child’s brain develops faster than at any time in life. Thus, the quality of experience a child gathers in the first few years of life helps shape how their brain develops.
The emotional, social, and physical developments of young children have a direct impact on their overall academic growth and future prospects as an adult. Access to well-planned and designed early childhood education is instrumental to a child’s development, and it is a proven fact that educators who facilitate early childhood play a crucial role in helping children embark on their journey to a successful future.
The Approach Towards Early Childhood Education
Early childhood education heralds the beginning of formal education and lays the foundation for lifelong learning. The National Curriculum Framework for early childhood care and education states that learning during the pre-primary years happens more by observation and experience than by incorporating thorough teaching in a classroom.
Though this is a calculated move to free pre-primary education from the burden of structure, it has certain setbacks. The curriculum often runs the risk of being oversimplified as playtime, with little scope for learning. On the contrary, an overstructured preparatory curriculum to get admissions in a well-known school is also not desirable for the tiny tots as it can over-burden them.
During the early years, children require proper cognitive, social and emotional development along with solid pre-literacy and pre-numeracy skills. Without focusing on these factors, developing a child holistically is not possible. Therefore, it is important to strike a balance in early childhood curriculum where children get the best opportunity to adapt these skills without being over-burdened.
Methods Modify Early Childhood Education:
Learning is a lifelong process and every individual is constantly learning and evolving through the dynamic interaction of their experiences. A shift of focus from teachers to students, i.e. a learner-centric approach, is essential for children and their overall growth.
Installing a learner-centred approach in schools develops a lifelong love for learning amongst students and helps them develop a problem-solving attitude. Sharing resources, empowering them with significant responsibilities, paying proper attention to their activities motivate young students to become self-directed learners.
In the rapidly evolving world of today, the approach towards education is changing every day, and redefining education with 21st-century skills which comprise creativity, communication, collaboration and critical thinking has become a necessity. A well-designed curriculum tailored to 21st-century skills makes learners ready to take on the challenges of the future pertaining to higher education and professional life.
A Balanced Approach To Early Year Education
There are many different ways to teach young children, and each method has its own merits and demerits. What works in a certain demographic may not work in another setup. Time, physical space, teacher competence, parent community cohorts, student diversity etc. all have an effect on the educator’s choice of method to impart learning.
Also, each child is very unique in their achievement of developmental and cognitive milestones. Keeping all these realities in mind, it is essential to follow a balanced approach toward kindergarten education. Incorporating authentic learning environment comprising pretend play area, reader’s den, sand play etc, experiential fun activities with some learning outcome, encouraging learners to grasp knowledge in the context of real-world problems can enhance their cognitive, affective and psychomotor areas.
Observation Is Key
Early childhood is all about curiosity and natural growth. Making children over-burdened with an elaborate curriculum, a huge amount of reading and writing, and a lot of assessments can become a hindrance to children’s natural growth.
But in the early years, it is important to recognise the abilities, strengths and weaknesses of children and help them to channel them properly. Facilitators play a very significant role in this matter. Assessment through observation and helping children develop important life-skills make them ready for their future ventures.
Introduction To Technology
Technology is an integral part of today’s life. Devising learning strategies involving technology can create an environment that keeps students engaged. Educators can inculcate unique ideas, adapt numerous methods to make classroom activities interesting, and impacting the journey of young learners on a positive note.
This article is written by Beas Dev Ralhan, Co-founder and CEO, Next Education Pvt. Ltd.