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Early Childhood Education is the field of practice, research and study that deal with children’s experiences during their early stages of life. During Childhood education, young children receive formal education and are under the care a professionals who may not be a family member.
Children receive this kind of education outside their homes. The term early childhood is used to refer to children below the age of normal schooling, which according to many nations is five years. However, this is not always true. For instance in the U.S., it includes children below the age of eight years.
The educator should be aware of physical, social and cognitive development stages of preschoolers’, toddlers and babies. He/she must also cooperate with their parents in order to bring the child up in a good way (Armstrong, Henson & Savage, 2008).
According to Blenkin and Kelly (1996), the study on early childhood is important because it is the time during which the body and brain of a child is undergoing rapid development. During this stage, children develop skills and abilities like motor skills, language and psychosocial cognitive and learning.
Exogenous factors like the environment in which children are exposed to right from birth to eight years are said to affect the psychosocial cognitive and learning of the child. Early childhood education builds a strong foundation for academic success in children. Its studies prepare the child for primary school education, which contributes to academic excellence of the child later in life.
Studies have shown that readiness that children get from early childhood education has positive social and economic impacts during their adult life.
Such children have limited chances of engaging in criminal behaviors; attain good results in schools which secure them good places in employment the result of which is higher earnings. Based on the major role that childhood education plays, the content of this paper will emphasize on the topic.
Historical development of Early Childhood Education
The Philosophy of early childhood education can be traced from the works of scholars like John Locke, Jean Jacques Rousseau and John Amos Comenius. Sociologists like Jean Peaget, Erick Erikson and Sigmund Freud concentrated much on the developmental stages of children.
The scholars approached the discipline in different ways but they all held the belief that early childhood education played a major role in developing interests and abilities of children as they grow up (Blenkin & Kelly, 1996).
The first and largest early childhood program was Kindergarten, which was developed in the United States between 1782 and 1852 by Friendrich Froebel. The program was later on adopted in Europe and other countries. The movement was accelerated by industrial revolution and absorption of women in large numbers to work in factories.
Between 1870 and 1952, another early childhood program developed by Maria Montessori’s was also adopted in many countries. However, the role of early education as the first step in the system of education came to the knowledge of many nations after the Second World War (Blenkin & Kelly, 1996).
Blenkin and Kelly (1996) argue that Kindergarten was the first training institution to offer training skills for teachers of young children. The first training school was begun in Boston by Germany kindergarteners Matilda Kriege and her daughter in 1868. The term kindergartener was used to refer to children attending school and their teachers.
The kindergartens were started by Germany immigrants who were running away from the Russian Revolution in which Germany was defeated and that’s why they were initially Germany-speaking. Today, the role of early childhood education is recognized worldwide. Public institutions have been established to offer training to these teachers because children at this stage are sensitive and teachers should know how to deal with them.
Current Principles of Early Childhood Education
In order to enhance early childhood education, the program is based on various principles. These principles are meant to make the system effective so as to improve the level of education. The program requires trained personnel. Teachers should acquire adequate training in early childhood education centers where they will be equipped with necessary knowledge and skills to interact and train young children successfully.
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Early childhood is not only meant to help parents who are working but also help children acquire physical, cognitive, socials and emotional experience away from their homes. During this period, children learn how to count, play, interact and socialize with others.
Parents should be meant to understand that the purpose of getting their children to school is none other than getting the required knowledge and skills (Beneke & Helm, 2003).
According to Beneke and Helm (2003), the program is based on the principle that all childhood education programs should be licensed. The teaching methodologies used should meet interests and developmental needs of children.
Licensing ensures that children are secure and their health needs are taken care of. Teachers should ensure that the environment in which children live in is secures and healthy. Children learn well when they feel free and secure in the environment. It is therefore important for the teacher to ensure that children are comfortable to enhance their learning.
Resources and programs needed in education centers should be coordinated by the government to ensure that children get prepared for elementary and secondary education. The government should fund these institutions so that they can buy materials and cater for all expenses needed for successful learning of children.
The institutions should be provided with reading and writing materials as well as good feeding programs for children. Recreational facilities are also needed because playing is vital for young children. Co-ordination between parents, teachers and the government is important.
Finally, the system is based on the principle that all children have the opportunity to access early childhood education. Parents are encouraged to let their children go through the program because it creates a strong academic foundation (Beneke & Helm, 2003).
Intensive research has been conducted concerning early childhood education because of its importance. It is argued that if interference in the fundamental development of skills and abilities of a child occur during the early stages, this is likely to affect their learning potentiality in future and the damage may be long-lasting.
Various organizations have been established worldwide advocating the role played by early childhood education. Professional organizations support early childhood professionals by providing them with guidance and resources needed to better education of the young children.
Example of such organizations include The New York City Association for the Education of Young Children (NYCAEYC), World Organization for Early Childhood Education and National Association for Childhood Education International (ACEI) among others (Nutbrown, Clough & Selbie, 2008).
World Organization for Early Childhood Education is a worldwide non-profit making non-governmental organization operating in more than 60 countries.
The organization includes parents, teachers, health officers, activists, researchers, socials workers and students. The goal of the organization is to ensure that children between the ages of zero and eight years access their rights to education in all the member countries (Nutbrown, Clough & Selbie, 2008).
The NYCAEYC advocates for and promotes the quality of education offered to children below the age of eight years and their larger families as well as enhancing their well being by supporting professional development. The ACEI is a global organization whose aim is to support and promote optimal education and children development from birth till puberty.
