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The early years from birth to age eight are critically important for all areas of learning and development. In the first few years of life, more than 1 million new neural connections are formed every second. These are the connections that build brain architecture – the foundation upon which all later learning, behavior, and health depend. That is why it is important for everyone – parents, grandparents, friends, and neighbours – to help kids develop and start on a path to success. Early experiences are important in shaping how successful children are later in life. Studies show that kids who have quality early childhood experiences, including attending quality early childhood programs, are more likely to graduate from high school, own a home, have a job, and earn a higher income.
What exactly happens in the early years?
Research over the past several decades has provided insight into the processes that govern early brain development and how those processes contribute to behavior. The past 30 years of research have provided a new and deeper understanding of the brain and its role in psychological functions. In particular, researchers now have a better sense of how brain development affects the development of behavior.
An account of brain development in the early years of childhood is only complete if we first examine the origins of this process during the prenatal months. Brain development is a protracted process that begins about 2 weeks after conception and continues into young adulthood 20 years later. Brain development that occurs during the prenatal months is largely under genetic control, although clearly the environment can play a role; for example, it is well known that the lack of nutrition (e.g., folic acid) and the presence of toxins (e.g., alcohol) can both deleteriously influence the developing brain. In contrast, much of brain development that occurs postnatally is experience-dependent and defined by gene-environment interactions.
Brain Beginnings: Constructing a Foundation for the Future
The development of the brain is a life-long process. Indeed, recent research suggests that the brain is capable of changing throughout the lifespan (Crawford, Pesch, & von Noorden, 1996; Jones, 2000; Keuroghlian & Knudsen, 2007), although perhaps not in all ways (e.g., humans do not “learn” to see or hear better as they age). However, the changes that take place during the early years are particularly important because they are the bedrock of what comes after. Higher-level functions are dependent on lower-level functions, the evidence for which is primarily in the basic cognitive processes and sensory-perceptual systems. When infants are born, their brains are prepared for certain types of experience. For example, as discussed below, infants’ brains are tuned to the sounds of virtually all languages, but with experience, their brains become most tuned to their native language (see Kuhl, 2004, for discussion). This perceptual bias is the basis for learning a language; the brain is partially tuned to be sensitive to language sounds but not so broadly tuned as to be sensitive to all possible sounds.
Subsequent language development builds on this initial sensitivity. Within the first year of life, infants learn to discriminate among sounds that are specific to the language they are exposed to in their particular environment. Before the time they are 6 months old, infants can discriminate among sounds of almost any language. Between 6 and 12 months, the brain begins to specialize in discriminating sounds of the native language and loses the ability to discriminate sounds in nonnative languages (Kuhl, Tsao, & Liu, 2003). This narrowing of perceptual sensitivity is important because it is related to later language ability in that better discrimination of native language sounds predicts better language skills later in life
The brain is much more sensitive to experience in the first few years of life than in later years. The plasticity of the brain underlies much of the learning that occurs during this period. In fact, experience shapes the structure of the brain. For the healthy development of brain circuits, the individual needs to have healthy experiences; the lack of these may lead to the under, specification, and miswiring of brain circuits. Prenatal development is largely driven by genetic processes, many of which are sensitive to the biochemical makeup of the mother’s body but are under genetic regulation. In postnatal development, however, the environment plays a crucial role in fostering development, and the interactions between genetics and experiences account for most developmental outcomes. Brain research suggests that development is a hierarchical process of wiring the brain, in that higher-level processes build on a foundation of lower-level processes. For example, language development depends critically on sensory and perceptual development (e.g., discrimination of speech sounds).
What Exactly is Early Childhood Education?
Early childhood education is basically for children between the ages of three and five. It is more commonly referred to as preschool, pre-kindergarten, daycare, nursery school or simply early education. Despite the different names, they all have the same purpose – to prepare children for elementary school. Giving your children special attention before elementary school helps in giving them a head start for their future.
What is the Purpose of Early Childhood Education?
Early childhood education is similar to a training program given to young children. During class, children will gain the social, emotional, physical and cognitive development needed in order to help them have a brighter future. If done right, early childhood education can help in developing a lifelong love of learning in children.
Early childhood education is a term that refers to the period of time from a child’s birth to when they enter kindergarten, according to Dr. Jessica Alvarado, academic program director for the BA in Early Childhood Development at National University. According to Alvarado, it is an important time in children’s lives because it is when they first learn how to interact with others, including peers, teachers and parents, and also begin to develop interests that will stay with them throughout their lives.
