Friday, September 16, 2011

Daycare vs. Early Childhood Education

Guest Blogger:  Kathleen Thomas, Early Childhood Education Coordinator 

Most family units today require quality daycare for toddlers and preschool aged children; regardless if the family is a single parent or a duel career couple. While a good daycare provider is of utmost importance, children who are beginning their path in cognitive thinking can benefit from a structured educational experience to jump-start their learning skills, and prepare a child for the educational journey ahead of them. 

Some parents are fortunate to have family members, neighbors, or hire a babysitter to come into the home and care for their children. However, even though a child’s basic needs are being provided, and some socialization can occur in a typical
child care center; the opportunity for intellectual growth is lacking. These would include activities which are structured to teach and challenge the child’s learning abilities. There is an alternative one may consider that can give the child a firm educational foundation, and stimulate his or her intellectual growth. This would be to enroll your child in a certified preschool program for early childhood education.

Research suggests that children may begin the learning process even before birth; during the last trimester of the pregnancy, the child may react and benefit from exposure to certain types of music or speech. After birth, the learning process continues through environment behaviorism learning: to obtain pleasure and avoid pain, observational learning, and self-efficacy. 

During the preschool years, (age one – five), a person's brain is in the developmental stages. The environment which includes experience and exposure has a major effect and largely shapes the adult that he or she will become. It is in this period of development the child learns language skills, a sense of oneself, and what their cultural roles are; all the basic tools required to function in a given society. These years are when a child's brain functions to reason and understand develop; exposure to the learning process during this period in a child's life has a positive effect that will last forever. 

Early childhood education is where children are given the opportunities for cognitive development through learning activities such as educational games, identification of colors, shapes, and sounds, counting numbers, or learning the alphabet. These skills will give a child an edge in the areas of learning when he or she attends kindergarten. Skills such reading, writing, speech, and mathematics gives a child the advantage needed to excel in school, and the sooner a child learns to apply these skills, the opportunity to improve is evident over time. Interaction with other children in a certified preschool environment enables a child's social skills to mature, and they are able to socialize with their peers in a positive manner. 

The benefits received from a quality preschool education will set a child up for success in the future; in school and throughout adulthood. With educational achievements becoming a demand made on those who are entering the work force, the advantages of early childhood education cannot be ignored.

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