Early childhood as defined by The United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO) is the period from birth to eight years old, is a time of remarkable growth with brain development at its peak. During this stage, children are highly influenced by the environment and the people that surround them.
At birth, children already begin learning, and as time goes, they begin to develop and learn in their early years rapidly. This early learning process lays a critical foundation upon which a lifelong growth into adulthood is built. A great responsibility lies on the adults into which this sensitive period of childhood development is entrusted.
The consequence of early childhood education (ECE) is essential and cannot be over emphasized. Early childhood is a critical time because this is the period of developing socio-emotional, interpersonal, cognitive language skills which are essential while attaining adulthood.
Advantage of Early Childhood Education
Early childhood education is a necessity to mitigate the factors that predispose children to poor achievements. This ECE provides support for not only children but also parents as it enhances the care giving environment by the inclusion of the children in activities and decision making.
In today’s world, new challenges consistently arise. Challenges that question equity, sustainability, durability, quality and integration. If children are not equipped with the right kind of knowledge and skills to face these new challenges, then the future of the next generation will be brought into question.
A profound benefit of early childhood education is that children are taught about life and made to make little decisions with not too far-reaching consequences. This instills responsibility at an early age. This is also a delicate period that may be considered a “window of opportunity” in which the mind Is more open to certain stimuli to learn.
ECE creates the opportunity for coexistence, breakdown of stereotyping, as well as the formation of autonomous and critical individuals, producing individuals that can have a perception of universal values of their own.
To the parent or caretaker, it provides an avenue for parents to combine roles at work and home – a component key to enjoying balanced family life.
When a safe environment is created for ECE, children get to relate with one another, and this gives each child a series of parallel learning such as communication, respect, sharing and waiting. These attributes contribute to their individual development and open the first door to how life works.
Disadvantages of delayed Childhood Education
Delay in childhood education has invariable consequences, such as a child's ability to learn. There tends to be a lag in emotional and social skills like the ability to communicate or interact with other children and adults as well.
Delayed child education may also have a negative economic effect on caregivers and parents by demanding added childcare cost for families where children are made to stay out of school.
Given such offsetting effects, “why does a delay in childhood education?” becomes an empirical
What research has to say about Early Childhood Education
A 2017 study conducted at the Harvard Graduate School of Education analyzed 22 high-quality studies, which were conducted between 1960 and 2016. This meta-analysis showed that children who attended high-quality ECE programs were less likely to repeat a class, less likely to have to go on to special education classes, and more likely to finish high school when compared to those who didn’t attend any such programs.
Studies further show that children with early childhood education tend to be more curious and show interest in discovering new things. They are reported to be more curious and confident, which leads to better performance in grade school.
Economic returns from Early Childhood Education
It is noteworthy that the success associated with ECE may sometimes tend to be costly. What this suggests is that substantial money must be spent to achieve more enormous benefits. So, it becomes arguable, is it worth the money? Is devoting high cost of resources to ECE programs worth the investment?
Well, as a famous quote goes, "If you think the cost of education is high, think about ignorance."
One of the many economic benefits of the advantages outlined above includes reduced cost of expenditure and resources on special education classes and grade repetition. Also, with improved school performance, there would be higher educational attainment. This will inadvertently lead to subsequent economic success in adulthood. A consequence of this will be less money spent on the criminal justice system, social welfare programs, and possibly higher tax revenues as a result of a more buoyant economy.
Economic benefits must not only be measured by the monetary values, but also the innovation and creativity of the ECE. ECE creates an improved labour market that is driven by competitiveness and innovation as a consequence of an improvement in educational acquisition of the future workforce. And what a better way it is for the achievement of the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals which is to end poverty by 2030.
For decision-makers, and this includes the government, parents, and caretakers, the onus lies on the choice of do you wish to participate the late education of children, or do you wish to participate in the early education of the child. While one breed ignorance, stereotyping and limitation of possibilities, the other opens early enough, a door of opportunities.
Early Childhood Education should not be underestimated. It is the bedrock upon which tomorrow lays.
Feldman, M. (2018, September 28). New Harvard Study Reveals Lasting Benefits of Quality Early
Childhood Education. Retrieved from https://www.ffyf.org/new-harvard-study-reveals-lasting-benefits-quality-early-childhood-education/