As any parent knows, education starts early on even when it seems as though kids spend their time mostly in play and sleep; it’s exactly through play that the learning takes place which is why it’s so crucial.
Ideally, parents would educate and play with their own kids, help them out acquire important skills in life, not only gross motor skills but social and problem-solving too to prepare them for adulthood.
Mind you though, you noticed I said ideally, that’s because most parents nowadays are too busy to do so because of the engaging lifestyles they have, spending hours on end at work, or perhaps even struggle between keeping up with two jobs, so caring for and educating one’s kids 24/7 seems like mission impossible.
Thank God for early learning centers! Not to be confused with daycare centers, these are centers focused on providing children with much more than care, which is crucial in preparing them for life, setting the foundation for future learning with their own programs.
What is an early learning program?
Since they provide children with early education outside of their home, it’s a program created to engage them in learning actively in these specialised centers, same as they would at home. As a preschool program, the term early education encompasses various activities that come in handy with kindergarten and school later on, for instance.
Why is early learning so important?
Having in mind kids get to spend time around other kids their own age, as well as meet and get to know educators, that’s where they learn what there’s to learn about interaction, kindness, sharing, communication, all important skills in life, and of course, depending on the philosophy of the specific center, including the activities involved, there can be other educational benefits as a result.
Likewise, this is the period of a child’s life where he or she is most receptive to learning and gets to develop interests into specific vocations or activities that could very much keep them for the rest of his or her life.
Choosing an Early Learning Center
Considering there are various such centers you’d come across, as a parent it’s your responsibility to do some research and find out the best of the best prior to sending off your child.
Sure, you’re going to be interested in the price first and foremost however don’t forget to look into certain early learning centers, find out what their philosophy is, the curriculum, the learning approach (e.g. Reggio Emilia), their mission and how much of it is based on play, messy outdoor play included, plus the learning outcomes.
And most importantly, whether all of this is compatible with your values and expectations, apart from your budget. Additionally, it’s advisable to find out about the daily menu and nutrition because after all, your child is going to spend quite some time in the center, so you ought to be aware of it beforehand.
Not less important, a parent should be in the know of the safety and health measures, and the caregivers, specifically their qualification. Nowadays that most information is readily available on the internet, it’s easy to do your research and find reliable learning centers with the information you need to know – some sites are better than others, and you might even find out what a parent’s supposed to bring on the first day.
Why send your kids to a learning center?
Now, to answer this question, one needs to look into the benefits the early learning centers provide.
1. Cognitive and Language Skills
For example, there’s no doubt the children have their cognitive as well as language skills developed thanks to the programs of the centers, specifically the games and activities they have related to these skills through a child-centered approach, in the likes of storytelling, imaginary play, and music, learning with words and the various rhythms and rhymes.
This helps them make the most of communication, inviting them not only to explore more of the world that surrounds them but also to express themselves easily. Having fun with arts and crafts, drawing, modelling is another way to express themselves which is also useful with their creativity.
2. School Preparation
Depending on the activities as well as the age of the kids, there could also be acquiring reading and math skills during the stay in these centers. Mind you though, all of this is done in a fun way, through games again, such as sorting games great with improving the problem-solving skills essential for math, and learning the alphabet with songs.
If you want a responsible adult, you have to raise a responsible child; in a center, this is done through activities that show kids how to take care of themselves, and even others, in the form of finishing tasks, helping a friend or a classroom pet. Along with this, such activities are also helpful with teaching them empathy.
Curious children grow up to be adults with defined interests and hobbies, which is why activities that spark their interests and curiosity in general are more than welcome throughout the pre-school period.