But Alvarado says it’s a common misperception that early childhood education is only about learning basic skills. “It’s so much more than that,” she says. “It’s a time when children learn critical social and emotional skills and a partnership is formed between the child, their parents and the teacher. When this is done successfully, it lays the groundwork for it to continue throughout the child’s education.”
Nations around that world are becoming aware of the importance of early childhood education as well. UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) is an international governing body whose  mission is “to contribute to the building of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development, and intercultural dialogue through education.” Here’s what the organization says about the importance of early childhood education:
“Early childhood care and education (ECCE) is more than preparation for primary school. It aims at the holistic development of a child’s social, emotional, cognitive and physical needs in order to build a solid and broad foundation for lifelong learning and wellbeing. ECCE has the possibility to nurture caring, capable and responsible future citizens.”
What Specific Outcomes Does Early Childhood Education Have on a Child’s Future?
The outcomes vary, as Alvarado explains, but all have been positive. “Studies have looked at everything from the broad social benefits of early childhood education, to something as specific as STEM learning outcomes (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and how introducing children to these topics early on can have a lasting impact,” she says.
She also stresses the importance of encouraging early childhood educators to really get to know their students and each of their specific interests. “When [teachers] do that, that relationship can really influence the student’s day to day and build trust — and studies have shown that when children are comfortable and trust the people around them, they learn more quickly and successfully,” she says.
Parental involvement is also a big component of this relationship-building process, and Alvarado says its important for teachers at this level to work closely with the families. “When the partnership between teachers and the family is successful, we see that echoing positively throughout the child’s life,” she explains.
The young mind is like a sponge. It has the potential to absorb a great deal of information, making it important for children to have guidance while learning. There are many aspects related to early childhood education, here we have listed out the many benefits:
1. Socialization
Humans are very social beings and the main concept of socialization takes root in early childhood. In a safe environment away from family, children meet other people of their age, sowing the seeds of ‘socialization’ and ‘friendship’ in young minds. This helps to develop self-confidence in your children by eliminating their shy nature.
2. Cooperation
During this phase, children learn to share, cooperate, take turns and so on. These are all part of a secure social life. This is especially beneficial for an only child, who is not familiar with having to share things. In the safe environment provided, the child will learn to cooperate with guidance from professionals.
3. Holistic Development
As a human being, it is important to have a strong foundation in every aspect of the personality such as emotional, social, mental and physical. Teachers who handle young children are well trained to identify the weaker aspects of a child and to encourage them to improve through practical sessions. Interaction amongst peers is extremely important in this context.
4. Enthusiasm for Lifelong Learning
Children will develop a hunger for learning if they are taught through fun and exciting activities. This eagerness and enthusiasm for learning will remain with them their entire lives!
5. Value of Education
The new environment provided in preschool gives children an entirely different perspective on the requirement of education. Grasping knowledge and applying them to their lives demonstrates the value of education.
6. Respect
The environment in preschool helps children learn to become civil towards one another and they start to understand that the concept of respect is not just limited to people and belongings, but also to their environment.
7. Teamwork
A person’s teamwork capability is based on their respect for others’ opinions, listening skills and mentality towards equality. All these qualities should be taught at a young age. Many preschool activities are focused on teamwork and help children improve their attitude towards working as a team.
8. Resilience
Our society is ever-changing and it is important to develop resilience as early as possible. The challenging scenarios provided by the professional guides help children to learn through their own experiences. The bruises and bumps from their challenges lay the foundation for better coping strategies for their future challenges.
9. Concentration
The involvement in preschool tasks and activities demands higher levels of concentration from a child. The repetitive occurrence of the activities helps them to improve their concentration skills.
10. Patience
In the life of an adult, patience is often tested and children should be trained to handle such situations for the future. Experiences such as sharing the attention of the teacher, waiting for their turn etc. will help children develop patience.
11. Confidence and Self Esteem
A sense of wellbeing is important for a person to explore their talents. The positive interactions with peers and teachers encourage a positive view of themselves. This is an important impact of early childhood education.
12. Brain Development
Professionally crafted activities in preschool enhance the development of the brain. Various activities involving analyzing and logical reasoning help them to develop their skills.
13. Exposure to Diversity
There is so much diversity in the modern world and children need to be taught to appreciate and accept the differences in society.
Each new word, experience, and person can mould a young child into the person they will grow up to be. This is because it is possible to have a greater impression on a person during their early childhood days. Most parents understand this and give early childhood education the importance it is due.
Recent studies reveal the importance of early childhood education as it can influence the mental, emotional and physical development of a child. Hence for increasing the quality of the education of your child, ensure early childhood education. So always make sure that they start off early so it doesn’t become a problem in the future.

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