Ministry of Education, Guyana

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Monday, 22 September 2014 08:14

How We All Benefit from Early Childhood Education and Development

Gone are the days when we educate children merely for survival. Today, our efforts should be focused on helping children reach their full potential, which we all know would massively benefit them, their families, and the communities they belong to.

To ensure that children will thrive in the face of modern-day challenges, we channel all our efforts and resources into improving the education system, i.e. proper child care and research-based pedagogy. One of the hallmarks of an effective educational system is the emphasis on early childhood education. We have seen how developed nations reap social and economic returns after revamping their preschool education.

Developing countries must no longer afford to ignore the many benefits of high quality preparatory school programs, such as:

  • intellectual, verbal, and physical development
  • improved emotional and social competence
  • higher rate of future academic and life success
  • social equality and economic returns (education is a great equalizer)

The opposite is true if the state, parents, and education-concerned organizations continue to neglect this area in national development agenda. Here’s a more detailed look at how all, not just the children, could benefit from excellent early childhood care and education.

Brain Development of Children (0-5 years of age)

According to neurobiological studies, the first five years of a child’s life are critical to his or her brain development. Eighty percent of synaptic connections are formed during this stage of their lives. It means that children would miss a huge learning opportunity if they will not receive adequate forms of stimulation as well as proper adult care and attention during this rapid phase of development. Otherwise, if this striking research data and information is translated into educational practices and policies, children participating in preschool education would get the best out of their early years.

Intellectual, Verbal, and Physical Development

Even before neurobiologists revealed breakthrough brain research results about children, pre-primary school educators have been aware of the important role they play. They observe how young minds develop through rich sensory exposures, spontaneous play and guided explorations. Kids are naturally curious so they bring in new questions everyday and in return, they discover something new about their surroundings and the world. As preschool teachers watch these kids build social, math, linguistic, and other practical life skills, an inexplicable joy and pride fill their hearts in spite of the meagre compensation they receive.

Socio-Economic Returns of Early Childhood Program Investment

The impact of early childhood education is not just limited to the potential huge improvement of the individual child - it extends to their family, the society, and the entire nation. A child with strong early foundations will smoothly transition from preschool to primary school. They are also likely to finish high school, proceed into college, get a good-paying job and become a valuable citizen supporting the country’s economic development through tax payment and intelligent participation in mass decision-making.

Indeed, the payback on child care and education investment is massive. This is especially true in preschools with highly-trained caregivers and teachers as well as reasonable staff-to-child ratios. While the benefits of quality early childhood education are enormous, it must be combined with parent engagement and support, otherwise much of its value will be wasted. Evidently, a holistic and effective child care and development program must integrate parent education in the overall process.

Written by: Alexis Hillgrove

Read 1575 times Last modified on Wednesday, 24 September 2014 10:45
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