Since the last decade of the previous century, with the advent of Internet in a big way, societies all round the world have undergone a sea change. With the shifts in career preferences, education has largely become a life long process of learning. Even then the value of early childhood education remained unchanged; it is said, the things that a child learns in her first eight years of life have lifelong influence shaping up her personality and career.
Definition of early childhood education
In order to realize the significance of early childhood education, first we have to know its proper definition. Early childhood education refers to the combination of physical, intelligence/cognitive, emotional, and social learning of a child during the fist six to eight years of her life. While parents and primary care givers play an important role in the child’s acquisition of such knowledge, in a more specialized sense, a professional early childhood educator offers early childhood education to the child. However, a good educator will always involve the parents in his/her early childhood programs to get the maximum benefits from the program.
The basic premise of early childhood education
Advanced psychological researches have concluded that children learn at the fastest pace when they are between 0-6 years of age. Based on this notion, the early child educators design their program that helps boost up the child’s natural learning process. Now, a scientific child development program is not all; it must be accompanied by proper nutrition, parental/caregiver interaction, and stimulus and in the absence of any of these factors, the child is bound to lag behind miserably in the latter course of his or her life. Thus, side-by-side of a well chalked out early childhood curse, it is equally important that the children must receive due attention, a respectful treatment and lots of affection from parents or caregivers in the absence of parents.
The designing of the curriculum
There are a number of early childhood education programs that are based on different theories ranging from maturationist theory propounded by Jacques Rousseau and Maria Montessori to behaviorist theory developed by John B. Watson, B. F. Skinner and Edward Thorndike. The current pre school educational scenario is dominated by the ideas and curriculum that incorporate the features of all the leading theories. However the entire current pre-school education curriculum has one common characteristic: all of them are designed to cater to the individual needs of a child and all of them aim at developing the self-esteem of the child.
To summarize it all, a good pre-school program will
Involve the parents or the caregiver in the learning process.
It should place an emphasis on learning through play.
The program must place equal importance on the physical, cognitive, emotional and social development of the child.
In general, the entire learning process must mean fun for the child and not something forceful.