contributor becky fisher
There has been a lot of discussion lately about the importance of early childhood education (ECE).
While many obstacles remain, ECE technology has seen many advances, including new applications, platforms, and tools. But how can we ensure that these products, while improving the quality of early childhood education (“kindergarten readiness”), also instill a lifelong love of learning in a generation immersed in mobile technology?
Why is Early Childhood Education Important?
A longitudinal study in Santa Clara County, California examined the academic and social impacts of kindergarten readiness. The study defined kindergarten readiness in terms of 20 skills that were grouped into four categories:
● Self-care and motor skills
● social expression
● Kindergarten teachers
Early childhood education is critical because it provides a strong foundation for a child’s future academic and social success. Here are some reasons why early childhood education is important:
1. Brain development: During the first few years of a child’s life, their brain develops at an astonishing rate. Early childhood education helps stimulate this development by providing children with opportunities to explore, experiment, and learn through play.
2. Socialization: Early childhood education is critical to developing children’s social skills. Through interactions with peers and adults, children learn how to share, communicate, collaborate and develop empathy.
see also What is Social Emotional Learning
3. Language Development: Young children are like sponges, able to quickly absorb language and vocabulary. Early childhood education programs provide opportunities for children to learn new words and develop listening and verbal skills.
4. School Readiness: Early childhood education programs prepare children for the transition to formal schooling. Children who participate in quality early childhood programs are more likely to do better in school, have higher graduation rates and are more likely to attend college.
5. Long-term benefits: Early childhood education has long-term benefits, including higher earning potential, improved health outcomes, and lower crime rates.
Simple Strategies to Improve Early Childhood Education
Built to play, learn and grow
There is a clear difference Academic achievement between students who are ready for kindergarten and those who are not. Clearly, students who were deemed prepared had a higher rate of success in third grade. As game designers and app developers for kids, how can we make sure we’re kindergarten ready?
Here are some tips.
1. Start with the human part
Before they became “students”, they were the first children. Students need to feel safe, confident, playful, protected, and able to learn.Of course there are many more Benefits of Social Emotional Learning.
2. Place literacy near the core of early childhood education programs
Why is Early Childhood Education Important? Reading and writing are the cornerstones of formal learning. While not the most important single element in early childhood education, literacy skills—from phonemic awareness to sight words to emerging readers—are critical.
3. Make age-appropriate games
This is one of the most important aspects of early childhood education and related game development. It is crucial to fully understand the cognitive development and motor skills of your target audience. Games that are too difficult, too easy, or too complicated not only won’t hold your child’s attention, but they won’t do anything educational. Building age-appropriate games requires research, playtesting, and a willingness to iterate on the product.
4. Align artisans with learning objectives
Learning objectives should be the backbone of any ECE product. They should be clear, concise, and based on informative research. These should link directly to the mechanics of the game. In other words, success in play should be success in learning.
5. Find out what the zone of proximal development is—and use it
A psychologist named Lev Vygotsky introduced the concept of the zone of proximal development (ZPD), the optimal learning space between what learners can do on their own and what they simply cannot do. In other words, ZPD is where students can succeed with the right help. All learning games, regardless of target audience, should be within the ZPD and use adaptive learning mechanisms to keep learners there.
6. Make it fun
See #1. Early learning games should be fun. As Fred Rogers once said, “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But to children, play is serious learning.” To us The implications of this are clear: we can best support early learning by making it fun. Games that are silly, colorful, fun, challenging, and engaging — allowing for failure and retrying — are most engaging to early learners.
see also How to learn through play
5. Designed for Parents
Parents are the most important learning resource in a young child’s life. Building an ECE experience through co-play and co-learning (rather than a “digital babysitter”) is arguably the best way to ensure learning happens. Developing games that not only provide opportunities for collaboration but actively encourage it can help facilitate higher levels of learning.
Ultimately, early childhood technology should have a sense of whimsy that encourages young learners to explore, create and play. When designed properly, technology can foster a sense of wonder, equip children with important kindergarten readiness skills, and inspire a lifelong love of learning.
Why is Early Childhood Education Important?featured image courtesy of bradflickinger