The first 7 years of a child’s life are known as the formative years, and it is during this time that values are instilled and habits formed, which is a critical period for overall development. Creativity & imagination, for example, should be actively encouraged during these formative years, which provides the foundation for a solid academic education, and getting off to the wrong start can have serious implications as the child progresses through the 12 years of formal education.
The British Curriculum
Regarded globally as the best there is, the UK curriculum comprises of 3 key stages in the early learning program. Take an international school in Thailand as an example, where you would find qualified UK teachers delivering the early learning program that begins with what is known as ‘the foundation stage’, aged 2-5 years.
Promoting a Love of Learning
This is vital, as when a child enjoys learning, it will be with them for the rest of their life, and once equipped with the tools for self-learning, the child can go on to reach their fullest potential. How does one encourage a child to love learning? The answer is simple; make it fun, and the UK early learning program is geared around fun-based activities that are designed to encourage enquiry.
This is the best way for any human to learn, and learning by doing is also fun, which motivates the children to continue, while the teacher assumes the role of facilitator and will not always “do things for the child”. Rather the teacher wants the student to attain something, so guidance is given as and when needed, and with very young children, allowing them to play with blocks, feel the textures and experiment with movement. Learning and exploring in a safe environment is the best form of cognitive development for a young child and movement is a big part in most activities. Here is a great article about experiential learning, which every parent should read and digest.
Modelling Proper Values
One must never forget morality and ethics, which are modelled by the early learning staff, with equality and a respect for other’s values, opinions and property, while the child’s EQ is also cultivated, learning the value of patience, kindness and compassion. Children do as you do, not as you say, and therefore proper behaviour must be the model at school, and very often, this is completely overlooked, as the school pushes for academic excellence at the cost of the child’s EQ.
Critical Thinking Skills
The aim of every school should be to equip the learner with the tools they need to develop to their fullest potential, and while academic excellence is a good thing, it should not compromise other aspects of the child’s development. Critical thinking starts in kindergarten, when a child asks why the sky is blue, and the teacher guides the child through possible answers, asking the child what he or she thinks, and this ‘opening up’ of the mind creates neurological pathways in the brain. Click here for more information on the UK National Curriculum.
If you get the early learning right, everything falls into place and the child will exceed in every aspect of their learning.