In my latest search for inspiration for this post, I came across the term Early Childhood Education and care (ECEC). Wow, that is exactly what many of my posts on this site is about, and I did not even know the term existed. LOL! So, I felt I had to dig into it.
It turns out that ECEC is an actual branch of educational theory that relates to the teaching of young kids, both formally and informally, up until the age of eight. In other words toddlers and preschoolers. The recommendations from the research within this area are being used by preschools today, which I have written more about below.
What makes early childhood education unique is that it starts with the child and not with the subject matter, which I find very appealing.
I know the amount of debate surrounding the topic of Early Childhood Education and Care is huge. I think every parent has their own opinion, and “know” what is best for their own youngsters. The main concern people have is how much formal learning is necessary or beneficial for very young children. I have heard parents say things like “Ah, but please, just let them play and be children”.
But! Is there a contradiction between playing and learning? I don’t think so.
One thing I am convinced about is that kids will do what their parents do, not what the parents tell them to do. Kids normally love to mimic what you do, and that is one excellent way for them to learn new things. Don’t you agree?
For you who want to read about Early Childhood Education and Care, I recommend reading the article 5 Great (and Timeless) Articles on Early Childhood Education. The five articles they have listed are about what the big deal is with it, the history of it, why the sooner the better is important, a little about theories and influences, and how to prepare your child for kindergarten.
Studies like Children’s early learning. A cross-sectional study of preschool as an environment for children’s learning states that some form of education, whether it is in a formal school setting or an informal setting in the home, greatly benefits children by the time they reach traditional school ages. Kids are better equipped to learn, better behaved, and overall more prepared. This seems to be true regardless of levels of wealth within the families. I think education is the best way to fight poverty and criminality in the long run.
On the website about Scandinavian research in early childhood and care it is possible to dig into several specific research fields of interest like Children’s skills development, Children’s social relationships, Academic skills of ECEC teachers, and perceptions of the profession, Activities, and routines in ECEC, and more. There you can find a lot of different interesting reports if you are interested in more.
In Sweden, where I live, preschools follow the Curriculum for the preschool that the Swedish National Agency for Education (Skolverket) has published. The curriculum is based on the results and recommendations of the research done in Early Childhood Education.
The Swedish National Agency for Education is tasked with ensuring that all children and students have access to the same high-quality standard of education and activities in secure environments. Their mission is to create the best conditions for the kid’s development and learning and to help improve the students’ learning outcomes.
83% of the kids between ages 1-5 are registered for preschools in Sweden today, and up to 95% between ages 3-5. This has increased a lot compared to 10 years ago when it was 72%, and 15 years ago when it was 59%. Why is that? I am not sure, but I think it could be because more and more parents see the value in Early Childhood Education and Care that is offered in preschools.
My own kids have gone to kindergarten since they were about 1,5 years old. Both have loved it, and I as a parent, have found it very rewarding. The teachers have been excellent and very creative. I have been able to follow the activities they have done at kindergarten by a digital portal, where they have gathered pictures and described what they have done in each kid’s own folder. The teachers have also informed us parents about how the activities they do are linked to the Curriculum for the preschool.
Have you ever asked your kid what they have done in kindergarten today? I think very often the answer is “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember”. LOL That is when the material in my kid’s digital folders has been excellent to look at and let them talk about their experiences.
I think the system with kindergarten works quite well here in Sweden. It enables the possibility for both parents to work full time if they wish. The drawback with that is of course that the kids’ “working hours” can be longer than the parent’s if they both are on the same schedule, or if the parent is a single mum or dad.
I have kept the amount of “working hours” in mind for my kids. I don’t work exactly the same hours as my husband. We both work full time though. He starts to work early in the morning, so he can go and get the kids in the afternoon before I can leave work and go home. Our kids’ “working hours” have always been around six-seven hours. I think that has been just enough. That leaves time and energy for quality family time for all of us.
My conclusion about Early Childhood Education is that it seems to work very well to help kids to be better equipped to learn, better behaved, and overall more prepared by the time they reach traditional school ages. This is regardless of whether it is in a formal school setting or an informal setting in the home. The best part is that it is for all kids regardless of how wealthy their family is.
So what do you think, what is your opinion about Early Childhood Education?
I know there are a lot of teachers and parents out there that know this area a lot better than I. I am not a teacher, I am just a parent.
Do you think there is a contradiction between playing and learning?
I would love to know what you think. Just leave a comment below with your thoughts and I will get right back to you!