Deciding whether to enrol your child in Early Childhood Education, or to keep them home until primary school can be complicated. There are various factors to consider and for most families, some form of Early Childhood Education will be non-negotiable due to work commitments and childcare requirements. However if you’re in a position where you are able to choose between sending your child to childcare or keeping them at home, here are some benefits of Early Childhood Education that you might like to consider.
Age-appropriate routines allow a child to know exactly what to expect throughout their day. This can help to develop a sense of security and allow them to feel more balanced, calm and confident. Childcare Centres have carefully devised routines that incorporate a mix of engaging and educational activities, indoor/outdoor play and quiet time/high energy play. While the exact activities will, of course, vary from day to day, the routine and flow will be consistent. For example, a child may know that when they arrive at childcare, they first put their bag away, then they wash their hands, grab their photo card off the board, then play outside for 30 minutes before heading inside for a story, and so on. Having a set routine like this can allow a child to flourish, reduce challenging behaviours like meltdowns and promote healthy sleeping and eating patterns.
Reputed childcare centres are experts at educating children from babies through to preschoolers. Activities and resources are carefully planned to introduce early literacy and numeracy skills in fun and engaging ways. For example reading books, talking with educators and drawing can all develop literacy skills, while songs, music, dance and water or sand play can be inventive ways to develop early numeracy skills. While there’s no doubt that many of these activities would also take place at home, early literacy and numeracy skills can be enhanced by targeted activities delivered by experienced educators. At Little Zak’s we offer a number of extra-curricular activities such as Little Zak’s Kitchen and Language Lessons which can also boost literacy and numeracy in creative and engaging ways as well as develop other essential life skills.
For most children, attending an Early Learning Centre will be their first experience of spending a significant period of time away from their parents. While this can be daunting at first, it is also a great opportunity for growth, learning and the development of early independence skills. Early Childhood Education can help children to learn age-appropriate skills that foster independence such as the ability to put their things away, wash their hands and get themselves a drink of water. It also allows them to explore their identity through interactions with their peers, while equipping them with social skills like sharing, listening to others and waiting their turn. What’s more, if children have a positive experience in their Early Learning Centre, this can give them more confidence when navigating new environments without their parents (such as school, sports groups, music or swimming lessons etc).
Of course, one of the most heartwarming elements of sending your child to a childcare centre is the very special friendships they develop there. While children form bonds with their peers and caregivers at all ages, friendships become particularly important from around age three or four. At this point children begin to really enjoy playing with their peers and these interactions can help to develop many important interpersonal skills. Children begin to play cooperatively, meaning they integrate each other’s ideas into their play and learn to compromise, negotiate and work collaboratively. They also learn to consider each other’s feelings and experiences, helping to develop their sense of empathy. Plus, the experience of making friends can help to boost your child’s social confidence and give them the skills they need to navigate future social interactions with children their own age.
While it’s hardly surprising that children who have had a high quality early childhood education perform better at primary school, it’s interesting to note that the benefits actually extend far beyond school success. In fact, research has shown that the positive effects of participating in quality preschool programs extend well into adolescence and even adulthood, with benefits to higher education, employment success and lifelong social skills.
While there’s no doubt that time spent at home with parents is important for children’s development, there are also definite benefits to ensuring your child spends at least some part of their early years at a high quality Early Childhood Education Centre. Even if you don’t require childcare, it is always worth considering enrolling your child in just a couple of days of Early Childhood Education in order to reap some of these benefits. Research has also shown that parents benefit from sending their children to childcare, with positive effects on their social and emotional lives, making the decision win-win for both parent and child.
Contact Little Zak’s today to discuss enrolling your child at one of our high quality Early Learning Centres.