Unlike most animals, human babies take a long time to develop. After birth, they remain dependent on their parents for many years before they can actually exhibit survival skills and fend for themselves. Although other primate species animals such as chimpanzees and orangutans care for their young ones, their babies are not as helpless as human babies. The reason is simple—humans are born with underdeveloped brains. A human baby must undergo a gestation period of 18-20 months to be born on par with a chimpanzee newborn in terms of neurological and cognitive development. So, what does that mean?
It means, in humans, the major part of brain development happens after birth. In fact, the brain size of a human baby nearly doubles in the first year. This explains why it is important to make the best of this time—the first 2-3 years of your baby’s life—and use early childhood education (ECE) methods to facilitate the motor and cognitive development of your child. Countless benefits of ECE include promoting critical social, cognitive, and emotional skill development of the child while laying a sound foundation for formal education. Let us look at how early childhood education can help your baby and how you can facilitate it.
What is Early Childhood Education?
Early childhood education refers to informal and formal educational programs for children under the age of 3 years. At this age, especially till 3 years of age, children are very easily influenced and they soak up information from their surroundings. The credit goes to their developing brain which makes the most of every stimulus the child is exposed to.
Early childhood education focuses on teaching children self-expression, the basics of self-control, problem-solving, and critical skills through playful activities and games. It helps children develop a positive attitude towards education and prepares them for school.
Benefits of Early Childhood Education
Early childhood education benefits are not limited to the child’s preschool years. There are many long-term benefits as well. All that your child learns and gains at this age will stay with them for life. Some skills your child can develop with early childhood education include:
Having a set schedule for learning through play helps them get into a routine that will help them once they start formal school. You can either send your child to a preschool where they learn to be in a structured environment away from home, coping with other children of their age or rely on home stimulation methods that allow you to channelise your child’s growth and development. Once your child starts engaging in activities that allow them self-expression and control, you can see their confidence level going up.
Allow them to join you in doing household chores. Assign them age-appropriate tasks such as emptying the laundry basket into the washing machine, or helping you sort and keep vegetables in the refrigerator. Successful completion of these tasks, followed by a thank you from you, will not only boost their confidence but also make them feel responsible and competent.
Are you wondering, “What are the long-term benefits of early childhood education?” One of the top answers is socialisation. Today, many couples prefer only one or two children. In addition, the nuclear family setup only makes it more complex for working parents to spend time with their children. In such a situation, socialisation becomes more challenging. You must consciously put in efforts toward equipping your child with social skills that help them to be more comfortable and accommodating in a social environment.
Early childhood education allows your child to interact with other children of their age and create a bond with trusted adults. They are encouraged to play with their peers, share toys, take part in group activities, and more. This helps them develop important social skills and you’ll see your child showing more empathy toward others. If your child is lucky, some friendships they forge at this age could last a lifetime.
Language and Numerical Skills
From birth to three years of age is the time of the fastest brain development. During this period, your child can learn and acquire new skills by merely being exposed to their environment. Now, imagine what your encouragement and efforts can do in enhancing their learning experience at this tender age.
Early childhood education includes teaching children the alphabet and number series, shapes and colours, patterns, simple three-lettered words, and more. Story and rhyme sessions help children understand the connection between written words and the sound they make. When they start formal schooling, this foundation will go a long way in helping them learn how to read and write.
To think logically, children must understand relationships, sequences, and attributes, among others. Logical reasoning is not an inherent ability. It must be developed through activities and interactions with others. With proper training, children can learn to think through problems and develop strategies to solve them. This helps them in understanding cause-and-effect relationships and comparing situations to devise a solution for the in-hand problem. Logical reasoning is an important stepping stone in learning how to solve problems—big or small.
Patience is a virtue that takes time and effort to manifest. You can use many home stimulation methods such as tasks with rewards and easy games to teach your child patience. It is too much to expect a baby or a toddler to be okay with waiting. However, you can help them develop this virtue through home training and early childhood education. The sooner they learn patience, the longer the virtue will stay with them through their adult years.
All babies and toddlers are in a rush to grow up. You will often find them trying to accomplish tasks that are beyond their age. This tendency is what propels their growth and development during the initial years of their life when they are yet to understand a ‘no’ from their parents. Instead of discouraging your child from taking up things beyond their ability, encourage them to accomplish them through teamwork. The first lesson on teamwork starts at home.
Engaging in team activities with them or simply executing day-to-day tasks such as cleaning up a room, or doing laundry gives them a sense of being part of an activity. This helps them develop critical teamwork skills such as listening to others, respecting different opinions, helping peers, conflict resolution, and more. Being a team player will be rewarding in the long run, making it one of the most important long-term benefits of early childhood education.
Resilience refers to a child’s ability to bounce back after tough experiences. As a parent, you want to shelter and protect your child but they will face challenges and setbacks. It is a part of growing up. Although, as parents, you would want your child to be successful at everything they do, it is good to teach them it is okay to lose once in a while. They need to understand that losing is okay as long as they do not give up. The sooner they learn it, the easier it will be for them to get over their failures and focus on their next goal. They will have to learn this lesson eventually, but there is no place better than home to lay the foundation. After all, there is no loving and kinder place than home.
Focus and Concentration Levels
The average attention span of a 3-year-old child is about 6-8 minutes. By the time they reach 5 years of age, they start formal schooling and are expected to sit through long classroom sessions. Most preschool activities and tasks are designed to be repetitive to help children enhance their concentration levels. Reading the same story again and again or making them do the same puzzle over and over helps them focus on the task at hand.
Develop an Interest in Learning
Children are inquisitive and eager to learn by nature. If they are introduced to scholastic learning in the form of games and activities at a young age, they will stay hungry to learn and develop an interest in going to school. Further, as children see how the lessons they learn during home stimulation can be applied to their daily life, they start valuing education.
Research shows that children who participate in early childhood education programmes are better prepared for school and are more likely to graduate. They are also more likely to become high earners as adults. Hence, this also translates to one of the economic benefits of early childhood education.
Benefits of Early Childhood Education for Parents
Early childhood education benefits not only children but also their parents. It allows parents to develop a deeper bond with children not just as their caregivers but also as their first teachers. It helps parents assess their child’s capabilities and interests and helps them devise better development plans focusing on the child’s personality, likes, and dislikes. Early childhood education at home adds value to the time you spend with your child, creating a strong bond between you and them. It also helps you, as parents, to understand the developmental needs of your child better and create an environment to support them.
Early childhood education plays an important role in a child’s holistic development. The first three years of your child’s life is when your child’s brain will develop important synapses (brain-cell connections) that will shape your child’s personality and future. The opportunities and experiences you give to them at this age will play a crucial role in their development and growth. While it may sound like a herculean task, the fact is you can give them the window to explore and grow with very little time and effort investment. Wondering how? Contact us today.