As a parent, you may be questioning the benefits of early childhood education at such a young age. Isn’t a comfortable home a more suitable environment for a child’s growth? How does preschool education make a difference in my child’s development?
To find answers to all your questions, we elaborate on how children develop in their cognitive, emotional, social and physical abilities in the early years.
1 Physical Development
Children experience exponential growth in the early stages of childhood. However, physical development refers to a child’s ability to control their body including the muscular system and nervous system. Gross-motor skills refer to the development of large muscle movements such as the arms and legs, while fine-motor skills refer to precise movements of the hands and fingers.
A preschool environment provides many learning opportunities for a child’s overall development. Aside from a set curriculum, children are also given opportunities to play. The balance between organised learning and unstructured play is essential to enhance the learning and developmental growth of young children.
‘Playtime’ or unstructured play may be understood as fun to parents. However, playtime is a critical time for children to learn interaction with their peers, develop observation skills, make mistakes (while learning from them), and build on their strength in their core, arms and legs!
Guided play, arts and crafts
Building a solid foundation for a child to excel in formal education starts with arts and crafts. Painting, colouring and building crafts aren’t just another fun activity, it’s a great opportunity for children to build on fine motor skills.
2 Cognitive Development
Cognitive development refers to the ability of a child to think, perceive and understand the world around them.
In the early days, infants were believed to lack any form of thought until they learned a language. Today, it is a commonly known fact that babies start learning from the time they take their first breath, constantly trying to make sense of their world.
There is no doubt that a child’s mind is like a sponge, absorbing everything that it can from its surroundings. In the book ‘The Absorbent Mind’, Italian physician and world-renowned educator Maria Montessori speaks about the absorbing power of a child’s mind in the early years. She remarks, “….the tiny child’s absorbent mind finds all its nutriment in its surroundings. Here it has to locate itself and build itself up from what it takes in. Especially at the beginning of life must we, therefore, make the environment as interesting and attractive as we can. The child, as we have seen, passes through successive phases of development and in each of these his surroundings have an important – though different – part to play.” (The Absorbent Mind, p. 88)
In a preschool environment, learning goals are set for each class. As the children work with each other and an educator, their ability to think and reason begin to develop as they analyse, compare, organise and develop solutions to problems.
While cognitive development is unique to each child, preschool educators use these milestones to better gauge a child’s abilities and structure the learning process for them.
3 Emotional Development
Emotions are the emergence of complex feelings that affect one’s thoughts, behaviours and moods. In emotional development, a child begins to understand, express and regulate emotions within their capacity to fully interact with others.
At home, a child takes centre stage and may not be able to experience what it’s like to share toys. But at preschool, a child will explore and engage with other children, collaborate on goals and learn to manage their emotions positively. They begin to form and sustain good relationships with their community, by learning to listen, understand and express themselves with confidence.
Through these small but meaningful acts, a child can gain and boost their confidence while building trust with their peers. This ‘trust’ enhances their understanding of another’s emotions or ‘empathy’, boosting their emotional development.
4 Social Development
The process by which a child learns to interact with their environment and those around them is called social development, and it often comes hand-in-hand with emotional growth. As a child develops individuality and social skills, they learn to communicate their wants and needs, resolve conflicts and build a positive attitude.
Preschool environments provide many of these opportunities for children throughout the day as the children learn, work and play with each other.
The early years of childhood education rely heavily on creating a warm and trusting relationship between a child and their community. Those of whom children interact with the most: parents, peers and caregivers, make up their community. By providing a positive and loving environment, children build a sense of self-confidence.
Another important factor of a child’s overall development and self-esteem is the prepared environment. A child should be able to complete a task with full confidence, which is why every tool meant for a child should be within reach. This vital component means that the classroom or play area is conducive to learning while providing opportunities for a child to engage with others.
Now that you have a clearer understanding of how preschool can set the stage for your child’s future successes, check out the Montessori approach at TCH, and the significant benefits it offers preschoolers! Click here.