“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” – Frederick Douglass
Are you a parent wrestling with the decision to put your child in an early childhood educational center? Maybe you are trying to determine what type of center to choose. Or, were you aware there are different types of centers? Unless you have worked in the field or have had previous experience with childcare, you may not be aware there is a difference. The benefits of early childhood education will help you see the difference and be able to make a more informative choice between the two types of care.
- A daycare typically uses no form of curriculum. There are no set standards of measurement for development. The basic needs of the children are met; they are fed, cleaned, changed, nurtured, kept safe, and allowed socialization. The center may or may not teach. They may or may not have staff who are certified in teaching ECE.
- An early childhood educational center teaches children as early as six-weeks of age to five years old. Measurements such as Ages & Stages are used to teach and assess the child’s developmental progress. ECE centers utilize age appropriate and approved early childhood curriculums such as Pinnacle, Creative, Montessori, Reggio-Amilia, HighScope, and Whole Brain to name a few of the most popular. Teaching staff have or are obtaining certification to teach ECE. Learning is done through activities in the curriculum with interaction from the teacher and classmates. It is maximizing learning through whole body experience via fine and gross motor work. Young children were not built to sit behind a desk and learn. They need physical and mental stimulation through exploration of their surroundings.
What is Curriculum
“The curriculum consists of the knowledge and skills to be acquired in the educational program as well as the plans for experiences through which children’s learning will take place.” Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs, NAEYC (2009) p. 42.
Through use of a curriculum, teachers can assess the child’s progress and observe any potential delay which can be quickly reported to the parent for early intervention. It is important to catch potential delays as early as possible. Children who begin elementary school behind, typically stay behind and struggle all through their school years.
Benefits of Early Childhood Education for the Child
Here are 12 benefits as noted by Vicky Palmer of HuffPost in her article: The 13 Key Benefits of Early Childhood Education: A Teacher’s Perspective
- Concept of Cooperation
- Encouraging Holistic Development
- Enthusiasm for Lifelong Learning
- Convey the Value of Education Through Experience
- Confidence and Self-Esteem
- Exposure to Diversity
In addition to those 12, during the earliest years in an educational center, the children are being taught life skills such as how to feed themselves, use a spoon, sit at the table, use manners, wash their hands, potty training, dressing themselves, and learning to be independent.
If you want to see something amazing, walk into a one-year-old room at lunch time or nap time. The children are all seated at the table like little adults in tiny chairs at a tiny table, no highchairs, not being fed. At nap time, they have moved from the crib to a cot and quickly fall into a ritual of self-soothing to sleep all at the same time.
Benefits of Early Childhood Education for the Parent
Beyond the obvious fulfilling the need to have childcare while the parent works, placing a child in an early educational facility allows peace of mind. As working parents, we typically do not have a lot of time to spend teaching our children everything they need to know. Being in an ECE center gives that peace of mind that someone is teaching your child and watching for those developmental delays.
Parents will also reap the benefit of watching their child learn, hearing stories, seeing the progress through works of art, and keeping in close contact with the teacher. Parents will have the satisfaction of knowing their child is school ready when the time comes.
If you are considering extended care for your child, know what needs you want met for your child. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you aren’t sure what questions to ask, here are a few of the important ones. Do you use a curriculum, if so, which one? How do you assess the child? How do you communicate the child’s progress and needs to home? How do teachers interact with the children throughout the day? Do you have indoor and outdoor learning opportunities? Do you teach to the five senses?
Know what you want and need from a provider. Know what your child needs. Tour the center, talk to the staff, talk to other parents, visit the center’s website and social media, search for their rating on your states site. In Kentucky, we use the All Stars rating system, go to Benefind and type in your zip code to see the ratings in your area. The more you know, the less you have to worry about your child.
Author: Belinda Davis © 2019