Focus on Early Childhood Education

Posted by on May 19, 2006

[posted from Public Education Network newsblast]


Children are born ready to learn, but not ready for school. Infants? earliest relationships with their caregivers are closely linked to their success in the classroom later in life. These early interactions form the basis of children?s social and emotional well-being, which in turn impacts their ability to attend to the important tasks associated with learning language and growing intellectual competency. “Social and emotional development is the foundation for school readiness, and this development begins in infancy,” says Virginia Reynolds, director of WestEd?s Center for Prevention and Early Intervention (CPEI), which focuses on young children with disabilities and their families in a variety of settings. Yet, many caregivers who work with infants and toddlers aren’t putting research findings to good use, adds J. Ronald Lally, “Unfortunately, despite the recommendations from the scientists, most school readiness initiatives persist in relating to infants and toddlers as though they were older. But because of their unique style of learning, which is a blend of great vulnerability and incredible learning competence, they need to be treated differently from how you treat first graders.” In effective early learning settings, children learn they have someone to rely upon, so they feel secure, and thus become more eager to try new things. With guidance, they learn to persist and experience mastery. The lessons learned from these early interactions and relationships form the basic building blocks for later learning. One goal of early childhood education is to help children become self-confident enough to explore and self-regulated enough to function in a classroom.

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