The importance of solid foundations

Found in: SCEA News | Published on: 25 May 2015

The Early Years of a child’s education provides the foundation for their future life and love of learning.  A shaky foundation could shake their confidence in learning; a solid foundation will set them on a pathway to achieve their full learning potential.  What are the factors to take into consideration when choosing a school for your child? There are three key factors to consider when choosing an Early Childhood Education:

What will they learn?

The early years are a wonderful time of investigation and exploration.  Whilst it is important that children are introduced early on to the wonder of books, letters and numbers, research has demonstrated that a too narrow focus on literacy and numeracy only in the early years has detrimental effects on children’s learning later in life.  A good early years education will provide a balanced diet of learning about and through the arts, the sciences, through physical activities as well as literacy and numeracy.   Children will also be encouraged to develop their social, emotional, critical and creative thinking skills. 

Where will they learn?

The physical environment in early years classrooms is really important to establish a sense of connection for children between home and school.  Natural play equipment can also connect children with nature and help them develop many skills.  Yet the emotional environment in early childhood education plays a far greater role than the physical.  Is this an environment of nurture and care where every child will get individual attention to help develop their unique gifts?

How will they learn?

A good early years learning environment is not completely structured and teacher–directed, but leaves room for children to initiate activities and explore the world through play.  This does not mean that anything goes whilst the teacher has a cup of tea.  No!  The teacher is actively involved in the play process, guiding and activating the learning.  This approach is called play-based learning and it is important to get the balance right between playing and learning.  When the balance is right, magic can happen.  “Research shows that children who engage in complex forms of socio-dramatic play have greater language skills than nonplayers, better social skills, more empathy, more imagination, and more of the subtle capacity to know what others mean. They are less aggressive and show more self-control and higher levels of thinking.”[1]

Isn’t that the firm foundation we all want for our children?

[1] Miller & Almon. (2009).  Crisis in the Kindergarten: Why Children Need to Play in School. Alliance for Childhood.