In the world, there are certain assets that are crucial to the success of specific processes or things that exist. For example, in order for a flower to grow, it requires water and sunlight. In order for a cake to be made, the ingredients must have to be first put into a bowl and mixed together. Just as these two circumstances exhibit, in order for the end product of a situation to be successful, things must be added to it in the beginning in order to help it grow and thrive. Like the plant as well as the cake, humans also need investment from others, in terms of their development, in order for them to be a successful human in the future. Put simply, early childhood education is a section of education that is crucial to the development of children, as it involves children in their early stages of life, where their brains are still newly prospering, and have room for mistakes, improvements, and an immense amount of learning to be made and taken in
Early childhood education’s main purpose is to prepare and assist children with their transition into higher levels of learning, including elementary leveled material and on. When a child is in a classroom that is defined as an early childhood level, they are more than likely in either preschool, or kindergarten. Within these two sections, children are taught vital skills that will become the foundation of their future academic careers. Things that children learn within these levels include mainly social skills, meaning how to interact with other human beings- some their size and age, and others quite older and bigger than them. In addition to the social aspects of early childhood education, children are introduced to situations that they may have never experienced before at home, such as sharing, taking turns, interacting with other children, and being slightly more independent than they are used to, in most cases.
Children in these stages of life also are introduced to English in the broad sense, how to properly form sentences when speaking, the alphabet, and what sounds each of the letters make. In addition to English, most children in an early childhood leveled classroom, are learning rudimentary math skills, such as counting and arranging using objects, locks or different materials. Hands on activities are very common amongst early childhood leveled classrooms, as they enable children to learn and develop using different methods, where they can ultimately see which method they prefer and best suites them and their needs.
Young children should get more than just five hours in a little yellow chair listening to a teacher go over the “golden rule” again and again. Yes, they should be taught what it means to be a decent human in a flourishing society, however, they should not be talked at for hours on end. They should be getting hands on experience that is allowing them to make mistakes and learn from them while they still can. It should be a time of simple life skills, as well as learning and having fun all at the same time. Children during early education should be learning what it means to work together as a team, as when they are adults, most of the things that they will accomplish will be done alongside other people, whether it be in classroom setting, at a job, or outside in their everyday lives. Preschool and kindergarten are necessary for a child to flourish during their higher years of education. The basic background for the rest of what they will be doing in life is formed during this time, especially because their brains are still assembling, and are at their peak for learning new information and having it stick with them.
I am the head counselor at a summer camp for four and five year old children, with and without intellectual and physical disabilities. I spend nine weeks with these children, teaching them basic life skills, what it means to be kind to others, how to become more independent, and most importantly how to become accepting of all, despite their abilities, and lack thereof. For some of the children who come through the camp, it is their first time experiencing a full day without a nap, or a long period of time away from their caregivers. This can be a challenge, however it is not the hardest thing they will face in their time away at camp. Seeings how the camp is inclusive to all, there are children attending that do have visible disabilities, as well as invisible ones. For many, it is their first time seeing a child who is physically different than them, as well as intellectually different. Whether a child comes in with Down Syndrome, which is physically visible, or is on the Autism Spectrum, which is less visible, children who are five years old will notice that these children do not function in the same ways that they do. That is when they will come to me with the questions like, “Why does she look like that?” or “What can’t she talk with her words, but only with her hands?”. That is when it is my job to inform them that not everyone is the same, but that does not mean they are any less important than the ones who are the same. Explaining these types of things to young children is never easy, but it is important, as it prepares them for things that they will continue to encounter in years to come. Exposing these young children to situations such as these, is essential to their development and understanding of the world around them.
Early childhood education does not always have to revolve around math and reading. High- quality early childhood education should include diverse and situational experiences that can teach these children what they will encounter in the future. Most importantly that not everyone is the same, some people are very different, but in no way does that make them wrong or invalid. Conclusively, early childhood education is the necessary foundation needed for young children to grow, develop and understand the world around them, and it ultimately primes their brains, and sets a path for which they will follow up until their years of higher education way past the pre and post elementary levels.