Education in Early Childhood
Early childhood programs are the first source of information and knowledge for the young minds that have just started to explore the world. It is high time when the child’s brain and thoughts would be steered in any direction as they are raw and hungry for knowledge. The future development is based on the foundations set in this age as a strong base would help in lifelong learning and social and cognitive development.
One key trend that is transforming early childhood programs is the increased use of technology, which has proved useful in current pandemic times. Children of today are already living in a digital age since the previous generation thought television was the newest form of technology (National Association for the Education of Young Children, 2012). Now, children are well-aware of mobiles, laptops, and tablets that have been increasingly used in schools for better knowledge gaining and familiarity. It is true that technology provides a learning potential, play and growing together, and digital technology is used in early education in the form of virtual games, videos, assessments, active contribution in online communities, and accessing content online (Murcia, Campbell & Aranda, 2018). However, healthcare professionals have suggested that technology induces obesity, lethargy, and resistance to outdoor games that result in less physical activity. All of these factors impact the mental health of young children as well. The early education programs are now contemplating and devising policies that should encourage the parents to limit screen time of children 2 to 5 years less than two hours a day. It has been reported that factors like teachers’ own familiarity with the technology, confidence of its use, technology policies of the institute, and students’ socioeconomic status impact technology during the early years (Blackwell, Lauricella & Wartella, 2014). During the pandemic, the pandemic-posed type of education, which is distance learning, has become a new norm in early education. The extent to which this form of education can be successful depends on the early educator’s familiarity with Information and Communication Technology (ICT). Using technology for showing videos and pictures in online teaching has become a new trend for keeping the motivation levels of young students high. Its creative approach that could not have been possible in a traditional classroom setting with Zoom and other related applications, and the ability to teach the child from anywhere in the world have now made it popular.
The learning approach that best matches my education belief is the cognitive approach, which states that a child’s learning is based on knowledge and retention. Children who are taught using the cognitive approach of learning, especially in the pre-school environment, are more responsible and responsive to themselves, older people, and their surrounding environments as they gain knowledge of things around them in a unique way (Kharrazi & Delgoshaee, 2010). It exhibits that the child’s quality programming already starts taking place at a young age since the child instills all the incoming information in his mind in precisely the same way it is given to him. The child’s development of cognitive and social skills is rapid, even positively impacting his IQ level that is depicted in how he interacts, socializes, and plays with his peers inside and outside the classroom.
The theory that best matches my personal, educational belief is Piaget’s theory of cognitive development. Piaget believed that children adapt from the already possessed information and learn from the surrounding for building upon the already acquired information (Cherry, 2020). Early education provides a source of acquisition of new knowledge, and then the child can experiment and do practical things to understand the newly gained concept fully. For example, when an early educator teacher him phonics and teaches him that the letters C A T make “cat,” which can be pronounced with phonic awareness, the child tries to build upon this knowledge with further readings. At the sensorimotor stage, from birth to 2 years, the parents are a source of early childhood education at home. They learn that their actions cause things to move, and new results occur upon prior actions performed by them. This age’s child’s entire experience is based upon touching, feeling, and sensory reflexes and responses. According to Bowlby’s attachment theory, the child’s early caregivers have an emotional bond with him that helps in his cognitive development (Cassidy, Jones & Shaver, 2014). Its utmost impact continues for their life since the chances of a child’s survival last long. The early education at school occurs at the preoperational stage, which is for children 2 to 7 years. The next is the concrete operational stage marked by the age group of children 7 to 11 years. The children of this age begin to think in logical terms and make the best interpretations of events. It is seen that they have concrete and organized thinking processes by this age where children tend to use inductive logic so that reasoning from specific information could be produced. According to Bandura’s social learning theory, the child learns through observing his environment, creating models from the gained information, copying behaviors of others, understanding attitudes and emotional reactions of people around them, which is crucial for their lifelong development (Horsburgh & Ippolito, 2018). This social learning helps them understand their environmental and cognitive factors better so that an influence on human learning and behavior is witnessed. The quality programming of young children is evolving, which can be observed from creating their symbolic representations of objects and concepts. Words and pictures are used for elaborations of the world. They are learning to become better at language, comprehension, and thinking. Cognitive and social development is rapid at this stage. The other later stages of this theory are also significant, but since they are not relevant to early childhood, they are excluded from the explanation. However, their worth cannot be ignored since every child’s cognitive development is evident at each stage of his life, easily understood with Piaget’s theory.
The developmentally appropriate practice (DAP) supports that children should be fully understood by the early childhood educators and the developmental domain they currently are in (Lettington, 2018). The seven developmental domains of early childhood, including gross motor, fine motor, cognitive development, language acquisition and progress, social/ emotional development, self-help or being adaptive, and spiritual learning (Edarabia, n.a.). The teachers should comprehend at what stage each child is since every child is different from others, physically and mentally. Each one of them his or her own diverse needs that the teacher has to cater to. Also, the early educators have to keep in mind that every child is on the same page when they are learning new concepts in the class so that the low-performers do not lag behind the rest of the class. Best practice requires that students should be taught based on knowledge and not on assumptions. The early educators should not assume that one child would be able to grasp a concept sooner than the remaining. Human development and learning are observed at their paces with each child, and the devising of curriculum should support it to reflect teaching effectiveness. A child should be given opportunities to capitalize on his characteristics, skills, and abilities, along with social and cognitive development.
