Families across the nation are realizing the lifelong benefits of a high-quality and well-rounded early childhood education for their children. They are looking for preschool experiences that are more than just learning numbers and letters; they want their children to be well-prepared in every way. So, what should parents look for?
In a recent article published by Scientific American Mind, the author reveals a growing trend in early education that has captured the attention of institutions and parents alike: the move away from play-based learning toward a “direct instruction” curriculum, the typical format for older children and adolescents.
While it may seem children would learn more from direct instruction, recent research has uncovered that early education which focuses too strictly on direct instruction and removes all play from its curriculum can actually hinder a child’s later successes and mental stability. At the opposite end of the spectrum are daycare facilities that offer little to no teacher-initiated activities, leaving the learning entirely up to the child. In all-play based institutions, children are not being given guidance and purposeful instruction to scaffold their learning.
We are left with two opposing points of view about what is best for children. What we really need is some middle ground and balance. One way that Primrose Schools ensures it provides education excellence is the Balanced Learning® approach. This proven teaching approach, which balances academics, play and character development, is based on national developmental learning standards and ensures that children are nurtured academically, socially, emotionally, physically and creatively.
Here are five topics to consider when looking for high-quality and well-rounded early childhood education:
Results: Find out if the child care program provides children with experiences that enable them to acquire the skills and knowledge that prepares them for more formal education and a healthy, happy lifestyle. If they do, can they demonstrate the effectiveness of their educational model with results?
Safety: While children are busy learning, playing, singing, painting and growing, parents need to trust that their child care facility is providing a safe environment. From controlled building access and playground safety to cleanliness, food handling and other practices, make sure your child care provider places an emphasis on safety and security standards and has procedures to enforce them.
Physical Activity: High-quality programs follow the highest professional standards and guidelines for developmentally appropriate practices for physical development. They should have a physical activity program that accommodates a variety of individual differences such as developmental status, previous movement experiences, fitness and skill levels, body size, and age.
Creative Arts and Music: Research has shown that the first few years of life are crucial to developing musical aptitude. Early exposure to the arts has a huge influence on life-long potential for enjoying music, learning to play an instrument, and other forms of creative expression. A strong creative arts and music curriculum are core components of a well-rounded early childhood education, and with many programs cutting back, this is definitely something that you should ask more about.
Character development: We all want our children to develop into confident, happy children. Children need to learn about and internalize different aspects of character development, from friendship and generosity to sharing and honesty. Happy children are caring children, so make sure that an emphasis on character development is part of your prospective child care program’s model.
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