Shaping tomorrow’s “SKILL-SETS” today!
Known as the Early Childhood stage, these years are globally acknowledged to be the most crucial years for lifelong development. The pace of development is extremely rapid in these years. It is in these early years of life that crucial periods are located for several cognitive, social, emotional and psychomotor competencies which contribute to later success in life.
Picture this – Aarav, a 2-year-old boy, comes yelling in a pre-nursery program, announcing his presence with his arms spread out like airplane wings. Priya, another 3-year-old girl, walks into class pointing towards the sky, “There’s the sun, it’s round.” Then when the clouds covered the sun, Priya commented, “Look now it’s been killed.” Children use their imaginations, mixing contents of their imagination with the contents of the real world. An empty television box becomes a cave. A piece of cloth becomes the nape of superman. A group of blocks become a horde of farm animals in a farm. This incredible plasticity of child’s brain points to the importance of child’s surroundings in promoting healthy neurological growth.
Early childhood: roots for life!
Known as the Early Childhood stage, these years are globally acknowledged to be the most crucial years for the lifelong development. The pace of development is extremely rapid in these years.It is in these early years of life that crucial periods are located for several cognitive, social, emotional and psychomotor competencies which contribute to later success in life. The values and attitudes imbibed in these early years are strong and permanent roots for one’s entire life. These will always be used as reference for important decisions that challenge men and women. These childhood values inculcated determine moral and ethical behaviors throughout life. When a person has to face difficult and complex situations, or when a new challenge demands important decisions, those values that originally carved the personality will guide options and resolutions, reactions or behaviors. Thus, it can be said that early childhood is a head start for laying the foundation of continued learning. Alexander Fleming, the Scottish scientist who discovered Penicillin, said, “I play with microbes. It is very pleasant to break rules.” Frank Lloyd Wright traced his own beginnings as an architect back to his first experiences with simple wooden blocks in kindergarten. It can be said that virtually every significant contribution to culture originally stemmed from a playful act that had its seeds in childhood.
Make them life-long learners!
Preparing a child for school is not sufficient. It is important that we shift their focus in developing an urge to be lifelong learners, besides just making them literate. The approach towards education in these years should not only be about teaching children how to read and write formally but also about how to think, to wonder, to appreciate, to listen to others and to express themselves. Such soft skills are just as important as cognitive or hard skills like being able to count, recite the alphabets, stories, rhymes, respond to their names, etc. If a child can’t follow directions,he or she will have difficulty attending to the task of learning. During group activities such as circle time, children focus their attention on the teacher, listen while their peers are speaking and wait their turn to talk. Also, when a group of children create a make believe book store, they practice many social and cognitive skills as they assign roles to each other, figure out categories of books and how to organize them, make signs to label books; help their “customers” select the book of their liking; and take money for the books. Young children also build social emotional skills through responsive relationships with parents and teachers. When children trust their caregivers to respond consistently to their needs, they learn to regulate their emotions and behavior. Strong social emotional skills are foundations for lifelong learning which in future years help students succeed in school and later as adults hold steady jobs.
Today, young children have been burdened with requirements to absorb more and more academic knowledge and skill, driven by social pressures that urge each learner to join the conveyor belt racing towards a “good job” many years hence. In spite of the increased education imparted, there are increasing amounts of substance abuse that plague many adolescents and young adults.
Early childhood program…
A multi-dimensional and multi-functional Early Childhood program will prepare each child for a future where even if many of current “good jobs” may well have changed forever, and completely different understandings and skills will be needed in order to experience well being, they are better prepared to meet whatever challenges they face in real life. It should incorporate learning to be compassionate and respect differences, equalities and fairness as the world is increasingly inter dependent and inter connected. We cannot predict children’s future, but their early education is a powerful tool for building hope. Children of today are adults of tomorrow. We may spend huge amounts to make them graduates, but these expenditures hardly make them human. They have to be developed in such a way that the future, the real future that we all dream about, will come about!
Preparing a child for school is not sufficient. It is important that we shift their focus in developing an urge to be lifelong learners, besides just making them literate. The approach towards education in these years should not only be about teaching children how to read and write formally but also about how to think, to wonder, to appreciate, to listen to others and to express themselves.
Parvani Dawar, an accomplished Early Childhood educationist, has extensive academic and administrative experience with reputed preschools in India. A graduate from Fergusson College, Pune, she is pursuing a British CACHE level 3 diploma in Childcare and Education. She has experience in varied Early Years pedagogy – the Reggio Emilia approach, Finish Phenomenon Based Learning and the Early Years Foundation Stage, she is a Certified Trainer for Jolly Phonics and Art of Storytelling. She is also the MP Territory Head of Early Childhood Association, India.
Using innovative practices such as design thinking, project- and play-based learning to enhance the learning experience and outcomes among pre-school and kindergarten pupils, she has revamped the curriculum of many preschools. She has been felicitated for her contribution towards Early Childhood Education at various national forums such as ‘Global Guru’s Conclave’, ‘Education Icon Awards’ etc.