You're a busy parent. You might have one maybe even two jobs, attending classes to further your education, or other responsibilities that require you to find child care. While daycare is what most parents are familiar with, a quality early learning center is the best option for parents and their children. For many children, an early learning center is their first experience in a purposefully structured setting with teachers and other groups of children. It's an opportunity for them to learn to share, follow instructions, interact with other children, and soak up the tools they'll need to succeed in the future.
Early learning centers are more than simply places that take care of your child while you're at work or school, they give children the tools to succeed in the future. Here are seven important reasons your child should attend an early learning center.
1. Early Child Care Promotes Emotional and Social Development
High-quality learning centers develop programs that nurture trusting relationships with their peers, teachers, and parents. In order to learn these skills, the child needs to feel secure with their caregiver or teacher. A teacher in an early learning center is much more than just someone that "watches over" children, they are trained to develop emotional skills, encourage engagement, and promote curiosity. Together with the goals of the parents, teachers strive to give the children the emotional connections they need to succeed later in life.
When developing a child's social skills the teachers use "teachable moments" to show children how to manage their frustrations and interactions with others. Without embarrassing or punishing the child, teachers are encouraged to teach the impact of their behaviors.
2. Children Learn to Take Care of Themselves and Others
As children learn new tasks that enable them to take better care of themselves and help others, they develop a sense of pride and self-worth. Teachers at early learning centers understand that giving children real responsibilities like setting a table or feeding the classroom pet gives them "real skills" they can use in everyday life.
Helping others is an important benefit of an early learning center. Teachers educate children about helping others. As an example, one student could be given the responsibility of showing new students where to find the play dough or teaching others how to water the plants. Throughout a child's school years, much of their time will be spent in the company of others. Early learning centers introduce behaviors that will help them form bonds with others as they grow.
3. Early Learning Centers offer Structure and Fun
It's good for young children to be introduced to a structured environment that helps them make friends and play well with others. Providing structure doesn't mean teachers are constantly correcting children. Teachers patiently and consistently coach the children, encouraging appropriate behaviors and outcomes. Having thoughtful structure at an early learning center is largely invisible to the children. It does, however, give them a framework of organized spaces and schedules that promote socializing and learning.
4. Promotes Cognitive and Language Skills
Between the ages of 3 and 5, a child's vocabulary grows from about 900 words to 2,500 words and sentences become more complex. Early learning centers expose children to a language-rich setting. Conversational games are encouraged, and teachers help to stretch language skills by asking thought-provoking questions. Activities like singing, talking about favorite animals and telling stories to other children all help propel language skills forward.
When it comes to cognitive skills, early learning centers engage children in hands-on activities that challenge their minds and invoke questions. A child's mind is a sponge during their pre-k learning, that's why thought-producing programs are specially designed to take advantage of this early cognitive learning ability.
5. Promotes Math and Reading Skills
Children are curious and want the skills—such as math and reading—that parents and teachers find important. To prepare children for kindergarten, early learning center teachers offer a wide range of games and activities that promote pre-k matching and reading skills. These activities could consist of singing an alphabet song while following along in a picture book, this builds connections between the visual and the spoken word.
Math skills are introduced by sorting games, counting games, and matching activities that are designed to grow a child's understanding of numbers. Teachers are trained to make learning math as much fun as possible and put the learning in terms that the child enjoys and understands. For example, they might learning how to pay for candy at a store or how to dial a phone number.
6. Encourage a Child's Curiosity
To nurture a child's curiosity, early learning center teachers use the child's own interests and ideas to create activities that foster curiosity. Even surprise events like finding a butterfly on the playground can be used as an exciting opportunity to learn and be curious. Preschool-aged children have highly active imaginations and use make-believe to learn and play. Teachers and early learning centers use the line between reality and make-believe to fuel engagement and curiosity. Other examples of using a child's imagination for learning is the use of props for pretending. Items like costumes, household toys, and smaller versions of real-world items like cars, planes, and animals promote creative play.
7. Prepares Children for Future Schooling
Many parents look to preschool to prepare their children for kindergarten and elementary school. Early learning centers don't babysit! A quality center gives children the tools they'll need to succeed at the next level. The difference lies in the highly trained staff that takes an active role in giving each individual child the skills needed to advance. Each child is put on their own path to success. If they are advancing at a faster rate than others they are introduced to more advanced learning programs. It's all about the child and learning experiences are tailored to individual needs.
Collaboration with parents is critical in determining the best learning path for each child. Updated reports on activities and progress should be readily available for parent review. If a parent is active and engaged in the process, the child's learning experience is greatly enhanced. There's a big difference between a day care and an early learning center. Choose wisely. What your children learn in pre-school will impact the rest of their lives. Our future leaders deserve the very best. For more information about the importance of early learning centers, click the button below for our free ebook,10 Reasons Why Kindergarten is Too Late .