Early childhood education
Early childhood education (ECE) is a branch of education theory which relates to the teaching of young children (formally and informally) up until the age of about eight. Infant/toddler education, a subset of early childhood education, denotes the education of children from birth to age two. In recent years, early childhood education has become a prevalent public policy issue, as municipal, state, and federal lawmakers consider funding for preschool and pre-k.
While the first twenty years of a child's life are spent in the creation of a child's first "sense of self", most children are able to differentiate between themselves and others by their second year. This differentiation is crucial to the child's ability to determine how they should function in relation to other people. Parents can be seen as a child's first teacher and therefore an integral part of the early learning process.
Learning Through Play
Early childhood education often focuses on learning through play, based on the research and philosophy of Jean Piaget, which posits that play meets the physical, intellectual, language, emotional and social needs (PILES) of children. Children's natural curiosity and imagination naturally evoke learning when unfettered. Thus, children learn more efficiently and gain more knowledge through activities such as dramatic play, art, and social games.
Tassoni suggests that "some play opportunities will develop specific individual areas of development, but many will develop several areas." Thus, It is important that practitioners promote children’s development through play by using various types of play on a daily basis. Key guidelines for creating a play-based learning environment include providing a safe space, correct supervision, and culturally aware, trained teachers who are knowledgeable about the Early Years Foundation.
Davy states that the British Children's Act of 1989 links to play-work as the act works with play workers and sets the standards for the setting such as security, quality and staff ratios. Learning through play has been seen regularly in practice as the most versatile way a child can learn. Margaret McMillan (1860-1931) suggested that children should be given free school meals, fruit and milk, and plenty of exercise to keep them physically and emotionally healthy. Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) believed play allows children to talk, socially interact, use their imagination and intellectual skills. Marie Montessori (1870-1952) believed that children learn through movement and their senses and after doing an activity using their senses.
In a more contemporary approach, organizations such as the National Association of the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) promote child-guided learning experienced, individualized learning, and developmentally appropriate learning as tenets of early childhood education.
Piaget provides explanation an for why learning through play is such a crucial aspect of learning as a child. However, due to the advancement of technology the art of play has started to dissolve and has transformed into "playing" through technology. Greenfield, quoted by the author, Stuart Wolpert in the article, "Is Technology Producing a Decline in Critical Thinking and Analysis?", states, "No media is good for everything. If we want to develop a variety of skills, we need a balanced media diet. Each medium has costs and benefits in terms of what skills each develops." Technology is beginning to invade the art of play and a balance needs to be found. - Wikipedia
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