Early Childhood Education is based on children learning about themselves and what they can do. The main focus of this form of education is the development of social emotional development.When people hear the term social/emotional development they instinctively think about how a child gets along with others. However, that is leaps ahead in the process. First children must be able to focus on themselves. The one thing most people fail to understand about the main purpose of early education. That purpose is all about the in many ways a child is learning about themselves what they can do. This is the crux of social emotional development.
One thing to keep in mind as we talk about children three and younger is the fact hat they are focused on learning about themselves and what they can do in the field of early education this is called egocentric. Do not mistake this for selfishness. Children this age are not developmentally able to separate themselves from what is in their hands. Asking a young child to share a toy is the same as asking them to take of their hand and give it away. They just are not ready for that sharing is a developmental stage most appropriate for children three and older.
What children learn about themselves from Birth to Age 3:
- Recognizing independent person
- Recognize they have emotions
- Label those emotions
- Listen to and follow one direction
- Learn to express them appropriately
- Recognize their own things
- Develop the ability to put those things where they belong
- Hear, listen to and follow two directions
In addition, children learn to sit and pay attention from 2 minutes at 18 months to around 10-12 minutes at age three.Once children have mastered these skills they move on to being able to interact with others. These skills look similar but, are different in that children associate what they have learned about themselves and begin to apply it to others. They make the mistake of thinking others are just like them and it take a while before they learn others have their own way of doing things.
Learning to interact with others age 3-5:
- Recognize others have feelings
- Begin to learn to share
- Learn to negotiate in cooperative play
- Learn to share feelings in a verbal manner
- Listen to and follow three step directions
- Start bargaining to make friends
- Show signs of frustration in the give and take of bargaining
- Listen and follow three or more directions when given
- Become responsible to put things away where they belong
- Sit and listen for up to 20 minutes by age 5
- Learn how to listen to another's feeling and share theirs
- Share freely
Only after children begin to master these abilities are they ready for elementary school. These are the building blocks for Kindergarten. Many parents think that knowing alphabet, numbers,colors and site words are the things children need to begin school and that is true to a certain point. However, the above skills are more necessary for a successful elementary school experience. Which is why you see now the move to include so many aspects of emotional education in the school setting. Children who did not get these skills in early childhood in early childhood disrupt classroom learning and negatively affect the classroom experience for the other children. Thus, teachers are constantly working to get kids to develop self-control in these areas and not able to teach the grade level subject matter.
As an early childhood expert, I often find it frustrating to see the push for reading, writing, and more kindergarten skills younger and younger and the push for social emotional growth in elementary grades. This is exactly backward. Kids need the social emotional development before they enter school this is the foundation for learning. Therefore, I highly suggest you look for an early childhood program focused on social/emotional development it will give your children the foundation they need for educational success.
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