Conversations about the importance of early childhood education (ECE) have been circulating for quite some time. But more and more studies are coming to light that reveals potential learning disparities between students who reaped the benefits of early childhood education and those who didn't. As a result, the topic has become more prevalent than ever.
Educators, politicians and parents have become active participants in these discussions as our nation is searching for the best educational opportunities for our smallest citizens. Contemporary research has shown that the investment in early education—particularly among disadvantaged children—improves cognitive abilities and critical behavioural traits like sociability, motivation, and self-esteem.
But while advocates have long promoted the importance of ECE, that doesn't mean there are no longer sceptics who doubt its true impact. As with any complex subject, definitive answers are hard to find, and there's plenty of opportunity for confusion with seemingly conflicting research results. But as someone who cares strongly about educating young children, you're here to advocate—and we're here to help you make that case. We've done this by compiling information from several studies and reputable resources about the profound impact of ECE on young learners.
13 Key Benefits of Early Childhood Education
When children are young, they are learning sponges. Every new experience, every word they learn, every behaviour they adopt is an investment in a more fruitful future. You can never have a greater impression on a person than in their early childhood years.
Early childhood education is about honing and moulding the holistic child, which will eventually form the basis of their lifelong journey.
Socialization with people other than the child's family in a safe environment is essential to the areas below.
As parents, we intuitively understand that it's important to introduce our children to other children and support their transition into their friendship groups.
The earlier we do this, the better, as it helps children overcome shyness and gain self-confidence. If we leave this too long, we hinder their social development.
Concept of Cooperation:
Learning how to share, cooperate, take turns and persevere within a safe learning environment, guided by professionals who have the children's best interests at heart.
This is especially important for the first child, who may not be used to sharing with their siblings at home – while it can be a difficult lesson, it's crucial to learn it early.
Encouraging Holistic Development:
The approach is taken to build a strong foundation for a child's emotional, social, physical and mental development, which will prepare them for a lifetime.
Early childhood educators are trained to identify areas where support is needed for each child and build programs and activities around these. Their peers are also extremely important in this regard, as preschoolers are usually helpful, cooperative and inclusive.
Enthusiasm for Lifelong Learning:
Lessons should be given in a fun and exciting way that will encourage children to be effective learners. We need to inspire a thirst for learning with eagerness and enthusiasm.
Love of education- for reading, learning, discovery, nature- takes root in preschool.
Convey the Value of Education Through Experience:
She grasped the value of learning and education by setting an example as role models and providing actual experiences.
While parents will always be the most important influence on a child's early life, introducing them to a preschool environment provides them with a new perspective on the importance of education that will remain with them throughout their schooling journey. It also demonstrates that you value their education highly.
They are teaching the value of respect for others. This is not limited to people and belongings but can also mean respect for their immediate and global environment.
There is no better place to learn this virtue than in a hectic preschool environment, where everything is shared, and civility and manners are both taught and learned organically.
Demonstrating and instilling the importance of teamwork can teach respect for the opinions of others, listening, cooperation and equality.
Many preschool activities are centred around teamwork for this very reason; a person who learns how to work in a team at an early age will ultimately be more socially attuned and more employable!
Early childhood educators and parents must work together to develop resilience in children as early as possible. By creating a consistent, secure and fair social environment, with clear expectations and predictable consequences, children can develop skills in managing themselves and their emotions.
It's a teacher's job to provide a challenging environment where children can learn through first-hand experiences. They may experience bumps, bruises or losing a game from time to time, but this is the foundation for building coping strategies for greater challenges in life.
During preschool years, children explore at every opportunity to discover new experiences, new friends and new environments. This is because their minds are so lively and imaginative.
As early childhood educators, we need to balance this zest with the ability to listen, follow directions, attend to tasks and participate in group activities to develop the critical life skill of concentration.
Every day as adults, we encounter situations where our patience is tested. Children need opportunities to be involved in an abundance of social experiences to explore and practice the social skill of patience.
By teaching through examples, role modelling and social experiences, children can develop their patience and learn to wait for their turn. Examples from the preschool setting include sharing a teacher's attention, a toy, the playground or waiting in line for a game.
Confidence and Self-Esteem:
This is critical. A strong sense of well-being provides children with confidence, optimism, and self-esteem, encouraging them to explore their talents, skills, and interests.
Positive interactions with other children and teachers will promote a positive, healthy and secure view of themselves that will allow them to approach situations and problems confidently throughout their lives.
Exposure to Diversity:
Valuing difference and diversity are crucial to a child's early development. Early childhood education serves to guide children to appreciate and accept differences and become well-rounded contributors to society.
Children must understand that everyone is unique and special in their way with their own culture, beliefs and ethnicity.