A plan for including parents in their child’s education would encompass monthly and weekly emails informing the parents about their child’s progress. The emails will also be a source of contact for the parents so that if they want to discuss any concern with the teacher about their child’s difficulties faced in the class. This would enhance communication and trust between the teachers and parents to know what right they should do or are doing for the child. After the term assessment, there would be parent-teacher meetings where the teachers would meet the parents to discuss their child’s performance. Certain activities could be arranged at schools, such as father’s day, mother’s day, or family night, where parents would be allowed to gather with their children and other parents along with their kids at one venue. This would also promote an environment of open communication of parents with each other and the school staff. The school would be mirrored as a safe place for the students to guarantee the parents and the child. Apart from all these activities, the school would remain open for any time contact through email or contact through appointments with the teacher to discuss emerging issues.
The plan for including parents into their child’s education would benefit in various ways such as less absenteeism since a good flow of communication is maintained between the parents and the teachers, improve in academic performance since the teacher would notify the parents where their child needs extra hard work that would be reinforced at home, improvements in student behavior as the children would know that teachers would alert their parents of any misconduct in the class or at school and also creates value for the teachers as the early educators would know that their diligence is paid off when students perform better (Delgado, 2019).
My early childhood education plans would be to pursue my dream of being an early childhood educator after completing my degree. As soon as my program is over, I would apply for teaching young children in any nearby school as I am friendly with the young ones. Children also like to have me in their company and feel joyful when I am with them. Based on this, I can get along well with the children aging from 3 to 5 years. Even if I am unable to find a job soon after my degree is completed, I would instantly go for an internship at an early education school to get an initial hands-on experience before I professionally start a job.
The qualifications that are required for applying for an early childhood education include a diploma in caring for children and young people, diploma in childcare and education, diploma for child learning and development, diploma in playwork, and a diploma in children and young people’s workforce (Kelly, 2016). The competencies that essential for this filed are enlisted as the knowledge of child care and development, curriculum formulation and creating a learning environment, doing a regular measurement of the child’s progress, maintain partnerships with the parents and the community, providing a healthy and safe environment at the school, knowing the value of nutrition for the children, promoting supportive interactions, planning the programs for child’s development and taking care of their implementation, and serving the children and their parents with professional and leadership traits (Washington State Department of Early Learning, n.a.).
Blackwell, C.K., Lauricella, A.R. & Wartella, E. (2014). Factors influencing digital technology use in early childhood education. Computers and Education, 77, 82-90. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2014.04.013
Cassidy, J., Jones, J.D. & Shaver, P.R. (2014). Contributions of attachment theory and research: A framework for future research, translation, and policy. Development and Psychopathology, 25(4 Pt 2), 1415-1434. DOI: 10.1017/S0954579413000692
Cherry, K. (2020, March 31). The 4 stages of cognitive development. Very Well Mind. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/piagets-stages-of-cognitive-development-2795457
Delgado, P. (2019, October 22). The importance of parental involvement in teaching. Observatory. Retrieved from https://observatory.tec.mx/edu-news/the-importance-of-parental-involvement-in-teaching
Edarabia. (n.a.). 7 domains of early childhood development. Retrieved from https://www.edarabia.com/7-domains-of-early-childhood-development/
Horsburgh, J. & Ippolito, K. (2018). A skill to be worked at: Using social learning theory to explore the process of learning from role models in clinical settings. BMC Medical Education, 18(156). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12909-018-1251-x
Kelly. (2016, January 13). Childcare qualifications needed to work in childcare. Early Years Careers. Retrieved from https://www.earlyyearscareers.com/eyc/qualifications-and-training/childcare-qualifications-needed-to-work-in-childcare/
Kharrazi, S.K. & Delgoshaee, Y. (2010). Cognitive approach towards education and its impact on social responsibility of pre-school children. Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences, 5, 2174-2177. DOI:10.1016/j.sbspro.2010.07.432
Lwttington, M. (2018). Developmentally appropriate practice in early childhood education (Master’s dissertation). Retrieved from https://nwcommons.nwciowa.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1082&context=education_masters
Murcia, K., Campbell, C. & Aranda, G. (2018). Trends in early childhood education practice and professional learning with digital technologies. Pedagogika, 68(3), 249-264. DOI: 10.14712/23362189.2018.858
National Association for the Education of Young Children. (2012). Technology and interactive media as tools in early childhood programs serving children from birth through age 8. Retrieved from https://www.naeyc.org/sites/default/files/globally-shared/downloads/PDFs/resources/topics/PS_technology_WEB.pdf
Washington State Department of Early Learning. (n.a.). Core competencies for early care and education professionals. Retrieved from https://www.dcyf.wa.gov/sites/default/files/pubs/EPS_0023.pdf
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