Every parent wants the best for their child. We all dream of providing them with a solid foundation for a successful future, and while the journey of parenting is filled with countless decisions, there’s one crucial choice that can profoundly shape our little ones’ lives: early childhood education.
Early childhood is generally considered to be when a child is between the ages of 3-5. Children experience rapid social, body, and brain development during the first five years of their life, which is why early childhood education in Australia is upheld to national standards. The Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) is used to ensure a streamlined approach to early childhood education, ensuring all young people are set up with intellectual and physical skills for future success and nurtured to develop a love of learning that flows through to their formal education levels.
In this blog post, we’ll explore why early childhood education is important and delve into the myriad of ways it can positively impact your child’s development. We’ll also share our top tips for choosing your child’s first early learning centre, so be sure to stick around to the end!
Why Early Childhood Education is Important
Early childhood education is important as it supports brain development, fosters social and emotional growth, prepares children for school, and promotes a lifelong love for learning. It lays the groundwork for academic success, enhances cognitive abilities, and provides a nurturing environment where children can develop essential skills and relationships.
Let’s take a closer look:
Early childhood education is crucial for supporting a child’s brain development. During a child’s early years, the brain forms millions of neural connections that lay the groundwork for future learning and cognitive abilities, including memory, attention, problem-solving, and language development.
Quality early childhood educators provide a stimulating and enriching environment that helps shape the architecture of a child’s rapidly growing brain. This involves using interactive and sensory play, engaging activities, and age-appropriate learning opportunities to build and expand neural pathways. Although painting, reading, singing, or climbing may just seem like ‘play’ to us adults, they are actually essential brain-stimulating activities that support early childhood development.
Social and Emotional Skills
Early childhood education plays a crucial role in developing a child’s social and emotional skills because it provides a structured environment where children can learn and practice essential interpersonal skills. By interacting with educators and other children, a child can develop the ability to communicate effectively, share, take turns, and collaborate.
By participating in early childhood education, children gain exposure to diverse social settings and learn to navigate different social contexts. They develop a sense of belonging and inclusion, as well as a respect for diversity and cultural differences. It also helps children learn to identify and express their emotions appropriately, manage conflicts, self-regulate, and develop empathy towards others. These experiences lay the foundation for healthy social relationships, emotional well-being, and resilience in future academic and personal pursuits.
Supports the Transition to Big School
Finally, early childhood education is important for supporting a smooth transition to ‘big school,’ aka. a formal primary school system, for many reasons. In addition to nurturing a child’s social, emotional, and brain development, early childhood education programs foster foundational academic skills, such as early literacy and numeracy. Children learn pre-reading and pre-writing skills, basic mathematical concepts, and problem-solving strategies, which are essential for starting out in their educational journey.
Furthermore, early education introduces children to routines, structure, and classroom expectations. They become familiar with following instructions, working independently, and transitioning between activities. This familiarity helps children feel more comfortable and confident as they enter a formal school environment.
Finally, early education programs foster socialisation and peer interactions, enabling children to develop important social skills. They learn how to communicate effectively, share, take turns, and collaborate with others, which are vital for building friendships and navigating social dynamics in a school setting.
Benefits of Quality Childcare
Where to start!? There are so many benefits to a quality early childhood education and care. From building connections with other adults, children, and places, to supporting social, literacy, and numeracy development, access to quality early childhood education means your child has a head start on the rest.
Here are just a few benefits of early childhood education programs:
- Fostering an early love of learning. By building experience and knowledge in the act of learning, your child will build confidence in persisting with tasks and taking on new challenges instead of fearing them. This is an often overlooked skill that assists children later in life.
- Experiencing a healthy lifestyle. Quality early childhood education programs like Discovery Childcare and Education offer daily outdoor play, cooking experiences, and nutritiously prepared meals that foster a happy and healthy lifestyle.
- Learning negotiation and conflict resolution. Early childhood education provides a safe, healthy space for children to experience planned and unplanned negotiation and conflict resolution scenarios. This supports their ability to work alongside peers and understand other children have different views and perspectives.
- Building emotional regulation and the ability to adapt. Preschool years are when children learn how to identify and understand their emotions, and feel validated and comfortable that their reactions are normal. Being exposed to new scenes, scenarios, and people helps support children to regulate their emotions in school and home life.
- Developing skills for life. Qualified early childhood educators and teachers develop tailor-made programs for your child to ensure they develop neural, academic, social, emotional skills that set them up for life.
- Learning academic basics. Research has shown that children who attend early childhood programs before starting formal school settings have a much higher skill level in basic literacy and numeracy than those who don’t.
Tips for Choosing a Quality Childcare Centre
Now comes the nitty-gritty part — choosing the best early childhood education centre for your child. At Discovery Childcare and Education we believe that, above all, the learning centre you choose should align with your own personal beliefs and family values. Keep this in mind at all stages of your journey!
Our childcare educators understand deciding on a kindergarten or preschool can be overwhelming, so we’ve put our heads together to share our top 3 tips for choosing a quality early childhood education centre for your child here:
1 – Book a tour. The best way to get a feel of your child’s potential future childcare centre is to visit it in person. By booking a tour, you’ll gain deeper insight into the centre’s care services, facilities, Educators and Teachers, and community. You might even experience that gut feeling and know straight away it’s perfect for you!
2 – Ask lots of questions! No question is a silly question, especially in the realm of child development. Make sure the childcare centre fulfills your criteria by coming prepared with questions on topics important to you, such as:
- How do you include input from families within your daily programs?
- What are your beliefs around behaviour guidance?
- How is food prepared at your centre?
- How are your learning programs structured?
- How will you keep me updated on my child’s learning?
- What qualifications do your Educators and Teachers hold?
- How will you support my child’s social, emotional, and physical well-being?
3 – Look for bonus value. ‘Value’ means different things to different parents, so go into your search knowing what qualities, facilities, and experiences your family prioritise. Whether it be an emphasis on outdoor play and nutrition education, or a focus on community building, keep an eye out for something that makes you feel confident your child will receive the best outcomes.
About Discovery Childcare and Education
At Discovery Childcare and Education, we understand that all children are different. Children learn in different ways, explore the world through different avenues, and require different forms of support from the adults in their life. In recognising the individuality of every child, we pride ourselves on our holistic approach towards child care.
Our Lead Educators develop tailor-made learning plans for every child by getting to know them on a personal level using discussion-, observation-, and play-based learning experiences. As a result, the programs we run throughout each age group in all our settings are designed to support every child in developing important life skills and soft skills that set them up for primary school and later education.
We also pride ourselves on delivering an advanced academic program. By accommodating the unique emotional, physical, and psychological needs of every child alongside our curriculum, love for outdoor play, and focus on health and nutrition, Discovery Childcare and Education offers a nurturing and well-rounded environment for your child to grow.
There are plenty of valuable resources available to assist you in finding the right childcare centre for you and your family. Take advantage of them! We love the resources and tools provided by the Victorian Government, and highly recommend websites like this that help you gauge the cost of childcare and how to set up a childcare subsidy.
We can’t wait to meet you and your little one!