Birth to school age is the most important period of growth and development in the life of a child. Study after study shows that early learning has a direct impact on the development of cognitive, social-emotional skills and a love for lifelong learning. Research tells us that children who receive high-quality early childhood education are more likely to perform better in elementary school, graduate from high school with better grades, continue on to higher education and achieve success in their career. Here are the top five long-term benefits of early childhood education.
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Encouraging a love of learning
The best thing about early childhood education is that it allows your child to learn through play, based on their individual interests. Learning through play makes it fun and exciting, and it cultivates your child’s enthusiasm for learning. Educators also foster children’s enthusiasm for learning by building on your child’s personal interests, be it art, books, music, nature, and so on. For example, singing and storytime help your child build on their linguistic skills, while music, dancing, and painting help develop your child’s creative abilities.
Social and emotional skills
Being in an early education setting helps your child socialise and build relationships. Through these relationships they develop a positive sense of self, social skills to cooperate with others and the ability to recognise, express, and manage different emotions. These skills are extremely important, as they affect their mental health and wellbeing, both as a child and later on as an adult.
Children’s curiosity and confidence go hand-in-hand. Early childhood education captures children’s curiosity and uses it as a fuel for learning. Curiosity encourages children to explore their environment and engage in new activities. Seeing their actions impact the world around them helps children to start viewing themselves as capable beings. Children who develop confidence are motivated to engage in more experiences, which leads to a positive cycle of learning. Confidence helps both children and adults alike perform strongly in all aspects of life.
Independence and autonomy
With the confidence to try new things for themselves, young children begin to develop their independence. In an early learning environment, where resources are child-appropriate, your child can do things on their own and learn various self-help skills like self-feeding, hand-washing, dressing, packing up toys, and helping adults with chores. Children are encouraged to take responsibility for the needs of others as well as their own. One significant aspect of independence is a sense of agency, which is how your child controls their thoughts and behaviour. Early childhood educators support a sense of agency by providing children with options and allowing them to choose and make decisions. Developing a sense of agency from a young age gives your child the ability to feel in control of their life, an essential skill to be carried all the way through to adulthood.
Resilience is one’s capacity to successfully adapt to life changes, stress, and adversity in positive ways. The early learning environment provides a great setting for young children to nurture resilience. It’s an environment where they will learn to face some of their first challenges in life, be it their first dispute with their best friend, losing a game, or the little accidents that they experience while playing outside. There may be bumps and bruises along the way (both physical and emotional), but through this, your child will build constructive strategies to cope with and bounce back from life’s challenge.
It’s clear that early childhood education is essential to preparing young children not only for school, but for life. Quality early learning makes for a quality future, so ensure your child doesn’t miss out!