Early childhood development has several aspects to explore. Ahava House unpacks the ones they’ve discovered to be most beneficial to young children.
- Socialisation with people other than the child’s family in a safe environment is essential. It is vital to introduce our children to other children and support their transition into friendship groups as they find their own social dynamics.
- Learning how to share, cooperate, and take turns is especially important for children at this young age. Early childhood educators are trained to identify areas where support is needed for each child and build programs and activities around these. Their peers are also significant, as preschool-age children are usually constructive, cooperative and inclusive.
- Lessons should be given in a fun and exciting way that will encourage children to be effective learners. This is the young, fruitful age where we can promote a love for learning which will see them through their lifetime of learning.
- A love of education that includes reading, learning, discovery, and nature take root in preschool. While parents will always influence a child’s early life, introducing them to the correct preschool environment will set them up for their future.
- Teaching the value of respect for others. This is not limited to people and belongings but can also mean respect for their immediate and global environment.
There is no better place to learn this than in a preschool environment, where everything is shared, and manners are taught and learned organically amongst their teachers and peers.
Demonstrating and instilling the importance of teamwork that can teach respect for the opinions of others, listening, cooperation and equality.
For this very reason, many preschool activities are centred around teamwork; a person who learns how to work in a team at an early age will ultimately be more socially attuned and employable!
Early childhood educators and parents must work together to develop resilience in children as early as possible. By creating a consistent, secure and fair social environment, with clear expectations and predictable consequences, children can develop skills in managing themselves and their emotions.
During preschool years, children explore at every opportunity to discover new experiences, friends, and environments. Their minds are so lively and imaginative. It is during this time that children learn the skill of concentration.
As early childhood educators, we need to balance this zest with the ability to listen, follow directions, attend to tasks and participate in group activities to develop the critical life skill of concentration.
By teaching through examples, role modelling and social experiences, children can develop their patience and learn to wait for their turn. Examples from the preschool setting include sharing a teacher’s attention, a toy, the playground or waiting in line for a game.
This is critical. A strong sense of well-being provides children with confidence, optimism and self-esteem, encouraging them to explore their talents, skills and interests.
Positive interactions with other children and teachers will promote a positive, healthy and secure view of themselves, allowing them to approach situations and problems confidently throughout their lives.
One of the most important lessons we teach our children at this young age, especially in South Africa, is the ability to value difference and diversity.
Children must understand that everyone is unique and special in their own way with their culture, beliefs and ethnicity.
Preschool is so much more than playing. While the basic educational benefits of preschool (such as literacy and numeracy) are tangible, the advances children make towards becoming well-rounded individuals are truly invaluable.
Article submitted by Ahava House. Visit www.ahavahouse.co.za for more information.