A child’s learning journey starts from the minute they enter the world and we know that the early years are critical for their healthy development. Their brains grow rapidly during their first few years of life and it’s the time when foundations are laid for the development of vital cognitive, physical, social and emotional skills.
We also know that the quality of inputs and influences in the home and in early education settings can have a significant impact on their development and on their ability to learn.
In what ways does early education impact a child?
Quality early education has a significant positive influence on a child’s long-term life outcomes and that’s why your choice of childcare and early education centre is so important. This guide to why quality childcare is essential for a child’s heathy development provides some valuable insights into the topic.
To an outsider, the sight of children interacting informally in an early education setting may look like they are just playing and not really learning or being ‘taught’ anything. However, extensive research in Australia and globally shows that play-based learning is a really powerful way to support children’s development.
The benefits of quality childcare and early education include the development of a child’s:
- Cognitive skills
- Physical skills
- Social skills
- Emotional skills
Let’s take a look at each of these in greater detail.
The development of cognitive skills
When children are playing - either on their own or in a group - they’re learning.
Children are naturally curious and creative and during play, the neural pathways and synapses in their brains fire up and they start to develop important cognitive skills which help them make sense of their world.
Cognitive skills include numeracy and mathematical thinking, scientific reasoning, critical thinking and problem-solving, memory skills as well as literacy, language and communication skills. Now this may all sound really advanced in the context of a one-year old in childcare, but the foundation for the development of these key skills really does start very early on.
Play-based programmes which feed children’s natural curiosity and ignite their imaginations help them achieve positive outcomes in terms of their cognitive development.
The development of physical skills
Experienced and knowledgeable educators know how important it is for young children to have opportunities to practise and develop their fine and gross motor skills. Quality early learning environments offer young children a myriad opportunities for physical exercise (eg running, jumping, climbing, throwing, catching and balancing) as well as activities which require children to make small movements (eg painting, sticking dried leaves to paper and threading wool through dried pasta).
The development of social skills
Socialisation is important for children and that’s why you should choose an early learning setting where development of social skills is a key imperative of the curriculum.
Exposing young children to a group education setting will help them make social connections. They’ll start to establish relationships beyond those with family members and start to develop friendships. In these types of settings, children will learn to follow instructions, take turns, work collaboratively with others, regulate their emotions, learn to manage conflict and share with others.
A group setting will also help young children learn about empathy and tolerance for others. They’ll learn to listen, they’ll learn to reflect on their behaviours and they’ll learn to appreciate others’ perspectives and opinions.
The development of emotional skills
We talk a lot about holistic wellbeing and how important it is in order for adults to function effectively and to be engaged contributors to society, but did you know that the foundations for emotional intelligence are set in the early years?
A quality early learning centre can help a child develop a healthy sense of self and self-belief. Every child is born capable, but the right environment will nurture that capability and encourage self-expression.
Strong emotions are hard for a child to understand - let alone regulate - but it is crucial for them to learn that actions have consequences. A caring and supportive environment staffed by experienced and loving educators where a child feels safe and secure will give them the scaffolding to develop strong emotional skills and become more resilient.
A last word on how to choose an early learning centre for your child’s healthy development
Early school should be a place where every child is seen, validated and nurtured and where they feel comfortable with their self-expression without judgement or expectation. It should be a warm and welcoming space where children are supported to learn about making healthy emotional choices which will help them develop a stronger relationship with themselves and with others. And it should be well-resourced with skilled and caring educators who put the individual children’s interests first and empower them to develop vital skills for lifelong learning and future success.
When you’re looking for an early learning centre for your child, remember that your choice is likely to have a profound effect on them in the long term.
Here at Evoke Early Learning, we understand the value of quality early learning and we are 100% committed to providing every child in our care with experiences that promote their cognitive, social, emotional and physical development. We invite you to book a tour to experience the Evoke way of life at our Albert Park or Clayton Childcare Centres and to meet our educators and support team whose mission it is to provide the children with the foundation for the future skills and abilities they need to succeed.