So when do children start learning?
Children start learning the even before they’re born (in the womb) and as a parent you are your child’s first and most important teacher. During the first years of a child’s life it is play, not scheduled instruction that contributes the most to brain development (Frost, 1998). We don’t need to formally “teach” our young children in order for them to learn. Children have their own interests and by being supported to follow these they are likely to be getting the stimulation that they need. In 2004, the results of a seven-year research programme in the UK yielded a series of tips about how to get your child off to a flying start at school and the key message was: what parents do is more important than who the parents are. The activities contributing to higher intellectual, social and behavioural scores include: reading with your child; teaching songs and nursery rhymes; painting and drawing; playing with letters and numbers; visiting the library; teaching the alphabet and numbers; taking the children on [cultural excursion] visits and creating regular opportunities for them to play with friends at home.
What can early childhood education offer my child?
Early learning services add to what children are learning at home. While time in a loving, secure home is vital to their development, learning in a new environment gives children a chance to make friends, master new skills and learn to trust people outside of their family. Here are some more questions to think about:
What are some of things children learn at an early learning service?
Services are looking for reinforcement of what children are learning at home and in the community. They trial rich experiences in numeracy, literacy, science etc but through the childs preferences and choices in free play. Some of the things we want children to learn in the preschool years are: how to get along with others and make friends; how to express their feelings; how to ask questions and find out more; how learn from others. All these skills help children become happy and capable learners.
When do I need to enrol my child in an early learning service?
Enrolling your child in an early learning service is entirely voluntary, so it’s up to you when (and if) you do this. If you are looking to enrol your child in early learning, make sure you allow yourself plenty of time to decide on a service as there are many options to choose from and some services may have waiting lists. Plus, it does take your child some time to settle in, so allow short visit times to start with.