In addition, the organization encourages people to train and become professionals who would then bring change in the society by passing acquired knowledge to children. The organization sees to it that all children access quality education (Nutbrown, Clough and Selbie, 2008).
In the modern world, some of the best practices employed by teachers in childhood education centers include play, songs and dances that form the basic form of entertainment. Play is very important for young children. This is because their brain is not fully developed and therefore it cannot retain large volumes of information. It is therefore important for the teacher to allocate enough time for children to relax their minds.
Since they cannot concentrate for a long period of time, the teacher should have several breaks in between the classes during which children should go to the field and play. The teacher should accompany them and be in charge. The teacher directs the children during the activity. In addition to plays, children can also engage in dances and songs. This is mainly aimed at refreshing the mind.
Children should be taught on how to conduct the songs themselves. Finally, other forms of entertainment like watching the television can be of great help. The teacher should ensure that the programs enhance academic work of the children (Nutbrown, Clough & Selbie, 2008).
Technology in Early Childhood Development
In the modern world, people are always striving to find solutions to their problems. Technology is a major problem solving tool in education. Technology increases academic skills, reduces the number of school dropouts and discourages racial discrimination in schools. Improvements in technology have made it easier for teachers to execute their duties.
Studies have shown that children in the modern world know much more than children of their age sometime back. Modern generations are more advanced than the previous ones. For instance, children can easily access books of all kinds whenever they need them in libraries. This helps in rapid and easy expansion of knowledge (Blake & Taylor, 2010).
The use of Computers, tablets, laptops and smart phones has increased rapidly in childhood education programs. Through technology, the qualities of educational program have been modified in to interesting ways. Computers are used by teachers to teach children and keep records of class performance. Children between the ages of three and eight effectively use computers today.
Now that children know how to make use of the above electronics, they have a lot of information at their figure tips. For instance, they only need to “Google” in the computer and search for answers to their questions.
For children whose parents own computers at home, they have a greater advantage because they can access computer services at home. Some mobile phones can also be networked and provide similar services (Blake & Taylor, 2010).
The media has improved early childhood education. Modern television channels offer quality programs than traditional ones. There are many educational programs displayed in different channels for children to watch. They are so many such that children can never watch them all. The radio offers educational programs for children in which children allowed to answer question.
For instance, the questions are asked by the radio presenter and children answer through a phone call. The presenter then says whether the child is right and if not, he provides the correct answer.
The knowledge is passed to all children who happen to be listening making this a way of enhancing education. Other technological advancements which have eased early childhood education include the use of printers, scanner, digital cameras and video recorder (Blake & Taylor, 2010).
Blake and Taylor (2010) argue that application of technology in early childhood education will be at increase even in future. However, less fortunate and children from poor families will be disadvantaged. These electronics are very expensive. Accessing and using them will be difficult for children from poor families. Improvement in technology level is likely to increase immorality rate among school children.
The more the children know how to operate computers, the more they will get in touch with sites not fit for their stage. Research has shown that many children visit pornographic sites in computers. As much as technology is going to affect early childhood education positively, it will also have its side effects.
There are many challenges which children encounter during their studies which should be well- known to their teachers and other educational employees who interact with them directly. These are the right people to determine the areas which require improvements. In order for children to learn well, physical, social, emotional and learning needs should be met. Failure to satisfy one of the needs makes it hard for the child to study well.
The performance of children improves when they are encouraged and supported by adults. Teachers should ensure that they make the necessary improvements to ensure that children succeed in their studies whenever they realize points of weakness among students (Jalango & Isenberg, 2003).
Among the challenges facing early childhood education include lack of enough funds. Early childhood education is mainly offered in the private sector at very high costs. Lack of finance makes it hard for some parents to enroll their children in schools. Accessibility of such institutions may be a challenge. People may have to travel for long distances before getting to the learning institution.
Other challenges include lateness from school, a lot of home work given to children that cannot be completed overnight, competition in class, lack of enough playing grounds, competition with neighboring schools and lack of enough sleep for children (Jalango & Isenberg, 2003).
The list of controversial issues in early childhood education is long. Some of the debatable issues in early childhood education include young children should use computers, whether viewing the television leads to violent behavior among children, whether homework improves the performance of children and finally the correct age at which young children should join kindergarten among other issues (Jalango & Isenberg, 2003).
The study of developmental stages of young children is a vital topic. I personally chose the topic because I like interacting with young children and helping them whenever it’s necessary.
My desire is to see children live comfortably and succeed in their studies and that’s why I have chosen to pursue a course in early childhood education which will help me understand the concept better. My goal is to see that I help children pursue and succeed in their studies once I become a professional in the field.
Armstrong, G., Henson, T. & Savage, V. (2008). Teaching today: An introduction to education. London: Prentice Hall Higher Education.
Beneke, S. & Helm, H. (2003). The power of projects: meeting contemporary challenges in early childhood classrooms– strategies and solutions. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Blake, S. & Taylor, S. (2010). Technology for early childhood education and socialization: developmental applications and methodologies. London: IDEA Group Inc (IGI).
Blenkin, M. & Kelly, A. (1996). Early childhood education: a developmental curriculum. New York, NY: SAGE.
Jalango, R. & Isenberg, P. (2003). Major trends and issues in early childhood education: challenges, controversies, and insights. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Nutbrown, C., Clough, P. & Selbie, P. (2008). Early childhood education: History, philosophy and experience. New York, NY: SAGE Publications Ltd.