The Importance of Parental Involvement in Teaching
The influence and support of a parent or carer can play a vital role during a child's personal and educational development. Parents and carers are the child's first educators and have an opportunity to nurture their child's growth and act as an advocate for education. This blog will outline the importance of parent involvement and the various ways you can support your child's educational journey.
Parent involvement outlines the commitment and active participation of a parent or carer to the school and children. This includes a range of activities to support and extend a child's learning at home and school. Examples of parent involvement include:
- Reading with your children.
- Helping with their homework.
- Attending school activities and meetings.
- Volunteering in classrooms.
What Are The Benefits Of Parent Involvement?
- Extends learning beyond the classroom: Parents can develop a stronger understanding of the preschool curriculum. This is particularly beneficial when children need help with their homework. Learning does not stop at the end of the day in the classroom; it is a continuous process when parents have a good understanding of what is taught in the classroom.
- Children develop a positive approach towards education and learning: This can help improve self-discipline and help them perform better both in and outside of school. Learning will then be consistent when there is a positive partnership between parents and educators.
- Social benefits: By networking with other parents, teachers and students through social activities, children can feel more comfortable around others and enhance their team building and communication skills.
Tips For Encouraging Parent Involvement
- Communication is key: Check in with your child's preschool teachers regularly. Ask key questions such as: Which areas is my child doing well in? Which areas can they improve in, and how can I help? What is my child currently learning, and how can I supplement this with relevant activities at home?
- Attend school activities: e.g. parent-teacher conferences, school plays and concerts, class presentations.
- Plan educational trips: Plan trips with your child outside of school hours, e.g. trips to museums or the library. If your child is learning about animals, you could take them on a trip to the zoo. This will provide them with an opportunity to apply the knowledge they have gained in preschool to real-life environments.
- Home-based learning: Partake activities at home to extend learning, e.g. singing songs and rhymes based on key concepts they have learnt in class, create musical instruments out of household items, cook with your child to develop their understanding of health and nutrition. Use educational apps to guide them through areas they may need to improve. Watch educational videos together.
- Regularly read with your child: Reading books can be incorporated into your child's nightly routine. This can also help spark your child's imagination, stimulate curiosity and expand vocabulary.
- Ask questions: Regularly ask open-ended questions on their day at preschool, e.g. did you learn anything new? What was the highlight of the day? What was the hardest part of the day? This is a great way to encourage children to reflect on their learning.
Practical ways for parents to expand their role in schools
Parents who take an active role in their children's education offer the support their kids need to see success at school. But determining how to get involved can be tricky, especially for parents juggling a full-time job.
Our experts recommend these simple ways for parents to expand their role in their kids' education.
Be present at school when possible
Parents who make an effort to be present around their children's school show their kids that they care about their education—and that it's important enough to deserve their attention. This doesn't mean busy parents have to sacrifice all their free time to volunteer at school! Classrooms have many opportunities to get involved, so parents can choose the ones that work best with their schedules.
"Attend parent nights, conferences and open houses; chaperone field trips; volunteer in the classroom; or donate your time at home with materials and sending in needed supplies," suggests Mary O'Keefe, a veteran pre-k teacher at Hudson Falls Central School District.
Show interest in kids' schoolwork
Parents genuinely interested in their kids' education are in a good position to provide support or find outside help if they notice a child is struggling. They also build connections with their children as they share excitement over their successes and help them work through disappointments.
O'Keefe suggests going beyond asking, "How was your day?" and focusing on more specific questions like, "What do you like and dislike about school?" or "What subjects are easy or hard?" She also shares that reading and displaying children's work at home can communicate that they care about what their kids are learning in the classroom. Showing that you care about what they're learning helps reinforce the importance of it.
Keep a positive attitude towards education
Parents might think that cracking down is the right way to handle kids who dislike school or don't want to do their homework. However, parents who keep a positive attitude about education are more likely to pass that sunny outlook onto their kids.
"Make any school involvement positive," says Simon. "An example of this is sitting with them while doing homework/worksheets or showing them it is okay to fail and what to do when that happens." And most importantly, "Always support them, no matter the outcome."
Young children, in particular, are still forming their thoughts and feelings toward school—so do what you can to reinforce the positive and build them up as they work through any struggles.
Recognize And Avoid Negative Involvement
Of course, not all parental involvement is positive. We've all heard stories of overeager "helicopter parents" whose hovering harms their children's ability to learn and grow.
Parent contact is important, but constantly contacting your child's teacher for every little thing can make your child feel as though they can't handle a problem at school.
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.
High quality early childhood education gives children the best start in life. It provides important opportunities to learn and develop. Early childhood education can help your child make friends, develop independence and learn new routines. It also supports their transition to school.
Early Childhood Educator Job Description
Early childhood teachers specialize in the learning, developmental, social, and physical needs of young children. These educators provide a safe and comfortable environment in which young children can learn not just early academics, but social, motor, and adaptive skills.